SF Bay Area journal – days 5 and 6

June 7


Into the city again, this time to meet Bob and Susan. Despite having now done the BART to bus thing several times, we still haven’t quite mastered exactly which stairway to take from the BART station to get nearest the correct bus stop… The agenda today involved taking a bus to the nearly the northwestern end of Golden Gate Park, and then walking about six blocks up to Clement to eat at a sushi restaurant. Unfortunately, we had neglected to do sufficient research, since it proved to be (like many sushi restaurants) closed on Mondays. Fortunately, there was a Thai restaurant a block away which also came recommended (Patpong), so we went there instead and had a fabulous meal. Bob and Susan had parked a few blocks away, so we drove to the California Academy of Sciences (right across from the de Young where we were a few days back). The de Young itself is closed Mondays also…so, lots of parking. At the CAS, first we toured the rainforest exhibit: we’ve seen similar exhibits elsewhere, but this was a very nicely done one, with unique Lorenzo Piano architecture to boot. After that, we went to the green roof – again, wonderfully executed, and I was just plain unaware how much energy non-green roofs suck up, and this particular roof uses a full 98% of rainwater. Okay, slight irony: large concrete customer area which is a big heat island (should have been something both more organic and less heat-generating), but hey. Finally, we went to the CAS planetarium, whose show’s narration was recorded by Whoopi Goldberg (hey, it’s not as if she’s got anything else to do), thus proving that if you’re an actor and you’re on Star Trek at any point, you’ve got a guaranteed future career doing planetarium voiceovers somewhere. (Last planetarium we were at featured narration by Leonard Nimoy.) Also: cushy, backward-leaning chairs where you sit in the dark and contemplate what looks like the night sky, after a lot of walking and a delicious meal, mean that you are quite likely to miss much of whatever’s actually going on due to drifting off frequently.

Dinner was at the Millennium restaurant on Geary, in the Hotel California. (I will wait, while all possible jokes and references pass. Thank you.) Beforehand, since we’d arrived about an hour early, drinks in the Hotel Adagio bar, which was nice place (although the service was a little slow ha-ha… I kid), where I exhibited my usual impressive knack for choosing the beers they just happened to have run right out of. Our waitress was apologetic and kind, and fortunately several other selections were equally tasty.

It was time, so we went next door to Millennium. First, to anyone who thinks vegan dining can’t be every bit as wildly satisfying, impressive, filling, and just plain incredible: go here. They even went out of their way to accommodate Rose’s various food sensitivities, and when they screwed up on one particular item were tremendously apologetic and sub’d in the corrected item without hesitation. First-class excellence. (Which we paid first-class excellent prices for, but what, you want that cheap? Everything considered it was not that expensive: we could have spent that much in Milwaukee, and there are many restaurants in San Francisco about which that statement is decidedly untrue.) Then it was time for a nice little walk past some of San Francisco’s finest street people and live sex emporia and back to the BART, then back home, exhausted.

June 8

Into Oakland to tour the Cathedral of Christ the Light and meet Bradley, and Bob and Susan. En route from the BART station to the cathedral, we noticed some wonderful old deco buildings (two theatres, the Fox and the Paramount) and other cool buildings of similar era. In some ways Oakland – particularly the area around the cathedral, near Lake Merritt – reminded me of Milwaukee’s lakefront. Anyway, the cathedral itself was incredibly impressive: the architectural program was deeply thought through to correspond with and reinforce the Oakland diocese’s philosophy and demography. The two docents were both very informed and quietly passionate about their faith and how the cathedral nourished it. (Oakland had apparently been without a cathedral since its previous one was destroyed by earthquake in 1989.) Everything from the floor plan to the materials to the relation of spaces both horizontally and vertically was tightly integrated, practically and symbolically, with the cathedral’s function. It was slightly amusing: before the tour proper, the docents were chatting with our group, finding out where folks were from, why they were there, etc., and when they found that only a couple people in the group were Catholic, including none of our group, they asked whether we wanted to hear about the specifically religious aspects of the cathedral or just the architectural and historical. Thankfully, we all wanted both: in this case I cannot imagine the two being separable.

After that we walked partly around Lake Merritt with Bradley as local tour guide. We saw (and smelled) a bird sanctuary, peered in on Children’s Fairyland (no adults admitted without a child: apparently this was Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disneyland, although Walt substituted “wallet” for “child”), and stopped for a snack and drink at a cool little place called Coffee with a Beat – where strictly by chance we found a nice gift for my stepdad’s 70th birthday. We went over to Bradley’s apartment and chatted for an hour or so about politics and music and god knows what. Then we ate dinner at a local Ethiopian restaurant, where Bradley’s wife Gina met us – again, the food was delicious! We certainly ate well on this trip.

Bob and Susan then drove us back to the condo and got a look at it (plus a walk up the steep driveway), then off they went, while we took it easy for a couple of hours before bedtime.

And hey: photos!

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