Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Judy and Pat's Excellent Adventure

Judy and I started our five-day visit at an interview Thursday night with the formidable Margaret Atwood, in San Francisco to promote “MaddAddam,” the third book in her dystopian trilogy. We ended by sitting at Ocean Beach, watching surfers, a frustrated kite-flyer and a crazy young woman in a bikini. (Note to young woman: This is NORTHERN California…)

Anyway, every day was full of fun, with lots of theater, lots of pumpkins, lots of desserts consumed before meals and lots of laughter.

Atwood is a tough interview – glad it wasn’t me in the interviewer’s chair at the Nourse Auditorium. She doesn’t always answer questions she is asked. Instead, she holds forth on points (humorous and serious) that she wants to make. The interviewer floundered a bit from time to time, but when audience members asked Atwood questions, she did respond relatively directly, even when asked if she is a witch. (She did not think she is.)

Friday we headed for the amazing Academy of Sciences to meander through the butterfly-filled four-story rainforest, gaze at the massive tanks full of fish (and one diver cleaning a glass wall), visit with my favorite giant Pacific octopus, talk to Claude (the albino alligator) and assure Lemondrop that he is one lovely 15-foot python. Do you see a theme here? Yes! Judy and I appreciate science but we are crazy about animals. Oh, and my grandbaby! We played with Milo all Friday evening after a quick run to Mill Valley for whole-wheat fig bars.

On a crystal clear Saturday morning, we drove south to Half Moon Bay to admire pumpkins (an abundance of pumpkin farmers compete to grow the largest pumpkins, some weighing in at a thousand pounds or more) and to visit cute shops with over-priced, pumpkin-themed garb and trinkets. We also stopped for coffee and sat in the sun for a bit. It’s a fun little town with a beautiful coastline.

Then it was on to Pescadero, a farming and ranching community of about 600 people. We had lunch at Duarte’s Tavern, established in 1894, which specializes in artichoke dishes (artichokes grow just blocks away) and seafood. Such interesting wooden paneling! Good food, too. We had artichoke hearts with aioli, artichoke soup, a crabmeat sandwich and jalapeno-tinged Mexican coleslaw. The town also is known for hand-hewn wood furniture and a couple of craft shops full of lovely things. At the famers’ market, avocados were selling eight for a dollar!

We made it to Colibri (upscale Mexican fare) by 6:30, just in time for dinner before seeing “1776” across the street at American Conservatory Theater. Here are the opening lines of the show, spoken by the actor portraying John Adams: “One useless man is called a disgrace, two are called a law firm, and three or more become a congress!" What a great show – and so timely, considering how fractious Congress is right now.

On Sunday we joined Milo and his parents for a tasty brunch at Chow. After a quick stop at Pottery Barn to check out a coat rack (long story, never mind) Judy and I then headed to the 40th Annual Castro Street Fair. I am always on the lookout for affordable t-shirts for Milo, and I found one for $15 – far less than the $34 one shopkeeper in Half Moon Bay wanted!

After enjoying frozen yogurt at Pinkberry (Judy had peach, I had pomegranate) , we had a big salad at Urban Tavern (good biscuits!) in the Hilton in the theater district and then took our seats for “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” at the Curran Theatre. Loved the music, and I suspect some of the repetition in the storyline will be ironed out by the time the show opens on Broadway in January. Jessie Mueller is outstanding as Carole King and I’m a big fan of Jarrod Spector (Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys”), who plays Barry Mann.

On Monday morning, we popped in at Emily Lee, a great clothing shop in Laurel Village, and then drove to Point Reyes Station to peruse the Coyuchi linens outlet store and pay homage at Toby’s Feed Barn. Then it was on to Stinson Beach to visit with Emmeline, my artist friend, at her beautiful Blissful Gallery and to enjoy a late lunch at the Breakers CafĂ©. (The Virgin Mary was terrific; can only imagine if it had been fully loaded!)

We did not get to visit Muir Woods, Muir Beach or even the Muir Beach Overlook, because they all are being held hostage by the Tea Party. Dump those folks, I say! We did get to enjoy the very last luscious California-grown mango of the season (shown here posing in a mango-wood bowl), mixed in a smoothie with locally grown organic strawberries, still available in October.

And that’s just one more reason to live in San Francisco -- or, in Judy’s case, to visit!