Go-Car Goes! (Until it Poops Out)
We arrived in San Francisco on Friday afternoon. It was finally Monday and my sister and I had a few hours remaining before it was time to make our way back to the Hilton at Union Square where our bags were waiting and get a cab to the airport and our flights home. Cherie was shopped out. I was walked out. After a disappointing visit to Ghiradelli Square (most of the boutique-y shops are out of business now) we were
Suddenly Cherie said, “How ’bout we rent one of these for a couple hours.” I looked over and saw this screaming, taxi-cab yellow mini car called a “Go-Car.” They have three wheels and hold two adults. Barely. We had to watch a safety video and wear helmets for the ride. They also have a GPS-guided tour that tells you where to turn and a little bit about the history of certain landmarks and spots of interest. As you can see in the picture of Cherie on the right, you give the Go-Car gasoline like you would on a motorcycle. You’re warned not to drive over 30 miles per hour. Oh, and stay off all freeways and bridges.
The Go-Car putts along merrily. You’re sitting very close to the ground. The open “cabin” where we were seated is so tiny we had to put our purses in the even tinier trunk. A friend asked me, “Is it as small as a SmartCar?” I replied, “Take a SmartCar and cut the roof off and you just about have the size of the Go-Car.”
It doesn’t have a “reverse” gear. So, if you park somewhere to get out and look at the sights around you, you have to push the Go-Car out of your parking space, get back in, start it up (sometimes questionable) and get started ambling on down the road again.
The tour started out heading south, away from Fisherman’s Wharf and the Embarcadero. Soon we passed Ghiradelli Square again. Just a mile or two down the road we were away from the hustle-bustle of the city and along the waterfront. We saw lots of para-sailers on the East Beach. Apparently the endless wind blowing off the Pacific and the currents provide an almost constant opportunity for fun on the water.
The city is finally behind you. There are no skyscrapers. Soon, the iconic symbol of San Francisco, The Golden Gate Bridge, comes into view. As you look toward the water it’s almost as if you’re away from civilization except for the famous rusty-red bridge.
As we drove closer and closer, the bridge loomed larger and larger. You don’t realize what a massive structure The Golden Gate truly is until you get up close and personal.
We were right up next to the water’s edge. There’s a turn-off point just before going over the bridge where people can stop, take pictures and admire this engineering marvel. I think Cherie was a little afraid we’d end up driving on the bridge. In fact, there’s a little tunnel that actually burrows under the bridge and keeps heading south to some amazing places I’d never seen in previous visits to San Francisco.
We drove through The Presidio, and, as we drove we listened to the GPS Lady Guide fill us in on the highlights. I took a few pictures of Golden Gate Park as well. It’s a different world from the city nearby. Our handy-dandy GPS guide told us about the history of the place and how a man with a vision for a nature park at the city’s edge, a Scotsman named MacLaren was responsible for it’s development in the early 1900s. You can smell the fresh scent of pine trees. It’s lovely and green. There’s no other words to describe it except outrageously green, stunning, relaxed, Zen and a happy place.
One of the crazy things about the Go-Car was driving down hills. You would think that little putt-putt engine would have a challenge driving up hills. Not so. We would drive down a hill and and about a block or so from the bottom the Go-Car engine would peter out. A little scary at times with traffic around us, but Cherie stayed calm (no wonder – she and her husband are sailors and both certified sea captains). She always managed to get us started again while I was almost ready to bite my nails.
My guess is coming down the hills the Go-Car is running on gravity and there simply isn’t enough gasoline going through the fuel line to keep the engine going adequately. That’s just a guess.
Somewhere along the way we must’ve taken a wrong turn because the GPS Lady Guide went silent. There was a map on the tiny dashboard of the car. Cherie said, “Figure out where we’re at and how to get back to the Wharf area to return the Go-Car.” I didn’t want to tell her I’m pretty navigationally-challenged when it comes to maps. Even worse, my reading glasses were in my purse in the trunk so I couldn’t quite see what I was supposed to be figuring out.
If you look at the picture to the right (road and dashboard), in the lower right corner there’s a little orange box. It holds business cards. Okay, it wasn’t a smart move on my part, but I decided to wedge my cell phone in the box. It kept wanting to fall between my legs onto the floorboard and I thought it’d be safe. Again, my purse was in the trunk. We were less than a mile from the garage when Cherie hit a pothole. Before I could react my purple Blackberry went flying out of the box, banged onto the pavement and skittered under a parked car nearby.
“Cherie!” I screeched above the engine noise. “My cell phone!!” Quickly she pulled over and said, “I’ll drive around the block while you go find your phone.”
I unhinged the seatbelt, leaped out of the Go-Car and started jogging up the sidewalk, without a clue which car my phone landed beneath. Suddenly a man walked toward me with something outstretched in his hands. “Is this your cell phone?” he asked. In three separate pieces was my phone, the battery and the back cover. I thanked him profusely and then returned to the corner beaming as my sister picked me up. When I put the pieces back together again – it worked. Disaster averted!!
The Go-Car is a fun adventure to enjoy for a few hours in San Francisco. Just keep your helmet on, stay confident the engine will start again if it peters out, and, don’t put your cell phone (or anything else of value) in that little orange box on the dashboard. Have fun!