San Francisco, part 5

Wednesday we got a courtesy car pick-up from the rental company. We rented a Toyota Prius. I was intrigued by how well a hybrid gasoline/electric car would work, and this seemed a good chance to give one a thorough test drive. Or rather, for sara to give one a thorough test drive…

What we hadn’t been expecting was that it was a fully tricked-out Prius, complete with GPS satellite navigation system and route finder DVD-ROM for the onboard computer. We told it to take us west to the coast, and then south to the Monterey Bay Aquarium via the coastline route. It verbally directed sara out of the city. What with the directions and having our position shown on a scrolling zoomable map at all times, we were both able to forget about navigation and concentrate on the scenery. (Sand dunes. Surf. People surfing.)

As we arrived at the aquarium, it was otter feeding time. There was an enormous crowd of people around the tank, so we went out onto the deck instead and looked out into the bay. Sure enough, there were wild sea otters floating out in the kelp beds! Four of them. With the aid of the 18x zoom on the camcorder, I got some DV footage of otters at play.

We were hungry on the way back, so we asked the car to find us a nearby Indian restaurant. It turned out we were just off the El Camino Real, probably the world’s largest strip mall, so that wasn’t a problem. Unfortunately the first restaurant was closed, so we had to argue with the car a little to get a route to a different place. Phil Dick would have loved it, walking into a restaurant because our car had recommended it…

We got an average of over 50mpg, both city driving and highways, even with San Francisco’s hills to deal with. We travelled 280 miles total on $10 of gas, which was half a tank full.

I noticed that IBM had a huge ad on the freeway exit that leads to Oracle’s headquarters, saying “Our database software is the #1 seller. Now, who’s got game?” Larry Ellison must be really pissed off.