Karl Malden may have left us, but the streets of San Francisco are alive and well

I thought I’d introduce you to some of the hills we met in San Francisco.


I called this one Mt. Holy Shit because (1) holy shit, look at it; (2) it’s even steeper when you walk it. Steeper? Steepier? More steepy? And (3) it led right to the front doors of Grace Cathedral:



I thought it was very considerate of San Francisco to place Grace Cathedral at the top of Mt. Holy Shit because, after you get tired of hobbling up the hill on thighs and calves and ankles that are allergic to 45° angles and you sprout a blood clot that zooms from your little toe straight into your heart within 2.4 seconds and you die on top of Nob Hill of a massive coronary, it’s only a hop, skip and jump across the road to your soul’s eternal rest. Somebody grabs a casket on sale, somebody else rounds up a couple of pall bearers and finds out who’s giving the sermon that day and *whammo* – instant funeral!

Can’t get any easier than that, right?

You’re pretty darn efficient, San Franny.

We wanted to take in the breathtaking views of San Francisco from atop Coit Tower and Nate decided that we would walk up to the tower because apparently, he never wanted to have intercourse with his wife again.

Walking up to Coit Tower is like walking all the way up to the planet Mars, only longer and sweatier, while wearing a two ton backpack known as Your Ass.



On our way, we had to climb this hill. I named it ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FREAKING MIND?

I may have cried at the top. Or the bottom. I can’t remember.

It’s all a blur, really.



After that one, we had to climb this one. I called it BLOOD IS GUSHING AROUND INSIDE MY SKULL SO SHUT UP.

I definitely cried at the bottom of this one.

And the top.

And once in the middle.





To keep tourists on their toes and guessing, there were steps! I stopped counting at 6,355 because I was delusional by then and tried calling Sarah Palin to tell her that I, too, could I see Russia from where I was standing and could I get her hairdresser’s name? But Zoe grabbed the phone out of my hand before I could ask Directory Assistance for her number.


I totally cried everywhere on these. The foliage is green because of my tears.

Isn’t that poetic?



Then came this set, which I named WE ARE SO TOTALLY NEVER HAVING SEX AGAIN. EVER.

I didn’t bother crying on these. Instead, when I got to the top, I planted a flag that said ANDY WAS HERE. THEN SHE KEELED OVER AND DIED.

And then I keeled over and died.



This is Coit Tower, in case you were wondering.

There was a spiral staircase inside that we had to climb to get to the top. I would have taken a picture of it but I was clinically dead at the time.



And this is one of the breathtaking views from atop Coit Tower. At least, I think it is. I was busy never having sex again and being clinically dead, so I can’t be certain.

Let’s say it is for expedience sake, otherwise this post will never end.



Finally, a hill we met while in a car. That’s, like, my favorite kind of hill!

This one was called Lombard Street and it’s the crookedest street in the world.



I have lots of photos of Lombard Street but I thought you’d rather see the one from Wikipedia because it actually shows Lombard Street and not my elbow or the pavement or lots of blurry things. Unlike mine, you can look at Wikipedia’s photo and not get the sense that behind the camera is someone shouting GO SLOWER, I CAN’T FOCUS! WAIT! HANG ON! CAN WE STOP? DAMMIT! UGH!



However, at the bottom of Lombard Street, I stuck my camera out the window and, without looking, pressed the shutter and managed to get this shot.

How come nobody told me the secret to taking a good picture is to be totally blind?



When I first visited San Francisco, I thought this was a big hill.

I was such a newbie back then.



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74 thoughts on “Karl Malden may have left us, but the streets of San Francisco are alive and well”

  1. Avatar

    *giggles* I so know what you’re feeling! Even being from Switzerland did NOT prepare me for the hills. DH (then DB) took an evil delight in hearing me scream as we crested a hill (since he was from SF, he knew all the surprise ones). I do believe we lost his mother’s rear license plate at the bottom of one of them. I’m surprised we didn’t break her poor Pontiac station wagon in half, since it was one of those 12-foot long ones. I gotta say I’ve never been to the top of Coit Tower (though I have walked up Astoria Tower in Oregon). I salute you, o escalera moribunda. Who’s your ghostwriter, btw? 😉

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    If that were me at the bottom of those steps, and my kid and my husband standing midway up, and MY husband had made a gesture and face like that, I would’ve been motivated to get up to the top asap just so I could slap him. Or shake him. Or punch him. Those steps plus that expression would’ve definitely incited me to violence.

    Of course, I’d never have gotten the chance to inflict any violence upon my beloved, because the reverberations from my thighs, chins and belly would’ve caused a tremor and you know how San Franciscoans are about earthquakes. I’m sure we would’ve had to evacuate for cover or go stand in a doorway or whatever it is you’re supposed to do when you’re in an earthquake-prone location and feel the earth move under your feet or feel the sky tumbling down, a-tumblin’ down………..

    By the way, Bill Cosby has a routine about driving in San Francisco and there’s an entire section of it devoted to Lombard Street. I remember it as being pretty dang funny. Of course this is from back when Cosby was a comedian and not The Dad We All Wish We Had on TV or a pudding pops spokesperson or educator who rails against racial ills……………………….

  3. Avatar

    Glad you survived SF’s best attempt to crush you via hill trekking. You have conquered, you have defeated, you have kicked butt. And your hip replacement will probably go very well…;o)

    Love the pics!

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    I love San Francisco but it is not for the weak in the knees, which sadly I am! At least there is great food to sustain yourself for those hills.

  5. Avatar

    LOL enjoyed all your photos and reading your comments! Hope you’re feeling better and that San Francisco hills haven’t stopped your sexlife…

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    Yeah, I’m the moron who can claim that she walked UP crooked Lombard street. I’m still waiting for my medal or at least my public recognition. I suppose I have to just settle for the memory of how an old man laughed at me as I gasped for oxygen and how badly my thighs and calves were screaming.

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    ROLLING! You are too funny. I can’t handle the Golden Gate Bridge, never mind all those hills! We went last summer and are going again this summer (oh joy! LOL) We’ll do more site-seeing in the city this time (what??). The city was in a total fog bank and it was so freakin cold so not the most pleasant experience. Still a very amazing city! Great pics and awesome post!

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    How fun! I’m totally jealous. I used to live in San Francisco after college and loved it. At first it was scary as heck. I was afraid I would get mugged at every turn. But eventually I toughened up. Except for the pelthora of homeless people it really seemed quite safe to me. I’m so glad you had fun! The hills there and all the walking you have to do because you will have to park your car three miles from your apartment are good for the badonk-a-donk.

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    HYSTERICAL!! I’m still laughing at the “I’m never having sex with my husband”. LOLOL Did he know that FIRST? LOLOL

    With that line, hubby woulda carried you up.

    Great pics btw. I’ve never been… so I now consider myself forewarned.

  10. Avatar

    I have done that Coit Hill walk many many times. And it is JUST LIKE you describe it EVERY SINGLE TIME! But that was back when I was all about exercise and health. Now I’m all about seeing how sedentary I can be, so there is no way in the world I would walk it. I’d just grab a post card of the view and call it good.

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    Thank you, for destroying my dream of San Francisco. Now, I never want to go. Well, not unless I get a lobotomy and suddenly want to work out all the time and lose 100 lbs. Seriously, thanks. I can divert the savings account away from vacation saving and just use it to pay bills. Now I’ve seen San Francisco, I don’t need to buy plane tickets. Next, I think you need to go to Sante Fe, and tell me how much it sucks…

  12. Avatar

    The stairs and the picture of the hill before them remind me of college. My dorm was at the bottom of a hill like that. We called it Cardiac Hill, and you had to walk up it if you wanted to go to class. Probably why I missed a lot of classes.

  13. Avatar

    I think you definitely have a good theory on the hill to the cathedral. My family was in San Fran last summer…good thing we’re all from Kansas and thus wusses on hills…we drove most of the time!

  14. Avatar

    Ive never been but I am loving your pics….u must have some serious calves!

    Stopping by from SITS to say hi & invite u to our Jewelry Giveaway. We are a small charity made up of many men/women/kids who send cards to those battling cancer.

    Get in on our Giveaway and maybe even join our program:)We have many ways people can be involved… it’s such a fun project & helps others at the same time…can’t get better than that.


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    Wow, you are super brave to do all that walking! I’m scared to drive in SF….just afraid I’ll go down a one-way street the wrong way or that my brakes will suddenly go out while coasting down a huge hill (where the street ends in the water). I do love Lombard Street….I’m so glad you went down it (in a car).

    And it’s okay to never have intercourse with your husband ever again after walking up and down all those hills and stairs. You’ve burnt so many calories on that trip….you probably burnt more calories with all that walking than one 10-minute act of lovemaking would burn so why bother with the sex, kwim?

  16. Avatar

    I’ve decided this is my favorite post EVER. In fact, I liked it so much, I had to give it its own little shout out on my blog. It’s just too funny!

  17. Avatar

    The San Franny tourist association isn’t going to like you, because I am now officially never going to visit that town. I’m not into exercise much. I only run if I’m on fire.
    Your posts no longer show up in my Bloglines reader and I’ve missed you! I came over from Adrian’s shout-out.

  18. Avatar

    san fran is a beautiful city, isn’t it? back in the day. when my hubby and i were much younger, we toured most of the city. in one day. i couldn’t move my legs for the next 3 weeks.

    and on the bus in san fran, a lady took out 5 looney toon stuffed animals. and she talked to them. and called them her babies. i felt compelled to share that. idk.

  19. Avatar

    this *totally* reminds me of seattle minus crooked street. when i moved there i had NO idea that there were hills. i didn’t have a digital camera back then, which is probably a good thing. my whole body sweat for a year walking around that place. i would never have gotten a good shot. maybe of the ground as the camera fell from my slippery hands. i’m another fan of the hills in a car. great story! so funny…

  20. Avatar

    Stopping by from SITS and loving your blog! I love San Francisco too, though I was in junior high when I was there last and must have been better suited for climbing all the hills. Hmmm…maybe that’s why I was thin back then.

  21. Avatar

    Ha! I lived in SF for 13 years so I really love this post and all the pics!!! Here’s a little insider info for you for your next visit – the crookedest street in SF is actually in the Portrero Hill neighborhood of SF. No one goes there because it’s not nearly as pretty as Lombard St. and it’s kind of out of the way for most tourists. But if you want to have a *holy shit!* moment careening your way down a crazy-curvy road, you must check it out!


  22. Avatar

    Oh, the streets of San Francisco. I’ve visited a couple of times, so I know how hard those hills are. Imagine them in high heels. The first time I went to San Francisco, I was on a business trip, and travelling with two very cultured and experienced co-workers. They wanted to walk everywhere. Including up hills in high heels. Not cool, ladies, not cool. Happy SITS Day to you again, you certainly deserve it!

  23. Avatar

    I don’t think I would make it in San Francisco. I’m in Mississippi & we don’t have many hills at all (but I do work on the 7th floor of the hospital & tried climbing all 7 flights of stairs once – I felt like I was having a heart attack by the time I reached the 7th floor – good thing I work in a hospital).

    Happy SITS Day!

  24. Avatar

    Wow! Those hills are crazy! I was born on the east coast (South Florida) and there are hills there… but I think those are called “speed bumps” in the rest of America. 😛

  25. Avatar

    (congrats on being the featured blogger on SITS!) Having visited San Fran last year, we did all the stuff packed into one day, and finished it up hubby dropping me off at Haight and Ashbury while he tried to find a parking space. I told him, “if you’ve ever thought about leaving me, DON’T Do It NOT!”. Took him forever to get back to me where I was already trying to decide how much I’d get for selling blood. A Manson look-alike came up to me and sang (IN MY FACE—that close!) “If I only had a brain”. Ahhh, the memories!

  26. Avatar

    I live north of SF now, but have lived in San Francisco in the past. I know those hills very well and have gasped for air every time I have walked up them. I thing SF is one of the great cities in the world. I hope you enjoyed it in spite of all those hills!

  27. Avatar

    Reading this post I:

    *laughed, because dang, this is funny
    *experienced high blood pressure, because I am a sympathetic friend
    *had a coronary, because of the high blood pressure
    *didn’t have sex, mostly because I am at work and stuff
    *became allergic to San Francisco
    *had to scroll up b/c I forgot how to spell San Francisco.

  28. Avatar

    Angry Husband’s entire family lives in the surrounding area. I’ve actually never been to San Francisco. I know, I know..I’m missing out. Must go there soon. I could seriously see Angry Toddler freaking, and his usual comment, “Ugh, can’t walk anymore, walking is boring….”

  29. Avatar

    HHAHAHAH I feel you. We did San Fran when I was oh, 14, maybe 16 weeks pregnant and I loved it, but my feet and back hated me and still do. It was hot, steep and ALL walking.

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