Tag Archive: san francisco


Day 5: Wednesday, April 27, 2016 (continued)

Our friends Gio and Will (whom we met at last year’s dinner party) came by and we all piled into Gio’s car and headed to Japantown. We parked underground and came out through the lobby of this Japanese-themed hotel.

A beautifully-displayed orchid.

A beautifully-displayed orchid.

A gorgeous suiseki. I couldn't get a decent picture, tough.

A gorgeous suiseki. I couldn’t get a decent picture, tough.

Headed across the street to Ramen Yamadaya. They have ten locations between San Francisco and San Diego.

This is why leftover ramen solidifies in the fridge!

This is why leftover ramen solidifies in the fridge!

Very important instructions in the lobby:

japantown-me by ramen instructions

After a short wait, we snagged another window booth overlooking the courtyard below!

japantown-view from window table

Yamadaya’s menu:

japantown-yamadaya menu

Almost all of us got the Yamadaya Tonkotsu Kotteri, with the black truffle oil. Beers and sake were ordered. Tim also ordered a plate of fresh garlic cloves with two garlic presses, and a dish of this AMAZING smoked chili paste.

japantown-yamadaya ramen

OMG OMG O.M.G.

It was SO freakin’ good. The service was impeccable. At the end of the meal, the owner came to our table to tell us the story of how he developed the chili paste. He was extremely generous with his time during a busy dinner rush, but that wasn’t where his generosity ended. He came back a minute later with five little take-out tubs for me to take back to San Diego: two of the chili paste, one of chili oil, one of his “Fire” sauce, and one of his “Death” sauce.

OMG OMG O.M.G.

PIRATE BOOTY!!!

When we got home, Tim carefully wrapped each tub in plastic wrap and topped it with a rubber band. Then he stacked all five tubs and wrapped the whole cylinder in more plastic wrap and rubber bands, then sealed it in a Ziploc bag. They made it home with minimal seepage, probably just from the pressure changes.

Spent the rest of the evening packing. I was barely able to squeeze the paintings into the back of my backpack. They made it home in great shape, too.

cliff house-guzman paintings

The artist’s bio of sorts, included in the back of each print):

artist eduardo guzman bio

My souvenir haul (plus the chili sauces and the paintings):

souvenir haul

Day 6: Thursday, April 28, 2016 (last day, travel home)

Tim didn’t sleep well that night. He’d planned to drive me downtown to a BART station, because the inbound Muni trains are packed with commuters on weekday mornings. Instead he just called me a Lyft, which was a perfect compromise. That way he could just go back to bed. Love you, Timmy! Kisses!

At the airport, I found a little cafe and ordered mimosas and a fresh fruit bowl to put on top of my Dramamine. Great people-watching there, too.

As the plane was swinging up and over San Francisco, I had a bird’s eye view of the whole city at once. I could see Market Street, the Transamerica Pyramid, Alcatraz, all the parks, including Buena Vista Park and Golden Gate Park, and its thin panhandle, too, so I could pretty well pinpoint Tim’s block, if not his house. I didn’t think to take a video.

Like this.

Uneventful flight, and Rich picked me up. It was raining and cool in San Diego for the next couple of days, as though I’d brought San Francisco’s weather back with me.

And last but not least, the joyous reunion with Cisco. Mini was completely nonplussed. “What is all this commotion? I was taking a NAP here.”

Check out the next San Francisco 2018 Travelogue!

Day 5: Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The day opened with a hangover, wicked period cramps, and a heavy rainshower. I was not a happy camper. But an hour later, the rain had cleared, and the ibuprofen I’d scavenged from Tim’s medicine cabinet was beginning to take effect.

The plan was to take the N train downtown and meet up with an old high school friend for an early lunch. Then Alcatraz. Just as I was getting ready to leave, Tim was making crabcakes benedict to soothe his own hangover. And of course, I had to stay for those. Tim makes incredible crabcakes benedict; they are not to be missed.

OMG OMG OMG

OMG OMG OMG

I powered through a good two thirds of the dish, and I’m glad I did. Felt better with some food in my stomach. Moby finished the rest.

The N train was PACKED. The front car’s doors didn’t open, either, and that’s where you pay your cash fare. The few of us cash people looked at the driver like, “What the hell?” and he just shrugged back like, “Sorry, I dunno either.” So I crammed myself into one of the rear cars. There was zero way I could have made my way up to the front.

And natch, as I was exiting the downtown station, two Muni cops were checking people’s tickets. I was trapped. Had to fess up, and just told the truth. I still had my $2.25 in my pocket and pulled it out. “I really didn’t know what to do,” I pleaded. “I’m just a stupid tourist. I’m happy to pay.” He asked for my ID, and told me to go over to the ticket machines and get a ticket. When I returned, he gave me back my ID with a short lecture. Very, very nice. He could have given me a very expensive ticket. Whew.

Met my friend, Erik, and we went over to this indoor mall-like place with a food court covered by a glass roof. Must be lovely when it’s raining. We picked a soup and salad place, and I got a fruit cup and a diet Coke. Especially after that rich breakfast, I couldn’t dream of eating anything more. Erik and I caught up, outlining our respective career arcs and “how I met my spouse” stories. He told me how to take a shortcut down Sansome that would take me straight to Pier 33, where the Alcatraz Landing is. After lunch, he walked me a few blocks down Sansome, and we cruised past the Transamerica Pyramid building, and the darling little park along its side.

We hugged goodbye, and I continued on down Sansome. At the Alcatraz ferry landing, I had to wait half an hour for the next boat. So I got a beer at the cafe and got carded! WOOT! Called Rich from one of the outdoor tables to check in.

Views from the ferry:

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The guard tower:

guard tower

An old truck at the dock:

old truck at dock

In 1969, the American Indian Movement took over the abandoned island for nineteen months and claimed it for Indian territory. There is still evidence of that time:

sign-indian occupation water tower-indian occupation

The Howitzer from the island’s days as a civil war-era fort:

howitzer

The electrical services building:

electrical services bldg

The ruins of the PX building:

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There are protected nesting seabirds all over the place. They give zero fucks about all the people wandering around them. And that baby duckling just killed everyone with the cute:

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A greenhouse and garden that was tended by a select few prisoners. The storehouse/warehouse and the power plant’s smokestack are in the distance:

greenhouse-garden-storehouse warehouse-power plant smokestack greenhouse-garden-view north

The morgue:

morgue plaque morgue

At the very top of the hill (after a 13-story climb), is the cellhouse:

cellhouse cellhouse1

The line for the start of the audio tour winds around the showers. Next to the showers is the supply issue room:

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A spiral staircase:

spiral stairs

The gun gallery and its key winch:

gun gallery key winch gun gallery

“Finished” cells made up as though they were occupied, including the cell of one escaper who used a papier-mâché head as a decoy:

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Cellblocks and a cutoff corridor between blocks:

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The library:

library library1

In June 1962, there was a prison break made famous by the movie “Escape From Alcatraz.” The men used sharpened spoons to widen ventilation ducts in their cells, gaining access to this narrow unguarded utility corridor between cellblocks, and to the roof from there. Two of the men were never found and are presumed to have drowned, but the U.S. Marshall’s case remains open to this day:

service access-escapers used

During the May 2-4, 1946, “Battle of Alcatraz,” two guards were killed, and inmates reached the upper level gun gallery with a bar separator, gaining access to a rifle, pistol, keys, clubs, and gas grenades. Their plan failed, but a deadly standoff ensued. Electricity was cut off and the Marines called in. The Marines drove the armed convicts into a corner with tactics they had perfected against entrenched Japanese resistance during the Pacific War. They drilled holes in the prison roof and dropped grenades into areas where they believed the convicts were to force them into a utility corridor where they could be cornered.

Some of the grenades were dropped from these galleries.

Some of the grenades were dropped from these galleries.

These pockmarks in the concrete floor were left by the exploding grenades.

These pockmarks in the concrete floor were left by the exploding grenades.

The administration building and its operations room:

admin bldg admin-ops room

I happened to be there just when they were doing one of the day’s two “Sounds of the Slammer” interpretive demonstrations. I’m so happy I saw it.

The ranger was operating a complicated system of levers, selectors, gears, clutches, and pulleys to manually operate any of the 750-pound doors separately, in select groups, or as a whole block.

Many movies (including Jurassic Park) have used Alcatraz’s slamming doors as sound effects.

In addition to operating the doors, the ranger explained their mechanical design, and also touched on other sounds of the slammer: of jangling key rings, police whistles, the bells clanging atop floating buoys, the blaring of ship’s horns, the cry of seabirds, and how, when the wind was just right, inmates could hear the sounds from the yacht club just a mile across the water: of popping champagne corks, gentle music, and the laughter of women.

It was SUPER cool. So glad I was there just at the right time.

gear box-door operation

The isolation cells had double sets of doors. Prisoners in these cells lived in total darkness 23 hours a day.

isolation cells

The kitchen. I either don’t remember or didn’t hear about what that green stand-alone structure in the back was for. The dining hall directly adjacent was fitted with tear gas canisters in the ceiling in case of riots. It was nicknamed the “gas chamber.” They were never used, luckily, because any guards inside would also have been gassed. But perhaps that little building in the kitchen could have been used by the workers to seal themselves inside.

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HALP!

me in cell

The oldest operating lighthouse on the U.S. west coast:

lighthouse

A vault:

vault

The view of San Francisco from the top of the island:

view of SF

The ruins of the Warden’s house:

wardens house ruins wardens house ruins1

Took a taxi back home. It was around 4:30 in the afternoon by then, and traffic was a bitch.

Next post: Day 5 continued — Japantown — Ramen with Friends

Day 4: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 (continued)

I had an hour or so to kill before the guys were ready for me to help with dinner party prep, so I wandered down to Haight and found this “Victorian punch house” called Hobson’s Choice on the corner of Haight and Clayton. They feature three styles of punch for really reasonable prices. To my delight, on the soundtrack, every second song was a Prince song.

hobsons choice-punch menu

I tried a house punch and a go-go punch.

hobsons choice-punches

The beer tap and drain is antique brass.

hobsons choice-brass taps

hobsons choice-label on brass taps

I noticed that every antique chandelier was different:

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Stained glass light fixture:

hobsons choice-stained glass

Back home, Tim set me to prepping sliced bell, Anaheim, and Poblano peppers for the tacos. We also had Serrano peppers for guacamole. Even though I washed my hands twice, they still burned for two days afterwards, especially in warm water.

dinner party prep at tims 160426

Pinot Noir was poured. Guests started arriving. After the peppers were ready, I made guacamole. Erin and I shredded the smoked pork.

Sauvignon Blanc was poured. Old standards played in the background.

A light pink homemade wine was poured. Much fun was had by all. The carnitas, 15 hours in the smoker, were to DIE FOR. Tim telling the Rum Cake Story:

There were also fried taco shells, fresh homemade salsa and guacamole, grilled slabs of pepper, grilled artichokes, and refried beans. For dessert, there was strawberry/blueberry shortcake. Tim had to spike his with some spiced rum, of course.

Didn’t get to bed until after midnight.

Next post: Day 5 — Lunch with an Old Friend — Alcatraz Island

Day 4: Tuesday, April 26, 2016

This day was going to be an expedition out to Land’s End, the rocky cliffs on San Francisco’s tippy north-western corner. There’s a fancy place there called the Cliff House that I’m told must be visited for a cocktail and the epic view. I wrote down the names of a couple of other (less expensive) places in the same area. I also wanted to see the ruins of the Sutro Baths there.

Thinking I could save some money by taking a light picnic, I popped into the Haight Street Market for a deli cheese sandwich and a bottled coffee drink to take along. The sandwich was much bigger than I’d imagined; I should have gotten a half order.

Took the outbound N train all the way to its terminus at Ocean Beach. At the coastline, I was met with the smell of sea air flowing over these enormous sand dunes.

sand dunes

These ravens will take food right from people's hands.

These ravens will take food right from people’s hands.

I started heading north along this beachy pathway:

beach pathway

When I reached the end of the dunes after a couple-three hundred yards, I could finally see the ocean. There was also this huge, improbable windmill. Wha??? Made a mental note to ask someone about it.

windmill

Aaaaand finally, there’s the Cliff House WAAAAYYY in the distance.

See that white speck on the right hulking some eleventy-hundred miles in the distance?

See that white speck on the right hulking some eleventy-hundred clicks off in the distance? That’s my destination.

I hoped my sore feet would make it, praying that the Sutro Baths ruins weren’t too much farther past the Cliff House. It was a perfect day to be out, with a thin, high cloud cover to cut the sun’s intensity. After a mile or so, I started seeing this building on the opposite side of the highway. As I drew nearer, I realized it was the Beach Chalet, one of the two alternates I’d made a note of. Excellent. I was ready for a break.

The lower level had an eight-foot-long model of the Golden Gate Park and an assortment of historical displays. This building is one of the welcome centers, situated at the far western end of the long, rectangular park. There were bathrooms (thank you Bathroom Gods) and a gift shop. The entire floor was lined with mosaics and Art Deco murals:

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Made my way upstairs and got a corner window table. WOOT! Hey, there’s ANOTHER windmill. My view:

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Darling little tabletop terrarium:

beach chalet-tabletop terrarium

I ordered a deviled egg appetizer and a Hefeweisen from their own microbrewery. The eggs included flakes of smoked trout, minced red bell pepper, and capers. Plus a nicoise salad AND a mess of bread and butter. All for eight bucks. The beer was another seven. Paid only $21, including tax and tip, for this delightful little feast.

beach chalet-meal

The waitress told me that the windmills are relics from San Francisco’s early days. In the 19th century, they pumped salt water to the Sutro Baths and to other saltwater bathhouses downtown. Later, when the Golden Gate Park was being constructed out of mostly sand dunes, the windmills pumped water to the construction sites.

Rested and full now, I was ready to continue my trek up to the Cliff House.

STILL a ways to go.

STILL a ways to go.

Getting closer...

Getting closer…

Bird rocks.

Bird rocks.

Finally I got there. Hey, there’s a totem pole here!

cliff house-totem pole

Rocks below.

rocks below

Giant camera obscura.

camera obscura

Went inside and found the lobby packed with people milling about waiting impatiently for a table. “Thirty minute wait,” I heard one person mutter to his date. I peered in and saw open spots at the bar, so I waited in line for the hostess and asked if I’d have to wait to sit at the bar, as I was just a party of one. “No wait at the bar, or the lounge.” She waved toward an area off to the right of the lobby. It was an intimate, triangular loft space lined with windows and overlooking a lower dining area with a tinkling piano playing.

cliff house-atrium

Got a corner window, AGAIN. I’ve had really good luck getting epic tables in SF. From this outside perspective, I had the far right-hand corner window. And OH GOOD, the Sutro Baths ruins are right there immediately past the Cliff House.

cliff house-my view from outside

The view:

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Ordered a “Key Lime at the Cliffs,” made with house-infused vanilla bean vodka, house caramel, lime, and cream. Delicious. $13.50 with tip. Oof. Good thing I didn’t plan on eating there. It was worth it, though, just to pay the rent on that view for a little while. They also had a small bar-food menu, too.

cliff house-key lime cocktail

Before I left, I wandered about and took a few pics of the interior. The cowboy was part of the Sutro Baths amusement area once upon a time.

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Just a few feet past the Cliff House, you can see the ruins of the Sutro Baths. In 1896, the Sutro Baths were opened to the public as the world’s largest indoor swimming pool establishment. During high tides, water would flow directly into the pools from the nearby ocean, recycling two million gallons of water in about an hour. During low tides, a powerful turbine water pump, built inside a cave at sea level, could be switched on to fill the tanks at a rate of 6,000 gallons a minute, recycling all the water in five hours. The baths featured:

~ Six saltwater pools and one freshwater pool, equipped with 7 slides, 30 swinging rings, and 1 springboard.

~ A museum displaying an extensive collection of stuffed and mounted animals, historic artifacts, and artwork.

~ A 2700-seat amphitheater, and club rooms with capacity for 1100.

~ 517 private dressing rooms.

~ An ice skating rink.

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Heading back, I passed a street vendor selling watercolor prints.

cliff house-exterior-artist vendor

The lady there was the artist’s wife. Eduardo Guzman is a self-taught Mexican painter. I loved his loose, impressionistic style and bold colors. They were having a sale: larger prints for $10, smaller ones for $5. Plus black matting signed by the artist. I picked out two large and one small. I’ll keep the larger Golden Gate Bridge one, and give the other two away as gifts.

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Now, for the long walk back. Here you can see how far I came. In the distance to the right, you can just make out those sand dunes. You can also see the foot of Golden Gate Park, plus both of the windmills.

the entire walk

I still had my picnic lunch. There was a homeless dude talking to himself just a little ways down the road from the view above, and I dropped it off with him. I needed the extra hand anyway to carry those paintings back.

Took the N train back home. Got another Gold Standard at the Ice Cream Bar. As I rounded the corner a full block away from Tim’s, I could already smell the enticing aroma of smoked pork for the dinner party planned for later. I’m sure mouths were watering around the entire block. Watched an episode of the Simpsons with the guys.

Next post: Day 4 continued — Hobson’s Choice Victorian punch house — Carnitas taco dinner party

Day 3 (continued): Monday, April 25, 2016

Strolled back through Golden Gate Park via shaded forest pathways.

GG garden pathway

Spotted this charming bust of Cervantes with Don Quixote and Sancho Panza kneeling before him in tribute. Someone had placed a plastic vase full of red roses there.

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Popped into the Irish bar on Haight and enjoyed a Bloody Mary by the window. Excellent people-watching.

Then Tim & Alex & I hopped the outbound N train to have lunch at San Tung. We got those green beans I loved last time – they’ve been haunting me. Plus a plate of mushu pork with wraps and Hoisin sauce, and the highlight of the meal: Chicken Wings. And not just ANY wings. San Tung’s wings are consistently voted the best wings in San Francisco.

And YES, they were THAT good. Sticky, sweet, hot, messy, and delicious.

And YES, they were THAT good. Sticky, sweet, hot, messy, and delicious.

Popped into a Sanrio shop across the street while waiting for the train back. Picked up a darling little Amuse bird beanbag key fob.

angry bird

Sutro Tower is always a constant landmark.

You can see it from almost anywhere in the city.

You can see it from almost anywhere in the city.

In the evening, the inbound N train took us back to the Castro district. Our destination: Super Duper Burgers for dinner. Delicious comfort food.

They're even better than In-N-Out, I'm told.

They’re even better than In-N-Out, I’m told.

Walked up Noe back to the station. Such a beautiful (expensive!) neighborhood. The impossibly wide sidewalks feature these darling little parklets, one on each corner.

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At the Duboce and Noe station, we sat and waited. And waited. Aaaaaand waited. Must have been at least 30 minutes. The train was late, but we finally got home, too late to contemplate watching a movie. I made a couple of phone calls, to Rich and my mom, and checked email before hitting the sack.

Next post: Day 4 (part 1) — Land’s End — Sutro Baths Ruins

Day 3: Monday, April 25, 2016

Last year I missed the Japanese Garden in Golden Gate Park because I’d gotten there too late in the day, and on a Sunday to boot. The line to get in snaked out the entrance. This time I waited till a weekday, and went early.

Stopped by the Lily Pond on the way in:

More like the Algae Pond.

More like the Algae Pond.

Even the outside of the Japanese garden is lovely:

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Once inside, the first thing you see is this gorgeous pond fronting a little cafe. Local artists and tourists alike lined the open counter facing the pond.

japanese garden-reflecting pond-cafe

japanese garden-cafe

Feeling a bit parched after the walk there, I went in and ordered an iced matcha green tea and a bowl of miso soup.

Ah. Just what the doctor ordered.

Ah. Just what the doctor ordered.

My view from the cafe:

I would come here every day if I could.

I would come here literally every day if I could.

Then I just wandered about in amazement, taking over a hundred pictures. Everything was just so beautiful. Bear with me, I’ll try and portion this out. When you go through this gate…

japanese garden-gate

…You’ll be overlooking this lovely koi pond, the first of several:

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A pathway winds down and away…

So peaceful.

So peaceful.

…Past this little waterfall. A tiny bird was fluttering around in there, taking sips of water.

japanese garden-bamboo waterfall

The pathway leads to a Zen garden…

japanese garden-zen garden

…With a little water basin…

japanese garden-zen garden-tiny pool

…And combed gravel and artfully-placed rocks.

japanese garden-zen garden1

japanese garden-zen garden2

Lots of elaborate temples:

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And lots of stone lanterns:

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A service gate.

A service gate.

A stone bathtub.

A stone bathtub.

A large bronze Buddha.

A large bronze Buddha.

What a lovely shady place to hang out in the summer.

What a lovely shady place to hang out in the summer.

A moss bed.

A moss bed.

Lots of stone walkways over water features:

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The koi were so beautiful and charming. There are signs explicitly saying not to feed anything, but they come up to people like they’re used to being hand-fed. Maybe they just like being admired and having their pictures taken. These big guys must be decades old.

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An ornamental bridge:

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This reflecting pond was the largest. Lots of sketch artists there that day.

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Loved these crane statues in the pond:

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Stopped in at the gift shop. Lots of lovely ceramic things, all horribly overpriced. All the same charming and beautiful stuff I could find at Kamei on Clement Street, only for five times the price. I did get a stuffed Boh Mouse from the Spirited Away movie, though. Couldn’t resist.

Boh mouse

Next post: Day 3 continued — Wings at San Tung – Parklets on Noe – Super Duper Burgers

Day 2 – Sunday, April 24, 2016

First full day. Weather was sunny, cold, and windy. Here’s the view from the living room (aka my temporary bedroom) window. It’s remarkably quiet back there. People have the loveliest little backyard garden oases, shaded by huge mature pine and fig trees:

view from living room window view from living room window1

Walked to the Haight Street Market with Tim for pour-over drip coffee, then took Moby to the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park to do his business. Back home, Tim set about mixing buttermilk pancake batter while I wrote out the postcards I’d gotten the evening before in the Castro. I poured and flipped pancakes while Tim worked on a special (top secret) project of his own:

We all scarfed pancakes while watching an episode of Bob’s Burgers. Hilarious show.

Left the boys to get some work done while I walked down to the Lower Haight neighborhood to explore.

Gorgeous church.

Gorgeous church.

church lower haight1

Wandered into an Irish soccer bar and had a couple of beers. All the waitstaff were redheads. Locals watched a soccer game playing on the TV. Felt like home at Bluefoot. They had this great old English phone box by the garden patio in the back:

english phone booth

Went as far east as Filmore, then turned south for a couple of blocks, and caught the N train back to Cole Valley. Also right by that station, is the Ice Cream Bar Soda Fountain, which I got to visit last time, but wanted to return to. I ordered their “Gold Standard” cocktail, made with Cocchi Americano, Cardamaro, Vino Amaro, lemon juice, pineapple shrub, black cardamom tincture, turbinado syrup, and garnished with a lemon twist.

A few of the tincture bottles:

The final product. It was DIVINE.

So refreshing.

So refreshing.

More from the Ice Cream Bar:

Antique cash register and a solid block of ice for chipping.

Antique cash register and a solid block of ice for chipping.

The ceiling.

The ceiling.

Handmade marshmallows.

Handmade marshmallows.

ice cream bar-jarred herbs spices

Jarred herbs and spices for making tinctures.

The soda fountain.

The soda fountain.

Some random architecture:

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Popped into a few shops on Upper Haight, including Decades of Fashion, almost directly across the street from Tim’s on the corner of Belvedere and Haight. Found a pair of vintage white leather driving gloves to replace my rotting old pair in the car. They have a strict no-pictures policy, but were kind enough, when I asked nicely, to let me get a shot of this utterly ridiculous sparkly green full-body latex antediluvian peacock outfit:

Okaaayyy, but WHERE would you wear it?

Okaaayyy, but WHERE would you wear it? Stop; never mind, I don’t want to know.

Some random street art:

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For dinner, Tim & Alex made roast chicken with asparagus and some amazing garlic potatoes. We’d been expecting Gio to come by so we could all watch the first episode of the latest season of Game of Thrones, but she couldn’t make it. More food for us. Alex made homemade cookies from scratch with chocolate chips, toasted pecans, and toffee pieces. They were to DIE for. We devoured them, still warm and soft and gooey, washed down with wine, while watching Sideways. Great buddy/road trip/drinking movie.

Next post: Day 3 (part 1) – Japanese Garden at Golden Gate Park

My wonderful friends Tim and Alex graciously hosted me on another visit to their fair city.

Day 1 – Saturday, April 23, 2016

Loved this huge bronze sculpture and fountain in a sunny atrium of the San Diego International Airport:

Sea lions, fish, and whales swimming among a kelp forest.

Sea lions, fish, and whales swimming about a kelp forest.

kelp fountain at SAN

There’s also this mesmerizing hanging LED light display that mimics the view above from an underwater perspective. The focus sucks, but you can still see the effect.

I was in boarding group A, and so when I saw people lining up at the gate, I just went up. Turned out they were only boarding first class, but she said, “oh never mind” and waved me through anyway. WOOT! First one on the plane (at least in coach). Virgin America was great, BTW. The flight was uneventful, except for the screaming infant across the aisle. Thank god for the earplugs that live permanently in my purse for just such emergencies. No airsickness — whew — thanks to Dramamine.

Took the BART train to downtown, then hopped on the Muni light-rail N train to Carl and Cole, which is just three blocks from Tim & Alex’s 100-year-old Edwardian in the famous Haight-Ashbury area. The station is right next to that dog park we had wine night at last year. San Francisco was cool, sunny, and windy. Tim let me unwind and settle in with a couple fingers of good Japanese whisky.

In the evening we took the N to the Castro district for dinner at Warakubune Japanese Restaurant, featuring sushi boats!

Warakubune Sushi

I’d never been to a sushi boat joint before, and the experience was adorable. The sushi chefs work at stations in the center, and place freshly-made dishes on open spots on the boats as they sail around the perimeter. If you see something you like, just take it off the boat as it sails past. The cost is based on the ceramic glaze decoration on the dish: at the end of the meal they tally your bill by counting how many of each style of dishes you’ve collected.

I treated the boys, but my appetite was off because of the damn Dramamine comedown. That stuff does weird things to my stomach. I feel okay, I feel hungry, but when I actually encounter the sight and smell of food, I feel a bit green. Still managed to get a few dishes in me, washed down with lots of their delicious green tea.

Afterwards we explored around the Castro district. It’s easily the gayest place I’ve ever been. WAY gayer than Hillcrest, for instance.

Me by the giant rainbow flag.

Me by the giant rainbow flag. (looking FAT)

castro flag

It was breezy. And COLD.

Got a set of three ninja erasers at some funky shop:

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1940 Ford just parked on the street.

A gorgeous 1940 Ford just parked right there on the street. He needs to get one of the new black plates!

The famous Castro Theater. They were showing "Purple Rain" that night.

The famous Castro Theater. They were showing “Purple Rain” that night. Of course. Nice tribute.

This insane doll collection naughtily displayed in someone's window.

This insane anatomically-correct doll collection naughtily displayed in someone’s window. Don’t look too closely, children!

dolls in castro window1

A rainbow crosswalk.

A rainbow crosswalk.

Loved this cafe's sign.

Loved this cafe’s sign.

This huge painting of a little girl sinking her teeth into a live tarantula was just too strange and disturbing to let pass. The owner says it’s based on a real photograph, and yes, it was a real tarantula, not a stuffed toy.

tarantula-eating girl painting

Of course, we had to roam around inside a couple of the gay porn shops.

I had to ask about the pink thing on the right: "I know what *this* end is for, but what on earth are you supposed to do with the long curly end?"

I had to ask Tim about the pink thing on the right: “I know what *this* end is for, but what on earth are you supposed to do with the long curly part?”

Dildos Dildos Dildos!

Dildos Dildos Dildos!

Of course, when you spot a seven-foot-tall anatomically-correct wooden penis from Indonesia, the only possible thing to do is have your picture taken with it!

Oh myyyyy...

Oh myyyyy…

Some random architecture and wacky color schemes:

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We went home and watched Ratatouille. It was adorable and lots of fun. Had a hard time sleeping the first night without a husband on one side and a dog on the other!

Next post: Day 2 – First Full Day – Exploring Lower Haight – Ice Cream Bar

 

Dancers Amelia Rudolph and Roel Seeber perform a gravity-defying dance on a cliff face on the Northern California coast in this breathtaking video produced by KQED Arts. The dancers are members (Rudolph is also the group’s founder and artistic director) of BANDALOOP, a dance troupe that uses climbing gear to perform aerial choreography. The dance took place north of San Francisco on the cliffs of Red Rock Beach in Marin County.

Pic of the Day – 10/20/15

Yarnbombing nearby San Francisco’s Ferry Building by Jill and Lorna Watt.

yarnbombing-ferry bldg-san francisco_Jill and Lorna Watt

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