Friday, September 17, 2010

Sweet September Vacation

Just finished a whirlwind three-and-a-half day vacation in my new home town. The occasion? A visit from Beth, one of the Five Favorite Female Friends. What did we do?

More to the point, what didn’t we do?

We didn’t do a lot of the common touristy things because Beth has been to San Francisco before, but we filled the time with adventures, misadventures and some good food along the way.

Before I summarize our itinerary, I have to say one huge highlight was collecting my lifetime national park pass, a privilege for people 62 and older. You pay $10 – and you have to pay in person, at a park – and then you get in free at most national parks, forests, refuges, monuments and recreation areas. Of course, I still help support the parks with my membership in the National parks Conservation Association (, but I am delighted to have my lifetime pass!

A word is also in order about an uncommon number of wildlife sightings -- and no, I am not referring to the gentleman who took a liking to Beth at a cafe we visited. The smallest creature we saw was a tiny snail hauling a beautiful green and white shell across a hiking trail. On the same trail, we saw three wooly worms (Pyrrharctia isabella), moths in their larval stage. These critters are said to predict winter weather, and Beth read the color bands as an indication of a mild winter. (Wait -- aren’t all winters in San Francisco mild?) We also saw a tiny lizard basking in a wee bit of sun, two bunnies and a six-point buck. Raptors wheeled overhead all the while. Later that day, we saw another deer – a doe – and a chipmunk.

Here’s a breakdown of our time together.  


  • Showed off the apartment and my spectacular view.

  • Walked to Cole Valley for a delicious Il Sol pizza at Bambino’s, which is run by a guy named Spiro.

  • Tapped on the window at my hair salon to show Lison, my stylist, how cool my hair looks in the new cut she crafted.

  • Walked to the Upper Haight to pop in and out of stores and enjoy the parade.

  • Took the Muni train to Ocean Beach to stand in awe of the sea.

  • Relaxed at the Java Beach CafĂ© -- it was cold, standing in awe on that dune!

  • Took the train and a bus home for a simple supper.


  • Stopped at Patricia and Joel’s house for a quick tour and to pick up a spare backpack and walking stick.

  • Drove to the Tennessee Valley Trail in Marin County.

  • Hiked 1.7 miles to the sea (we sat on a piece of driftwood, watching cormorants as they watched us) and back.

  • Stopped in downtown Mill Valley for coffee and a thick lemon cookie.

  • Shopped in some of the stores, including one with unusual merchandise from India. Impulse purchase: Rhubarb jam!

  • Drove to Muir Woods and meandered among thousand-year-old towering redwoods.

  • Headed for Stinson Beach, where we waved at the waves and enjoyed a wonderful garlic-festooned dinner at The Sand Dollar.

  • Made a U-turn to enjoy some frozen yogurt at Swirl in Mill Valley, where on Wednesdays if you guess the price of your yogurt (sold by the ounce), you get it free. That didn’t happen.

  • Relaxed back at the apartment and made plans for the next day.


  • Walked to Cole Valley to catch the train downtown to Gump’s, a home furnishings store founded in 1861 ( I’ve been buying things (small things) from Gump’s via catalog for 35 years, but had never been to the store.

  • Walked a few blocks to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to see the wonderful “Calder to Warhol” exhibit. People were lined up on the sidewalk to get in – on a Thursday morning!

  • Enjoyed beverages (including delicious pure apple juice) on the rooftop sculpture garden at SFMOMA.

  • Took the train to the Lower Haight, where we munched on rib tips at Memphis Minnie’s barbecue joint, a favorite of mine.

  • Stopped in some of the neighborhood boutiques and galleries. Oops! I bought a purse.

  • Took the train and a bus back home to get ready for dinner.

  • Joined Susan for wine, Smiling Noodles and ginger cake with pumpkin ice cream at Park Chow, which buys from local farms.

  • Susan took us on a spontaneous -- and hilarious -- tour of Golden Gate Park in the Dark, made all the more enchanting by thick fog. We couldn’t see a thing!  Highlights were a baseball game in progress in the Presidio in spite of the fog and another look at Robin Williams’ former home in Sea Cliff.

As I write this, Beth is on the plane, heading back to St. Louis with a locally grown Gravenstein apple in her purse. Memories are souvenirs, too, and I think she took home a lot of fond ones. As for me – what a great vacation! So glad to spend it with Beth.


1 comment:

  1. You are having the most amazing times! So happy for you!