Sunday, November 7, 2010

Another Weekend in the Bay Area

Believe it or not, there's a point to this post. The following paragraphs recount the events of last weekend. Maybe those details will interest you; maybe they won't. But for me, writing about this weekend is an expression of gratitude. During a time when the economic downturn is clobbering so many, there is so much in my life to be grateful for. The events described below are not atypical for me. It was a fairly normal sort of weekend, but any one of these events could be a highlight in the life of someone less fortunate.

We began Saturday morning at the Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. We picked up some tasty Emerald Beaut plums and Flavor Grenade pluots from Frog Hollow, a half round of Andante Minuet cheese, and a salami sandwich from Boccolone. The farmer's market has come a long way since when we lived in SF. It's great seeing it thriving and watching all the people enjoying it.

On a side note, I was really surprised to see how much the downtown Santa Cruz farmer's market has grown. Naturally it's a fraction the size of the one at the Ferry Building, but it too has grown.

But our regular farmer's market is now the one in Aptos at Cabrillo College. I like the SC farmer's market better, but driving to Santa Cruz from Aptos has gotten ridiculous in the last few years. Seems like there can be traffic now regardless of the time or day. Lame.

After the Farmer's Market, we headed to the warming hut at Crissy Field to meet up with Lisa. Alicia met Lisa something like a year ago, but I've never met her. I'm intrigued to meet Lisa and hear her stories about traveling around the world. I'm always interested in hearing from others who have travelled extensively. I love hearing about where they went, what they did, what they saw, who they met, and how they accomplished it.

I'll have to wait to meet her, however, because our timing got messed up, and I had to high-tail it over to Fort Mason while Alicia and Lisa took a walk along Crissy Field. BTW... Can anyone actually confirm that Lisa exists? Alicia says that she does, but I'm beginning to wonder. Hmmmmm...

I was at Fort Mason for the Ski & Snowboard Festival. I'd heard about it through Groupon, and went in hopes of scoring some winter gear for our upcoming trip. We've already told some of you where we're heading, but I'll keep those of you who are reading in ongoing suspense. I didn't walk away with any gear, but the groupon was worth it anyway since admission to the festival included three lift-tickets. :-)

By the time I was done with the festival, Alicia was just about to begin her walk with Lisa. It didn't make much sense to continue shuttling back and forth, so I said I'd start walking westward towards them. From Fort Mason, I walked along the water through Marina Green Park. There were countless sailboats on the bay, and even though it was fogged in over at Crissy Field, the sky and weather were gorgeous where I was. I had a clear view of Alcatraz Island.

As I walked along Marina Green, I spotted something across the yacht harbor that I'd read about not long ago. I'd wanted to see it, so I decided to take a detour. I turned right at towards the yacht club and eastward out on the jetty (or is it a spit?). At the end I found it: The wave organ.

The wave organ, built in 1986, is described by the Exploratorium a "wave-activated acoustic sculpture." But it's one of those "you've got to see it hear it" sort of experiences. SPOILER ALERT: You can hear it and read about it on the Exploratorium website.

After the wave organ, I turned around and continued westward across Crissy Field. I remember Crissy Field before its renovation. The renovation began when I moved to SF in 1998, and they did a wonderful job. From Crissy Field, there are fabulous views of the bay, the Palace of Fine Arts, Sausalito, Tiburon, Angel and Alcatraz islands, and -- of course -- the Golden Gate Bridge. But all of these views are enhanced by the renovation works themselves. The restoration of the land to its former condition makes me appreciate how man and nature can co-exist.

After meeting up with Alicia at Crissy Field, we headed to the East Bay to visit Alicia's sister, Denise, and her family. Oh wait, how could I forget. We stopped by the Cheese Board to pick up a couple corn pizzas. Yummy.

After Denise's we headed over to meet up with my cousin Bridgette. She and her family moved to California a couple months ago, and it was great to catch up with her and find out how she was adjusting to the move from the East Coast to (of all places) Bezerkeley.

Later that evening we met up with her sister, Kristen, at Paisan. Kristen brought her boyfriend, Bill Holzapfel. It really interesting meeting him because he has regularly travelled to Antarctica for over a dozen years to work on the South Pole Telescope. I've wanted to travel to Antarctica for over fifteen years. I first got bit by the bug when I was traveling around the world. Specifically, when I was in Christchurch, New Zealand, I read about a study-at-sea program being hosted by one of the local schools, and I started investigating the possibility on a whim. The timing didn't work out -- I literally missed the boat -- but I've been intrigued ever since. Alicia and I have talked about going to Antarctica off and on over the years, but we've never pulled the trigger. Maybe one day we'll go.

Today was a lower key day. We met Jody in Napa for lunch at Bottega, followed by wine tasting at Louis M. Martini. Since I don't drink, I invoked the Designated Driver provision of our marriage agreement which states, if you want Brian to drive you around the wine country, you got to buy him lunch and/or dinner. Lunch was superb. I had the duck confit. :-)

On the way back to San Rafael, we we -- as always -- amused to see the Oreo Cows. Stop by and check them out next time you drive by.

When we got back to San Rafael, I began a race against the clock. It was getting dark, but I wanted to plant some tulip bulbs before the sun set. When I was done, I ended up with what, to the casual, just looked like a bunch of terra cotta pots with dirt in them. But some time early next spring, I'm hoping to see tulips blooming.

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