Eight o'clock in the morning of April 22, 2014 finds me on board the San Francisco Bay Ferry crossing from San Francisco to Oakland Jack London. I'm sat talking to Mary Anne - a fellow bicycle rider - who is heading to work. Today happens to be "bike to work" day so there are quite a few bicycles on board.
I started talking to Mary Anne whilst waiting for the 7.40am ferry (the timetable has changed since the time of Stevens who got the 8am departure) and she kept me company for the 25 minute voyage. She also, very kindly, gave me one of her prepaid ferry tickets and two satsumas. I managed to put aside my usual politeness and didn't decline the offer of food; accepting food is one of my rules for this trip as I'll need all the calories I can get.
The ferry ride flew by in good company. In Stevens's day the Bay was flecked with white sails. Those have been replaced by the solid red and black forms of giant container ships and the giant insect like structures for loading them. Mary Anne told me the loading cranes had been George Lucas's inspiration for the big walkers in Star Wars. You could see the resemblance.
On disembarking I met Amit Kapadia - a friend from my time in astronomy. He was catching the ferry across to his work in San Francisco but had arranged to get the one that meant he could wave me off. To be waved off by a cyclist who lived in Oakland was very fitting. It meant the trip had begun. Well, almost.