Re: Mark's revised adventure
I'm in the little town of Ukiah, two hours north of San Francisco, and train at a very small dojo here which traces its original lineage to Tohei Sensei. If you are heading southward on 101 rather than 5, I would certainly be happy to have to stop here (our guest room is generally free if you need overnight lodging) or to connect with you at one of several dojos in Santa Rosa area, which is an hour south of here/an hour north of SF.
In SF I recommend Suginami Aikikai, affiliated w/ Hiroshi Kato Shihan.
I agree w/ recommendation of Kayla Feder's dojo in Berkeley.
If you happen to be using 5 instead of 101, I recommend in Sacramento Two Rivers Budo, run by Geoff Yudien and Adam Fong.