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Visiting friends

San Francisco

Why we temporarily left Portland.

At the beginning of the year my Australian passport expired. In the most inconvenient way possible it could not be renewed online, I had to go to a consulate. As it turns out the only Australian consulate on the west coast is in San Francisco. However, at the beginning of the year the pandemic was running rampant, so I had to wait before we could risk the journey to San Francisco. The vaccine began to roll out and when it got to over seventy percent in Oregon and California, I figured the risk benefit ratio was correct and so we planned our trip down south.

Oregon hinterland forest fires

Our first idea was to take an overnight sleeper train from Portland to Oakland. This did not seem as risky as sitting in an airtight aluminum tube, filled with potential COVID spreaders, with only recycled air to breathe for hours. The train seemed only slightly riskier than driving our car. However, two days before leaving Julia checked the online train menu, she was looking to see if they had plant only food options. To our surprise she discovered the train had been canceled. We received no messages or emails letting us know about the cancelation. If it were not for Julia’s inquiry about food options, we would have arrived at the Portland train station none the wiser and stuck without a ride to the Golden Gate. It turned out the massive fires burning throughout Oregon where to blame for the cancelation, but I have no idea why they did not inform us.

This left us no choice but to drive our car. It is an electric car and so, at least, it is the most environmentally friendly way of traveling. In any kind of car, we are not capable of driving the seven hundred miles that separate the two magnificent western cities of Portland and San Francisco, without stopping overnight. This meant booking hotel rooms for overnight stays.

115 degrees Fahrenheit

When we started looking for hotels, the Oregon hinterland forest fires spread to Californian. These massive fires are a permanent tragedy. It is so sad that these incredible forests are burning to the ground each year, but this is what happens when you continue to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere with abandon. Both the fires and the pandemic made it exceedingly difficult to find hotels, but we did, and we left as planned.

Driving the Tesla on Autopilot makes for a relaxing journey, but somewhere between Yreka and Redding the air-conditioning failed. This became a grave issue as the ambient outside air temperature reached 115 degrees Fahrenheit, causing the cabin temperature to exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit at times. If it were not for Julia’s brilliant idea to buy a bag of ice, I am sure we would not have made it to the city by the sea. I cannot tell you how good it felt when we reach the outskirts of the Bay Area and the ambient temperature fell to 66 degrees Fahrenheit. I will never take air-conditioning for granted ever again or the very cold summers in San Francisco.

The old Clock, and the Clock Tower in the background

Before you use our misfortune to right off electric cars, consider that it was the lead-acid battery, a holdover from internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, that failed. It got fried due to the excessive heat we had encountered on our trip. Besides, it is the very carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by ICE cars that is causing the excessive heat and fires we are now experiencing. This is why you should consider driving an electric car. Anyway, we made it to San Francisco with only a very mild case of heat exhaustion.

Visiting with friends

We spent much time with our friends in San Francisco. We ate a great deal and drank too much too, but we caught up with most and enjoyed ourselves. To those friends we missed, I am sorry we ran out of time to visit with you, here is an idea: visit us in Portland as you are surely welcome.

Umpqua River

I did get my passport renewed, which was the main reason for the trip. All in all, it was a wonderful journey. However, I am looking forward to returning home to Portland where the weather is warm, the streets are greener and cleaner, and the flowers are blooming.

Thank you everyone for sharing your time, and extra thanks to Maeve and Eamonn for sharing their home with Julia and me.


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