San Francisco and trailers don’t really go together. After a spectacular entrance into the city, across the majestic Golden Gate Bridge from Marin County and up the main (mostly flat) drag of Van Ness, things got dramatic.
For anyone who’s never been to San Francisco, those hills are serious. We’re talking gradients of 15% and cars that have to park pointed out onto the street to stop them from sliding down.
Our own ascents and descents were accompanied by the sounds of tha-dumps (the trailer), violent churnings and squeaks (the hitch) and general clatter (our belongings inside the trailer).
Daniel looked increasingly worried.
Luckily, having already crossed the Rockies, we knew how the car’s gears worked.
That didn’t stop the general public from rushing onto the street to watch us drag the Airstream up Bernal Hill and then partly back down it at what looked like a near-vertical angle, as we approached the home of my friend Olivia Mole.
Londoner Olivia spent a summer in Pelham, New York, living with the Rowlands (who seem to directly or indirectly have introduced us to much of northern California) when we were both 18. We met again in London, once I had moved there, and then she relocated to LA to take advantage of a green card she had won and pursue a career in animation.
At the crest of the rollercoaster-like hill, Daniel suggested I run to the bottom to photograph the truck and trailer’s descent – for your enjoyment, dear reader.
Having done this and hugged Olivia, who had been watching the spectacle of our arrival out various windows of her house, I turned around to see the Airstream caught in a tree – and hear the scratching of twigs and gnawing of large branches against its lovingly mirror polished surface.
Face fallen, Daniel couldn’t go forward or back. We all looked up to the sky for divine intervention. Amazingly, it arrived immediately, in the form of a saw wielding lady named Jill.
“The people who live in front of this tree and the one over there are renters, I do this all the time,” she said, casually. “The city collects garden refuse once a week”, she added, indicating towards the green bin she had thoughtfully wheeled with her.
And she started sawing. Once she had gotten the most offensive large branches down, she handed over the saw to Daniel, who worked on the medium sized ones. Then Olivia and I finished off the smallest ones, to facilitate Daniel’s painful reversal up the giant hill.
After a meticulous parking job and unhitching, we all giggled nervously and kind of decided to pretend nothing had happened.
Claire – On maternity leave from career as editor of monthly finance trade magazines, and occasionally a freelance translator. Half-American/half-English, raised in the suburbs of New York, has lived in London for almost nine years.
Daniel – Furniture designer/maker based on London’s Columbia Road flower market, for ten years, also an aspiring painter and DIY supremo. On one-year career break to reconsider options. English by birth, but mother is half-American and spent part of her childhood in Bronxville, New York.
Sophia – 3.5-year old spitfire who loves school, singing, swimming and being a big sister
Lulu – Born May 8 of this year, a model baby who eats, sleeps and gurgles.
Special guests – American, British and international friends and family who drop in along our trip to see whatever part of the country they fancy. They’re welcome to travel in the car with us and sleep in an adjoining tent.