Every once in a while we who work here at the Green Tortoise are privileged to meet truly kind and exceptional people. It's not that we don't love all our guests that come through here (we don't, actually) but sometimes one really stands out; they tirelessly explore a new city with a degree of enthusiasm and exploratory spirit that is unrivaled in most tourist sectors. One such man was Clarke, who made that most of his stay in a way that was, well gee, I guess I'll just say downright inspiring!
Anyway, here is an email and photo collage that he sent to us a few weeks after his stay here. For those of you that might have been here during Bay to Breakers, you might remember Clarke as the fella who brought us potatoes from his homestate of Idaho, on the free dinner day during which we just happened to be serving our famous GOURMET POTATOES! ...
"I enjoyed my visit to the Green Tortoise and your City. It was fun to meet guests and listen to their plans, dreams and goals. The meals were great (especially the potatoes), the beds were comfy, and location was perfect for quick sight-seeing excursions to Chinatown, Telegraph Hill, waterfront and Bay to Breakers race. Taking the BART back to SFO was less confusing on the return trip.
The free city walking tours were very well organized and historical. During the North Beach walk, I found out that the GT was formerly the El Matador hotel in the 50s. It was one of the "hot spots" for the jazz crowd, including Sinatra, Brando, Newman, Ellington, then later Sergio Mendes, and Jose Feliciano.
The Bay to Breakers race was an amazing event (my first). It began at 8am sharp for the elite runners. For those of us in the slower tiers, we walked 3 blocks as one big mob just to reach the starting line. I "started" at 8:13am and finished at 11:09am, in just under 3 hours. In all the excitement at the start, I found it easier to do a slow jog to keep up with the crowd, rather than get pushed around while trying to walk.
I began OK and actually jogged/walked the first mile in 13 minutes. Then at the 1.5 mile mark my left leg cramped up, maybe a muscle strain. I stopped, dodged the runners, eased over to the curb and waited a minute for it to relax, but no luck. I continued to walk another 100 yards, but the lower left calf muscle really began to throb. I waited in the shade, drank water and rested. From there, I side-stepped my way the remaining 6 miles up the hilll, through the park, and down to the finish line. My finisher certificate says that I finished in 2:56:13, placing #20194 out of 21976 total racers, I wasn't the last one, but close enough.
I was exhausted but enjoyed the day. Many costumes (some clothing optional) and creative floats. I went to the post race festival in Golden Gate Park and had a gyro sandwich and soda. The return MUNI bus ride was a rolling party sing-a-long - complete with Bob Dylan, Moody Blues, Led Zepplin music from the 60s.
I went to the local Safeway store and bought an ace bandage and athetic tape to wrap the upper ankle. It turns out that my roommate (Axel) at the Green Tortoise is a trained German physical therapist, who also ran in the race (under 1 hour). I watched as he wrapped up my ankle with expertise. I felt good enough Monday to go bike riding along Fisherman's Wharf, Golden Gate Park, and finished by riding down the twisty curves of Lombard Street. Enjoy the photos.
Thanks for the memories ---- Clarke"