Goshen News, Goshen, IN

September 21, 2013

THE PLAIN SIDE: San Francisco shows all of its beauty to Midwest travelers


— The determined wind sweeping in oft the Pacific snatches at my hat. The eight of us are reaching the San Francisco side walking across the world-famous 1.2-mile Golden Gate Bridge. The day is sunny. The wind is gusty and strong. San Fran is teeming with people on this Fourth of July.

We trot up the steps of the next open-top Big Bus, cruise past the Palace of Fine Arts and are soon on Lombard Street. Unfortunately, we turn off of Lombard before reaching the crooked part. Lombard’s moniker is “the crookedest street in the world,” though it isn’t actually.

After looping through downtown, we turn onto Embarcadero, which borders this city’s famous piers.

It is jammed. We finally inch past Pier 39, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. People are making themselves comfortable along Embarcadero in anticipation of the fireworks show on the bay tonight.

The bus gets back to the terminal too late to connect us to the bus back to our stop at Union Square. So, the bus company gives us a courtesy ride. We do have to sit in the bottom level, but we amuse ourselves quite trippingly.

Mike asks a passerby if this is the bus to San Antonio, and we do a play-by-play on an imaginary basketball game.

Upon reaching our hotel, we reorganize and snatch a taxi down to the piers for the fireworks show.

While waiting for the other four in front of the Ferry building, we have opportunity to observe the river of humanity flowing by. Wow. I don’t recall ever seeing such a variety of ethnicities in one location.

The spot we chose is on a pier between the Ferry building and Bay Bridge. In the growing darkness, hearing the lap of the bay waters beneath us, we face northward, watching for the fireworks display. The Bay Bridge, beautiful at night with its vertical cables lit up and shimmering, is right behind us.

After the fireworks, the children of Israel head out of Egypt. We move with the stream of people off the pier, across the blocked-off Embarcadero and we catch taxies back to the hotel. Our companion, Steve Miller, who for some inexplicable reasons brought his swimming trunks along tonight, gets tired of carrying them. He puts them on. Over his pants. At least it’s dark.

We duke it out over some game boards yet before we retire. Calvin and I pad our undefeated record at the game of Schnicklefritz (four-player checkers) against Mary and Neomah. Three times. I’m like Steve Kerr playing with Michael Jordan. All I need to do is fill my role and let the superstar carry us to victory.

The morning following, we ride a bus east across the Bay Bridge to Emeryville where we catch a train. The destination this time? Modesto, Calif., home of two congregations of German Baptists Brethren. German Baptists have Anabaptist roots, like we Amish.

Mike makes a prediction before we meet the GBs. He predicts it will be “good” to fellowship with people who think like we do.

Later we see that he might as well have said the Pacific is a decent-sized mud puddle. None of us have the slightest idea now of how much we will enjoy the warm Christian love these GBs will show us.

Loren Beachy is an auctioneer and elementary School teacher He can be contacted by writing to 14047 Ind. 4, Goshen, IN 46528 or by calling 642-1180.