We arrived in San Francisco in the heart of a torrential downpour. In sync with the traffic, the turbulent weather had gotten worse all morning. To our amazement, a third of the vehicles speeding past us didn’t even have their lights on. Cloaked in fog, the Golden Gate Bridge was a four thousand foot disappointment. As we entered the eclectic city, inundated with rain, the endless rowhomes loomed ominously over the narrow streets. Temporary neurosis crept in and like a claustrophobic in lift I couldn’t get out soon enough.
Hopes of visiting Ghirardelli Square, seeing the sea lions at Pier 39 and driving down Lombard Street quickly faded. Whether it was due to the weather, the unusually aggressive drivers, the reckless jaywalkers, or a combination of the three, my confidence was amiss. Aside from the boisterously joyful people of the streets of China Town, the small county seemed miserable today. Granted we didn’t give it much of a chance.
Guilt overcame me as we quickly left the city. I’d seen it before in all its glory, but LJ hadn’t. I felt bad for depriving him of the experience. As we passed Redwood City, however, the rain dwindled; in Palo Alto the clouds tapered off; and in San Jose we were greeted by clear, blue skies. We exited there and, as we drove into the vibrant city, it was clear we’d made the right decision.
Although there was no wind, each restaurant we passed blew an incredible smell in our direction; teasing our senses and starting the inevitable grumble in our stomachs. A stark contrast to San Francisco, the sun was shining and the day was warm. We parked the Jeep and walked around San Pedro market until we settled on somewhere to have lunch. We sat next to a table of men playing chess to have a beer. As it turned out, the game was part of a three day slap-bet tournament, inspired by How I Met Your Mother. It had turned into quite an event, and people were constantly checking in on their progress. Since the bar’s kitchen was closed on Sundays, we shuffled to the table next door and ordered “The World’s Best Burgers.” They were so-so, but the garlic fries were incredible.
As we ate, we were repeatedly baffled by what a celebrity Sophie was here. Everyone who passed stop to marvel at her. Adults would yell out compliments and reach out to touch her (to no avail, of course), children squealed at the sight of her, and dozens of people stopped to take her photo. It was like they’d never seen a dog before.
San Jose loved Sophie, and we loved San Jose. It looked like a great place to be at night, and a raw bar down the road was calling our names. Plus, we were dying to find out who’d win the days-long slap bet chess tournament happening next to us. If it wasn’t so early in the day, we would have stayed. But, we had somewhere to be, so we kept trucking on.