Friday, December 31, 2010

San Francisco

This will be the first of two successive blog entries that I wrote a few days after the fact. Limited internet access—but also the need to live before blogging—are to blame for the somewhat delayed posting. Oh well; it used to be that news from the New World wouldn’t arrive until three months later.

With Kit and Kai leading the way in the sporty Saturn and moi trying to stay on their tail, we left Santa Rosa on Wednesday morning, heading for The City. See, Kai, I’m teachable. The sun was out, I listened to Baaba Maal and Baden Powell on the iPod linked to the Fusion’s stereo, and life was good. Memories welled up: The embassy Suites in San Rafael, the Sausalito exit to the Heath ceramics outlet, the Golden Gate overlook. Everything is fraught with memories, because Judy and I did so much, much more than anybody can ever hope to do together in a normal married life. All good. No worries.
Seeing the towers of the Golden Gate bridge appear over Marin’s last rises is magical. You folks know that I’m not the sentimental guy, but there’s something very American about that sight. If you’ve never been there, go. I wish I could have pulled off the highway for the right photo, but no such luck.

So we paid our exorbitant toll ($6 to enter the city of earthquakes) and immediately veered west. Maybe you can sense the vicious 30+-mph gale that was tugging on me, standing there on some golf course in Land’s End state park. Damn, the wind was so hard it blew pine cones and branches off the trees and on our cars. So on we went, down to one of Kai’s (many!) favorite watering holes, the Beach Chalet at the very western end of Golden Gate Park. Before the obligatory IPA I had to walk on the beach, getting tussled and wondering how nutty (and exhilarating) it must be to kite surf like these dudes. Way too damn cold for me, and my shoulder would look as if Grendel had gotten a hold of it.

We left my car and pooled toward Fisherman’s Wharf. Good thing that Kai has many favorite places, and this one even presented a teachable historical moment for a German kid who spent the summers of ’68 and ’69 elsewhere: the Toronado in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. Look at those houses, and look at the beer menu.  Of the entire trip (and I can say that now since I am blogging from the SMF-DFW bound plane), the Moonshine Bombay by Boat cask-conditioned brew was the absolutely freaking best! My gosh, what a beer! And $3 for a pint, during Happy Hour!

Down we went to Fisherman’s Wharf, where we had a bread bowl of clam chowder at Aliotos. Chowder and a Sam Adams for seven bucks—who can argue? The we met up with Kai’s rather comely sissy, the lovely Sara without an H, but the hours of wishful intrigue were cut down to minutes of meet-and-greet on the busy wharf. Ah, so it goes.  We went to some other semi-worthy taproom/pub, but Sara’s memory overshadowed its name. Que lastima.

Thank goodness for designated drivers who ferry you back to your point of original parking. (Turns out, there’s some law on the books that requires establishments on the beach to set aside a certain number of beach-access parking lots before they can open—thus I wasn’t towed!) By the time we got back to the Chalet, I was good enough to tail K&K down HWY 1 to Pacifica and beyond, where we hooked up with Kai’s older bro, Collin, and his gracious wife of many, many years, the gentle Carol. Another good day came to an end, among more Sierra Nevadas, a trip to the redwood hot tub, and many a tale about the early days out here on the coast, among the surfers and abalone hunters. Thank you, Collin, for embracing me that night (figuratively, thank goodness); that was a magical night in your tub while the rest of the world had decided to call it quits. Old friends, new friends, friends forever. And in case you're wondering what you see in the pic to the left, that's Collin's old abalone iron.


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