David retired in June and we have been busy graving, catching up on the house and yard work, scheduling around 100 degree heat. Time for a city fix, but this time, we are going in the middle of the week! How strange this will be.  We leave Monday morning, telling the dogs, "We will be right back." Hah.

We have a new game. If we leave our home and make it to our destination without seeing an idiot, we get one point. If we see someone doing something incredibly stupid on the road (it has to make us gasp or shake our heads or contemplate writing down their licence number) the idiots get a point.  We are running something near 25 to 2, stupidity way ahead,and we have been playing for only a week or so. By the time we got to Ceres, 25 odd miles away, we stopped counting idiots. Hunting for breakfast was a challenge, Scramblz was closed, so we gave Cafe Deva a second try. It didn't go very well. David's breakfast was not bad, my eggs were browned (oh yuck), the cheese placed on top was coagulated, and the mocha was warm at best. When we need a decisive point when rating a restaurant, we use the bathroom. That tipped it over to a negative score, no toilet paper, no seat protectors to use instead. Gee. Drip dry.

Back on the road and another idiot comes close to buying the farm. We get to San Francisco at 1 pm and it is a perfect 76 degree day. We headed for the zoo through town, spotting advertisements for the Tut tour at the DeYoung Museum. What a temptation.  The large windmills in the park were actually moving, that was a first. It was so cold at the zoo that I bought a new shawl in the gift store.

The zoo was great, although it saddens my heart to see the lions so contained. Get a few good running leaps going and you run into a wall?  One seemed to pose for me, as the Bald Eagle seemed to, and it was grand to stand and send good thoughts their way. A capybara was a surprise, the gorillas were hiding with their new baby, but we did get to see the two new baby giraffes as they munched lunch with their gorgeous mothers. I want to be a giraffe in my next life. A small collection of zoo shots are here.

We checked into the Comfort Inn on Van Ness, room 312. Very friendly staff, the parking was a true challenge but secure. We can't rationalize returning to our beloved Queen Anne until they have secure parking. Replacing the car windows is just too expensive. We took their last smoking room with two doubles beds. These are not doubles but a cross between a single and a real double. It works out for us as we don't enjoy a queen, too hard to find each other as we sleep, but we both laughed to think of the menagerie at home in this tiny bed with us, it just would never work. So if you book a room there, beware, a double is not a double. One chair, two people. Hmmmm. Other wise, it was a standard, lower priced hotel, clean, coffee in the room ($1 if you want an extra coffee) and hair dryers, a safe and ironing set up. I would have traded the safe in for a frig, myself. A great view of the neighboring roof while the speedy elevator sports a poster saying if you don't have a grand view, we will fix it for you. Paint my windows with scenery, perhaps? $119 room ends up $170 after tax, license, occupancy tax and drive out fee. If we book the room but don't actually use it, are we still charged the occupancy fee? I thought sales tax was not charged for a service, for purchased items only, so what is a parking fee tax? Hmmm.

We forgot our pillows - OH NO! We forgot a hair brush - OH NO! It was still good to get off our feet before dinner. The shower was hot but wimpy, two people cannot be in the bathroom at the same time. There is no place like home.

Since John, Jena and I ate at the Stinking Rose without David, I have felt badly.  Not any more!! We parked many blocks away on Columbus, as North Beach is crowded on any night, and walked down to the Stinking Rose, right past what used to be the Gold Spike. Sob. A dinner we shall never forget. Good enough to warrant an entire story instead of a shortened version for the ratings page.

The first few seating area when you walk in is an odd collection of tables, here, there, where ever tables and booths could be fit in. We were lead through this section, then turned left to walk down this incredibly long corridor. On each side of this corridor was about a dozen booths reminding you of a gypsy caravan, accented with fringed, red velvet curtains that give you a snug, semi-private atmosphere. Midnight blue walls with different wall decor and light fixtures in each booth. In booth 209 (our area code) we had a gold framed Baroque mirror and crystal chandelier, next door had a wild mirror and a Tiffany light, gold suns and moons hung from the ceiling.  We order the garlic appetizer (maybe I will get some this time), salmon for me and David ordered prime rib based on John's recommendation from our previous trip. The kid ate it all, without a knife. True to the story, the prime rib was incredible. The salmon had a caper sauce and I ate it all. The wonderful soft bread was used to mop the very last of the roasted garlic, the pesto was almost gone. Garlic decadence at it's finest. We were so garlicked we were thinking everyone would know where we had been.  This time, we left with The Stinking Rose Cookbook. We waddled down to the Green Apple, found a few books but had to leave was they were closing up. That's right - it's a week night!

Tuesday morning means you get to sleep in, especially if you are retired. Shower, pack up, double check the room, squish into the car, carefully maneuver out of the garage (it's a steering workout) and we are free!! To the Ramp!! We actually were able to take pictures of the Ramp.... because.... it was empty - we got there a half hour before they opened. That's right, it's a weekday! The good natured barkeep made us coffee and we sat at the edge watching the water, birds, ducks, weather, and life. Couldn't ask for a better half hour. At eleven, they handed us menus and to my surprise there was only lunch. That's right - it's a weekday! I had a crab salad to die for, David had a shrimp salad to die for. $38 not including the tee shirts we bought. (They sell The Ramp sunglasses now, too.) The Ramp deserves it's own photo section, found here.

Off to Market. I have been hoping to tour Britex Fabrics for years now. David parked, we walked, poof, there it was, first time he tried to find it in thirty years. No wonder I have David, he is my own personal Oakie GPS. Well, it was four fabulous floors of fabric. Ok, three  floors of fabric and one floor devoted to every colour button and notion known to man. It was stunning. They have a list of famous people who have been there, Stephen Stills caught my eye, and the clerk Sally, who checked my meager ruler purchase told us the story of when he was there. It was a grand stop.

Neiman Marcus across the street was the next stop only because we both needed to use the rest rooms. What an intimidating store! How long has it been since I have seen a ladies lounge in the true sense of the word? No matter how rich I ever become, my nose will never be pushed quite the right way to shop there. The Cole Hardware store was a tiny store filled to the brim with everything you could possibly need.

The grandest, small neighborhood around Alpine and Broderick was our choice of routes on the way to the Haight. If ever we spend a week in the city, I plan on photographing as many of those old grand houses as I can. Discount Fabrics is gone!!! Massawa's was still there, thank goodness. We always park near the Buena Vista Park and walk up, stopping at our favorite stores on the way. Genesis and Positively Haight are thankfully still there, as was Earthsong. I mourn the fabric store and the gargoyle store. A new, Gothic / Taxidermist / Retro store provides an amazing assortment of odd antiques and the grossest barrettes for your hair. How about an actual duck head for your head? Or a tiny rat foot encased in glass for a necklace? I think of my rat, Pumpkie, back home and shiver. The bat was fascinating, too bad she wanted $150 for it. Well, David said, "Thank God." No wonder these tiny guys had reputation for sucking blood! You just gotta peek HERE.

The Haight Goodwill puts ours to shame with an incredible collection of really cool stuff.  A ceramic plant pot, metal vase, pink plastic clogs that fit just right (yeah!!) and a blue broom stick skirt came home with us. Genesis carries the Indian bedspreads I make skirts out of, and four went home, two destined to become curtains for our motor home, the Turtle. White sage and Champa incense. A dark blue tied dyed skirt, heaven! David actually spent money on himself, purchasing a new, dashing Taxi cab hat he looks so good in. A purchase for Jay (green glass marijuana leaf shaped ashtray - shhh, she doesn't know yet) and it's getting late.

It's too cold to head to the wharf to feed the seagulls, so we head home with everyone else at 4 pm. It only took one real serious idiot and three hours to reach Modesto for dinner at the Red Lobster.  The city is generally about 2 1/2 hours away.) In all the dinners we have had there, we have had nary a complaint. We think it might have been the waitress. Two cold biscuits  (we usually get 6 hot ones) and salad with very little green lettuce. A request for a salad with real, green lettuce in it achieved only a duplicate of the first salad. Our extra salad dressing request was met by her bringing one tiny scoop and a comment that this should be enough for both of you. Hmmmm. David's jambalaya was almost too spicy, my crab Linguine Alfredo was a tad too rich, but good.

Another hour on the road through a long 5 mph construction area and we are finally home to excited dogs and cats, our own hot shower and roomy double bed, complete with animals.

Funniest bumper sticker of the trip: Who are these kids and why are they calling me Mom?

Back to the Travel Index