Monday, October 15, 2012

Back street shuffle

We are parked on the street in an industrial area of Menlo Park (map).  We've stayed in this spot before, and it is a convenient jump-off point for visits with our nieces and their family across the freeway in the, umm, nicer part of town.  We're happy to be here, though, because you can't even park an automobile on the street overnight in a residential district here.


As a side note, we're just a few blocks from Facebook headquarters, and I keep seeing tourists posing for photos in front of their sign, which consists of the "like" icon and nothing else.  They took over a campus that formerly belonged to Sun Microsystems, before that company was bought by Oracle, and which we all colloquially called "Sun Quentin" because its proximity to the bay and position all alone on the approach to a major bay crossing is eerily similar to the famous prison.  I've heard cubicles compared to prison cells on more than one occasion, too.

We've been here for the legal maximum of 72 hours, so later today we will move to a new spot, which must be at least 0.2 miles away.  Too bad, because this one is nice and quiet, with a vacant building on one side and a high-end law office on the other.

Before we came here, we spent three days in another familiar spot not far away, in Redwood City (map).  The renovation of the office complex to the east is nearly complete, and the tenant has started to move in, which will likely render that spot unusable soon.  Immediately across the street are a fencing company and a tree service, neither of which has enough room in its lot even for its own company vehicles, let alone any customer or employee parking, and a street full of RVs (there were no fewer than five rigs when we left) seems to annoy them.  Neither business could get an occupancy permit there today -- you need to have on-site parking for all your vehicles, employees, and customers, without relying on the street.  I don't think we'll be back to that spot any time soon.

Before we moved the bus there from our really nice digs over by the Hiller museum, we bit the bullet and rented a car.  In the past we've been lucky enough to be offered the unlimited use of spare cars from any of a number of friends, but on this visit, owing in part to some newly-of-age drivers in those families, we could only get a day here or a few hours there, and that makes for a crazy schedule.  Our discount at Budget got us a weekly rate of just $138, tax included, on a Ford Focus with good fuel mileage and all the bells and whistles, so we've been tooling around in that for the past week.

That "tooling around" would include a visit this weekend with my cousin, who is in the process of moving to the east bay from upstate New York.  As I wrote here a month ago, that was a big factor in our deciding to come to California in the bus this time, and it will keep us here at least through Thanksgiving.  At the moment he's living out of a hotel in San Ramon, where we picked him up before driving over to Oakley to look at neighborhoods where they hope to buy a house.  We had a nice dinner in San Ramon before heading back to the peninsula.

Overall it has been a busy week since last I posted.  While Louise was at the Madonna concert, I spent Monday evening with Stephanie's family and friends.  Tuesday we had lunch with Louise's mom, followed by our regular weekly dinner with our motorcycle group, which had a nice turnout and where we got to see at least a few folks who were not also at the wedding.  Friday we had a pair of 50th birthday parties for our good friend Eric (one party with his neighbors, and a second one with his college chums -- not sure how we made the guest list for both).  In between we ran a lot of errands and got in some face time with various friends in the area.

Yesterday we did some driving around to scope out our other parking options.  One of our all-time greatest spots, in Mountain View where Google provides free WiFi, was between two long-vacant buildings, an old HP tech facility and the former work-release dorm for the country.  Both of those have now been bulldozed, and the work-release site now sports an almost-complete class-A office building.  Too bad, because in addition to the free WiFi, it was just a short walk to the light rail station from there.

The slow, steady economic recovery here keeps eliminating good parking spots, but there are still plenty of acceptable ones left.  In addition to a very small handful of transient visitors such as ourselves, there are also still a fair number of locals living day to day in their rigs here.  While that can tend to mobilize community opposition to on-street parking, it also provides us a litmus test of where parking is and is not tolerated.  We try to stay under the radar, and to paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi, we are not the droids they're looking for.

Later this week we will move over to the Fremont Elks lodge, where there is a dump station.  We don't need the power, but it's always good to top up the batteries when we can, too.  I am hoping to learn by the end of the week what will be happening on the Oakley housing front, which will dictate where we head after that.  It's possible we'll be in Oakley next week, or else back in the south bay getting in some more visits.

Photo by Patrick Haney used under a creative commons license.


  1. Nice update. I was marveling at how if you had been a little further south on this journey, you could have seen the shuttle depart, and arrive on the other side of the country. I'm not sure NASA would have appreciated getting beat by a Neoplan (which they used to use for tours there!). If you haven't ever tried it, we have had wonderful luck renting cars via Priceline. Unlike the airlines, renting cars there is mostly pain free. I've never paid more than $12 a day, and usually end up with a much larger car if I want it. We routinely get cars for $9 a day on a week long rental.

  2. Tell your cousin to check the rush hour traffic on Hwy 4 if they plan on commuting anywhere west of Oakley - one of the worst jams in the Bay Area. On the other hand, easy Delta access.


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