The 1977 California Trip: We left a few things in San Francisco

The 1977 California Trip: We left a few things in San Francisco

Not our hearts.

It was the summer of 1977 and we had plans. Plans to hit the road again for a vacation down California way.

Instead of flying this time we took our orange Arrow. With me driving of course.

We made the trip in stages, stopping the first night at the Mallory Hotel in Portland OR. We didn’t see much of the city. It was dark out, and on our quest to find a place to eat, we settled on a familiar name – Benihana’s Japanese restaurant. So that section of Portland and whatever was viewable from the off ramp to the hotel and the streets to get back onto I-5 were all we saw of the city.

We made good time from Portland through the rest of Oregon and into Northern California. We reached Vacaville in time for lunch at a restaurant in an olive orchard. My wife remembered this particular restaurant/tourist spot from a family vacation when she was growing up. She carries with her the memory of her dad grimacing when sampling a rather green olive. This time around she was the one grimacing – over my choice from the menu – gazpacho. I guess the thought of cold tomato soup put her teeth on edge. I thought it wonderful (the soup, not the fact that it made her grimace).

From Vacaville we made our way down to San Pablo Bay, skirted around towards San Rafael, and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge to our next destination – San Francisco. We checked into a motel somewhere along route 1, unloaded our luggage (except a couple of items) and went in search of dinner.

The Hyatt Regency at the Embarcadero Center was only four years old at the time, and a prime night spot. It had a revolving restaurant, the Equinox, on the top of its tower. We parked the Arrow a few blocks away up on Market Street, and were mesmerized by the impressive lobby of the hotel (like being in the interior of a pyramid) which we passed through on the way to the restaurant. [My wife is a great disaster movie fan, and shots of this particular lobby were recognizable, as it had been used in The Towering Inferno, three years before.]

We had a enjoyable meal. I can tell you that much, but don’t ask what it was, for what happened next completely overshadowed all else.

We each had had an adult beveridge with our meal, so we were a little fuzzy as we walked up Market to our parked car. We were puzzled by the sight of a loaf of bread sitting on the sidewalk beside the Arrow. My wife wondered out loud why our groceries were outside the car. We didn’t notice the broken glass under the bread, and were slow to realize that our car had been broken into and robbed.

We found a phone and called the cops. After giving them the rundown on our plight, they informed us that they could not come out to the scene of the crime, but if we wanted to come in to fill out a report we were welcome to.

We followed their directions to a small precinct house further uptown and made our report. Besides our groceries we were missing a couple other items: an 8mm Bell & Howell movie camera and dirty laundry in a paper sack. Sometime in the midst of this ordeal I asked urgently if they had a restroom. This sent me on another surreal sidetrack, as they had no public facility and referred me next door to a seedy bar/nightclub. I felt I was sleep walking through the rest of our time there. It was real “trippy.”

The next day was a Sunday and the memory of what transpired is all a hazy black cloud. Reality was settling in. Was our vacation over before it had begun? We needed a replacement for that backseat side window and where would we find one?

We had to wait until Monday. That’s when we raised a Chrysler dealorship, but they did not have that part in stock. Nor did any of the auto glass companies. Hope was offered, in that they could order it in – but it would take a couple of days. Desperate to save our vacation, I asked if there was something we could substitute, say something plastic. That set a light bulb off in the imagination of the auto glass specialist, and he referred us to a shop that dealt in plexiglass. On parting he suggested that we tell them to use the other window as a template to cut a replacement.

Which is exactly what we were able to do. And we were on the road again before lunch. With only an occasional whistling noise from our replacement “window.”

Day Five Hundred Thirty #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

As predicted we arrived just off our destination in the early afternoon. There was a lot of traffic – more coming out than going in. We took our place in line, and waited our turn.

The Captain came to me to ask after Elijah. The last I knew he was going to the special cabin, so I replied that he was more than likely still there. The Captain then inquired if Elijah had any plans to go ashore.

I had to plead ignorance.

Not wanting to disturb him, we waited.

Elijah emerged around the time our turn to enter port came up. Unbidden he declared we were not going ashore, saying this city is completely given over to the dark one.

Day Five Hundred Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Jordan has not left our side since we discovered one another yesterday. And Elijah wasted no time in seeing to his instruction. He has big plans for him. Or more accurately stated God does.

It has something to do with the people here in the slum, or more specifically with those who have expressed a desire to understand  the meaning of the times in which we live.
The promised things are closer now than ever before.

A battle is ongoing for the allegiance of the peoples of this metropolis. Those in the well-to-do sectors have already surrendered to it, for they clearly see that their continued prosperity depends upon their submission.

Next they will seduce the slums.

Day Five Hundred Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We are being hemmed in. By other people, by circumstances. Our expectations and plans lie in tatters.

The global security forces have locked up the ingress and egress points around the entire metropolis. Which puts us in a dilemma. We are closer than ever to catching up to the Hamashiachite. But if we stay another day to make that happen, we may never be able to leave.

Elijah remains upbeat, exhorting me with the truth that it will all work out for the good.

He is especially moved by the fact that the attitudes of some of the people in the slum are changing towards us. A few are even responding by asking us questions.

For now we will stay.

Day Four Hundred Forty #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The only illumination during the night (besides our bonfire) were from the ships in harbor. The city itself lay dark and eerily silent.

The ship we identified as ours appeared to be docked towards the opposite side of the port. So, rising early we set out to march to that end. Our first sight of the landward side was disheartening. The city is so huge we despaired of reaching our goal before nightfall. In the distance a low causeway ran from the interior of the island up to the city. This proved to be a highway leading to the main gate of the city.

I wanted to attempt entry there, but Elijah decided we needed to stick to our plan.

Day Three Hundred Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Storm clouds blew in this afternoon. And appear to go on forever, encircling and closing in on the city. It seems too early as there yet remains three days to run.

Elijah and I discussed plans to get through the cordon and into our ship. We had just settled on a stratagem, when the said ship cast off from the dock and pulled away out into the roads.

Obviously Stan has identified it as ours and ordered her off. At the same time he has reinforced the troops on the perimeter around us.

I admitted disappointment, but Elijah remained non-plussed.

At that moment the storm broke loose. Lightning and hail fell from the turbulent skies.

They both spared us.

Day Eighty Seven PM #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

By the end of the day we had accomplished little. Small things kept cropping up, keeping us from our plans – because – well, they became necessary to complete first in order get around to our plan.

It was past mid-day when we were finally ready.

That is when Stan discovered the blackberries. Bushes and bushes of them.

I immediately asked if there were any bear sign about. The answer came back in the negative, so we set about picking.

We had our fill of berries by supper time. Quite spoiled it for anything else really.

We prepared to settle in for another night.

Stan had collected a huge store of wood for a fire. Its tang filled the night air.