January 11, 2013

There are many years of trips here - starting out now for a 2013 forray. As I rolled through the I5 Grapevine pass was just opened from a night of snowfall.
I went to San Ramon for my first night to enjoy a lively dinner out with RikiTik and her delightful family.

This is Riki's family. Riki is the daughter of Phyllis and Phyllis is my father's daughter from his first marriage.

From the top left: Amy, me, Erika. Bradley, Chanterelle (Nick's girlfriend), Nicolas, Mike. Jeremie is missing, Amy's new husband and Riki and Mike's freshly minted young son-in-law.
January 12

I spent the night in San Ramon so that I could see James and his family in the morning. James is the son of Phyllis and Phyllis is my father's daughter from his first marriage. From this you can rightly suppose that James and Riki (the family that I visited yesterday) are siblings.

James, Jake, Justin, Carolynne...
...and The Dogs.
The inset is a picture of the family that I took a picture of because I liked it so well and it's set into a picture I just clicked out the window while crossing the San Mateo bridge across the bay heading to the airport to pick up Nancy.
January 13

We enjoyed breakfast with Roger and Sandy and man-o-man it's been Cold.
So cold that when we got to Josh and Kelly's place I had to check out Kelly's vintage fur hat...

...and speaking of which, Nancy's vintage fur hat was still in her suitcase, her suitcase that disappeared somewhere between drop-off at the baby Santa Barbara airport and arrival in San Francisco.

The airline did deliver the suitcase 24 hours later minus Nancy's iPad and minus a few other random items. It was an awful experience and continues on even now with reports needing to be filed etc.

And for one brief moment unlikely to be repeated I have more clothes than Nancy.
A friend of J&K brought over a fruit tart that we instantly devoured. Here's Kelly getting the shot.

Kelly, Charlie, Milton, Nancy, Josh, Henry
We then went on a long walk at the park. That's Charlie and Henry down there.
And here's Charlie and Henry with Josh and Nancy. Kelly and Milton had a chore to do and they were to meet us later on the trail.
It felt like we were trotting along those trails like happy little mountain goats.
Henry, Milton, and Kelly.
January 14

Tomorrow Henry is going to be five years old so Nancy and I decided to take him for an outing.

We drove to the tourist hub at Fisherman's Wharf, ate a nice lunch here...
...wandered around for a half hour or so...
...checking out the wildlife...
...and enjoying the gorgeous day...
...and catching the views around Pier 39.
Then we bought round-trip tickets to Sausalito riding the catamaran out and the boat back. Coincidently this picture I got off the internet has our exact two boats.

(internet pix)
Motoring out from Pier 39 we got this nice view of Fisherman's Wharf.
Henry had a fabulous time. He was totally entranced. He loved watching the wake the best, and I got him a visit to the bridge which is always special.
In Sausalito we just had time for Birthday Cake before we had to head back.
You can see a bit of the color on the Golden Gate Bridge in this shot.
No color here but I like it anyway.
January 15

Nancy and I spent some time with the family today and then in the mid-afternoon I dropped her off at the airport and checked into a charming little place - 'classic', 'historic', bathroom-down-the-hall accommodation a few blocks from Union Square, Chinatown, and Nob Hill.

And I got a complimentary upgrade, my bathroom is now In the room and Not down the hall.

Around the 'hood.
I put this picture here to remind me of the pleasures of travel. I went in because from the outside there were fine huge stained glass windows facing the street but from inside you couldn't see them.

I asked a guy who was walking out what the story was on the windows and he said although he'd been going to this church for many years he had never noticed. I said yeah, I'm a tourist and he said yeah, fresh eyes.

I said thanks and continued on. Several blocks later this same fellow hurried up to me to tell me the answer. He had chased down the priest to find out and didn't want me to leave town not knowing the story of the windows. We should all be so kind to tourists.
A view.
Going into Chinatown, I remember the gate as being fancier, but all the internet pictures are the same so it must be, and we are not at all surprised are we, me remembering it wrong.
Neon and Chinatown lamp posts.
The Chinatown area seemed in pretty good shape meaning the shops were all open and full of goods and the restaurants too were lively.

Half way up and down the blocks in both directions of the main street were lit and active too.
Back at the gate.
January 16

It's my morning complimentary coffee and scrumptious warm fresh almond croissant offered in the hotel's sitting room where I am joined by the hotel's cat.

Here kitty kitty, mascot and logo of the Golden Gate Hotel.
I spent a great day wandering around the Presidio.
First stop Crissy Field. What a fantastic place and I've never been here before. It was totally wow with plenty of trails and packs of dogs running free.

Every dog-walker in SF must come here. Each walker had 5-8 dogs and I was quite impressed with how it all worked. What looked like certain chaos was actually very much under control.

And the parking? Plentiful, and Free!
Copied from Ms Wiki: "In 1994 the National Park Service took over the Presidio, and Crissy Field was declared a 'derelict concrete wasteland' by the NPS.

"Due to environmental concerns about the former airfield, the NPS and the Environmental Protection Agency used funds to monitor the area's chemical, biological and physical variables.

"The NPS eventually worked with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy to revitalize the area and the Crissy Field Center was opened to the public in 2001."
It's really great, with a carefully protected estuary, great lawns where the airfield once stood, and refurbished buildings from 'back in the day'.

Fort Point is around the corner from this picture.
There are tons of walking trails all through the giant Presidio...
...and biking opportunities galore. There are many companies that will gladly rent you a bike.
This is the scene from Baker Beach on the ocean side of the bridge, Baker being a semi-official nude beach but it was too cold today even for the most ardent nudist.

Yes, free parking.
Hi cutie.
I had another nice walk along the Land's End trail. One of the destinations from the trail...
...the Legion of Honor museum specializing in European art...
...and opening with one of the about 28 castings of Rodin's The Thinker. You can drive of course where there is plenty of free parking, although the admission is dang high.
More walks, this one beginning above the Sutro Baths.
A nearby view of the Great Highway where I spent the first five years of my life in one of those ten foot wide three stories tall houses that front the Highway.

There's even a picture of me on this beach which is why I 'remember' it.
Ah, The Cliff House, a classic. Parking? Plentiful and free, along the road.
The Cliff House sits there above the Giant Camera.

You don't have to spend the big bucks to enjoy the Cliff House. There a lounge, a bar, and a café as well as the white table cloth restaurant.
January 17

Yesterday morning I showed you the cat that joined me for breakfast. Today the dog stopped by too.

I drove out to Novato to visit with Bob and Desda, but I didn't take any pictures .. oh no. So instead I collected some recent pictures off the internet to tell about what they've been doing.
Desda's BOOK! It's big and beautiful and available at amazon.com.
Bob (on the left) and his band The Fibrillators. Check them out at thefibrillators.com.
And we walked, and ate, and visited for the whole happy day.
January 18

La Taqueria, as they say: The Best Tacos & Burritos In The Whole World.
Roger and Sandy and I, after visiting at their home, enjoyed a delicious lunch at La Taqueria on Mission and then...
...we went for an entertaining walk...
...along Mission and along Valencia.
San Francisco is not that big - 46.9 square miles per Wiki when in comparison the San Fernando Valley is 260 square miles. That's a huge difference.

But check out all those neighborhoods. Every few blocks you're in a new area with its own very distinct identify.

(internet pix)
I stayed an extra day because I wanted to check out the de Young Museum.

The museum opened in 1895 and has been housed in various buildings, this current venue opening in 2005. Check out that viewing tower. Very cool.

(internet pix)
Views from the tower, the Golden Gate Bridge peeking out from the other side of the Presidio.
A nice feeling for San Francisco neighborhoods. I haven't had one single hour of cloudy or foggy weather in the past week. Amazing, and lucky for me.
And the hills, which I am feeling for the walking around, oh yes.
From inside the ticket plaza.
This is an Irving Petlin painting called The Burning of Los Angeles, 1965-1967. I'm surprised to have not run across this during the year of Pacific Standard Time. Maybe they just kept it here.
A big and irresistible-to-me reflect-o work by Josiah McElheny, a small portion shown here, called Model for Total Reflective Abstraction (after Buckminster Fuller and Isamu Noguchi), 2003.
Right around the corner from my hotel is another hotel, many hotels actually, but this one is called Marine's Memorial Club & Hotel.

The view from The Leatherneck's Restaurant .. copied from their website: "Originally dedicated as a “living memorial” to the U.S. Marines who served in the Pacific during World War II, the Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel has been an outstanding fixture in San Francisco’s Union Square since 1946.

"A classic 1920’s Beaux-Arts hotel with an inviting atmosphere, the Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel blends traditional décor and modern comforts with rich history, honor and pride. Our extraordinary staff displays an unmatched level of commitment to both the Club and its members and our other esteemed guests."
The restaurant - it was fun with a piano player who never took a break and an hors d'oeuvre tray made up of olives, carrots, celery, and radish, just like my mother used to put out.
January 21, 2011

I drove up to Santa Barbara this afternoon to meet up with Michi for dinner and to sleep over at Nancy's. Our plan, Nancy's and mine, was to get up with the dawn and be on the road to San Francisco by 6am.
We didn't make 6 but 7:15 isn't that bad. . .
We took the 101 all the way. There are several of these grand art-works-displays every 50 miles or so. This is the only one I was ready for and how apropos, It's Granny!

It was smooth sailing the whole way, lucky dogs that we are.
After checking into our sweet little two bedroom apartment in Noe Valley, we headed out to see Nancy's son in his new space in Bernal Heights, the home of Josh's very own Bernal Cutlery. Hurray Josh!
Then over to see her grandbabies Charlie and Henry, third grandbaby in utero. Awww.
Henry can make that thing GO!

We went for a walk to the local ice cream place, bought some supplies for tomorrow's party, and went back for the evening's activities in preparation for Happy Birthday Henry!
January 23

We got out early to take Charlie to the zoo. Early means we have an hour of quiet before the crowds built up. Nancy missed Charlie's birthday party a few weeks ago and wanted to take him out for a special day, and invited me (and my gps!) to come along.

There was a python in this room as big as four Nancys. Charlie was having a blast.
We got to see the feeding of the grizzly bears and it was a huge treat.
Up close and personal!
The tiger, on the move.
Charlie, a few weeks into being seven years old. He has watched every episode of every nature documentary available on dvd and is an expert on insects.

He told us many interesting facts about the animals we saw. Thanks Charlie.
Then next in the day, Happy Birthday Henry! Kelly made that yummy cake last night.
There were about 10 kids at the festivity, the idea being to keep it to the 3 year olds and not have all the 7 year old siblings, which for the most part happened.

When it came time to whack the pinata the 3 year olds were trying their best but it took the 7 year olds to (un)seal the deal.
Here's Kelly with Baby Donald THREE due in Spring. Oh goodie!
Sandy came to the party too. We all, Sandy, Roger, Nancy, and I had dinner together and it was lovely.

Tomorrow morning Nancy and I drive back to Santa Barbara and then I drive back to LA. Talk about an Action Packed Trip!
January 9, 2010

Here we are arrived at the classy and stylin' two bedroom-bathroom-livingroom-kitchen accommodation in the Noe Valley neighborhood in San Francisco where Nancy has invited me to join her for the celebration weekend of her oldest grandson Charlie's sixth birthday. Lucky me!
We spent the evening with Josh (Nancy's son) and Kelly, Charlie, and Henry. They live in the Bernal Heights neighborhood in San Francisco. San Francisco is defined in many small neighborhoods some only a few blocks in size but if you want to live in one of the neighborhoods then that's where you want to live and not somewhere else. It's very specific.

Josh runs his knife business (sharpening, repairs, sales) out of the front room of their flat. He's moving soon to a retail space and is very glad of it.
Birthday boy Charlie's brother Henry on his way to bed. Sleep tight, sweet dreams!
January 10

Happy Birthday Charlie!

Kelly made that cake. We watched a little of it happen last night. It took four carrot cakes and 8 recipes of frosting to complete this creation. One of the boys said to Kelly 'you know, this is the best birthday cake I ever ate'. Right on.
That's Josh in the foreground and Kelly in the background far left, entertaining their guests.

What a lovely park. It was all colors of green-green-green. But then it was wet too.
And here come Roger and Sandy recently relocated to San Francisco. We're going to see their place tomorrow. I am pleased to report they are doing very well.
A balloon lady came much to the delight of all the many many children.
Happy Birthday Dear Charlie, Happy Birthday to UUUU.
Josh and Kelly, serving cake to the 40 or so guests. Good thing the cake was as big as it was because 'people' were coming back for thirds (oh, would that be me?).

Then Nancy and I, tired as we were from watching all that energy being expended, went home and didn't go out again.
January 11 and 12

Not so many pictures these last two days but plenty of fun!

We took various opportunities to walk around town.
We visited Sandy and Roger at their new place, the towers of Park Merced, and enjoyed lunch and an afternoon stroll in Sandy's little town of West Portal.

We visited Bruce and Claudia at their new place, a lovely home in the hills of Point Richmond, and enjoyed lunch and an afternoon stroll not in their town but we took a drive into San Rafael.

This is the view from in front of their house, if you walk a little and peer a little through the trees, use the telephoto full out, and blow it up big in the computer...
From around Bruce and Claudia's place.
January 13 and 14

I slept over with Roger and Sandy and in the morning, after coffee and a nice breakfast, we went out for a walk around the lake.
The lake! It's Lake Merced and right there in the city of San Francisco. This is the smallest section and an easy stroll from the Park Merced towers where R&S live.
Hi cute people.
You can see the towers peeking over the trees.
Roger and his mom. Mom lives in the next door tower and is one of the reasons they made this move to San Fran, so Roger could keep an eye on her, do her shopping, take her to the doctor, see that she's safe, while she can still live on her own.
The Park Merced/Park La Brea towers have held up over the many long years they have been in service. They are big apartments with big rooms, high ceilings, good windows - nice!
Then I buzzed over the Golden Gate Bridge (not-so-safe but gotta-do-it grab shot from the car)...
...for a delightful evening-night-morning with Bob, Desda, and Shira. All is well with the Zuckermans - Bob is back to playing guitar every day and business is picking up; Desda has got a crew of folks anxious to help her put her ideas out in the marketplace; Shira is getting stronger and dedicated to a return to good health.

And then, I'm down the 101, to home!

hmmm...I did hit a lot of communities this trip: Noe Valley, Bernal Heights, Lake Merced, East Portal, Point Richmond, San Rafael, Novato, Larkspur...Fun!
February 17, 2005

This is the second day of the trip but first we need to Meet The Donalds! Here's Nancy, baby Charlie and sweet Josh and Kelly.
Charlie's First Movie!

We went downtown to meet the kids for a movie, the noon time 'Rattle and Reel' where adults are welcome to bring their babies to the theater. We saw a documentary about The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. It was quite wonderful and here's a link to the story.

Charlie of course had to come first, but now to the start of the story:

February 16 and 17

I left on the 16th with Nancy for a week or so to enjoy Nancy's grandbaby Charlie, and Josh and Kelly too, in San Francisco, and to enjoy getting to know Nancy's friends Ellen and Bill in Eureka/Arcata. Lucky me for sure.

We arrived in mid-afternoon and immediately hit the streets. This is from the mural decorating the outside walls of the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy.
A clip from the above. Some of the expressions: 'I don't think I was courageous. I think I was determined.' 'It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than out abilities.' 'The only way to have a friend is to be one.'
Our cameras, endlessly entertaining.

SF is defined these days by neighborhoods of several blocks circumference. We are staying in Noe Valley, three blocks up the road from The Castro and Josh and Kelly live three miles away in Bernal Heights
Another scene in The Castro.
Who are those people? Subways around the world are inhabited by the same people so I suppose you already know who they are.
Subway art. Cool.

Public transportation is a lively art in San Francisco.

There's BART for long haul rapid transit, then Muni runs a subway and buses, and they've got these electirfied babies and some historic cars from around the world, and the cable cars of course, that actually are used for transportation.
Here we are at a bar in Bernal Heights where we enjoyed a nice cocktail before dinner. I was amused to discover our fellow patrons were all women and this lovely lady, our bartender, also played bass in a Retro-70s Drag Band. The name of the band is ‘Wood, Against the Grain.’

She said no matter how much face hair she wore she still couldn't manage to pass. It's true. Her band mates were obviously more successful in achieving that manly look.

My Bombay up twist was perfect and Nancy said it was the best Margarita she ever had bar none.
Me outside our cottage in Noe Valley. Nancy found this place on Craig's List. The owner of the house was renting just this one 'mother-in-law' style apartment (ok ok, it's probably bigger than my place back home...).

February 18

On our way up to Eureka I was driving so I drove us off the highway and into the totally all tourista all the time Golden Gate Bridge viewing opportunity despite Nancy's protestations and in the end she said 'thank you, that was fun'.
More. Folks were out in great numbers turning their faces toward the sky to bathe their sun-starved cheeks in the light and warmth of the morning.
On the road again... We're doing the Highway 101 North from San Francisco drive through farming country and the coastal redwoods to Eureka. I think you could do that drive one hundred times and it would be fabulous every time.

A view out the car window during a rare dry moment. We spent many entertaining hours listening to a book on tape, 'That Old Ace In The Hole' by Annie Proulx. We were lovin' it. Since we needed another few days on the road to finish though, I don't know how it ends and will enjoy sitting around the library for a few hours to find out.
The outdoor garden at the the Cornelius Daly Inn. Mighty sweet, and the whole place terribly terrribly tricked out in every aspect of 1900s restoration. And the innkeepers were definitely an odd lot. The husband had a prior career as a stand in for Lurch and the wife never even made herself known.

Nancy was mildly horrified. 'Unbearably twee and ongapatchka Victoriana.' For coffee they had only a weak, flavored brew and little packets of Coffee Mate. But they made up for it by being expensive.
February 19

Ellen, one of the motivations for this trip. She recently eloped with her long-time true-love and was having a dinner party for her friends to celebrate, wedding cake and all.

Ellen was also having a gallery show which we got to enjoy. Her pictures are entirely remarkable and here is a website highlighting her work.

From Ferndale, another Victorian Restoration town, 11 miles south of Eureka. Nancy and Ellen went shopping and I took a turn to check out the sights.

It is a curiosity to me that this trip I didn't do much of my usual line-'em-up effort to get interesting pictures of the people in my day, and when I did I didn't much like the results. I could dwell on the psychological implications of this, or not, which is the most likely outcome.
The cemetery in Ferndale.
February 20

This was the day of no photos. We drove in the rain, visited Bob in the rain, had dinner with Josh and Kelly in the rain... It was rain rain go away aaaall day long. It's enough already with the rain.

We ate many a meal with Josh and Kelly and Charlie one being this Indian Pizza. We also ate at a Mexican restaurant, and we ate Chinese food to go, but the most delicious food of all was the ham sandwich Kelly made for us to take on the airplane.

February 21

The next moring the rain did go away for hours and we enjoyed a nice walk and foto-foto.
The Bay Bridge from near our b&b. Wow, fabulous view.
Me attempting the shot above. Nancy named this picture 'Trespasser'. I really really don't think they would have minded tooo much...

He biked up here. As if walking around this town doesn't give you calves enough.
We stopped for a cuppa at this euro pan asian tea shoppe where, along with very tasty and well prepared tea we had a few bites of a mochi delight and then went on to catch BART for a ride over to Berkeley where we were meeting Nancy's friends Bruce and Claudia for lunch.
We were setting up this shot and Nancy was watching herself carefully for approximately 20 minutes, needing to be positioned just so, turning to the left, the right, look up, move to the side, start the left-right thing all over again, all to find just that perfect profile.

That's me, cracking up.

The BART experience was fun and interesting despite a mechanical breakdown that caused a 30 minute delay and unexpected transfer, and even despite Nancy's kevetching.

Here's the BART website. It's a good system and popular with the residents I think except that the costs are quite high. Bruce and Claudia had kind words and even the rider who was protesting most loudly about the delay, when queried as to the frequency of such inconvenience said it's usually quite good and only in the last couple of weeks they've had 'computer problems'.

I will say though that the look of the LA stations really does stand out in comparison.
Musicians Claudia and Bruce and their website. Check it out!

It was raining for our return from Berkeley so we hopped a taxi at Civic Center and were easily back at our b&b for a quiet evening to rest up for tomorrow's return flight.
February 22

A few details from our morning walk.

I left all the wires in these pictures because they are so much a part of almost every view in SF. Even though you can become blind to them, when you happen upon a street where they have put the wires underground you will definitely notice the improvement.
Well, except here. I did retrouch them out of here.
When it was gray and icky out I'd walk around mostly with my head down, trudging, but when the clouds would part everything looked pretty darn entertaining.
At Josh and Kelly's for one more Charlie fix before heading to the airport. The park is just a few vertical blocks away.


Goodbye downtown, goodbye Alcatraz and Bay Bridge...
...goodbye Golden Gate Park and Golden Gate Bridge and Radio Tower. Goodbye parking on 53 degree hills. Is this what comes from hanging out with a one year old? Goodbye San Francisco! See you again soon!
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