Saturday, March 26, 2022

San Francisco 2022 - Part II

Friday evening, back in San Francisco, we went to Japantown for ramen. We went here several years ago on a visit, before Covid. The ramen place is really great, and very popular. When we put our name on the list they said the wait was 90 minutes, but it actually didn't take that long. While we were waiting we walked around Dario, a typical Japanese "general" store, which means they carry a little bit of almost anything you could possible imagine. Dan and Kelsey bought a couple of ramen bowls and some rice bowls and I found some tapestry needles so I can weave in the yarn ends as I crochet!

On Saturday, March 5th, the plan is to do Section 3 of the Cross City Hiking Trail, the one that does a lot of steps. We stop in the Tenderloin for croissants to eat along the way. Then we take the metro to Forest Hill and away we go, high above the city, lots of steps, gorgeous views. The highest point is a park at the top of Mount Sutro where you have a 360 degree view of San Francisco, almost as high as Twin Peaks. 

Then down we go to see the the tile mosaic steps. Somehow we are lucky and there aren’t a lot of other people on the steps so it’s possible to take lots of pictures. They really are amazing. Up close there are so many little details, but if you stand back a little each flight is a picture of something wonderful, flowers, birds, butterflies, the sun, the moon and stars, even a giant lizard!

Because we gobbled up the croissants on our hike nobody is hungry for lunch. I’m actually worried that I won’t be hungry for dinner but that's not a problem! Lee had found a place called Causewell’s that was supposed to have the best burgers anywhere. We were going to sit inside but when we get there they have massive heaters outside so we put Kelsey close to one of them and we’re fine outside. My tummy is out of sorts so I opt for chicken, risotto and broccoli which hits the spot. I think my tummy was upset because I hadn’t eaten anything except croissants all day! Everyone else had burgers which they said were fine but not spectacular.

On Sunday, March 6th, Kelsey makes us pancakes for breakfast. She is an excellent pancake maker. I have two….and then one more….and then just one more. Thank you Kelsey!

We meet Kelsey’s friend and wander over to the Ferry Building where they are having a maker’s fair. The only booth that really delighted me was one where a woman had made all kinds of flowers, plants and FOOD out of crochet. Her daughter said she had designed them herself. I was so impressed. I should have gotten her card. 

We got some coffee and then went to the entertainment space next to Dan and Kelsey’s apartment building. A band was playing New Orleans music. It was the last day of mardi gras and almost lent. People had beads, and some people were dancing. We sat at a table a little ways off and just chatted and enjoyed the sunshine. Dan & Kelsey pointed out their apartment. You could tell which one it was because of the giant TV in the window. The windows take up two walls in the living room and kitchen. We couldn’t see a tv in anyone else’s window. I wonder where other people put theirs?

We had carry out chinese for dinner. It took a long time to be ready,  1.5 hours. Dan and Kelsey are disappointed in the food. They say its not as good as it used to be. I think it tastes just fine, but then I’m judging against typical midwestern chinese fare, not San Francisco standards.

We’ve had a great visit, but we miss the dogs and its time to go home. I don’t miss the weather however! Back in Minnesota, on Tuesday I run 5 miles and its 19F with a windchill of 4F. And its very very icy on the trail so its back to spikes, and even with the spikes I have to be careful. I was the only runner I saw, but it was kind of late. 

In 6 weeks we’ll be on our way to Hawaii! I can’t wait!

Saturday, March 19, 2022

California 2022 - Carmel-by-the-Sea

In the morning on February 28th, the last day of a short month, a ran a short 3 miles, wearing shorts! Then in the bright and sunny weather we drove south, to Carmel-by-the-Sea. We're staying there for the week, to give Dan and Kelsey a break from having visitors.  We stopped along the way at a sandwich shop that had bahn mi's. We sat outside to eat. They were excellent!

I drove after lunch. The road immediately turned narrow and twisty. Ugh. Pretty views, however, of ocean, dunes, cliffs, and mist. Lots of farmland too. 

Our hotel in Carmel, The Candlelight Inn,  is nothing fancy but clean and quiet. We get settled and then go walk to find coffee and a small grocery store for bananas and more Lara bars, and beer for Lee. We drop our supplies off at the hotel and go walk along the beach. I remember the huge hill to get down there from when we were here before. The tide is out; we walked to the left for awhile and then returned. We took some stairs back to the hotel, a little boardwalk through the dunes. It was very nice until the end when we had to go up a very steep hill. Whew!

Then we sat by the hotel’s fire pit for awhile, until it was time to go to dinner. Carmel is very quiet right now and it was no problem getting reservations, even at very popular restaurants. We chose a place that had Japanese Shaba shabu, Flying Fish Grill. It was great! It’s been a long time since I had this, I’d forgotten how good it was.

On Tuesday, March 1st, we did the 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach. We did this years ago when we came to Callifornia with the kids and drove up the coast but I have only the vaguest memory of it. We are only about 10 minutes from the entrance. It costs 11.25 to drive the road, and boy is it spectacular! We stopped at almost all the stops and admired the views, took a few pictures and walked around a little. We stared in awe at the waves, and at the golf course too. There are actually several golf courses there, besides the world famous Pebble Beach. There’s one that’s has several holes right next to the ocean, Spyglass Hill . We saw a couple playing a hole where the fairway seemed to go right over the water. Breathtaking, and intimidating! I can’t play golf, but for some weird reason I like to watch it. 

We ended up at the visitors center right around 11:30 so we stopped at the market and got a Ruben for Lee and soup and a salad for me. There are several sit down restaurants but they are pretty pricey. The food was ok, nothing special.

We finished up the drive and went back to Carmel for the afternoon. Did a lot of being lazy, a little walking around. That night a carry out pizza and watched Biden's State of the Union speech. Its such a strange time in the world, with Ukraine under siege, inflation on the rise, the Republicans tying themselves in knots trying to condemn Putin without offending Trump. I wish we could at least unite ourselves as a country against Russia. It makes me sad.

On Wednesday, March 2nd, I went for a spectacular run along the coast this morning along Scenic Drive. I needed 8 miles so I ran along the coast for two, then ran two miles into Carmel along a residential street, and back. The 1/2 mile down Ocean Ave to the coast is very steep, but the rest wasn’t too bad. So pretty!

Found a late breakfast around the corner after at Pangaea Grill. I got poached eggs with roasted tomatoes, tapenade,  and ciabatta. 

At around noon we walked around Carmel for awhile and then did a couple of wine tastings. The first, at Hahn Winery, was ok, not great. The second, at Blair Winery, was fabulous. I liked almost every single wine, enough that we ended up buying 3 bottles to take back to Dan and Kelsey. Then we walked up the street and had a snack at a little French place, Patisserie Boissiere. We sat outside and I had fruit, Brie and pate, Lee had a roasted artichoke. It all tasted great, and it wasn't too much food either.

On Thursday, March 3, we went to the Monterey aquarium. We saw all the exhibits, and 2 shows as well. The show featuring Luna the otter was especially touching. We wandered through all the exhibits and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It’s a great aquarium if you’ve never been.

Later we ate a late lunch at the same French place as yesterday. I had a cup of French onion soup and a chicken sandwich on brioche that I could only eat 1/2 of. My next crochet kit finally showed up online so I happily crocheted for a couple hours until it was time for dinner 

We had sushi for dinner at Akana. This is an old school traditional sushi restaurant run by a man and his wife. There isn’t even a sign outside; Lee found it online. we got the omicase (chef’s choice). One by one about 10 courses came out, so many good things that normally you can’t find outside Japan. Abalone, mackerel, all very fresh, made in front of us by a nice Japanese man. It was all great. Some things I don’t normally eat but I tried them since it was all so good, such as raw shrimp, fried shrimp head! The tempura was a mix of different veggies and shrimp mixed together in small strings. A lot of the sauces that could only be found in Japan, ginger sauce, garlic sauce. By the last three courses I was really too stuffed to enjoy them. A fish and mushroom soup, his homemade tofu, and a lovely hand roll at the end. I highly recommend this place if you like sushi and are a bit adventurous.

On Friday, March 4th, I ran 4 miles in the hills above Carmel. If I could run here for a month I’d be ready for the San Francisco Marathon and its hills! One more breakfast at Pangaea. This time I had steel cut oats with fruit, pine nuts and steamed milk.

We took highway 1 up the coast back to San Francisco. We have until 4 pm to return the car so we took our time. We stopped in Santa Cruz but the wharf was tacky and VERY windy. The drive to Pescadero Beach was gorgeous. Because of the wind the ocean is in a frenzy of whitecaps and very confused surf! No surfers! Before cutting over to I-280 was hung out in a coffee shop in Half Moon Bay. Its just too windy and cold to hang out on the beach. 

Saturday, March 12, 2022

California 2022 - San Francisco Part I

We flew to San Francisco on Thursday February 24th. We dropped the dogs off at Rita’s  (our dog sitter) in the morning, and then took an Uber to the airport. Their care has gotten so complicated as they’ve aged! I had to write out the instructions for their food and medications and she was a little intimidated. But it’s like anything, you do it for a couple days and then it becomes second nature.

We got to the airport pretty early. We really liked our Uber driver. He was smart and interesting and we enjoyed talking to him. The flight was long but uneventful. I spent most of the time watching episodes of Call the Midwife and reading my New Yorkers. I’m impatiently waiting for the next set of instructions to drop online for the afghan I’m making but it hasn’t happened yet.

Dan picked us up at the airport in San Francisco. It’s sunny, but chilly for the next few days, 40’s and 50’s. That first night it was windy too. 

We got to see their new apartment. It’s so pretty and a great design with a lot of nice touches. The fridge is large and built in so it looks like just another cabinet. It has a big island and the living room is roomy, with floor to ceiling windows on two sides.  They have automated shades that startle me every time they go up or down. The guest room is small but they are going to get it redesigned so that the closet is smaller and then it will have more space. It’s in a new building, on the 19th floor, with beautiful views. The only thing is, the building kind of pops and creaks now and then, which is kind of unsettling. It doesn’t sway at least! They are on the 19th floor.

We walked over to the ferry building for a coffee at Blue Bottle. Later we drove over to the Mission for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. It was very good, but Dan accidentally chose a vegan restaurant! Vegan Mexican, a new concept, at least to us. We didn’t care, it was delicious.

You have to show proof of vaccination to eat in restaurants in San Francisco. I used the Docket app on my phone and it worked great. It’s only available for some states. I’m glad MN has implemented it, it’s very handy.

Friday February 25th.

I wake up early, my body is still on Central Time. No matter, I hadn’t run in 2 days so I decided to go ahead and do my 6 miler today. I wore my normal running outfit for 40 degree weather, but added a running jacket because it was in the low 40’s to start, and windy. The sun was just coming up over the Bay Bridge. I ran to the big hill just past Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can first see the Golden Gate bridge and then turned around and came back. I took my jacket off on the way back.

We decided to do part of the cross city hiking trail today. It was lots of fun! We did Section 2, that started at the Glen Park Bart Station and ended at the Forest Hills Muni station. It went about 3 miles, going from one green space hiking trail to the next, skirting Twin Peaks, with nice views and woodland trails.

We brought Rossi with us. She had never been on Bart before and she was pretty alarmed by the experience. She loved the hike, however. She’s only a year old and has lots of energy, but Dan said it was the longest hike she has been on, so far.

We found out that fares for seniors on Bart and the muni are super cheap, so Lee and I both got Clipper cards (free for seniors) and put $10 on each one. That was way more than we needed but we’ll leave them for Dan and Kelsey to use for their guests, or we can use them the next time we’re in town.

Dan downloaded the map and I had the written instructions which were very clear and easy to follow. It’s the kind of thing I love, like deciphering a puzzle while walking.

When we got to Forest Hills we were all hungry. There was a highly recommended burger place right there so we sat outside in the sunshine and ate hamburgers, and then rode the muni back to the Embarcadero.

We were going to dinner that night with Kelsey’s parents and I realized that my plan to wear a skirt and sandals was highly impractical in 40 degree weather, so I stopped at a Walgreens on the way back to the apartment and got myself some black tights to wear with the skirt. I always seem to have trouble planning for the weather in California!

For dinner we went to a Peruvian restaurant overlooking the bay called La Mar. Turns out Peruvian food is highly influenced by Japan and Mexico, so it was their take on nigiri, ceviche, empanadas and other delicious stuff. Dan and Kelsey ordered us lots of small plates and everything was great. I especially liked their empanadas, made with mushrooms, corn, steak or chicken.

We went back to the apartment after and sat around and talked for awhile. By the time we went to bed it was long after 10 pm. I was really tired and slept right through to 4 am, and then dozed until 5:45.

Saturday February 26

I was tired after running and hiking and walking around a lot yesterday. I did some PT exercises in the morning but that was it. We went to the farmer’s market at the ferry building for breakfast. I got empanada’s (the one's last night were so good!) and everyone else went to the Mexican place. The empanadas were yummy but then I kind of wished I had gotten the Mexican breakfasts instead. 

We went back to the apartment to chill for awhile and listen to the news. It’s all about Ukraine, so very sad. Kelsey went to get the first fitting for her wedding dress. I've seen a picture now. So pretty! I’m starting to get excited. Lee, Dan and I went to get oysters for a late lunch. 

That evening we went to Belota, the Spanish place we tried to go to last year when we didn’t want to sit inside. It was so delicious! We got different tapas and a half chicken, half pork paella. My favorite tapa was the Brussels sprouts that were crunchy and very flavorful. Lee liked the lamb meatballs with lentils best. We also got potatoes, anchovies, and accidentally got a beet dish we didn’t order but since we didn’t have to pay for it nbd.

Sunday February 27

I ran 4 miles in the morning. It was warmer, and very sunny. Then we went to Hong Kong Lounge for dim sum. It was right at 10 when they opened and there was no line, which seemed strange, but it was still as great as always so who knows. By the time we left there was a line. Maybe it was just early for a Sunday.

In the afternoon we went to an exhibit at the Asian Art Museum. It was an interactive art/video/3D exhibit by a group from Tokyo called teamlab. The exhibit was titled Continuity. We got there a little early so first we went into an interactive area where you could decorate an outline of a fish any way you desired. Then they scanned it and it was entered into the exhibit. The fish first "swam" around in the room where they were decorated and then later some of them would appear in the main exhibit. This sounds strange but it was very neat. I decorated a squid with one of my abstract doodle designs. It came out looking like one of Picasso’s ladies, totally by accident!.

Then we entered the exhibit. Beautiful colorful birds, flowers, and fish move on the walls  and floors. You could interact with it. The schools of fish would divide when they encountered you. It you touched a flower the petals might fall, or a butterfly appear.

There was one room that was vertigo inducing. You had to wait in line to get into the room, and then sit down to watch it. It was hard to describe except I kept thinking of LSD experiences in my past, so you get the picture! 

Lee made chicken a La Becca for dinner. Why is this dish called by this name? I thought you'd never ask. When Sarah was very small her friend Becca and her sister Stephanie came to spend the night. Lee made this chicken dish for dinner. Chicken roasted in a tomato sauce and served with lots of french bread to soak of the gravy. When Becca got home she asked her mom and dad, "Why don't YOU ever make something this good?!" And so the name. And yes, it was delicious.


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