Thursday, September 21, 2006

Vacation Recap: San Fran Weekend, Part 3

On Saturday we decided to get out of the city and recreate the “perfect day” YG had when he visited Msquared back in the spring. We rented a car for the weekend that we picked up a few blocks from the hotel. There was some back-and-forth about adding a second person to the rental reservation so I just hung back and read and looked at all of the different maps. Two older ladies riding motorized scooters came in to pick up their car rental, and I had a bit of a giggle imagining them rolling up and down the San Francisco hills in their matching sweat suits with shopping bags.

After the car situation was resolved, we picked up K at her new apartment in Telegraph Hill. She only moved in a few weeks prior, but it was still cozy and cute, with the most gorgeous views of the water. As I’ve blogged before, I’m still having conflicting feelings about my new apartment. I pared down a lot to move from a big condo to an apartment, but I still feel like I have so much STUFF. Seeing K’s great, yet small, apartment – with everything she needed in two small rooms – helped me realize that I can scale down even more. We had a good laugh over the fact that we were wearing essentially the same outfit – black t-shirts and jeans and blue hoodies being so cutting edge and all – and were on our way.

We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, a thrill in itself for me, and stopped at The Marin Headlands to take in some of the spectacular views and enjoy some of the trail mix that Msquared had packed. He also brought an entire backpack filled with fruit that sadly, none of us ate.

After the stop, we drove over to Stinson Beach. I was in the backseat and getting nauseous and car sick because of the windy roads, but still couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I feel like I’m using a lot of “beautiful” and “breathtaking” and “amazing” to describe the scenery, and that’s lame [and I know I need to have a long conversation with myself about why I’m doing this kind of writing as opposed to “real” writing] – but I really don’t know what else to say. It takes a lot to get me to shut up, slow down, and appreciate – but San Francisco and the surroundings were able to do that. It was a very foggy day, and we kept ducking in and out of the clouds, watching this spectacular, rocky beach come into view in the distance.

We took a walk down the beach, chatted and looked at the houses. It must have been warm because there were people in the water, and by the time the walk was over, the four of us had stripped some of our outer layers and were down to jeans, t-shirts and bare feet. We then had a delicious lunch and win at The Sand Dollar which is supposedly Stinson Beach’s longest running restaurant and bar. They had a heated patio and this great little live band, and I enjoyed my fish tacos and club sandwich (with lots and lots of bacon) very much.

YG said that they sat at the same exact table when he was there in the spring, and I was happy to be there this time, and in a much better headspace. When YG was in SF earlier, we had hit a really rough patch. I was still stuck in my horrible job that was a huge mistake and really depressed – wondering whether or not I should be on meds. It was a really bad time for me, and I made it extremely difficult for him. When he went out there, it was like he took a break from all the crazy people in his life demanding things of him – his depressed girlfriend (a.k.a. me), his crazy ex-wife (the EC), and the insane stresses that go along with being “an important person” at work and being a single parent. He came back much more relaxed, healthy and happy. And I got through my shit and dealt with it. Five months later, we were able to take this great trip together. He got to recreate his perfect day – except it was a little more perfect.

After lunch, we drove over to Sausalito, this cute little community on the hillside between the Bay and the Marin Headlands. I knew nothing about Sausalito other than remembering its name from some terrible tween book I read in middle school. I’ve been googling like a fiend, but I still can’t remember what the name of this book was. It was like a ghetto rip off of Sweet Valley High. Basically, the premise was that there were two very pretty, blonde cousins – one who lived in San Francisco, and one who lived in no-name town in the Midwest. Midwest Blonde comes to spend a school year with SF Blonde and is completely overwhelmed by the big city. She meets some guy at an art show in the gym of their school (where if I remember correctly, she was stacking a deck of cards?) and sees her art (i.e. the card stack) and thinks she’s some sort of artiste. Because she’s from the Midwest and completely overwhelmed by the big city, she lies to the guy and pretends like she’s all city fabulous. Complexity ensues. All comes to a head when she’s supposed to go out for a date on his parents’ houseboat in SAUSALITO, and she ends up scratching her eye with her fake Lee press-on nail while getting dressed in her city, artist clothes. She has to come clean, and sends SF cousin to SAUSALITO to explain to rich guy why she can’t join him for dinner. The rest of this mind-numbing plot is a blur to me. I just remember thinking that rich people live on boats in Sausalito.

So, yeah, anyway. ..It was really pretty, with lovely views. And very sunny and warm – quite different than San Francisco. If you looked over at the city, the fog was settling in, and it appeared almost like a picture where somebody just erased the top part. We sat on the water’s edge, drinking hot chocolate and coffee and had a completely ‘not stoned’ conversation about what our “favorite” animals are. MSquared gave me shit about choosing cats because they’re easy and domesticated, and apparently one should not choose domesticated animals as one’s “favorite animal” in these types of conversations. Monkeys, my second choice, also got a big meh. We finally settled on panthers as my favorite animal. For the record, MSquared’s favorite animal is a polar bear. Average age of the four completely sober participants in this conversation: 35.

While in Sausalito, we unfortunately witnessed a sailboat sinking. It was terrible – sitting on the sidelines and watching this guy struggle to try and save his boat. He had help from the Coast Guard, but I’m not sure if he was able to salvage his boat. He was out there for a while, and we watched him being towed in. It was sad imagining how embarrassing it must be to be dragged in before all these spectators like us.

By late afternoon, everyone was exhausted so we headed back to the city and found an excellent parking spot. I drive in cities enough to recognize the value of a truly great (and free) parking spot. I was cranky and whiny and lame (capital L) so I went back to the hotel and took a nap, while YG sat down in the lobby reading and journaling. I joined him about an hour later, and we chatted up this nice couple from Atlanta before changing and heading over to MSquared’s for wine and Jenga.
[Note; I still haven’t bought Jenga, but I’ve made a list for this weekend – it’s on it.]

We had 9:30 dinner reservations at 1550 Hyde
so we headed up there, as I sulked and pouted over my Jenga loss in the cab. That lasted for a few seconds but was immediately lifted once we got into the restaurant. Our table wasn’t ready so we grabbed seats at the bar, and munched on some olives. K and I also tried some Kir Royals (a drink I haven’t had since I visited my brother in Lyon during his semester abroad) and the boys had wine. YG pouted a bit about the table not being ready. I pouted a bit about YG pouting, and Msquared and K were just laid back and happy as they usually are.

All was made well when we sat down for our meal. OMIGOD! I had eggplant bisque for an appetizer that was divine, and a vegetable pasta dish that was cooked to perfection. I also tried a Gewurztraminer that was very tasty, but totally not the right wine for that meal. I’m trying to learn more about wine and what goes with what, but it’s slow learning. I know what I like – sweet wines, and usually stick with that. I’m hoping to branch out a bit more. K had a white burgundy that was delicious. We also had some yummy desserts [that I paid for, my penalty for losing the Jenga game.:-)] and left around midnight and walked back to the hotel, discussing whether or not Msquared should get a scooter. Scoot or die, dude. Scoot or die.

It was a long exhausting day, and I had gotten kind of prickish by the end of the day, but as we were walking back, and I got a look at my lovely boy, I realized how very, very lucky I am.

Sadly, Sunday was our last day in San Francisco and we had a 10:30 p.m. red eye to catch back to Boston. After days of stalking Mamas from the window and wondering if the food was good enough to warrant waiting on line outside for, we sucked it up and went over. The line was substantial, but the wait wasn’t too bad. We were wedged between a couple that was gushily making out and a gaggle of hozzles, fresh off a bachelorette party, including the bride-to-be – wearing a frickin’ veil. Gag. You may think I’m bitter because I’m getting divorced and all walking the boulevard of broken dreams, but the bachelorette party phenomenon has always made me throw up in my mouth just a little. One look at these hozzes and I knew they had spent the last night doing shots and squealing that girl squeak, and thinking it was just hilarious to carry around their dick-shaped lollipops and “suck for a buck” t-shirts. Ew. Plus, there were about 90 of them and I knew that, in due time, someone wearing Juicy “couture” terry cloth sweat pants and oversized sunglasses was going to show up….and I’d just go postal.

Again, though, I was rescued by the food. The story of my life, folks. It was so good. I really didn’t even know where to start – I wanted everything. You wait on line outside, and then they let you in, where you wait on line inside, place your order and then wait for a table. I decided on a mimosa and lemon raspberry French Toast made with freshly baked bread, covered in syrup and fresh fruit. YG had either the cinnamon-swirl or something with apples in it – I forget. And to add to our carb-fest, we split a piece of coffee cake. It was unreal. So good, so filling. Well worth the wait.

After breakfast, we checked out of our room (So, so sad – bye bye stalking window) and left our bags in the lobby before heading up the The Haight. The cab ride was insane, and we kept flying up and down hills and whipping through streets. I’m not sure what I was expecting from The Haight, but I was sort of surprised. It’s been over 30 years since the Summer of Love, but I was still expecting to see hippies hanging out everywhere and lots of incense and tie dye and “peace, man”. There was plenty of that stuff, but also some shops that sold True Religion jeans and John Fluevogs – not really “hippie” in my mind. We found a cute kids shop and bought the MG a bag, a patterned change purse and a purple flower ring – stuff you know she’d get a kick out of.

Then we headed over to Golden Gate Park. The next time I visit, I hope to spend more time here. It’s really pretty, and from the map, enormous. There was an opera starting so we sat down for a few minutes, but after realizing we’d have to wait a while for it to start, we headed back to the Haight again.

And there I had my second San Francisco religious experience – Amoeba Music -- the largest indie record store in the country. I could have spent all day in there – I was in total “kid in candy shop” mode. I didn’t even make it into the new music section, spending all my time rifling through tons of used CDS. Everything was so cheap so I picked up a number of things I wanted a while back, but never got around to getting: an old Sleater Kinney,’s compilation CD, a Waifs CD, and the Jose Gonzalez album I didn’t have. So, so awesome.

We headed back to North Beach to pick up our bags and use the bathroom, and I chatted with the very pregnant hostess at the hotel. We then rescued the car from its very good spot and drove back to The Golden Gate Bridge. We parked the car, and decided to walk over on foot. It was absolutely freezing, but so worth it. The color of the bridge is just as interesting up close as it is in photos, and it doesn’t even feel like you’re on a bridge – more like a giant highway in the sky [how ridiculous is THAT description?]. The fog is so strange, though – when we started on the SF side and made our way through the throng of tourists, we couldn’t even see the top of the tower on the other side. Making our way across, I took a bunch of pictures and we spotted a couple of interesting things including a sea lion or dolphin hanging out in the bay and a European tourist who stopped about every five feet to take a picture of himself against the backdrop of the bridge. It was bizarre! On the other side, it was much sunnier and on our way back, we saw one of those giant cargo container ships going by and a lot of Blazing Saddles riders. I REALLY want to do the bike path next time I’m in San Francisco – bike over the bridge to Sausalito or Tiburon, and then take the ferry back. It looks amazing. YG and I commented, though, on how it seems like a pretty long ride and most of the riders we saw didn’t seem to be experienced riders. 17 miles in jeans and flip flops seems like it would suck, but that said, I promise the residents of Northern California that I will not subject you to the spectacle that is JM in bike pants should I ever visit again, and get to do some biking.

After getting back to the car, we started negotiating what we should do with the rest of our day before heading to the airport. We decided on Alamo Park because I was interested in seeing the Seven Sisters and getting a glimpse of that famous view of the city and its pretty Victorian houses.

We found a parking spot right away, and it really is a lovely neighborhood. Sadly, I did not meet DJ or Stephanie Tanner in the park, and Uncle Jesse was nowhere to be found, but it was worth the trip. We only spent a few minutes before getting back in the car, with YG driving and me navigating with the map.

We headed back toward the waterfront and decided to get a drink at YG’s favorite bar in San Francisco. Of course, the name of said bar and restaurant is eluding both of us right now, but it’s down near Fisherman’s Wharf and has beautiful second floor views of Alcatraz and the Bay Bridge and is loaded with black and white photos of movie stars, tons of them. I think it has an Italian name, and I keep Googling all of those search phrases, but can’t find it. I had glasses of a yummy Sauvignon Blanc, and then we ordered some prosciutto, mozzarella, and olives and chatted and enjoyed the view until it was time to leave.

We drove back to North Beach and picked up Msquared who was driving us back to the airport and returning the car. We got through security, walked around the airport some more, and I bought new blotting papers at Body Shop and read the newest craptastic magazines and saw the pictures (finally) of the mysterious Suri. We had another drink at an airport bar, I got nervous and clingy and blubbery (because it wouldn’t be a JM vacation without one nervous breakdown), and then got off the plane, sleeping most of the way.

Arrived back in one piece around 7:30 a.m. ET, cabbed back to Cambridge, napped for a few hours and then enjoyed one last fun lunch together before returning to the real world. Sigh. I miss it.


Mrs. Delicious said...

What a fantastic trip! I am beyond happy that you went to the Marin Headlands and Amoeba Records -- two of my favorite places on earth.

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