When Mom woke me up for today’s Weekend Adventure, she realized that she’d forgotten to *plan* the adventure. Time was running out, because it’s finally hot here and we had to get our run in before it was so hot I would melt. “Let’s try something different,” she said. “Let’s go to The City and run in The Park. It’s always cold there.” There are lots of cities in the world, and even more parks so I couldn’t wait to see where we were going. I knew it was somewhere cold… Maybe we were going to Canada? Or Siberia? Or Tierra del Fuego? (Are there cities in Tierra del Fuego?) I spent the whole drive in my copiolot’s seat with my chest on the center console trying to figure out where we were going. It turned out that The City was San Francisco, and The Park was Golden Gate Park. “Yippee! I get to run in SanFran and see the Golden Gate Bridge!” I said. I’d never been a tourist before. “Errrrr… I hate to disappoint you, but you can’t see the Golden Gate Bridge from anywhere in Golden Gate Park,” Mom explained. I was crushed. I wanted a picture of me in front of the most famous bridge in the whole wide world. “And another thing, don’t call it ‘SanFran.’ It’s an ugly and annoying nickname and people here hate it. So if you say that again I’m going to have to pretend like I don’t know you.” “That’s going to make leashing pretty awkward…” I pointed out. “How about we take your picture in the fog at the beach?” Mom suggested.
We parked the car and ran across a baseball field, on a tiny singletrack trail through curly eucalyptus trees, through a scary looking tunnel and found ourselves spit out on a street. Mom looked around confused. “Now how did we get here?” she wondered aloud. “I thought you knew your way around!” “I know exactly where we are. I just don’t know how we got here… or how we get to where we’re going…” Mom said.
Most of the run was like that. We would start on a major road, but then Mom would get bored and head down a little side trail with deep sand, or ferns that looked like there were dinosaurs hiding behind them, or a thicket of redwood trees, or some stone steps that looked like something out of a fairy tale… and then suddenly we’d be at the polo fields, or the bison grazing grounds, or the windmills, or the frisbee golf course, or the botanical gardens and she would have to stop and look around. She “knew exactly where we were!”, the problem was that she seemed equally surprised to be passing each one when we got there. She just needed to “get her bearings” at each of these landmarks.
I rolled my eyes and sniffed around for dinosaur tracks. “I didn’t know that there was a giant Celtic cross up here,” Mom said in the tone of somebody who is trying to act like they know what they’re doing and is in a little over their heads. “Now how do you suppose we get to that street at the bottom of this 100 foot cliff?”
Now that I’ve explored a bit, I can tell you The City is a strange place. It is a place where everyone picks up their dog poo, but people go poop right on the sidewalk and no one picks it up… ever. It just dries up and rots there on the sidewalk. It is a place where people vomit in the street, and rather than eating it back up like any rational dog would do, they let strangers ride their bikes through it instead.
San Francisco is also a city where tomorrow tens of thousands of people will wake up early to get drunk at sunrise, run through the streets naked and have tortillas thrown at them all morning. And then at the finish they will be stranded on a corner 7 miles from where they started, not accessible to any major roads going back downtown, and only serviced by one single bus line. This is one of the biggest and longest-running footraces in the country, according to Mom.
About 6 miles into our 9 mile run, Mom and I finally reached the beach. I got ready to pose for my picture in the grey fog in front of the waves. But instead of seeing the beach in the background, all I could see was the biggest wall of Tardises you’ve ever seen. It was the Great Wall of Tardises. No wonder people have to poop and vomit in the streets in The City: all their bathrooms are waaaay at the edge of the world, in a spot inaccessible to any roads that go downtown, and only serviced by one tiny and slow bus line.
My adventure in The City was fun, but I’m glad I’m a suburban dog.
-Oscar the Tourist