as you probably already know, the boys and i spent most of last week in san francisco as a combo vacation/business trip. chuck attended the american college of surgeons yearly meeting in the mornings, and in the afternoons we did fun stuff.
friday evening we drove to charlotte and spent the night so that we could take a direct flight to san fran the next morning. we ate at a great restaurant called “halcyon” on tryon street, near the panthers stadium. all the food that they serve is locally grown, and their menu changes on a seasonal basis to accommodate the farmers in the area. it hasn’t been open very long, but apparently this type of restaurant is becoming pretty popular these days. it was tasty!
we arrived in san francisco saturday morning and spent most of the day doing “touristy things”. jackson had never visited california so it was all pretty new to him. we walked down to fisherman’s wharf, had some chowder in a bread bowl surrounded by homeless schizophrenics, saw the sea lions, and did some shopping. we discussed going to the stanford-washington football game that evening but decided that would be pushing it a little on the first day.
sunday was another day spent just checking out the town. did some more shopping – no trip is complete without a visit to niketown – did a lot of walking to the different districts, and finished up the evening at bobo’s steakhouse. the name is a shortened version of the italian word for “jester” (i should look that up and put the actual word in here, but i ran 10 miles a little bit ago and i’m kind of tired. you’ll just have to trust me). i didn’t know that little detail until after we were seated, so initially the decorating of the place was a bit off-putting. however, after reading that on the menu, the old school carnival-like atmosphere made a lot more sense. once again, another tasty meal of steak, mussels, and crab legs.
monday was chuck’s first day of the meeting, so he spent the first portion of the day at the moscone center. jackson had quite a bit of homework to do to make up for missing a week of school, so i left him in the room to work on that while i went for my run. trying to figure out where to run in san francisco took a little work because i really didn’t want to deal with the massive hills. i finally settled on the embarcadero, which runs from pier one near the oakland bay bridge all the way down through fisherman’s wharf to the golden gate bridge. other than dealing with the large amounts of humanity in the more popular areas, it was an awesome place to run. i’m not sure how you could live in a place like that and not participate in some kind of outdoor activity on a daily basis.
tuesday was another meeting day, so i dragged jackson out that morning to visit the MOMA and get a bit of culture. he wasn’t too excited about the idea, but he tolerated it okay. we saw some amazing pieces of art and sculptures, but then there were also a few things that make you think “didn’t i draw something like that when i was five?”. there was an entire floor devoted to richard sera, who i had never heard of before, that was made up of large, ceiling high, black squares. sometimes the squares would be in the front of the room, sometimes on the side, and sometimes randomly positioned to cover two walls. i have to admit that i wasn’t totally impressed with his stuff. there was another exhibit (unfortunately they wouldn’t let you take pictures in this particular room) of these sort of creepy porcelain and ceramic type heads and figures. each of the sculptures had haunting black eyes with faint smudges of black underneath them that could have been interpreted as tears. the base portion of the bodies (if they had a body) seemed to be melting away into a puddle beneath them. not sure what the artist was trying to accomplish, but i definitely found them a bit disturbing.
at any rate, we spent tuesday afternoon on rental bikes crossing the golden gate bridge and riding into sausalito. riding across the bridge was incredible. the strong gusts of wind and the view of the pacific coastline are the two things that stood out the most to me. sausalito is a cute little town that is a biker’s paradise. hills and smooth asphalt and breath taking views. i would love to spend a few days cycling there. it was getting very chilly so we chose to take the ferry back across the bay instead of riding back. probably a good choice as it was almost dark by the time we finally made it to the pier.
on wednesday we rented a car and drove to palo alto to visit the stanford campus and apple headquarters. we weren’t really allowed to do anything at apple – the security was pretty intimidating – but it was pretty neat to see how large the facilities are. stanford has to have one of the most beautiful campuses i’ve ever seen. it’s a massive place. i liked the fact that they’ve left a lot of the areas in a natural state – there were several areas that we walked by with gigantic trees and benches for people to sit and relax. the architecture of the various buildings on campus was pretty phenomenal as well.
after leaving palo alto, we drove north to spend a little time in the muir woods. i remember seeing the giant redwoods as a kid, but it still is awe-inspiring to look up into the sky and see these massive trees towering over you. we took a lot of pictures but it’s hard to really get perspective with the camera. we had fun trying to figure out ways to get ourselves in pictures with the trees.
that night we had an intriguing restaurant experience at opaque. the restaurant is located in a basement, the windows are covered with thick curtains, and there are no lights. cell phones, watch faces, and anything else that may emit even the smallest amount of light are forbidden. the waiters are all legally blind, and they invite you to step into the world that they experience on a daily basis. you place your order in the light when you first arrive, and in addition to that, they bring you a few “surprises” during the meal. you can either choose to guess what these items are based on taste and smell, or the waiter will tell you ahead of time. we, of course, chose to guess. i have never been in a place that dark. eating involved attempting to use your utensils (cutting steak has never been more of a challenge) and feeling around on your plate using your fingers to figure out where things are and if there’s anything left to eat. the food was great, and our server was also quite good. i think it’s one of those things that you can probably only experience once – it just wouldn’t have the same effect the second time around – but i’m really glad we did it. and more importantly, i’m even more thankful for the gift of sight that i so often take for granted.
thursday was a long day. we checked out the hotel in the early afternoon and had many hours to kill until our flight left at 10 that evening. we ended up going to the movies, walking around a bit, eating way too much, and then went to the airport for dinner. we found a bar that was showing the sixth game of the world series – a classic that ended in extra innings with my cardinals on their way to another championship – so that helped to pass the time. eventually we boarded the plane and made the long trek home.
overall it was a great trip. san francisco is one of my favorite cities, and i was happy to get a few more days in california!