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Every block…done! Feb 2006 – Nov 2010

By on November 17, 2010 in New Zealand with No Comments

As many of you know several years ago I set myself the goal of walking every block in San Francisco.  I set a lot of goals and achieve very few of them, so I thought that the fact I’d actually completed this one was worth a blog post.

My main observation is that San Francisco is very safe city.  I was only hassled once, in Lakeview.  It was early in the morning, no cars were about, and a crack head started following me.  You could tell he was a crack head because he had weeping pustules all over his mouth.  For those of you that have indulged, I’m sure you know that this is a result of sucking on a burning hot crack pipe.  I was all ready to throw my Gatorade at him and dash to safety, but he finally disappeared.

In some areas I got lost.  I ended up in Daly City twice, headed completely in the wrong direction around Bernal Heights, and once had to ask which direction was north.  I’ve been through people’s backyards, including the Hells Angels’ down on Tennessee St (the “Hells Angels – KEEP OUT!” sign gave it away), up and down the Lyon St steps, backtracked multiple times, covered the two miles around my house about a hundred times before I wised up and started driving to the start of each route.  I must have covered at least 1,500 miles – longer than the length of New Zealand!

In other areas I was terrified – mostly due to an overactive imagination.  In Bayview under the 101 overpass we navigated our way through discarded needles, used condom wrappers, and smashed malt liquor bottles.  Eyes to the ground, the tension was palpable as we walked past a huge gang of malevolent looking drug dealers.  Had I actually looked, I would have seen that there was no one around but a pair of elderly men sharing a cigarette.  Further up the street some of the local stoners were incredibly friendly, greeting us with plumes of marijuana and big hellos.  If you ever need a new pet, there are also a surprising number of chickens roaming the streets of Bayview.

Walking through the projects in Potrero Hill and parts of the Tenderloin were also a little nerve wracking but no one accosted me.  I guess they were scared off by the ferocity of Turkish, our small chihuahua.  In Hunters Point we set off at seven in the morning and Ide followed me in the car as I raced through with my stylish duck-like gait.  The dealers were gathering on corners as we finished but we were fully stocked up after our last visit to Tijuana and thus had no need to transact.  The weather in Hunters Point is wonderful and a great way to acquire cheap real estate if you don’t mind stray pit bulls, rotting fast food, and huge black crows on your doorstep (much like our house on Central Av).

All in all my favorite neighborhood was Potrero Hill.  The streets are beautiful, the houses are immaculate, and the people are really friendly.  We received more hellos there than in the rest of the city put together.  I enjoyed the isolation of China Basin, the splendor of Pacific Heights (coupled with a fair amount of envy on my part) and the view of the Bay from the top of Hyde street.  My least favorite neighborhood (apologies in advance to those of you that live there) was Outer Richmond.

The Presidio is a great place to relax.  A special find there was a derelict Pet Cemetery.  It obviously hadn’t been used in a couple of decades, but had tiny little gravestones going back to 1946 – including birds, mice, hamsters, and of course a plethora of cats and dogs.  Not that our lovely dog will ever die, but in the unlikely event that he does I have a spot picked out and a shovel handy.

Another interesting area is the Naval Shipyards close to Hunters Point.  The streets to get there are usually closed off but 2x a year there is an artists’ colony exhibition that the public has access to.  We have little interest in tie-dyed shirts and incense holders, but we were able to get across to the shipyards.  If you crawl through the hole in the barbed wire fence and go past the “No Entry, Hazardous Waste” signs there’s a whole community of dilapidated buildings occupied by rats and seagulls.

To summarize, it was a combination of scary, boring, fun, illuminating, and left way too much time for introspection.  So that’s one Top 40 goal down.  Only another 39 to go… 

P.S. If anyone would like to contact me regarding the upcoming stories my email is justinesu@yahoo.com

 

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