Sunday, 13 September 2009

Day 8: San Rafael, CA - Battle Mountain, NV

OK, so ZMM ends with the Pirsigs travelling south on US-101 towards San Francisco.  Mark Richardson reveals, however, that they continued south to stay with friends in Hollywood before returning to the Twin Cities by a more southerly route including, though obviously not limited to, Utah and Nebraska.

The story of the man and his son, though, ends in San Francisco, in November 1979.  If you've read Richardson, or the 25th Anniversary edition, or Wikipedia, you'll know the outcome, but if not...

The concerns expressed by The Narrator over Chris' mental health proved all too real, and following a spell in hospital he was discharged on condition that he moved to California, to study at the Zen Center in San Francisco and live and work at the center's farm north of the city.  By 1979, he was turned around, studying both at the Zen Center and at San Francisco State College.  Philosophy, naturally.  He'd bought a motorcycle, and a plane ticket to England, planning on visiting his father and Bob's second wife, who were holed up in Falmouth after sailing the Atlantic, including weathering the storm which killed fifteen competitors in the Fastnet yacht race that year.

He never got a chance to use the ticket; on the evening of the day he bought it, a street robbery went wrong and Chris, the victim, was stabbed to death a block away from the Zen Center, fewer than two weeks before his twenty-third birthday.  So the final port of call had to be the  Zen Center at 300 Page Street, in the Haight-Ashbury district of the city.

In keeping with the sombre mood, there had been heavy rain overnight, and there was still drizzle, low cloud and lightning flickering behind the hills as I set out.  Fog prevented me from seeing the Golden Gate bridge, so instead here's a picture I took in 2005, when the weather was nice. 
The city was also shrouded in mist, thereby preventing any attempts at photography.  So I turned about, hit I-80 and drove up to Sacramento before the rain stopped.  East almost to Lake Tahoe, then south over the Sierra Nevada to US-395, through Bridgeport, Hawthorne, Luning, Gabbs and almost to Austin before turning north on NV-305 to Battle Mountain.  And down the newly-resurfaced course.  You could roll pastry on it, if you didn't mind the odd bit of dust and grit in your pie crust.

It's always a relief when your reservation, made on teh Intarwebs three months ago, turns out to have been received and understood.  It's even better when you open the door and find your room is as big as one floor of your house, containing two double beds and a lounge/kitchen with sofa, fridge/freezer, four-ring cooker and oven, microwave, dishwasher and toaster.  I may find myself sub-letting bits of it...

Thought for the day: why do so many "gas" pumps in California ask me to enter my "ZIP Code" (whatever one of those might be) after I've swiped my credit card through the reader on the pump.  Look, you stupid machine, I'm a BRITON, and do not have a "ZIP Code".  Now STFU and sell me some f*****g petrol.


  1. Harumph - well I guess I won't be able to share all the wine I collected on my birthday with you this year! Scargs

  2. I feel ever so terribly guilty about this, but there was no way I could predict when I'd be arriving in the Bay Area - and when I *did* get to San Rafael, I was ready to fall asleep on the spot. Which I then did.

    (Looks sheepish)