Monday, August 22, 2011

Get Out and Push!

My new employer takes all of the attorneys (and their spouses) on a weekend retreat every other year, and this year we went to Sausalito, California.  They spare no expense, being sure to set up nice accommodations, meals, and transportation (so no one is tempted to drink and drive).  I had a two-room suite with a giant sunken tub at Cavallo Point.  A gift basket was waiting for me when I checked in.  We had a group dinner Friday night (with booze of our choice if we wanted) at a nice restaurant in the City and then we went out to some bars afterward.  (There are a lot of stories in there but I will save them for another post.)  I seriously did not spend a dime, not even for my cab back over the bridge.  We had a breakfast meeting on Saturday and then we had about six hours of free time on Saturday.  We had to be at a group dinner in Sausalito at 7:00.

When I learned of the location of our retreat, I researched what I could do to keep myself occupied during said free time on Saturday, knowing that almost all of my colleagues would have their spouses with them and I am the lone singleton.  I could get a massage, go ziplining, take a segway tour, shop (in Sausalito or in the City), hike, ride my bike ... the possibilities are almost endless.  I decided to do things I can't do when I have my kids with me.  After some poking around, I settled on GoCars in the City.

What the heck is a GoCar?  It's not a go-kart.  It is a little yellow, three-wheeled vehicle licensed as a motorcyle.  It seats two, it is convertible, and you must wear a helmet to be safe.  It's cute.  But the BEST part is ... the car talks to you.  It is a GPS-directed car, so it tells you where to turn and where to drive and narrates along the way.   There are different tours available; I wanted to take the Mister SF tour because it was the shortest (1.5 hours) and it takes you to the "cool" places that tourists never see.  You learn about movie locations and notorious crime locations, that sort of thing.  I was excited and I coaxed four other attorneys (two pairs) to go with me, and then I got my Julie McCoy on ... I made reservations, figured out how we were going to get there, decided which tour to take, etc.

So Saturday "free time" rolls around and we are ready to start our adventure.  We planned to take the 12:45 ferry over from Sausalito (a 30-minute ride), which we thought would give us plenty of time to grab a quick snack before embarking on our tour.  We thought wrong.  The ferry was late, so I called the company while we were on the ferry and pushed our reservation back 30 minutes.  When we got to the restaurant, we had terrible service; I pushed the reservation again.  Now we were an hour behind schedule, which should be fine for purposes of our group dinner but would cut into our post-GoCar drinks (including my must-have Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista).  Finally, a little more than an hour after we had originally planned, we watched our safety video, donned our helmets, got our operational lesson, and we were off.  All was going smoothly until ....The Mister SF tour was not available due to road construction.  I had to think fast and choose a different tour.  I remembered the Urban Parks tour sounded cool so we picked that one and off we went.

The little cars are easy to drive, though they are a little unnerving because they are low to the ground and hard for cars to see, and they don't go very fast.  Because they are licensed as motorcycles, they are not allowed in the bike lanes or on sidewalks so I'm sure it's very frustrating for the drivers who get stuck behind them.  We were a trio of GoCars, with mine being the last in the line. We got a lot of attention; people waved and honked and lots of tourists took our picture.

So off we went.  Not only does the car tell you which direction to go, it tells you what you are looking at, its history, and suggests where and when you should stop and get out.  It gives you detour options.  As long as you stay on your route, the car chats merrily, even cracking wise ... when we drove by a golf course it yelled "fore" really loud and then laughed!  We went by Robin Williams' house, though the wise-cracking car wouldn't tell us which one it was. 

After about two hours, my car merrily told me I was now "half way" through my tour.  WHAT?  Two hours is only half way?  Not surprisingly, my colleagues immediately pulled over after they heard this in their cars, and we collectively decided to go off the path and return the cars; it was getting late and we needed to get back to Sausalito for dinner.  As we were pulling over, the car told me to turn right at the next stop sign because the hill ahead was too steep for it.  According to the safety video, as long as you follow the car's directions you will be able to navigate the steep hills but if you venture off on your own - which is certainly allowed - you may find yourself on a hill that is too steep for the car to handle.  If that happens, you must get out and push. Oh, and the car has no reverse.

So after we decided to return the cars, I watched as my colleagues drove straight up that hill!  I turned right and then ignored it when it told me to turn again.  Here's the thing ... when you go off of the path, the car stops talking and you are left to your own devices.  We three got separated so I decided to just drive toward the water (since I know how to get around once I get near the water).  At one point I caught up with one of the other cars, but they went up another big hill and I went a different way.  At another point I must have veered close to one of the tour routes because suddenly my car made a loud pinging noise and it yelled at me: "STOP!  You're going the wrong way.  You were supposed to turn left at the last street.  Turn around."  It scared the crap out of me, but I soldiered on.  As I was nearing the return, I flipped around to go talk to my colleagues on the other side of the street and didn't quite make it ... I had to get out and push.  I learned later they had had to get out and push, too!

All in all, it's a fun little adventure and a great way to see parts of the City you might otherwise miss. It's not cheap, and we were cold by the time we were done, but I really enjoyed it. And I laugh really hard when I tell people about our little adventure ...

** Photos taken from the GoCars website at


Brooks said...

That sounds like a blast! I think we'll check that out next time we go up there.

Wendy Taylor said...

I think they have them in San Diego, too.