Thursday, June 9, 2022

'Love Tour' takes visitors around San Francisco with a hippie spin

 

A VW bus is painted in colorful fashion as Christene "Cookie" Meyers and Bruce Keller
enjoy a tour down memory lane to the summer of love and more.

JANIS, JIMI, HISTORY, ART, HAIGHT-ASHBURY COME ALIVE ABOARD VW 'HIPPIE BUS' TOUR


  



STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

Above, top right: the home of famed guitarist Jimi Hendrix
 at 1524 Haight Street, is featured on entertaining Love Tour.
Above, the neatly mowed lawns of The Presidio.

FROM ITS famous streets to its nightclubs, galleries, monuments, stately mansions, street musicians, dive bars, posh eateries and renowned cable cars, San Francisco is a city to behold, savor and revisit.
The city's Love Tours is a heartfelt way to see this intriguing and mixed-bag town in new light.
Whether you're a frequent visitor or a newcomer to the city by the bay, this entertaining look at one of the world's most photographed towns is guaranteed to have you tapping your toes and remembering way back when. We two aging hippies booked the tour, which includes a musical soundtrack as visitors admire the sights and streets, bars and cafes frequented by the hippie generation during the 1960s and '70s.
But San Francisco's Love Tours is more than that. It weaves in the broader history of the town, too -- its ethnic mix, architecture, military past, the great 1906 earthquake and fire and more.
Five buses and a cadre of expert driver/guides take tourists down a splashy memory lane featuring not only the beat generation, but highlights of one of the world's most colorful cities.
  Crooked Lombard Street -- designed in 1922 -- is the result
 of engineers who deemed the hill too steep for vehicles.

 
From book stores to military housing and time honored nightclubs, we explored this pretty city of hills, parks, winding streets, tattoo parlors and more.

WE SAW  sturdy buildings that survived the 1906 earthquake, buildings erected for the Pan Pacific Exposition in 1915 to herald the opening of the Panama Canal, and the stately, well manicured digs of the Presidio which dates back to 1776. The Presidio represents the longest operating Army installation in the American West, and California's days as both a Spanish colony and territory of Mexico.
A vintage fire truck by The Cannery near Fisherman's
Wharf, is another tour in historic, lively San Francisco.


This interesting part of town -- near fabled Golden Gate Bridge -- reflects the spirit of the city: a pleasing urban suburban mix with plenty of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. We savored it all, with a leisurely look at the elegant Palace of Fine Arts. 
WE STOPPED beneath the much photographed Golden Gate Bridge, while listening to the van's varied soundtrack including Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and a mix of other iconic singers. Our group of six sang along with Joplin's "Mercedes Benz," then Roger Miller's "King of the Road" and the original Andrews Sisters' "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." Wayne Newton, the aging king of the fabled Las Vegas strip, made a guest appearance with a couple tunes. Remember "Danke Schoen"? We did.
Japan Center is symbolic of what gives
San Diego its international feel.

So we could take photos, our amiable driver Andrew drove patiently past the home of Jimi Hendrix twice, pausing for photos at the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets, “The Haight” still exudes vibes of the 1960s counterculture and its revolutionary spirit. Andrew described the culture then and now, noting vintage clothes shops, music stores, pop posters and body piercing shops. 
Although the Summer of Love ended decades ago, Haight-Ashbury has morphed into an eye-catching melting pot of hippies, hipsters, and professionals. As we drove through its streets, we stepped back in time. Grateful Dead tunes emphasized our time travel.  
SOON, ANDREW cautiously turned down Lombard Street, that famously crooked avenue. He skillfully maneuvered eight hairpin turns and pointed out beautifully landscaped flowerbeds.
Alfred, both driver and guide, has a keen sense of humor and provided plenty of amusing anecdotes, stops for photographs and places to use the bathroom. Between soundtracks, he regaled us with tales of the key players in San Francisco's hippie days.

A day care group trudges up a hill in a "buddy rope" which
helps keep them together and navigate the slopes.

THE CITY has been home to scores of the rich, famous and notorious.  Andrew had insights into Patty Hearst, and her time in San Francisco.  Like any good tour guide, he was interested in our questions and take on things, including the town's mansions, neighborhoods and its impact on us.
He knew the childhood home of Mel Blanc, that unforgettable voice of Bugs Bunny and dozens of other cartoon characters. He pointed out two homes inhabited at various times by actor Nicholas Cage.
He explained the city's evolution and its changing neighborhoods, pointing out that stately homes in now gentrified neighborhoods have replaced bawdy pockets of cheap rent. The draw then for young people was the excitement, the counterculture's promise of "drug, sex and rock 'n' roll."
If you look closely, you'll see a blue heron in the center tree,
in a much loved oasis, center stage in Golden Gate Park.


WE STOPPED in the middle of Golden Gate Park to admire a blue heron, nesting above the lake -- a wonderful sight in a city of 875,000 people. It was fun, too, to be noticed in the classic, colorfully painted VW van, Love Tours' symbol.
People often flashed us the peace sign, and we were photographed by at least a dozen other tourists. The advertising gimmick of the colorful VW van is an effective marketing tool for a happy, entertaining half-day in a fascinating, ever changing city.

More information for a delightful San Francisco tour option. Five-star fun.
www.sanfranciscolovetours.com 


 
A house for Yellowstone National Park workers
hits the river near Gardiner, Montana, now off limits.

UP NEXT: Montana and Yellowstone National Park are faced with tremendous flood damage due to heavy rainfall and hot temperatures which have forced snow from the mountains in terrifying record-breaking river water levels.  Yellowstone has closed all five of its gates to tourists, evacuating visitors and cancelling reservations.  This is a first in the park's 150 years.  The north part of the park may not be reopened until much later but workers are struggling with other entrances. We're traveling through that part of the world right now, so we'll take you there. Remember to explore, learn, and live and catch us weekly for an update on nature, travel, the arts, family and more: www.whereiscookie.com Please share the link.
 


3 comments:

  1. This is a fun read! Always learn something about your travels-- and YOU TWO.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very fun story about an ever changing city .

    ReplyDelete
  3. Colorado Road TrippersJune 14, 2022 at 9:52 AM

    Good read, great photos. Always a pleasure to follow and learn from your travels.

    ReplyDelete