Across The Top Of The World

Now I am back in San Francisco, and happy to have returned to bright, warm weather. As at the beginning of the trip, the jet-lag is adding a little sense of dislocation as I move around and encounter things.

The flight home was remarkably smooth – the gate was announced early, and we were ushered straight onto the plane when we arrived at the gate, which is unusual in my experience. I find this leg of the flight much less daunting, and had no trouble staying awake, at various times glued to the view out of the window as we flew over Iceland and Greenland, the snowy Canadian Rockies, and the chain of mountains down the coast from British Columbia to Shasta. There were several forest fires visible from the air, and I landed to the tales of wide-spread power cuts imposed by PG&E, though the wind I experienced in San Francisco was less than forecast.

It really is a fine time of year to be in the city, and I was very happy to get out on my bike for what is now my traditional first outing after a long spell off the bike: through Golden Gate Park to Ocean Beach, and back via Twin Peaks. The air was so clear – I could see out to Point Reyes, and it was wonderful to look down over all the details of the city, including a small fire on San Bruno Mountain.

My body still adheres to English time, so the last couple of mornings have seen very early starts, and I have not lasted long into the evening. Nonetheless I have had plenty of energy for getting back up to speed with things I need to take care of in the weeks to come, including, as I have been telling friends, three weddings and a funeral (the latter in truth being a memorial for a friend’s three recently deceased pets).

I also went downtown on Thursday to buy myself a new laptop, as my old one, which I have had since 2010, did not want to restart after its weeks-long shutdown. I had everything backed up, so nothing is lost, but it added to things to get straight as I settle back in. I have managed to edit and post my talks from the trip, so if you would like to listen to them, they are on the audio page now. I also got the many hundreds of photos onto the new laptop, and will see when I have a chance to really sit down and go through them.

England already seems a long way behind; the last few days were very enjoyable, from hurtling south at the very back of a train from Leeds on Monday morning, getting to spend time with some friends in London and taking in some sights around town. The weather was slightly less grey this week, except for one sharp downpour on Tuesday that we dodged into a cafe to sit out.

If I look back, I can picture the various elements that always make up the trip: time with friends; time with family; teaching in different settings that are now much more familiar to me; time sitting in stations and cafes enjoying coffee and sandwiches or pastries, watching people; and many hours on trains watching the countryside. This latter was almost universally restful – probably just as well, as by rough calculation I clocked up a thousand miles on trains this time around. Would that I could easily do the same in California…

DSCF0838Modern architecture reflecting the sky in the City of London.

DSCF0848Alongside which, centuries-old alleys and courtyards, offering shortcuts and refuge.

DSCF0975Part of the frozen north, over Greenland.

DSCF0994The Canadian Rockies from the plane.

DSCF1009One of the fires burning in the north west.

DSCF1025The Farallones and a pacific Pacific as we descended over the Golden Gate.

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