Thursday, November 18, 2010
I'm resurfacing from the 2010 meeting of the National Communication Association where I stayed at a perfect motor lodge. Normally for these conferences I stick with the convention hotel, which is typically an expensive and crowded tower of pricy restaurants, crystal chandeliers, miserable air, and noisy elevators (while being, at least, convenient). This time I opted for a distant lodging option. I was in San Francisco and had always wanted to visit the Ocean Park Motel. This time I did, and I'm glad.
The Ocean Park is San Francisco's oldest motel, yet is impeccably maintained. A marvel of Nautical Moderne style, built between 1936 and '37, this place is an ocean liner of steel balustrades, 90 degree curves and, of course, portholes. The owners are proud of the Ocean Park and appreciate visitors who dig the property. In fact, I got an upgrade after I whistled at the beauty of the place (but I think my fortune was due to the low season and subsequent surfeit of available rooms).
The Ocean park is located in San Francisco's Outer Sunset district, which presents an aging collection of row homes that march up and down the avenues near the ocean. [I spent a couple hours photographing some of my favorite streamlined-style examples). The San Francisco Zoo is nearby, and romantically inclined writers say you can hear the lions from the motel. I never heard any animals, but I'm sure I caught the throaty call of a Golden Gate foghorn. Best of all, the Muni's L-Taraval line extends from just across the street to the heart of the city.
NCA was a crush of furtive name badge-glances, obligatory meetings, loud parties, impromptu chats, and quiet conversations. I always return from these conferences with enthusiasm for my writing and hopes to collaborate with like-minded scholars. Yet the experience is always a drain on my finances and energy. That's why I'm so glad I stayed at the Ocean Park. It was a little more than a 45 minute trip away (by train and then by foot from station to hotel). A hassle of distance, I suppose. But that afternoon when I had some time to practice remarks I would later give, alone in my sunny room and far from the crowd, I enjoyed more peace than I've felt in months.