Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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Sitting in San Francisco International airport's sky train on the way to the rental car counters After a mostly eventless flight to San Francisco via Amsterdam, I entered American soil in the early afternoon. Immigration wasn't a major problem, as usual (even though I had to show my return ticket this time, a first); and pretty soon I was able to claim my luggage and take the sky train to the rental car counters.

I had reserved a 4x4 SUV, and said "no, thanks" to an upgrade offer to a "Jeep Laredo" that I was offered. When I walked to the car garage, it turned out that Alamo has a Choiceline in San Francisco and you can pick your own car out of those they happen to have available within your category. One of the cars available was... a Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo - so I guess the one they wanted me to upgrade to was the one that I ended up anyway... with without upgrading.

My other choices would have been a Trailblazer, or a number of "lesser" SUVs, like a Saturn Vue. I didn't have to think too hard to choose the Jeep as being the biggest and most suitable car for my needs. However, as I would discover a few days later, it had a flaw that would end up costing me one day of my trip.

Pretty soon, I was on 101 North, and then making an involuntary detour through San Francisco's financial center since I had missed the exit to Lombard Street. This wasn't too bad, I just headed towards the Embarcadero, which I then followed West until I rejoined Lombard Street, which became 101 once more and got me over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Looking towards Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco from Marin Headlands Golden Gate Bridge was spectacular, once more, since the sky was a perfect blue. I stopped for a few short minutes on the viewpoint just behind the bridge, and then headed up to the Marin Headlands for a few more quick snaps of the bridge - this time of the day, the sun is behind you when you look towards the bridge and the city; and as such it's better than morning or earlier in the day.

The day wasn't over, though - I needed to get food and drinks for most of the week ahead, and I had been planning to meet up with a friend in Napa before heading to my hotel in Rancho Cordova. I stopped at the first shopping mall and stocked up on groceries, and then tried to call my friend on a public pay phone. The first two times she picked up, but couldn't hear me. Thinking that the pay phone was broken, I walked over to another one at the other end of the mall and this time the phone call would work. We arranged to meet at the Starbucks in Napa.

I arrived somewhat close to the arranged time, and we had a coffee before heading off to grab dinner at a restaurant. I then drove her back to Starbucks, where she had left her car, we said goodbye and I was off for more driving, to get me to my hotel in Rancho Cordova; which would put me in close proximity to the Sierra Nevada, my destination for the next day.

I still wasn't that tired though, even though I'd been up for over 24 hours by now, and so when I checked in at the Fairfield Inn I still tried to use the hotel's LAN to connect to the internet. This wasn't met with much success, initially; and I ended up on the phone with a support person who then had to be convinced that yes, the problem wasn't on my end. After he went off to "reboot the servers" the internet access miraculously returned, and I was able to check the weather and road conditions for the next day.

Miles driven: 143mi (230km)

Accommodation: Fairfield Inn / Marriott (Rancho Cordova, CA): $50.15

Written June 10th 2006 in Luxembourg