San Francisco Trip, Day 3

Ha, fooled you. The third day of the trip was pretty basic: caught the hotel shuttle to the airport, caught the airplane, made it home.

Okay, well, something happened: when we got to the airport, we found out that the corkscrew we had bought the day before at Viansa Winery would be taken away if we tried to board the plane with it (really!), so we ended up having to check one of our bags and put the corkscrew in it. I mean, really. A corkscrew?

Oh, and when we got back to Bend, we killed a few extra hours by going to see Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. It was fun; not an Academy Award winner certainly, but a lot more fun than a lot of the dreck making it to the big screen these days.

San Francisco Trip, Day 2

Saturday the 12th in Frisco was the busy day; we took the Napa Valley Wine Train, which ate up about 8 hours.

It was a lot of fun. The tour bus that took us to Napa only had 3 other couples on it, so there were 8 of us total. The driver was a really good tour guide, named Roberto, with an accent that I couldn’t quite peg; I knew it wasn’t Spanish, so I had settled on Italian, but he ultimately revealed himself to be Portugese. On the way to Napa he detoured through Sonoma (he does that on weekends, because the train leaves later and there’s an extra couple of hours to do this kind of stuff. So take the Wine Train on Saturdays) and stopped at the Viansa Winery. We toured the Winery, tasted a lot of really good wine, and bought a few things. We ended up with 3 bottles of wine to take with us, and signed up for 4 months of their Tuscan Club. Very good detour.

The Wine Train itself was cool; I get a kick out of trains, seeming to me to be very retro and luxurious in a sort of pre-Depression American-decadence way, I don’t know. This train pretty much carves a straight line through Napa and back, covering about 3 hours, and you are served a very nice lunch with wine, dessert, etc. While you’re waiting for your meal (or after the meal; they do it in 2 shifts— we were the second shift), you can wander among the various cars, sit in a lounge car, view the scenery from an observation deck, taste wine, that sort of thing. Like I said, I get a kick out of riding a train, and I think it would be neat sometime to ride cross-country in one, just to do it.

Roberto drove us back to San Francisco, of course, and on the way back he took us up to a great vantage point overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge in the Golden Gate Recreation Area. Amazing view, only marred by the number of people already there, taking in the view themselves.

It’s such a charming city; I’d only been there once before, when I was 16, and we were simply passing through on a foggy day. It’s an area I’d consider living in, if I didn’t have other things going on right now that require staying put in Bend.

The rest of the day after we got back was spent doing some more shopping, unwinding, and having dinner in a nice little Italian place at the hotel, called Cafe Pescatore. I was pretty beat by the end of the day, and during dinner I noticed a funny phenomenon: the day spent riding a train and in a tour van had tricked out my inner ear so that it seemed like solid ground was still rocking like the train—phantom movements, as it were. The same occurence that happens when you’ve been out on a boat in the ocean for a long period and have trouble finding your “land legs” again. Very interesting.

San Francisco Trip, Day 1

Herewith the beginning of several entries detailing our anniversary trip to San Francisco last weekend (the 11th through the 13th).

It was a good trip! We had to get up too early, though: five in the morning on Friday, so we could be at the airport by 6 or so (our flight was 7:15). I always dread traveling when I have to get up early, but this time it wasn’t too bad.

It was a good flight though, quick and without incident. We had everything we needed in carry-ons, so we didn’t have to worry about checking luggage. So we were able to go straight from the airport to our hotel, the Tuscan Inn, even though it was too early to check in. We left our bags with the hotel and wandered around the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco.

It was cold, too; we had just come from 90+ degree weather in Bend, to 70-ish degree wind and fog. Fortunately, it cleared up later in the day and warmed up.

Non-sequitous side note: the biggest and most interesting culture shock moment for me was seeing billboards advertising programming languages and platforms, like J2EE, Enterprise JavaBeans, stuff like that; I’m used to the “mainstream” billboards we have around here (you know, real estate, cars, etc.) and forgot that we were visiting one of the most wired cities in the world. What can I say? I’m still a country boy when you get down to it.

A good part of the afternoon was shopping at Pier 39, which, as I sit here thinking about it, isn’t really all that exciting. So I’ll skip ahead to dinner.

Friday night we did the Hornblower dinner cruise. It was very, very nice (very similar to the Portland dinner cruise we did last year). It was a three hour cruise of the Bay: you swing by Alcatraz, around Angel Island, skirt Sausalito, pass under the Golden Gate Bridge, cruise back down past the Bay Bridge and finally back to dock. Excellent food, wine, service; an all-around good choice. We had a great time.

Funny story, too: at the table next to us, a young couple were having dinner and bickering a lot. The girl seemed older than the boy (it was his 25th birthday, as it turned out), and she was pretty, but I can’t guess what their deal was. I said “funny,” it’s getting there. One of the things they were arguing about was the boy quitting smoking—I think. He was “only” smoking a cigarette a day, but he was passionately trying to make the claim that “all” writers smoked, drank, did drugs, etc., were basically messed up in the head.

All writers? I resisted the temptation to step in and correct him. It was starting to seem obvious by this time the guy was making a play with his girlfriend/spouse/significant other to get permission to party more. Because, of course, he wants to be a writer, and all writers smoke a lot, drink like fish, etc. etc.

Yeah, I know. But it gets better.

A little later, we start getting to the root of the problem. This is a direct quote, believe it or not, and I’m emphasizing just as he did: “I’m 25 years old and I write children’s books. Children’s books! Do you have any idea how unsexy that is?”

Swear to god. He actually used the word “unsexy” like that. I had to fight back laughter; I couldn’t hide my smile, so I had turned away. I think one of the first thoughts that went through my head was something along the lines of, At least he’s not equating “children” with “sexy.”

Pathetic. So he wants to be a writer, a “serious” writer, one wracked with angst and depression that only nicotine and the bottle can dull long enough to produce brilliant literary prose. You know, like every “serious” writer. But he writes children’s books, which is about as far away from the stereotype he’s so desperately seeking that it’s driving him crazy.

I hope he’s reading this, because: Get the hell over yourself. Writers don’t sit around whining about how unfair it is that they can’t write what they want, or that their lifestyle doesn’t measure up to their skewed vision of what they should be: they write. And if you really do write children’s books for a living, then you’ve already got a huge step up: you’re a published, professional writer. That’s huge in the publishing world. You’ve got instant cred, instant advantage over every other up-and-comer. So shut the hell up and write, and I don’t want to hear whiny, self-piteous shit about how unfair you think life is being because you won’t take the time to actually write what you want to write.

One more thing. Don’t knock children’s books. They’re hard to write. I should know. I have children.

Okay, my rant is over. I feel better.

So, to recap: Friday in San Francisco was good, cold in the morning, nice later, did shopping, and a dinner cruise. All went well. My next entry should deal with the rest of our trip, so stay tuned.

San Francisco

This weekend my wife and I are going to San Francisco for our (5th) anniversary trip. Leaving early early early Friday morning, coming back Sunday. It should be a fun trip.

Friday night we’re doing a dinner cruise of the Bay, and all day Saturday we’re taking a train tour through wine country. Ah, le vin.

Of course, I’d love to be able to stop in at Anchor Brewing, but we don’t have the time. Bummer!