The Rest of the Story: Filth, Stench and the Homeless by the Bay Plus MLB

Accomplishing life goals somehow got in the way of my final blogpost for the culmination of our travel kickoff to 2018 so here goes; the finale!

SFO was the destination of our return to American soil. Early on in the Spring Fling 2018 planning process we had decided to reacclimate to USA lifestyle and ease out of the jet lag by finishing out this last weekend in what we would have said was one of our favorite cities. The Giants weren’t home but we knew we could jump over to Oakland and catch the A’s play some baseball just in case we don’t have a chance the rest of the season. BART is efficient and easy from the airport and across the bay so after pondering other locations we decided to return to a tried and true hotel that we knew had a stop right outside its door. Hotel Whitcomb, built in 1916, sits on Market Street diagonal from the Orpheum Theatre. This boutique hotel has provided us lodging and easy accessibility to all the city offers on about five or six stays over the last few years. It is really close to Union Square, Giants Stadium, walkability to several restaurants we enjoy and some nightlife.

As we made our way up from the underground 16th Street and Mission stop we felt the negative energy. Homeless with angst screamed in our face in the short walk to the turnstile glass door entry of the hotel. We simply faced each other with blank stares as we took in the surroundings of those short steps.

Check in was smooth and easy and even though we had a long day of travel we were not ready to settle in for the evening. We chatted as we freshened up about our surprise at the seediness that had encroached into this area between SOMA and the Civic Center, it certainly appeared to us that the fringe of the Tenderloin had reached further than our last visit.

After a walk a few blocks in all directions, we observed the street living to be very serious. Tents were pitched on the sidewalks, needles, pipes, other paraphernalia and drug cooking apparatus were scattered from the doorways to the curbs. We literally could feel the edginess. The smells were horrific. Human excrement and street sleeping wafted in the streets. We watched as the line of well dressed theatre attendees formed for The Color Purple at The Orpheum and wondered aloud to one another how long it would take before people would not subject themselves to the surroundings found here before deciding to give up the entertainment rather than endure the impact to the senses of the craziness and drug abuse on the doorstep of this venue.

Hunger tugged at us and we decided on a Thai restaurant a few blocks from the hotel towards Union Square that we knew was decently reliable from previous visits. Hunger at this point was a need to be fulfilled, our appetites had been lost. After getting our sustenance, we made our way about six blocks back to the hotel, the scene on the streets had grown more crowded, not really more intense, simply more of the same. The angst was vocalized by many of these indigents we passed by, not spoken directly to anyone, yet spoken at someone. We found it eerie and unpleasant. We were tired and a bit jet lagged and to some extent as our conversation drifted off to sleep on this night we found ourselves making excuses for this city we loved. We actually discounted our impressions somewhat as slumber came on, blaming our feelings on fatigue and readjustment.

Wow, “What a difference a day makes!” I have no idea when I added this quotation note to the notes for this blog, but I did. Sadly, as we made our way back into the City By the Bay, a day, nor the daylight made any difference, we still found the street conditions deplorable. We wandered further in to the heart of the city and were shocked by the encroachment on Union Square of the homeless and more negative element. We climbed our way up the hill to China Town and to a wonderful view of Coit Tower and found some relief from the strife. Circling around we made our way to the Embarcadero and took in some of the Saturday market. We still found ourselves a bit disgusted by the filth and negligence. The smell of urine and sights of human defecation put a blight on this walkable city we have loved.

homeless made camp were being power washed which sent them scattering to the edges but at one point we watched as a set of indigents blasted their boom box and danced while a homeless man in his wheel chair did wheelies in the spray of the machine. I guess it always feels good when your “home” is fresh and “clean.” I thought many times of capturing these scenes on my camera but couldn’t bring myself to intrude into these poor mental, drug and alcohol disabled bunches lives, whether out of fear of the wrath of retaliation or simply human kindness, I skipped capturing those images.

Sunday arrived and we were happy for sunshine and a trip across the bay for MLB play between the A’s and the Orioles. The ease of access via BART between San Francisco and Oakland allowed us to store our luggage with the hotel and ride first to the game which was a 1:05 start and then later after retrieving our bags back again to the Oakland Airport for a late night flight home to Boise. Afternoon baseball under sunny skies is one of my favorite ways to spend a day! Neither team was starting out with much prospect of a successful season but the A’s 2-1 win under sunny 70 degree skies with the smells and sounds of the park satisfied our American professional sports need.

We had talked about a bite to eat in the hotel neighborhood before it was time for our flight but neither of us had the stomach to face the reality we knew we would find. We have discussed it many times since arriving home, San Francisco was simply the most frightening city we traveled to in the Snowbird Flight and the Spring Fling both. It makes me fear what is in store for our society. We must be aware.

Instead of a bite to eat, we grabbed our bags and headed out right after we were back in the city. Out the front door, down the steps and BART was taking us to the final leg of this Spring Fling. We arrived back in Boise after midnight due to a flight delay and Ubered to our daughters and headed up the mountain to settle in for the Summer Season 2018. Laundry and reorganization was the first order of business. 😉

It’s nearly sixty days later now and we’ve hit the ground running with several accomplishments already under our belt. Business is good after seven weeks at BoCo Sluice Box, our home is on the market, plans are in full swing for a family reunion and we are renovating at 204…never a dull moment! Watch for a post here or there over our Summer work season meant to entice you to visit our area! #cometraveltome

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