Surfer Girl

Being on the West coast put me in a peaceful mood. Contrary to the East coast, which is more gradual in its changes, the landscapes here seem to morph at every turn in the road. From LA, we of course chose to take Highway 1 up to San Francisco. Even though we knew that for time’s sake, we shouldn’t. Although Highway 1 isn’t terribly variant of Route 5 when it comes to distance, the curvy mountainous roads can cut your average speed in half. In our case, probably a quarter.

All that beauty...
Look at all that beauty..

One of my goals for the trip was to avoid having to drive at night, because in my completely snag-free plan, there would be no reason to. Of course, life is made of snags, most of them good ones. In this case, it was finding it hard to resist the relentless slew of scenic overlooks that we passed along the way.

Wild elephant seals!
Wild elephant seals!

Even though I felt like a slave driver at times on this trip, even I couldn’t help wanting to just spend the day sitting by the ocean rather than continuing forward. The day was perfect. About 60 degrees and sunny with some patchy stratus clouds, the kind that are ideal for sunsets. We drove through the better part of the day, stopping in Big Sur to sit by the water.  On the first few hours of the car ride, we worked on learning a cover for our show. Here is a recording of our first time performing an a cappella version of “Surfer Girl” out on the rocks of the good old Pacific Coast in late February.

We got our quintessential Pacific Coast sunset right before hitting Montery. At this point, it became apparent that it was going to get dark out and we still had a good three hours of curvy mountainous roads ahead of us and only two hours before our show in San Francisco. We made one last needless pit stop at the world’s fanciest McDonalds in Salinas. (By the way, I’m proud to report that this was one of our only fast food stops over the course of the trip.) It looked like a place where one might hold their wedding reception, complete with lantern string lights, a patio and a waterfall. We were beckoned by the fine decor and decided to go inside. Sure, these beach towns are pretty wealthy, but that didn’t stop one guy from trying to get us to by him chicken nuggets. When his friends asked him what he was doing he turned and said ‘I’m trying to get these hot girls to buy me nuggets.’ Tactful!

It was at this moment that we realized that it was officially dark out and we were officially late to our show. We booked it the rest of the way there, looking only at the road and ignoring all things scenic. We made it into San Francisco in good time. While Sandy drove directly into the city I must have fallen asleep, very uncharacteristic of me to do in a car so that’s how I know that I must have been abnormally tired. I woke up to signs for Polk Street, along with bright lights and loud music. Polk Street is where our venue, Hemlock Tavern is located. Once we were parked, we literally had to run up one of those iconic city hills with all of our instruments in our arms.

My view after waking up on Polk Street.
My view after waking up on Polk Street.

We arrived at Hemlock out of breath and relieved. The bouncer smiled at us and said ‘good timing. You’re on!’ And that we were. We ran up on stage, set up our instruments in fast-forward mode and proceeded to play our set. All of that adrenalin and the fact that I was still in a dreamy haze must have helped in some weird way, because we played a really fun show. Lots of people, lots of grooving.

The best part about playing in San Francisco was that all of the bands who played were from Rochester NY. It was an interesting juxtaposition seeing old friends all the way out here. Two of the people, Dave and Laura used to be in a band called the Dads in Rochester. They moved to Oakland about a year ago and started a band. This was their first show as a band called The Jerfs.

The Jerfs  Photo credit:  Kathryn Russell
The Jerfs
Photo credit:
Kathryn Russell

The other act was that of Lauren O’Connell. Another friend from back when I was in a band called Paul’s Grandfather and even before that, when I was in Little Beast. We used to play house shows together all of the time when I was probably just out of high school. Although we sadly missed her set, we know that she is an amazing artist so you should all go check out her music: http://laurenoconnell.com/

After the show, we were pretty exhausted but we stayed for a couple of Dark and Stormys, my favorite kind of cocktail. Lucky for us, we had nowhere to be in the morning, so another day of adventure in San Francisco awaited us on the other side of a long, overdue sleep.

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