Use caution – Walking routes may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths.

Saturday brings the end to my graduate orientation conference, and also utter exhaustion. I’ve been the driver for out-of-towners, happily, but meaning I am the last home and the first up. Last night, after considering asking the first person I was going to pick up at 5:50 whether I could use his shower this morning, and then filling my bathtub with mild exasperation over the course of a half an hour, walking around my apartment in various stages of disrobement, trying to fill time with putting stuff away, I got to bed at one am. I woke up every hour on the hour, until my alarm went off at 5:15, for a grand total of four glorious hours of broken restless sleep during which I migrated back and forth across my bed many times and lost one sock, probably for good. Have you ever been to a yoga class where you kind of forget what you’re doing while you’re in a pose? That was me this morning. My hands went numb when I passed out on top of my computer during a 15 minute break, and then I passed out again on a deck chair by the pool, to be woken, disoriented and with bright red cheeks, by a kind and apparently more-punctual-than-I classmate.

Anyway, an old college friend of mine who I haven’t seen in a long time is having a party at his house in downtown San Francisco tonight and I figured since I’m already over here it would be easy to stop by on my way back. So I was checking directions from a place I know I can park and google has this new walking feature available. Great right? I think that’s pretty cool, especially here in the Bay Area where we not only have many one-way streets, but traffic diversions and myriad incredible walking paths in our urban areas, particularly in Berkeley. For those who don’t know, Berkeley was actually designed intentionally around the philosophy that people should be able to walk everywhere, so there are literally hundreds of paths snaking their way up the Berkeley hillsides behind old beautiful craftsman and Spanish revival style homes, oaks littering the stairs with their sharp pointed leaves and gracing the sky with their elegant old limbs, and the occasional cement bench, sitting lonely on some landing through the seasons, occasionally providing a place for respite on the stairs climbing… climbing… climbing.

So I clicked on the walking route option, and jotted down the directions. It’s nice because his house is a beautiful five story, narrow house, with a view of downtown SF. It’s perched atop the hill that Coit tower is on, and I thought I’d walk over there to see the sunset, a beautiful peaceful denouement to these last days full of inspiration and excitement. Walking this area of downtown SF is appealing to me, partially I think because it’s located so close to the water, there are these little green parks, which though not stunningly landscaped are a welcome break from the typical concrete and steel of a downtown area. I also like the cliffs, which feel like “the real” shining through in almost entirely fabricated environment. The cliffs are also the reminder of where you are, a city that has been built around hills, hills that are a part of the identity of San Francisco in not only the mythology but the way the streets were laid out and the modes of transportation that were developed. Anyway, I’m looking closer at this map and noticing that it kind of sort of looks like the path goes up a cliff. And then I notice the disclaimer “Walking in Beta- Use caution – Walking routes may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths.” Well lacking legitimate directions, at least I already got a laugh. I don’t know if it’s sleep deprivation, excessive caffeine, or my mischievous streak, but I may be anticipating the walk more than the party.

Also, I like the phrase “walking in beta,” I think it’s a joke for when your friend’s children are learning to walk, or when an adult friend trips or stumbles while walking (as long as they’re not hurt, of course :)).

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