Grampa Bill Index

Travel in the USA Index

First Days in SF

Street People

Going to Colorado

At My Sister's House

Going to Chicago/Michigan

East Lansing - 1

East Lansing - 2

Goodbye Michigan -
Hello Chicago & KC

January 24-25, 2012

Dear Students,

My first full day in San Francisco went very well. I got to San Francisco on Monday to a little rain and mist but that cleared up by the time I got to the Adelaide Hostel about 10:00 am. By noon I had been to the passport/visa agency and had ordered a second passport, a passport card, and new pages in my old passport with the promise it would be back in my hands by Wednesday.

Monday afternoon I spent the time getting to know the Adelaide Hostel (you should look up the word hostel in your dictionary - it is different from a hotel) and the neighborhood. I took a nap in the afternoon, went to the nearby store several times for food (all the stuff I should not be eating like quick fix noodles) , and hung out with the college aged young people in the common room, watching TV, and just watching and listening to the conversations. I was pretty wound up from my trip - and even if I had been up for many hours I had trouble falling asleep. After I did fall asleep, I didn't wake up until 10:30 am on Tuesday the 24th.

Tuesday (January 24, 2012)

I missed the FREE breakfast but the employees had mercy on this old man and gave me an English muffin and an orange. I hit the street about 11:00 am, bought a three day local transit pass and took the F Trolley line to the Fisherman Terminal to find the Amtrak station. Sure enough the very nice Amtrak employee told me that none of my expired picture IDs were any good BUT if I had two valid credit cards in my name, I could ride. I did have two, she issued the Rail Pass and my tickets and then the fun began.

I had told her about teaching in China at Shandong and she said she had a Chinese/Vietnamese immigrant employee named Ming Tran and she was teaching her some workplace English. We had a wonderful English teaching lesson for almost an hour. What a wonderful Amtrak employee! I need to get a picture of her on Friday when I go to get on the train.

Well, I visited with tourist the rest of the afternoon, getting several of them to take pictures of me. I heard people speaking Spanish, Russian, German, French, Chinese and many other languages - this town is a tourist mecca even in winter. It was about 55 degrees so just the right walking temperature. I visited with three men that had hats similar to mine - one man wanted to know about teaching in China - he was just six months older than me. Many of the shop keepers were of Chinese or Spanish ancestry.

The traffic was not bad - very calm compared to Beijing or Jinan. And of course, there are lots of people but not near as many as in the cities of China. I bought some postcards to share with you students - some were 3 for a dollar, some for 5 for a dollar - and one place they were 7 for a dollar. So far I have bought 24 postcards from San Francisco. I will buy cards from other places for you all to see.

I went back to the hostel about 4:30 - no problems at all getting around. I sent my first trip email to my students in China (to you - with pictures - I plan to put some pictures on the Internet)

Just after dinner I got a voice mail message that my passport was back and ready for pickup - wow, what service! Now I still need to get the Chinese reentry visa - I will apply for that on Wednesday.

Wednesday (January 25, 2012)

My second full day went very well too. I called the visa place and they said to come in the afternoon so I decided to go site seeing in the morning. The weather was nice with sunshine coming down and no wind - it was nice to be in the sun with no wind - cool but not cold. I walked up several blocks and caught a trolley car. San Francisco is famous for these cable cars. There used to be eight cable car systems but now there are three left. Big wire cables that run under ground pull the cars across the city. It is definitely a tourist attraction - lots of people from Australia were riding on the car with me.

I ended up on the North shore of San Francisco at the Aquatic Park where there is a National Maritime Park - there area number of restored ships and boats - fishing boats, tug boats, and other working boats. I met three students from Argentina (we took pictures for each other) and I talked to some of the workers that were restoring the boats.

Later I took a second cable car line to the cable car museum. There were young students learning about the history of their city. From there I walked down to an area known as "Chinatown". Many of the original Chinese to California came from southeast China - and they speak a dialect of Chinese that I can not understand. Some of the tourist groups I have met speak Putonghua but the only fellow I have talked with was Wu Chen who I met on the first day. I really wasn't impressed with Chinatown since I have spent so much time in the real thing.

San Francisco has many "street people" that beg for money. Some just sit with a cup in their hands, some are very aggressive in asking for money, and a few offer something in return (like playing some music, or offering art for sale.) I have to say that I sometimes give a few coins up to a dollar but not always. I am not sure why I give to some but not to others. I have included some pictures of the artist and musicians but not the beggars.

--Insert-----Written after my return to China-----------

Joseph Clark
San Francisco street artist since 1996

Down by Union Square I met Joseph Clark selling his art when I was out taking pictures specifically of people selling something. I asked him if I could take his picture and explained that I was teaching in China and wanted to share a little about him with my students. He agreed and I took a photo. In return I bought a picture from him, Plankton Neighborhood.

He explained his philosophy of art - "Being a street artist makes my art available to everyone that happens to walk by me that day. . . . I have sold my art to poor people, rich people, old people, kids, art collectors. . . I have sold my art to movie stars, musicians, comedians . . . . I am the only person who sells my art. I am very exclusive. The bottom line here people, is people enjoy my art and put it on their walls, which is why I make it. " I liked his philosophy and we negotiated a price - he signed the work, put his web address on the back, rolled it up, and threw in the rubber band for FREE. I brought it to Shandong Sport University to share with my students. The reaction has been great!

Students wrote on a test about his art and studied his website. Lots of discussion was generated and that is what I wanted to happen. My encounter with him, though brief, was one of the most rewarding episodes in my journey to the USA.

-----End of insert--------

I picked up my passport with extra pages and my second new passport but didn't order my China visa from this service because they didn't seem to be knowledgeable about some questions I had. I have a Chinese friend in Texas that has got me visas before and who I called and he will get the Chinese visa. I finished off the day by locating the nearest US Post Office so I could send my Passport to Michael Du the next day.

I am sitting in the common room at the Adelaide Hostel now with six fellows from Australia - they are over here on a tour - all of them are 21 to 23 years old. They will spend 3 months traveling the US. This is good practice for my English listening - they speak English but with a very interesting accent. They are also celebrating "Australia Day" which is a great holiday for them so they are having some pretty heavy drinks.

Tomorrow: Mail my passport to Texas for the Chins visa; one more cable car to ride; maybe visit the Golden Gate Bridge, prepare for the train trip on Friday.

WRE & cable-car

WRE & schooner

WRE & ships

Turn the cable car

WRE on the cable car

USPO in Chinatown

WRE at the Adelaide Hostel