This is part of a series of posts chronicling my travels across the western United States over the course of several weeks, living on the road and randomly visiting places along the way. You can start reading about the journey from the beginning.

Silicon Valley

Before heading into the heart of San Francisco, I stopped off in the Silicon Valley area and spent my time visiting the domain of tech giants. I arrived at 1 Infinite Loop, famously known as the Apple Campus. Despite being a heavy tourist spot, there is honestly not a whole lot to do and see here. The only place open to the public is the Apple Company Store, which only sold souvenirs like shirts, cups and pens at the time until the recent revamp this year.

Google HQ – aka the Googleplex – was a little more interesting to walk around and the plethora of bicycles everywhere quickly told you something about the culture (one heavily parodied on the HBO series Silicon Valley). Like on the Apple Campus, unless you know someone on the inside you’ll be admiring the campus from the outdoors only. But I did dig around in the dumpsters out back and am now the owner of Google Wave and Google Reader, so there’s that.

I wanted to visit the Computer History Museum but they were closed at the time, so I decided to move on to the San Francisco Bay Area.

San Francisco

Unlike the other places I had visited, this was not my first trip to San Francisco.

Many years ago I was sent on a long business trip to the San Ramon office for design assistance on a major project, but political company was political and the execs didn’t care for St. Louis getting involved in San Ramon business. Essentially put off to the side to do nothing the entire time I was there, I spent my time instead exploring San Francisco and other places until I was finally called back. (Not surprisingly the company was on the verge of implosion and mass layoffs happened not long after.)

Already familiar with the San Ramon area, I decided it would be the perfect place to make camp and I could just take the BART into the Bay Area. I had somehow missed visiting the Golden Gate Bridge the last time around, so now was the opportune time to do so. But I completely misinterpreted the bus routes and was taken straight to South San Francisco instead, fortunately crossing a BART line that would return me to San Ramon to try again the next day.

The following day I decided to do things more on foot, so I walked along the pier areas and managed to arrive at the Gate about an hour before sunset. After setting up shop below the bridge at Fort Point, I waited out the time by curiously watching the joggers run up to a nearby sign on the fence and place their hands upon it. An elderly Asian man chatted me up and told the story of how his former boss had committed suicide on the bridge many years ago, also admitting that he himself had contemplated the same fate and happy he ended up rethinking that decision.

That evening I headed back into the city and walked around Chinatown. Unlike the last time when a crazed man on a soapbox spotted me in my dark jacket and started yelling, pointing and accusing me of being “CIA” (“Don’t listen to him!”), things were quiet and uneventful this time in Chinatown.

Following my time in the Bay Area, I would have loved to continue traveling north on the coasts of Oregon and Washington and the photography experience would have been rich. But I had already traveled a long way and San Francisco was going to be the end of the line for me; it was time to turn back towards the east. Besides, there was a major national attraction in that direction that I had wanted to visit for many years and was now just a short drive away.

But on my way there, I came across something very interesting on the road…

Next time: A ghost town and an underwater town emerged