Sunday, April 09, 2006

Catching Up: Lost in the City, Lost in the Woods

Where the hell have I been? Where's all the amazing pictures of the City?

I arrived in San Francisco exausted, excited, and frankly a little burnt out on wine. I decided to put down the camera and the laptop and walk all around the City, get to know some chunks of it I hadn't seen before.

I stayed in the Castro, historic haven of tolerance for not only our gay and lesbian bretheren and sisteren, but just about any variation thereof. Upon my arrival, the innkeeper noticed my saucer-eyed meandering up and down Market Street, so he pointed me in the right direction for some great chow. Chow, as a matter of fact, a slender, hip little bistro on Church Street with magnificent and well-priced food and a killer por la gente winelist.

I had to make a second trip to Japantown. Love me some Japantown. Love that the cherry blossoms are out and the Cherry Blossom Festival is underway for the whole of Northern California. The Japan Center is always hiding some little treasure. Any graphic novel or anime fans? There's an eight volume series of graphic novels based on the life of the Buddha by Osamu Tezuka that looked fantastic. At $25 a volume, tho', I was a little priced out, but they're cheaper on Amazon. Off to Mifune after that, of course, for one o' those big cast iron pots of udon with egg, fishcake, pork and tempura shrimp. See, I figured I could get away with a big lunch if I walked the City afterwards. Sheeeit. Maybe if I walked to Portland.

I gotta tell you, there was so much stimuli that it was all a blur. I met so many people, both very cool and very pretentious, was shuttled around from one venue to another by groups of people...saw so much stuff, drank so very much beer...
Above is a photo of one of my favorite spots. This was the Amber Lounge, the only bar in San Francisco where you can smoke inside. All the bartenders are also the owners, and since the smoking law is there to protect employees rather than patrons, these guys can decide for themselves.
Phil was unafraid to crank up the tunes. Early Rush, Metal bands from Austin, Roots Punk. Fantastic. And what a cutie, no?

Another groovy stop was Wild Side West, a mixed crowd saloon with a great two-level outdoor space. It was here that I met a newly formed a cappella group who broke spontaneously into Pat Benetar's "We Belong" while the small crowd stomped out a beat. Very special City moment.

After all that night, I longed for trees and birdies and stuff. There's nothing like hiking with a hangover to bring you back to reality. After doubling back fifty times looking for the effing entrance to the 101 (only to realize it was a block from where I started), I made my way across the Golden Gate to the Muir Woods.

Not one to take the Grandma tour across the boardwalks, I headed up a trail that led through the thick of beautiful redwoods and ascended to a vista where you can see the ocean over the tops of the mountains. My wee camera doesn't hack it for this kind of expansive vista, but you get the idea.

I'm in Napa now, still reeling from my SF days. This trip...damn. I can barely keep up with myself. The proportion of this adventure is overwhelming sometimes. I knew this would happen: I'd get tired, have to slow down a little. It's part of the plan.



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