The drive north to the edge of San Francisco Bay, where the fishing boats moor between catches, took less than an hour. We were early, as is our way; even after dog walking and driving; we were at Ghirardelli Square before 10 am. We were inspired to order real hot cocoa with whipped cream on top in the little shop amongst the chi-chi boutiques in the old brick surroundings that were once a chocolate factory.
We spent some time amazed at the clothing for canines available in "Yap Wraps". If your petite four-footed champion needs a pleated tennis skirt this is the place to come. Halloween is behind us and we had been subjected to something suspiciously resembling Christmas music at the cafe, now, here in the land of the well dressed dog, red diaphanous lingerie baby dolls were available trimmed with faux ermine or ostrich plumes. My favorite outfit was for a larger, sportier breed; something resembling a wet suit or a onesey with hood; Velcro closure along the tummy and at the wrists/ankles of the long sleeves; so that the long-legged companion can romp and play, pretending to be an animal, without fear of muddying the white Berber carpet or matching love seats upon his return to his apartment on Nob Hill.
As the street vendors set up their tables of earrings, necklaces and souvenir cable car refrigerator magnets, we strolled past a gallery or two, avoided being convinced to go on a one hour boat tour out under the bridge and back around Alcatraz, and sidled through the space between the solid wall of tee-shirts and the peddlers of fresh cooked crab and chowder on the other. A sea lion was lazily swirling around in the water, a cormorant was serenely paddling in place and Brown Pelicans were dive bombing a shoal of fish just off the quay. The air was full of the squawking of seagulls and a rival squadron of flying rodents, otherwise known as pigeons, was on the alert for the discarded sourdough shells from which the tourists spoon the goopy clam mess, mostly into their mouths. Swooping in under the piers with greater agility and less fanfare than the seagulls, Captain Pigeon and his mates managed to grab a full breakfast and strafe my previously pristine plum colored jacket with corrosive spatters of pigeon exhaust contrails. The story of my life stays reassuringly on subject.
We had lunch upstairs at Tarantinos and were so engrossed in the goings on below that we hardly noticed the view of the full span of The Golden Gate Bridge seen through the masts of the fishing fleet. On the street was a man who has been a fixture in that same spot for years. His props are a few branches which he holds before him in camouflage. He squats quietly watching for the unwary, then "Boo!" he starts forward into the crowd and grown men shriek like girls, women leap across the sidewalk clutching at their purses and all the onlookers laugh, hoping no-one got them on film when it was their turn. I wonder what this, now wizened, older man said to his school counselors on career day? I want to grow up to be a shrub with terrible interpersonal skills?
After lunch the rhythm of The Wharf was picking up.The grubby sidewalks and tacky storefronts rendered invisible under tennis shooed feet and behind the milling bodies of those out of towners who were enjoying a sunny Autumn day by the Bay. We headed back to our car and took the Great Highway south towards home.