Amtrak, the American train company, doesn’t run a train from Eureka to San Francisco. But they do run a bus, which is what I did done gone and got. There’s no station, though, so I was waiting at a bus stop behind a Denny’s restaurant like I was waiting for some crack. Pleasant journey, though. The bus wasn’t too busy; double seat to myself all the way. As has happened before, I had another “fuck, I’m here” moment on a bus. California. So many movies, TV shows, songs mythologising the place. And even though I’d already been in California for a few days, it really hit me when I saw signs for San Francisco. And what better way to finally feel the warmth of the Californian sun (after a few overcast days in Eureka), than – three hours into the journey – to be stopping in a Burger King car park for a rest stop. I can’t help but find it amusing to think that the bus driver might be checking out all the restaurants along the road to see what he wants to eat, and forcing us to eat a Whopper too if we happen to be hungry.
Back on the road, and after five hours, we pulled up, the driver got on the mic, and told us that the bus was losing water, so we’d have to stop in Cloverdale to wait for a replacement bus. Woo hoo. But, y’know, it was a good natured stop. No one got angry, and I had a nice chat with a chap who was on his way back to the Bay Area after spending two weeks in Eureka. He moved there with his girlfriend of three years, and after two weeks in Eureka, they’d split up. He had that glassy look in his eyes that betrayed his relentless upbeat chatter. Poor guy.
An hour passed, we smoked a couple of cigs, had a coffee, and we were back in the traffic jam that took us the rest of the way to Martinez, where I jumped on a train and within half an hour, I was in the back of my pals Wade and Vicky’s car going over the Bay Bridge into San Francisco as a massive cloud rather dramatically went in the opposite direction.
Sushi, beer, and a couple of games of pool on a table in a bar called Wild Side West that, legend has it, Janis Joplin once got fucked on. Whether that’s true or not, it felt like it might be true, which is good enough for me.