We were looking for Muir Woods. But at the fork where you choose to go, quite literally, UP the mountain or DOWN, Mr. Penson and I made the last minute decision to go UP. Up we went. The road curled up and around and up and around and I was for certain we were lost, or at least on the way to a very narrow peak, with a slim expensive observation tower, and a dozen families of tourists with screaming babies. Instead we found ourselves on top of a mountain, surrounded by steep, rolling hills and a fog so dense that I thought we were on the edge of the universe. I walked up the hill slowly, because it seemed there was nothing else around us. It was "I Who Have Arrived in Heaven" but the real-life edition-- not an endless reflecting pool of tiny, twinkling lights, but the inside of a cloud, as seen from the top of a gigantic, round and startlingly green mountain. "They filmed Teletubbies here," Filipp said, helpfully.
The other-worldliness of the West coast is itself a phenomenon. It has inspired every kind of artist. I went there because you cannot possibly feel so bad about things when you are standing on the edge of the universe, looking into the Pacific that goes on forever and ever, dreaming of all the exotic inhabitants that have once been in your place. I met a man who was locked outside his pretty pink house on Oak Street with his bag of groceries. At Golden Gate Park my friend Alan spotted a coyote from across a lake, and it stared at us while we watched its every move, and got closer to it until it disappeared like a ghost. I went to Tartine and ate the most delicious lemon tart for breakfast that gave me a tummy ache. Filipp and I got lost again in the mountains, my boots got brown and muddy.