Well late last evening…9:30 for you young ‘uns… I went out for a slice of Sourdough pizza at Boudins and Laura texted me she was back. She’d been at a reception hobnobbing with Blue Angels and Snowbirds. I wandered over to the Hyatt for a drink and encountered most of the aforementioned pilots milling about. I also encountered a crowd of very friendly, and in some cases very drunk, friends, relatives and co workers of Laura. I don’t think I have been leaned on, touched or bumped up on by so many people in my life. And yes, most of them were women.
Quite the eclectic crowd, from Pat Travers Band’s agent (he used to manage Sophie B Hawkins) to the Head honcho of the airshow. Anyway I had a Crown Royal on the rocks (bought by Laura’s brother Greg) and sat back and smiled and listened to stories; they have lot. Not the most nerve-racking thing I’ve had to do but enough to make me antsy. I was home by 11.
SF International is a nice airport; it’s long and thin with the entrance/passenger areas right down the middle as opposed to on one side. Think Paris but without all the parking and traffic in the middle. Anyway international flights are right by the entrance so it was a short walk to the BART. $8.10 later and a 10 minute wait and I was on the train to Embarcadero.
When I got off the BART, I could hear the F-18s roar by while they practiced while I was still underground. Man they are loud. I am thinking earplugs should have been on the packing list.
I walked east–it sure is hard to get oriented the first time you pop up from underground in a strange city, but I guessed right– for a few blocks and hit the F line which is an old fashioned street car. Not the hop on/hop off kind but cool nonetheless. I got off one stop too early due to overcrowding and an inability to check my map and then had to walk around the block a couple of times to get oriented, all the while the F-18s are thundering through the air overhead which is awesomely disorienting while you are surrounded by tall buildings.
Got one really tiny pic of a Blue Angel. Click on the image and look between the masts slightly to the right of center.
In the end, as previously noted, I did finally end up at the Radisson and all’s well &c.
BTW the whole battery thing worked out ok. The phone hung in there and everything charged up overnight. It is really weird being without a data connection. No tweets, no Wikipedia, no Facebook. It would probably kill me if I didn’t have a good connection in my hotel room.
Today it’s breakfast at IHOP and the I’ll meet Greg at the Hyatt and we will walk to Marina Green for the Parade of Ships and the airshow. I hear there will be a stealth flyby.
Being alone has some perks. I skipped the line and got to sit at the bar. Although for some reason it makes me more self-concious about eating, being alone that is. Or maybe that’s just residual from yesterday’s crab fiasco. Well it’s French toast this morning…W00t!
After the IHOP I walked over to the Hyatt and waited around. Greg drove me over to Marina Green. He had borrowed Laura’s rental for some errands. Seems like we get the VIP seats with tables, umbrellas and free food and drink. Morning there was fog over the water with everything obscured except Alcatraz and the high orange peaks of the Golden Gate bridge rising up out of the mist. The Coast Guard slowly patrolled along the lanes of rowers, sailboats, freighters and more boats than I’ve ever seen in preparation for the ships of war parade.
Outside the tents the field is full of bouncy things and souvenir shops, filling the lush green grass with even more colour and a generous amount of soft mud due to the recent rains. The American mentality is hidden in those bouncy things: space shuttles instead of castles, fighter plane slides instead of ramparts. Sailors and cadets litter the walkways and entrances underscoring the strong relationship between this town and it’s military, similar yet very different from Namao or Griesbach and Edmonton.
First up on the ship list is the USS Carl Vinson, a nuclear powered aircraft carrier. Can you say big? She was followed by the Antietam, a Ticonderoga class missile cruiser… Pretty much the most powerful warship on the seas these days. The Milius was next, an Aegis guided missile destroyer and then the pride of the Canadian fleet, the HMCS Ottawa… one of our frigates.
I had seen the SS Jeremiah O’Brien yesterday and knew she was a WWII era liberty ship, but hadn’t known she was one of the last remaining ships that took part in the D-Day invasion. She was actually refurbished and sailed from San Francisco to England to take place in the 50th anniversary festivities and then back to SF. If you don’t know what a liberty ship is, then shame on you… Look it up, it’s a very important part of the economic and political reality of WWII. Anyway the O’Brien set sail this morning then came back in with the rest of the fleet. A few more smaller ships and three of Canada’s small Kingston class coastal vessels and the parade was done.
Up above a watch company had, apparently illicitly, hired a Digital skywriting team. As far as I could tell 5 planes flew around and dropped dots of smoke to form the classic digital figures and try and sell us watches. Pretty damn cool though.
I had a hotdog and some tea while I waited. Oddly enough, even though the booze was free, I only had a glass of wine and later a small beer. Must be getting old.
On the water two seadoos cruised by. The first had a man with a small, small child in his lap and a 5 or 6 year old behind. The next had a women and another tiny child in her lap and another kid on the back. Must of been a family affair but I crossed my fingers everyone they went by cause the lap kids were really too small to hold on to anything, let alone a bouncing jetski.
Here is the full official list:
USCG HH-65 Rescue helicopter
6 privately owned L-39s (sub sonic trainers)
A Marine Osprey
A B-2 stealth bomber
The Snowbirds in their Tutors
F/A 18 Super Hornet
United Airlines 747
F-15 Strike Eagle (Air Force)
Sean Tucker in his Challenger III aerobatics plane
The Blue Angels’ C-130 Hercules
The Blue Angels themselves in F-18s
Some interesting facts
The Osprey is a tilt wing aircraft used by all 4 services.
The B2 left Missouri early this morning and flew here and then flew right back. Apparently they don’t land off base if they don’t have to. The longest B2 mission (or any mission for that matter) was over 40 hours in the air.
Shaun Tucker’s torque roll has him actually flying backwards after vertical push and then sliding back down.
The Internet video showing a 747 apparently flying under the golden gate bridge was at this show last year and the optical illusion disturbed Boeing so much they actually spent hundreds of hours reviewing flight plans and angles to ensure it didn’t happen again this year.
Some more random pics
After the show I elected to walk home via the paths. Through Fort Mason and up on to the Hyde Street Pier which has some cool old late 1800s era schooners and tugs. I didn’t pay to board but just perused the signage on the dock. The view of the bridge from the Fort hill is pretty good. I spent most of the day actually trying to get a good pic of the silly bridge, but the light is never right or the fog interfered or something was in my eye [sniff].
Eventually I made it home down some extremely packed streets and had a cool shower to refresh myself and catch up on the blogging (chore that it is). Apparently next up is dinner at Caesars on Powell at around 8 and I still have to figure out tomorrow’s agenda, although I might just do the ship thing and get it over with. I’ll be up early enough…sigh. This morning my alarm went off at 7 but apparently the clock was an hour ahead which I discovered after my shower… So I had some time to kill. Anyway I will either tour ships, hit the SF MOMA or ferry over to Alameda and see if I can get on the Hornet. Or maybe a combination if time allows. People have been pushing pretty hard for Alacatraz but it hasn’t appealed, at least not yet. But they say it pretty fab, so you never know.
One thing I really had reinforced today was the subtlety of our Canadian propaganda. After a day like today I would be willing to swear that we have no overt shaping and influencing messages in out society. Certainly nothing like the constant ‘freedom’ reinforcing and ‘all men created equal’ repetition I heard today. Yet I know it’s not true, we certainly have our controlling thought patterns, our reinforced assumptions, our repetitive messaging… Its just not as blatant as the American’s, and perhaps not as honest. At least it’s a hell of a lot easier to filter out… Or maybe that’s the benefit of being a foreigner. Speaking of which, did you realize I was in California? There are tons of California plates everywhere! Somehow I just don’t think of San Francisco as California, so it keeps surprising me. That and the sheer number of Aussie and Kiwi accents I keep hearing.
A few more pics
Well, a few observations to end the night. First, and most obviously, if you fill a harbor full of naval ships it seems to follow that you fill the town with naval personnel. I mean lots. It is like some naval story where shore leave fills the town with rowdy sailors looking for fights. Actually, while boisterous, they are pretty well behaved. And in this man’s navy, the groups always seem to have a few women mixed in (military women I mean). And let us not forget the marines who have a way worse uniform to party in if you ask me.
Secondly, dinner was lovely and I lucked out since the party grew to 20 odd they had to split the tables and I got to sit at the little table with people I’d already met. Much more comfortable for social slugs like me. Anyway, this restaurant was just like New York hundreds of male waiters, nary a boob or short skirt in site. There were at least twice the staff of a typical Edmonton restaurant and seriously, the only women was the maitre’d and I think she might have been an owner. The service is faster, more brusque and everyone pitches in on all the tables. Just different all round.
Anyway, goodnight Internet… Sleep well.