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Woke up at 4:00 am and decided to get up. After endless fiddling with Southwest online, trying to just see if my flight was on time, I finally gave up and used FlightAware.com and found out instantly that it was indeed on time. Then I wasted more time trying to get a Lyft. I’d tried using it to get to the Golden Gate Bridge Visitor’s Center, too, and it just wouldn’t go through. This time it wanted to confirm my credit card number, and when I did, it didn’t recognize it. Finally just called a taxicab, which arrived in about 7 minutes. Cost about what a Lyft would have, too. And I’d used Lyft on my last trip with no problems.

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Nice quiet ride, and there was this film noir moment downtown, where I saw some steam languidly drifting up from a manhole, lit by the early gloaming light. Quite sublime. The driver cautioned me about hobos and advised I not use the elevator. I used the stairs as intended anyway, and had no problems.

Had to wait half an hour for the BART train to SFO. Sat next to a nice black man who told me the difference, when I asked, between the Milbrae/SFO train and the San Francisco Airport train. They were only two minutes apart. Glad I asked, because the latter was more direct, fewer stops.

Didn’t get to the airport until 6:30, didn’t get past security until 7:15, so I’m glad I didn’t sleep any later or I may have missed my 8:15 flight. We landed in San Diego 15 minutes early! Rich picked me up and when we arrived at home Cisco was more intent on sniffing me to death than in being overjoyed. Must’ve been smelling Moby and Zena.

Had a flower arrangement delivered on the morning of my departure from Urban Flowers. I was glad to hear it arrived safely.

I had a marvelous time. Very relaxing trip. I love my souvenirs, especially the Golden Gate Bridge rivet. In addition to making a great paperweight, it’s also a fun top:

Last full day. Woke up early and went to Gus’s to get a large jasmine tea. Tim had expressed interest in going with me to Sausalito, but he begged off in the morning, citing work and lack of sleep. I saw that the banana bread had come out beautifully, despite his worries. Apparently the dough had overflowed the pans while in the oven – he’d just used more baking soda than normal, thinking it was stale. But it didn’t hurt anything aside from making a bit of a mess. He insisted I try a slice before leaving. It was AMAZING.

It included chopped walnuts, golden raisins, and tiny bits of chocolate, plus this crusty sugary top. SO decadent.

I looked up which pier to get the ferry to Sausalito from. The internet told me it was Pier 41, in between Pier 39 (tourist trap) and Fisherman’s Wharf (other tourist trap). The Muni train would take me to the Embarcadero at the famous Ferry Building, but that was some distance from Pier 41. I figured I’d find a pedicab to take me there, as I’d done before, or walk. Saw this monstrosity at the Embarcadero; this thing must be THE ugliest fountain EVER:

But first I thought I’d take a stroll through the Ferry Building, just to window-shop. I happened to notice a kiosk inside where one could buy ferry tickets, so I waited in line. Asked the guy to confirm that the ferry to Sausalito left from Pier 41, and he whipped out a ferry schedule and handed it to me. “Sausalito ferry is another company. They’re outside.”

So abruptly dismissed, I went outside and found nothing. Tried a different spot. Nothing. Finally asked a random worker and he directed me to the back of the Ferry Building, where they have the farmer’s market on Saturdays. Friendly guides helped clueless tourists like me how to navigate the ticket machines. It was an option to purchase one’s ticket via the Clipper card – NO WAY, those things hate me, I wanted a regular ticket. The next ferry was leaving in about 90 minutes. I asked where the ferry to Sausalito left from, and the lady pointed about 50 yards away. “Right over there.” Geez, good thing I didn’t just go straight to Pier 41! Don’t trust the internet, kids.

Remember me talking about Sinbad’s from my first visit? Well, I saw on subsequent visits that it had been torn down, all the way down to the piers. And this visit, I saw what they’d replaced it with. An empty, unshaded, concrete space with a few benches. Utterly bleak and uninviting. And such prime real estate! Maybe they use it for concerts or something. Ugh. So depressing. Sinbad’s was far better.

I had a bit of time to kill, so I went into Hog Island Oysters and got an Argentine white wine at the bar. This guy sits next to me. It’s clear the waitstaff know him; he works upstairs and is getting a quickie before his shift starts at noon. We get to chatting. He knows parts of San Diego, like Temecula, for instance. I tell him about how it’s so easy to get lost there because everything is one of three shades of stucco: light beige, dark beige, and Tuscan rust. Wayne was charming and gay (I was pretty sure, but it was confirmed when he mentioned doing a Golden Gate Bridge bike ride in drag with his friends). He works at a “private club” upstairs and said no one minded if they showed up with a couple belts in them. He bought me another wine before leaving. Nice guy.

Boarded the ferry. The weather was gorgeous my whole trip. This view:

Our ferry was a large catamaran. You’ve heard the yarn about helicopters don’t really fly, they just beat the air into submission? Well, these catamarans don’t really sail, they just eat the water for breakfast. Here we are going past Alcatraz:

Angel Island. It was like the Ellis Island of the west. Many Asian immigrants were processed through this place, and during WW2 many were sadly detained there.

Then I looked to my right and saw a fog bank rolling past the Golden Gate Bridge and over San Francisco:

Landed in Sausalito. It’s beautiful and charming and expensive.

I popped into a tourist shop and found a couple of things that could perhaps stand in for a flapper for Tim’s bird bell: a Princess Leia sticker and a funny magnet. He ended up preferring the sticker because it was more lightweight, and easy to punch a hole in. The magnet will (I suppose) go on his fridge.

I wandered the waterfront. Lots of art galleries and jewelry stores and expensive boutiques. Got to the point where it seemed the commercial district ended, and headed back.

The white building is The Trident, where I had lunch.
Bronze seal sculpture on the rocks.
Ancient steps leading down to the water.

Found myself at The Trident, a fancy-pants waterfront restaurant. Here’s their ’60’s menu:

The view from my table:

In the distance, an outgoing freighter emerged from the fog and was blowing its horn every 30 seconds. It really added to the atmosphere.

A gorgeous sailboat:

A couple across from me got this ridiculous bloody mary:

In addition to the usual celery and olives, it included three strips of bacon and two giant prawns. A meal in itself.

I ordered a glass of Coppola pinot noir and the deviled eggs appetizer with caviar. They were to die for, and just the right amount of food.

I had a bit more time before catching my ferry back to SF, so I wandered a bit farther down the waterfront in the other direction. Passed on a fancy-looking wine bar in favor of this low-key place with a sign above that just said, “Bar.” Turns out on the receipt, it’s called “No Name Bar.” Ordered a shot of Laphroaigh and got to chatting with the locals. Got a second shot. What the hell, I’m not driving, and it’s my last day. This guy named Mike was fun:

On the way back, I could see that San Francisco was clearing, and the fog had changed direction and was now pouring over the hill into Sausalito.

There were groups of people from Portugal and Germany on board.

We came past Alcatraz closer this time, and slowed down as we sailed past the foggy, eerie scene:

Skies started clearing…

And a gorgeous return:

Back home, Tim & I went to Zam Zam one last time for cocktails. He brought along a bit of MSG to add to his dirty martini. It just tasted a bit saltier.

They actually use that antique cash register for transactions.

But we were able to re-create the profile photo of me sipping my sidecar at Twin Peaks Tavern:

Then we walked with the dogs up to our friend Will’s house to drop off a loaf of banana bread for him. He’d just gotten back from hospital with Covid. We watched another episode of Tales of the City, and because I had to get up super early for my 8:15am flight, I went to bed quite early.

Last post: Up at Oh-Dark-Thirty for Travel Home

After bar-hopping with Erik the night before, I was mildly hung over. Before leaving for a doctor’s appointment, Tim made me an omelette and an English muffin with butter and jam. Just what the doctor ordered. I also polished off some aloe vera juice I’d gotten from Gus’s Market, and then walked down to Flywheel Coffee again. There was some delay at the line, and while I was waiting, I spotted a cooler full of superjuices. I fished one out and opened it while in line. Ordered an affogato, which is a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream or gelato with two shots of hot espresso poured on top. It was so decadent and delicious.

Sat and read inside for a while. The patio was too hot this time.

I was still feeling a bit green, so I left the coffeehouse and went back to Alvord Lake, where I could lie down on the grass against the slight incline of a tree. Lots of big shady trees and birds singing. So peaceful. There’s a road nearby, but you can’t really see it. Took a video:

Drank my superjuice and read my book. Took a second video, this time on the phone so I could post it to FB:

By now I was feeling better, and went back to wander Haight again. Went back into Tibetan Gift Corner, and looked again for that statement ring I was hoping for. And in one of the glass cases, I found this ammonite ring. Ammonites are the fossil shells of extinct molluscs, similar to the nautilus. From the underside, you can see its opal-like flashes of color, and some translucency. I love it, and the price was right.

Pleased with my find, I went over to Hobson’s for a couple of light Mexican lagers – little hair of the dog. It was just what the doctor ordered. Read my book and people-watched. Got into a conversation with two locals about when to use apostrophes. I overheard them talking and couldn’t resist. Then I popped back into Gus’s and got another superjuice and randomly found some Mimolette in their impressive cheese selection. Mimolette is a sunny orange color and hard like Parmesan. Very transportable. And hard to find. Just a few years ago, it was banned in the US for a while because of some FDA bullshit re: pasturization. So I grabbed a slice of that as well to bring home.

Later, Tim was done with his business and we went back to Izumi in Japantown for sushi. Took the bus this time, two busses each way. Only once did the Clipper card work for me (the one and only time).

After dinner we wandered around the Japan Center shopping mall. And this time, the bonsai shop was open! Oh pray for me. Lots of simple and easy-to-care-for juniper bonsai, some more advanced acer maples, all with breathtaking price tags. Like $250 for a single tree. Like $680 for a forest-style grouping. But tucked in a corner in the back, there were shelves of bonsai pots, plus other assorted pottery pieces. I got this lovely texturized cup for only $6 bucks.

I was seriously tempted by these wee tillandsia earrings but ultimately passed. I have plenty of tills and know how fast they can grow.

I don’t regret passing on these cuties, but they are darling.

Tim picked out one of these tiny metal bird bells, and the displays had these bookmark-like wind catchers attached to the clapper. The lady pulled out a new (non-display) one still in its box, but Tim didn’t realize it was missing the wind flapper until we’d already left. More on this later.

I’ve had that identical bird bell for many years. It’s so charming. Here’s mine – I have it attached to the end of my desk lamp’s pull chain.

When we got home, Tim set about making banana bread with some browned bananas he’d been ripening. Of course, these things always take longer than anticipated. A quick visit to Gus’s was needed. I mainly stayed out of the way. By the time it was done, we were both pooped and called it a night.

Next post: Sausalito!

Second full day of vacation. Tim had some work to do, but also wanted to take the dogs to the dog wash, then get dim sum afterwards to bring home for lunch before Alex had to leave for work. I walked down to Flywheel Coffee Roasters, right across the street from Golden Gate Park. Got a cortado (two shots of espresso with an equal measure of steamed half & half) and camped out in the tiny garden patio in the back. Read my book.

Popped across the street and spent some time by Alvord Lake. It’s really just a pond, but it has flowers and shady trees and jetting water fountains and resident ducks. A maintenance worker was mucking algae and weeds from the bottom.

Tim texted that dog washing was off, and therefore dim sum was off. He needed to work anyway. So I walked at a leisurely pace east down Haight Street. A friend of mine keeps recommending Toronado pub, in the Lower Haight neighborhood, about 13 blocks away. I hear it’s a great beer bar with good food. There used to be a location in San Diego, which I’d been to, but it closed permanently during the Covid. Anyway, got there, and the place is closed. I think I was just a few minutes early, but I didn’t want to stand around waiting on the street. So I took myself south on Pierce Street, hoping I’d run into the N line somewhere along the way so I could take the train home. Some street art:

After a few blocks, I came out at the foot of Duboce Park. “Okay, now I know where I am!” The N line runs right alongside the park, with the Noe station at the top. But I spy a little cafe at the bottom corner across the street and check it out. Duboce Park Cafe has a charming sidewalk patio, shaded with big trees and protected from the road by large concrete planters.

I got a glass of Chardonnay and a grilled cheese sandwich and sat outside with my book. Posted pics on Facebook. A guy on a unicycle cruised by – not something you see every day. Realized that large blocks of time were regularly passing by without a single thought about my mom.

This lady was tying up her adorable dauschund. It howled from her lap when a firetruck went by. She apologized to everyone, but we all thought it was too cute.
Right by the train line.

Here’s Duboce Park from the top, by the Noe station:

Lots of dogs.

Took the train back and popped in at the Sword & Rose wicca shop at Carl and Cole. It’s unmarked and hidden from the street, down a breezeway that opens onto a darling little garden with water fountains, and there’s this tiny shop selling crystals and metaphysical books and tarot cards and incense and jewelry and there’s a wee nook for tarot or palm readings. I’m glad to see they’re still there. I got a couple of crystals. A Nambian jasper:

And this rainbow bismuth. Rich couldn’t believe it was the crystalline form of an elemental metal – he thought it was machine-tooled.

The plan for the afternoon was to meet my old high school friend Erik at the View Lounge atop downtown’s Marriott hotel at 4:00pm. I’ve been wanting to see it for six years. Tim was invited but begged off. I had some time to kill so I got an IPA at Hobson’s again. It’s a nice peaceful locals place. Very friendly. Read my book and people-watched through their enormous windows.

Then I changed into a decent dress and huaraches and took the N train downtown. (By the way, I had the damndest time negotiating the Muni system this trip. No more cash fares, it’s all on these blue plastic “Clipper” cards, which don’t like to work for me except on the BART. On busses and Muni trains, it absolutely refused to work, except for one time. Mainly I just rode for free, and luckily didn’t encounter any cops. I left my Clipper card with $17 unused bucks on it with Tim.)

Spotted this street musician on Market downtown. I tipped him the three bucks I’d intended to use on the train.

I got a bit lost, but Erik and I connected via cellphone on the street. Got to the Marriott, and on the elevator, there’s an electronic sign in the car saying the View Lounge was temporarily closed. Confirmed with an employee – yup, it’s closed just today. Bummer! Luckily, Erik worked downtown for years and knows all the best bars. We head to a cool old place called Sutter Station and catch up over cocktails. It’s got great atmosphere with old brick and dark wood. The place is mainly empty and quiet, just how I like it.

Erik and his wife used to live in the Haight district, too, so he suggested he accompany me back home on the train and we could visit a couple of his favorite bars there. So we came back to Haight and went to Zam Zam first. It was much quieter this time. And finally we ended up at the Gold Cane. I was drinking greyhounds. Erik, martinis. Then he walked me to my door, the gentleman.

At Zam Zam.

Tim and I watched the first episode of the 1993 miniseries Tales of the City, starring a very young Laura Linney and Parker Posey and Olympia Dukakis.

Next post: Hangover Nursing & Souvenir Shopping

It had been FOUR years since my last vacation. I had planned to visit Tim & Alex in the spring of 2020, but Covid nixxed that. And the following year as well. But I’m all vaxxed and boosted now, and with all the drama of dealing with my mom’s dementia, I REALLY needed to get away and relax. In fact, I was so in the moment, I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I normally might have. I had a couple of specific things I wanted to do, but otherwise this trip was all about relaxing, reading, and chilling.

My mid-afternoon flight out was delayed about an hour because the pilots were held over from their connecting flight, so I didn’t arrive at Tim’s until 7:30 or so. Dramamine does weird things to my appetite, so instead of dinner we just went to Zam Zam around the corner for cocktails.

Zam Zam is a neighborhood institution with a Persian theme.

The only two seats left at the curved bar were next to this loud drunk blonde. She was on her phone, apparently meeting someone there. We took a small table off to the side and got caught up. Then this very drunk Irishman with a very thick accent staggered up to our table and leaned in close to tell us about… something? He was impossible to understand, but it seemed he was talking about the blonde lady, that she was “speed-dating.” Figuring we’d better say something to this guy or he’d never go away, I said, “I didn’t even know speed dating was still a thing.” That did not have the desired effect, so I tried commiserating with him: “Fookin cunts, what are ya gonna do?” Finally he shambled away. Free floor show! The place was slammed by the time we left.

One of Tim & Alex’s roommates works for a nursery and brings home all sorts of nice plants and pots, so they just finished creating this lovely sidewalk garden:

The palm tree used to live indoors. Should get better light now.

Back at home, we hung out in the kitchen with the dogs, and Tim heated up a small ramekin of homemade chili with some crumbled cheese on top. It was just what I needed, and just the right size. I brought a couple of housewarming gifts, including a small oil painting I did. Without my saying anything, Tim immediately recognized that I’d done it in the style of Gustav Klimt. He found a hanger and put it up in the hallway, right across from this creepy old haunted photo:

Looks normal from the front…
But from the side? GAH!

Called it an early night. Next post: visiting the Golden Gate Bridge!

Today we honor Saartjie, or Sarah Baartman, a woman whose body was exploited in life and death.

Take a ride on the Treetop Express and see the neighborhood from 30ft up in the air where a mini elevator will zip you to the top of the tree. You’ll zoom across tree branches, floating platforms, toy construction zones, and a wood block castle finish line. There’s jumps, loopty loops, boosters, tunnels, and even a close call with a shark! This tree track took 1 month to construct using a variety of materials including wood, ladders, kiddy pools, string, pulleys, a fishing pole, cordless drill, PVC tubing, blocks, plastic container tubs, cardboard boxes, pool noodles, our dog Kodi the Australian Shepherd, and numerous Hot Wheels products.

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