Day 11: San Francisco Knights

After the Academy of Sciences, I went to go meet one of my best friends from USF, Kaelie.  Kaelie is one of those friends I cherish deeply because of how happy and positive she is about life.  We always have fun when we hang out.  From going to parties, walking around the park and even chillin’ at “the tree,” we hung out almost everyday in college. Her brother is a wide receiver for Washington State so I was going to a “cougar” bar to watch the game with her and her boyfriend, Derek.  One thing that Kaelie and I both have in common is our love and sports and of competition. She always supported my teams so I did the same for her.  We walked up to the bar and a WSU flag was waving out front, signaling that we were at the right spot. Tonight, the cougars were playing a USC team featuring  future NFL quarterback Sam Darnold, so it was a big game.  In these types of situations where I’m an “outsider,” I try my best to fit in with blanket football terms to make it sound like I know what I’m talking about.  Phrases like “the QB play this year has been great” to “yeah, but they haven’t played anybody good” normally does the trick.  I also just try and follow whatever Kaelie is doing since she knows all the proper cheers and the names of the players. The game started and I quickly realized I was in another universe.  The place was packed with cougar fans and before I knew it, I was doing all the cheers and I even had a sticker on my shirt.  It was a great atmosphere to be around with great friends and a great game as the cougars came out on top.  Nora was also able to meet us there before we left to hit our next location: the infamous Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle was a staple among my group of friends in college.  It’s located in a less than ideal location but the main draw has always been the music.  Every time we go in, they are playing late 90’s/early 00’s hip hop and the atmosphere is always laid back and relaxed.  It’s “popping” but there is enough room to get some space to yourself.  Walking in there gave me all sorts of feels as I started to reminisce about all those nights hopping around the city to all the favorite spots.  So many memories not only inside that particular bar but walking/busing to and from the other bars around the city.

Personal Ranking:

Favorite SF bars:

  1. Ireland’s 32: cousins got me in here when I was 18
  2. Blarney Stone:  football Sunday, every giants/49er playoff game
  3. Buckshot: duck hunter, skee ball, $2 beers
  4. Edinburgh Castle: music, memories
  5. Bitter End: pool, darts

We ended up getting a table in Edinburgh which worked out nicely as it allowed us to continue talking about the Washington State win and gave us a good vantage point of who was in the bar.  We ended up running into another former USF’er, Cormac, who I hadn’t seen since my last year in the city.  It is these kinds of moments that stick with me because it reminded me of the bonds I had made in my 4(.5) years of college and how special they all were.  I hadn’t kept contact with Cormac but it was nice to kick it and catch up for a few minutes.  After that, the night moved quickly as Nora and I made our way back to the sunset.

I slept pretty late at Nora’s that night and it was worth it as I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to go.  It was still the weekend and I was planning on going out again to watch the other college football games with Kaelie and Derek that night. Before that though, I wanted to explore my old city a little bit more since I planned to leave the next day.  I felt the urge to go to the Golden Gate Bridge but instead of walking up to it as I had previously, I drove to it.  I ended up finding the perfect little vantage point high above the kiosks and entrance to the bridge.  It was one of the coolest, most unique views of the bridge I had seen in person.

Golden Gate Bridge

I also visited my alma mater, the University of San Francisco.  The memories came flooding back to me as I walked around campus.  I visited the church and saw all the new buildings but I was happy to see Lone Mountain looked relatively the same.  I could still sit at one of my favorite views that I used to relax at everyday on my mail route.

St. Ignatius
View from Lone Mtn.

I met up with Kaelie and Derek later on that night in the Marina.  That neighborhood was a place I hadn’t explored much during my college years but I found I liked it this time around.  We went to a bar that was filled to the brim with college football fans.  Every inch of it was taken up; tables, chairs and bar stools all occupied.  Everywhere I looked, people were grouped with their different colors: blue and yellow UCLA, red and white Ohio state and maroon and orange Virginia Tech (which is where we belonged.) I loved being in an environment like that despite the lack of space.  People were cheering and crying simultaneously while craning their necks to look at TV’s shoved in corners and any available wall space.  Alcohol, college football and team camaraderie seemed to keep rivalries from simmering into full blown fights but regardless, it was a fun place to be.  We ended up eating dinner in the Marina until finally making our way to Haight street to end the night where I finally fell victim to my lack of sleep. After two too many beers I was forced to call it a night and Kaelie was nice enough to make sure I got home in one piece and let me crash on her couch.  I slept peacefully knowing this was my last night in the city I call my second home.


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