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California Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rush hour traffic builds May 22 on I-80 heading toward the Bay Bridge May 22 in San Francisco.

Friday morning began with another 4:40 a.m. alarm to get me out to the airport in time for a 7:20 flight. Postponing a shower, I dressed in the dark to avoid waking my roommate.

I realized, as I returned my rental car, that I'd forgotten to fill the tank. D'oh! Not much to do about that now. I headed up to catch a shuttle to the airport.

Just as the bus appeared, I realized that I'd left my suit hanging in the closet at the hotel. Damn. I need that. So I went into the rental hut, and asked whether I might be able to get my car back. Too late, I'd have to rent another. So I tried to call the hotel. The directory that Avis had had the wrong number, so they called 411. That put me through to a fax machine. Geez.

So at 5:30 a.m. I called up my manager (who had probably had about 2 hours sleep, but was also due for an early morning flight). He gave me a number for the hotel. I called them, they put me through to my roommate, who was kind enough to bring my suit down to the front desk. They put it on the next shuttle to the airport, where I picked it up. That crisis averted, I went through security and got on a plane to Oakland.

In Oakland, I got a call from another photographer, Jim, who had been on the same flight. Since it was only about 10 and we didn't have to be at the shoot until 4:30, we decided to check into the hotel (in San Francisco), have some lunch, and then get back to Berkeley before the traffic got bad. We collected our vehicles and drove across the bay to a cute hotel with Japanese decor on Sutter Street.

Driving across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco to Oakland.

After plugging in my battery chargers, I met up with Jim who knew a great Thai restaurant right next to the hotel. Back at the hotel we took an hour or so to shower and get changed then headed back across the Bay Bridge for our shoot in Berkeley.

Having left San Francisco early to beat traffic, we had a couple of hours to kill in Berkeley. After doing a bit of Goodwill hunting, Jim and I stopped at a small coffee shop near the university. As we enjoyed cool drinks in the sun, I got a phone call—no change to today's shoot, but they needed me at San Jose State in the morning, instead of San Francisco State—still in the Bay Area, but about 50 miles south.

Hanging out May 22 at a coffee shop in Berkeley, Calif.

The Berkeley shoot was at the Greek Theatre. I wish I had a picture of it: it's a really cool amphitheater with these huge columns behind the stage, and about 20 feet up they had a bunch of colored flags. Down in the green room there were posters from some really amazing concerts that it's hosted, like the Beastie Boys and Wilco, and dozens more I can't remember. I kind of wish I lived closer.

Anyway, after the shoot, we headed back to the San Francisco hotel, I changed, packed up my stuff, looked up directions, and drove to another hotel in San Jose. I got there about 10 and checked in, then went looking for something to eat. The hotel restaurant was closed, so they recommended a restaurant about two blocks away—a bit expensive, but at nearly 11 p.m. I wasn't going to argue.

Saturday morning I got to sleep in until 6 before checking out and traveling in convoy to San Jose State University (I still don't know where it is). That job was big, but not as insane as I'd been led to believe. Then, after a quick group stop at Wendy's, we all rushed off to San Francisco State for their main ceremony. We got there just in time for the ceremony, but had plenty of time to get ready as the 3500 or so graduates processed into the stadium. The graduates probably won't remember it, but the band was great, the honorary degrees included Isabel Allende, and the keynote speech was delivered by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

The ceremony was long—about four hours—and after some gear/car swapping, it was straight to the airport for me for the last flight home.

[left] A traveler sleeps at San Francisco International Airport May 22. He looks like I felt.

The grad season is only half over, but (barring some last-minute change, which wouldn't surprise me now) the rest are within driving distance of Portland. It will be nice to be back on my home turf.