Sunday, October 30, 2011

San Francisco and Berkeley

San Francisco, Berkeley, war story, psytrance. Photos have become difficult to insert in this blog, so I'm putting a couple in and the rest (a few of home, most of SF & Berkeley) are here:

Another Bay area visit - a few nights in San Francisco and a few in Berkeley. We stayed at the Grant in Chinatown. I was sitting in the bay windows (room 501) overlooking the street and remarked to Leslie that it feels normal to be sitting here, overlooking Grant Avenue, the main (tourist) street in Chinatown. We spent a fair amount of time on Stockton, the next street up with all the grocery stores/shoppers, dim sum joints, BBQ places, etc. We had dim sum about twice a day

while we were here. As always we took the bus, trolley, etc. all over creation.

When we were checking in at the Grant a woman gave Leslie two passbooks which allowed us to ride everything but BART for free - including the cable cars. So instead of the already very cheap senior rates on everything it was all free. We made it to Chinatown, the Tenderloin for curry at Shalimar (where I saw a man smoking crack at a bus stop - the same bus stop where I saw someone selling it last trip - I need to find another stop), the Castro, Haight/Golden Gate Park, Embarcadero (where Occupy SF was set up - buncha hippies who just don't get it that it's a good thing to take money from old people, cut back on veteran's benefits, tax the middle class at higher rates than the rich, etc., Lord, Lord, someone is crazy here and it's not me), Richmond to the Pacific, all over the place.

We spent several days hanging out with David and his friend, Charles and that was wonderful. We also saw Dave's roommate, Matt, which was also good.

Notes from a day: Dim sum for breakfast at You's (photo above), stop in assorted Chinese grocery and other stores selling mysterious things, take the bus to the Japanese dollar store, take the trolley to an art deco store, take the trolley to the Castro for a visit to a natural foods store, walk around the neighborhood, take the bus back to the trolley, trolley to Ferry Building, bus to so on and so forth. Photo: Our room at the Grant - $75/night.

So that's kind of the story of how we travel - hanging out, walking, riding, resting, ride some more, walking...

From SF we went to Berkeley – a garden city, so many houses are true gems. We stayed in a guesthouse (Shout Out for Judy's Channing GH – review follows). For $50 night, shared bath, kitchen to hang out in, good vibes, good times.

This is my Yelp review: Five stars for sure. The rooms are immaculate as are the shared bathroom and WC. Judy had fresh flowers in our room, a fresh bottle of water, and some chocolates. The kitchen is available and it's very comfortable. We had breakfast and dinner there most nights (food from Berkeley Bowl - a 30 minute walk away). Good Lord, you can even go out back at Judy’s and check the chicken coop for fresh eggs! A washer and dryer are available and I think there is a TV available, but who needs it here? Internet access is fast and reliable. The garden is great - classic Berkeley, very inviting. The Berkeley Cafe Trieste is a few blocks away, as is Good V-V-V-Vibrations, Black Oak Books, an architectural salvage place (nice), and some upscale cafes. Bus stops are nearby, but we've always thought Berkeley bus routes are confusing. Yet, we got back every day. Finally, it's nice to do business with a truly good person. So yes, it's a very good place and a good deal.

We did the usual - bus to Elmwood, the UC Cal campus, I met an internet friend on Telegraph, sat at the entrance to Sproul Plaza (Shout Out for Free Speech), and of course Leslie and I took the bus to Oakland, for, what else, dim sum.

Leslie got a call early this morning from someone who had read some of my things on the internet. It was from the older brother of one of the men who was killed in our unit in Vietnam - one of our first men killed. I ended up standing outside our little dim sum place in Oakland talking with this man on the phone - pretty hard to hold it together for both of us I think. I've gotten several calls like this in the past few years. So sad. This man told me how he'd enlisted after his brother was killed. Went to the infantry, but because of the death of his brother, wasn't in combat. Incredibly he spent a year with a primary duty of being one of the men who informs families that their loved one was killed.


I posted this on facebook a few weeks ago ... There was a levain (pre-ferment) working in the kitchen for some sourdough bread and I was sitting on the floor in the front room, using a mortar and pestle to grind some seeds for a Goan curry and I was thinking, “I must be retired.” I got all inspired and here’s what I baked and cooked these past few days: Country French sourdough (plain and with cheese and Hatch chillis), whole wheat bread from the Tassajara Bread Book, triple chocolate cookies (the real deal – oh man!), Goan shrimp curry (brilliant), chicken tikka, tikka masala curry (okay, not great), raita, grilled CM sausage, and grilled Hatch chillis. I am retired and the house smells good. And since then, mango chutney (2 batches), cilantro chutney, and karahi potatoes.


Before the SF trip, I went to a psytrance festival with friends from Dallas and Oklahoma. I was there for three days, camping in the hill country. A beautiful time.