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: This is the travelogue of last weekend's trip to San Francisco; I wrote it once before but somehow it went into a black hole instead of onto my weblog. Arrrgh! So here goes again.... I got up very early on Friday, September 7 to finish grading my papers and pay the bills before leaving. This was not, of course, the ideal way to begin a trip, but it had to be done! I wasn't even packed, because I spent Thursday baking and Thursday night with Duane Black trying to hook up our new television (an ordeal that involved searching through the garage and the garden shop by flashlight for a cable that I "thought" I might have but never did find.) This expedition was made scarier by the known presence of black widow spiders, which I have seen in there and which ate me alive last Wednesday night when I was moving lumber from the old fence to the dumpster. Anyhow, I never did find the cable, but Duane– bless his heart– had an extra at home, so we now have a VCR set up and can watch movies. I need to get my Disney Dinosaur videotape back from the Smiths.

Said black widow bites have kept me from sleeping well all week because of the itching and burning, and I am looking forward to cleaning out the garage to the accompaniment of puffs of Raid.

Rachel packed up the brownies and I cut some brugmansia cuttings for Doug and we headed off up I-5 about one p.m., Rachel driving and me grading baseline writing proficiency exams. We made really good time to Santa Nella, where we stopped at Pea Soup Anderson's for a late lunch/early dinner. (Lunner?) I had brought only my digital camera in my rush to pack for the trip, but I convinced Rachel and Red Doggie to pose behind the cutouts of Hap-Pea and Pea-Wee for a picture. One advantage of the digital camera (which doesn't make up for lesser print quality than 35mm, but oh well...) is that one can check one's shots immediately and therefore one doesn't need to expend breath in an effort to convince the subject into posing for a second "just in case" picture. Red Doggie looked especially handsome on the preview, so we hung the photography up and took him in for pea soup.

In the gift shop I bought a signature restaurant china bowl featuring the characters splitting peas on the bottom– always a treat as you get to the bottom of the soup and find the cartoons of Hap-Pea and Pea-Wee staring back at you. I had seen these bowls on previous visits but inexplicably never realized that they were for sale.

We decided to approach the city via Pacheco Pass and through San Jose– always my favorite way to go, and since the 85 freeway now connects Mountain View and Gilroy I really believe it's just as fast as going on the 580 through Livermore and Oakland. I drove up Blood Alley while Rachel napped, but I woke her up for the tour of San Andreas Fault sightings (shades of my long-ago geology class at DeAnza College!) We made a pit stop at the Crystal Springs rest area off the 280, where I took another brugmansia cutting from one that was growing in a pot by the ladies' room door. The plants I bought in Davis after the Benson family reunion this summer (cuttings of which were requested by Doug) are white and pink, but this one growing at Crystal Springs was a pastel yellow. I cut an extra for myself as well, and I hope it grows. Making a mental note that I should not use my pocket knife again, for fear of Datura poisoning, we loaded up our contraband and got to San Francisco, where Leonardr was waiting for us, just at dusk.

I put the cuttings in water in a Clinton/Gore coffee mug and Leonardr entertained us with some new videotapes of P.G. Wodehouse and eventually Leonardw came home and I went to bed after unsuccessfully trying to talk Miles into letting me pet him. You would have think that by now he would remember me between trips.

Even though Miles was certainly adverse to being petted, he was nevertheless willing to keep me awake half the night begging to go out. I didn't let him out because I didn't know if he was allowed out in front [I was sleeping on the couch], so between the spider bites and Miles I passed a dreadful and restless night.

In the morning, Leonardw and I made a project of cutting up brush to fit into the green waste bin while my children went off to the grocery store together. I observed that this was a sort of pleasant and mindless chore and Leonard said, "This reminds me of Dad", which was a pertinent observation, except that I honestly don't remember what Dad used to do with prunings and brush clippings. I can't imagine that he would have composted them, but I suppose that will have to be one of the mysteries pertaining to The Life of Our Parents.

Eventually Leonardw, Rachel and I rode the BART downtown to SFMOMA, where they are staging an centennial celebration exhibition of the work of Ansel Adams. Leonardr declined to come, even for Ansel Adams, as he is still for some reason boycotting SFMOMA. Rachel and I were gratified to learn that the august Mr. Adams was– [oh yeaah] a scrapbooker! I bought the exhibition catalog, which included a limited edition print of Aspens, Dolores River Canyon. This is the part of Colorado where we grew up, so the print has sentimental value as well. I told Leonardw that he may inherit it after I die.

We walked across to the Moscone Center, where we ate at a jook joint and rode the carousel (more pictures!). Some kind of Japanese Friendship celebration was going on in the park, so we sat on the ledge of the fountain eating cheesecake and listening to the musicians. Actually, the set of traditional Japanese music finished right after we sat down, and they brought out a jazz trio. The musicians were still Japanese (or at least two of them were; the drummer was black) but they put on a respectable showing with the jazz. I didn't in reality have cheesecake; I had some kind of concoction called "Chocolate Cloud" which consisted of white and dark chocolate mousse marbled together and piled atop a very spongy ganache and decorated with curled wings of white chocolate. I couldn't eat it all, nor did I get much help from my dining companions, so, regretfully, bye, bye ganache.

On the way to San Jose to see Disney's Beauty and the Beast musical, I entertained Rachel with stories of how, when they opened the Center for Performing Arts with a huge production of Aida, the roof fell in. I recall that my high school friend Kathy Erickson was in the pit playing flute and got plaster in her hair. Rachel became alarmed until I reassured her that no elephants were harmed. The ceiling appears to be stable now, after these many years, and Evita is playing in January and February, so we may have to go back.

Beauty and the Beast was well worth seeing. I especially enjoyed the sets and the costumes. My only quibble was that the "new" songs added for the Broadway production aren't (I think) quite up to the same level as the original music, although I could certainly see the rhetorical rationale for adding more music and dialogue in order to flesh out the characters. It certainly would be a tall order for any composer to patch in more numbers to a beloved score, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

In the morning, Leonardr, Rachel and I rode the BART to Berkeley, where we met Rachel's friend Robert and Leonard's friend Sumana for brunch. Robert had been unable to join us for the theatre because he plays in the band for Cal and there had been a game on Saturday. Actually, Cal played BYU and was trounced quite badly (to the disgust of the San Francisco Chronicle), so we razzed Robert. If I had realized BYU was playing I would have gone to the football game and screamed for them, so it's just as well. We ate at a crepe place, nouvelle California cuisine, very heavy on the pesto. I had never previously supposed it was possible to have too much pesto. After breakfast, Rachel and I rode the BART back home, Leonard stayed with Sumana, and Robert returned to his dorm to do homework.

Upon our return, we found Doug in the back yard potting up various orchid cuttings for me. He had even been to Home Depot to buy shredded bark for them, which was very sweet. We loaded up orchids, luggage, Adams print and ourselves and hit the freeway, stopping only to get gas and an elephant garlic at Casa de Fruita. Elephant garlic, by the way, is not to be recommended; I roasted it for supper and it was quite insipid, so I guess I'll never plant any.


© 2001-2006 Frances Whitney.