Wednesday, June 5, 2013

San Francisco Excursions

Sometimes when we get to a new location in our travels, we wonder why we booked a week, when two days would have been plenty.  And other times we wonder why we did not book two weeks because there is so much to see or do and we end up not having time to do everything.  San Francisco is that kind of place.  We spent three days over in the city and still did not get to see the De Young Museum or the Conservatory, we never got out to see Pt Reyes, we were going to visit Japantown and that never happened, not to mention touching base with people we knew in the area.  But we did manage to find a coveted parking spot near the San Francisco Botanical Gardens one morning and spent a couple of hours wandering its many pathways and just enjoying the precious sunlight.  

And another morning we walked to the Larkspur Ferry building from our RV park and were transported across the Bay with excellent views of the Richmond Bridge, The Oakland Bridge, The Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, and Alcatraz.  We arrived at the Ferry Terminal in San Francisco after about 30 minutes and we wandered outside to see a street fair across the street where Market Street meets the Bay.  Most of the booths were the usual earrings or ceramics, but at the very end was a booth where the paintings were all original oils and the artist was busy painting on his tabletop easel. 
Allan spotted a painting right away that he absolutely had to have, of course it was of boats in a harbor.  The artist, Frank Dong, was really happy to chat with us and it turns out that he was born in Taiwan where he went to Art School and that he is represented by a Walnut Creek gallery, but he enjoys coming over to show his art to the public while sharing his philosophy of life with his customers.  I think his efforts to turn Allan into a vegetarian were in vain however.   His landscapes had a real misty, oriental look to them
and we did purchase the painting that Allan wanted at a heavily discounted price because we were artists also.  He loved looking at our art on our smart phone and he gave us a grapefruit from his yard as a parting gift.  Then we hopped on a trolley to head down the Embarcadero to Pier 39.   After walking around the area, checking out the shops, looking at the
boats and sea lions, we caught the trolley back to the Ferry Terminal where we walked up and down looking for the perfect lunch.  I ended up getting an Argentina empanada pastry filled with beef, raisins, and olives.  Allan got a barbequed pulled pork Panini. We took our sandwiches outside to sit in the sun and wait for our ferry back to Larkspur.  The last day of our trip was spent in Chinatown.  We arrived early in the morning and spent some time on Stockton Blvd where all the grocers were selling their produce out on the sidewalk.  We purchased a huge bag of Royal Anne cherries and another bag of red seedless grapes. 
As the shops started opening up, we walked back down to Grant Avenue and Columbus where we visited a favorite bookstore of ours, City Lights Books.  This was a hangout for the poets of the beat generation and a place that Allan used to frequent while getting his degree from San Francisco State University.  Later it was always a stop for us when we were in the area and we were glad to see that it was still there.  It is probably the only bookstore where the books are arranged in categories such as Revolution, Anarchy, and Foreign Authors in Exile. 
Other bookstores arrange their books in categories like science fiction, romance, etc.   The bookstore has three levels and the top floor is dedicated to poetry although it was in the basement in the time of Ferlinghetti.  Since this was a new book store, we did not get much but we did get a City Lights Bookstore book bag.   Then we walked down Grant Avenue which is the Chinatown street where all the tourists go.
We stopped at the Red Blossom Tea Company to taste some teas and purchase a loose leaf green tea with jasmine flowers.  And of course we finished up our excursion with a visit to a Chinese restaurant where we had a small dish of seasoned, shredded potato in a vinegar/sesame oil dressing which was exceptionally good, some hot and sour soup, cumin beef, mu shu pork, and green beans which were also exceptional having been stir fried with toasted sesame oil and black beans and crunchy sea salt.  Yum.  
And so all our days were filled and it was time to move up the coast to Eureka to visit our daughter for more experiences with books, and scenery, and food.

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