It was hard to leave Yosemite but I made a last minute decision to visit Berkeley and I was looking forward to that adventure. I’d have to go back to Modesto to drop off my car and take the train to Berkeley, but if I hurried I could make an early train and get there by 1. I made great time to Modesto, even stopping to document more evidence that California is not always the hippie state it’s imagined to be.
One thing I liked about Modesto, the people were kind of innocent- especially the ones at the rental service who bought my story about how the car got all dented. I even got a ride to the Amtrak station in time for the earlier train. That’s right, Amtrak for this girl, I’m not taking any more Greyhound rides if they can be avoided. I walked up to the window and asked for the next train to Berkeley, which according to the site should have been around 11:30, turns out it was 1:42. It was currently a quarter to 11. I sat down with my ticket and looked around the station. I contemplated what my life might be like for the next three hours without food or internet in Modesto. I wanted to call back the rental agency, have them come pick me up and return me to my personal transportation system that let me get anywhere, anytime. Panicked, I exchanged my ticket for the next and only other train out of town- which was coming in three minutes. Suddenly getting out of Modesto was a whole lot more important than getting to Berkeley, and the train would have wifi where all the mysteries of the California transportation system could be unlocked within a few minutes on Google maps. Turns out I could take this train to a bus to the Bay Area Rapid Transit system to Berkeley, “Rapid” being a questionable adjective there. I was a little iffy about spending the next 2 hours on a bus to the BART but then I went to the train’s bathroom and saw three cups of piss just chillin’ on the counter. No need to imagine this because I took a photo. Bus, train, chopped up in the trunk of a car, I was happy to be getting out of this region no matter what the method of transport.
When I emerged from the Downtown Berkeley stop I immediately dug the place. It smelled like hippies and weed. Berkeley’s got everything I love about Brooklyn and everything I hate, it’s also got cheaper organic food, cheaper rent and no humidity. In a word, it’s perfect. I got to spend two days Couchsurfing with Samantha and her boyfriend Adam, who came recommended from Bakersfield Couchsurfer Julie. Highlights of Berkeley included farmer’s markets and the Berkeley Bowl (think Whole Foods on speed), epic fog, and a store where they essentially sell trash to be re-imagined into some creative project. The best moment for me was sneaking into a lecture hall at UC Berkeley and maybe pretending to be a professor for a minute or two. We were in the Zoology building and I might have erased a bunch of scientific formulas and written sociology notes over them, maybe. Take that, science.