Monday, December 15, 2008

David's home for Christmas!

David flew into Portland Saturday evening to spend Christmas break here with us. Since it was so soon after Dakota's birthday, we made a day of it. We took off about 10:00, getting to Chuck-e-cheese in Portland just in time for a late lunch and several hours of games (I, as usual, bailed in favor of Fabric Depot - my idea of heaven). Then we made a quick stop at Sports Authority for wrestling shoes for Dakota before picking up David at the airport. We rounded it all off with dinner at Red Robin, which is everyone's (except mine) favorite restaurant. Devin and I had talked about spending the night in Portland to visit the zoo and take in Zoolights. However, the weather was supposed to turn snowy/icy/cold/nasty over Saturday night and into Sunday. So we scrapped that plan and headed home after dinner. Good thing! The drive was a little snowy on Saturday evening but it wasn't too bad. It was snowing here a little on Sunday but nothing really stuck. Then Sunday night it let loose so school was cancelled today (and I was really counting on these last five days before the boys are out for Christmas break). The boys got to go sledding (all three of them). It's so nice to have David home for awhile.

I think I've mentioned before that we really love Newport (population 10,000) but there really isn't anything in the way of shopping any closer than Albany (an hour away). We are really fortunate to have a Wal-mart (NOT a Super Wal-mart, mind you) which people come to from all up and down the coast. So when people come to visit and we need to pick them up at the airport, I don't look at it as a 6 hour round-trip drive (which it is), I look it as a shopping opportunity. If I ever get tired of Fabric Depot (as IF!) there's IKEA, Macaroni Grill (my favorite restaurant), and gasp! malls - lots and lots of malls. Luckily, I'm not a "shopper", although Devin will confirm that I can occasionally spend money with the best of them. These infrequent trips to Portland pretty much take care of any need I have to shop.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Happy Birthday to You...

Dakota turned 10 today. He's growing up so fast. I know, everyone says that about their kids... and they're just exaggerating. I, on the other hand, am merely being honest.

For the first couple birthdays he had carrot cakes (at his request). Then, when he was about four, I made this pumpkin cake and he's never asked for anything else since. I've made this for his birthday every one of the last six years. I love it because it's a "fake" recipe (you just add a couple ingredients to a cake mix) but it turns out so yummy no one believes you don't have some secret family recipe for it.
His big gift this year was a digital camera. He's been begging for a nice one of his own (he and Dylan have been sharing a very inexpensive one) and we hope he is responsible enough to take care of it now that he's TEN!.... Again, he's growing up so fast.
Happy Birthday, Dakota. We love you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wie treu sind deine Blatter

We finally got our tree decorated. Got the tree on Sunday, decorated it on Wednesday. Not bad, huh?

I have a thing about Christmas ornaments. I get a couple new ones every year. Many of our ornaments were made by the kids through the years but most are one-of-a-kinds that remind me of places I've been and things I've done. The first one I got 20 years ago while I was pregnant with David, so I have quite a few now. I have a Mele Kelikimaka (1991) snowflake from Hawaii, a Santa with paintbrush up on a ladder (2001) from the first Christmas we lived in a house we owned, a Waterford crystal ornament (2003) given to me by a friend who I always think of when I hang it on the tree, etc. I can tell the story behind almost every ornament I have. I date all the ornaments somewhere inconspicuous and every time I touch them, I'm flooded with memories. I reached a milestone about five years ago when I had enough of "my" ornaments to get rid of all the generic glass balls.

This year I got two new ornaments. The first is from when we went to Seattle for a week over the summer. This was the first trip we took as a family that wasn't to visit relatives. We spent a week in Seattle and had a really good time. This proved to us (Devin and I) that trips with the kids are possible without significant hair loss or divorce. Believe me, before the trip, we had serious doubts about whether we really wanted to attempt 8 days in such close quarters with our demanding offspring.

The second is from our (Devin and my) trip to San Francisco. I had been looking the whole week but hadn't run across anything I wanted to add to my collection until the last day. That day we were in Chinatown and I saw these in the window of a shop. There were all different origami creatures inside glass ornaments of various sizes and shapes. I chose a red crane inside a square ornament.

I love walking around our tree and just looking at all the ornaments and remembering where each of them came from.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum

We finally got our Christmas tree last the rain. Growing up, this was something I remember always doing the day after Thanksgiving. We had to do it that soon because if we waited much longer we would likely be trudging through several feet of snow looking for a tree. This is the view from the front of the house at Christmas last year. There were about two feet of snow on the ground.We lived up on a mountain and owned 80 acres covered in trees so we always got one out of our "yard". My father would take my brother and I out to find a Charlie Brown tree. That's one of those trees that are squashed flat on one side or just really sad in some other way. If we brought home too nice of a tree, my mom would be upset because she wanted the nice trees left alone to grow big. - Flat on one side was the best because the flat side would fit nicely up against the wall and that way you would never notice it.
Anyway, our neighbor (the same one who is a tuna fisherman) has a tree farm in a town called Siletz about 30 minutes away. It's quite a different experience for me to go to a tree farm. Not only is the scenery totally different, but we look for a "perfect" tree on purpose. It was drizzling heavily as we left home but we kept hoping it would stop raining once we got a little further inland. Nope, it didn't stop until after we had gotten the tree. As a matter of fact, it stopped just after we got in the car to head home. Dylan, who evidently was worried about melting, chose to wait under shelter while the rest of us tramped around looking for that perfect tree. We did find a great one and took it home to wrestle through the front door. It takes up the entire living room but it's wonderful having a Christmas tree again. We've spent so many recent Christmases at one or another of our parents' houses that we haven't had a tree at home in about five years now. It's not decorated yet, but it smells heavenly.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Things I've Done

I totally stole this off this blog: . However, she gave permission and she stole it from someone else in her turn. Anyway, I thought it was a neat list. It makes me think of all the things I still want to do - and several I have absolutely no desire to do - bungee jumping and sky diving leap to mind.

Things I've Done (In Bold)

1. Started my own blog (is this just to make bloggers feel like we're accomplishing something?)

2. Slept under the stars (growing up we slept outside quite frequently - just threw a sleeping bag on the lawn - we had to keep the dog with us to warn us of bears)

3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii (actually lived there for four years)

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than I can afford to charity (no, although I'm sure Devin would tell you I do....frequently, lol)

7. Been to Disneyland/world (both, and actually had season passes to Disneyworld three years ago when we lived in Florida)

8. Climbed a mountain (not Mt. Everest, but yeah)

9. Held a praying mantis (offloaded it as quickly as I could, too)

10. Sung a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched lightning at sea (although in Florida - where 345' is the highest point in the whole state - when the lightning starts, smart people head for the car)

14. Taught myself an art from scratch (not quite sure of this one. Since I've become an adult I've learned wheel-thrown pottery, scrapbooking, and quilting. However, I had help, even if it was only someone knowledgeable to practice with)

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (it was closed the only time I've been to New York)

18. Grown my own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train (and in train stations)

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitchhiked (hope my parents don't read this one)

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort (growing up in Montana, snow cities would be more accurate - we would have a whole tunnel network under the berms on the edges of the driveway.

25. Held a lamb (raised one for 4-H one year)

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (been to Venice and rode a water bus, but didn't have the money for a gondola ride)

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise (mostly on the mornings where I hadn't gone to sleep the night before - saw it over Haleakala Crater on Maui once - talk about on top of the world)

31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors (I'm a mutt, I think I've visited 2 of the 10+ countries where my ancestors were born)

35. Seen an Amish community (I really want to do this)

36. Taught myself a new language (again, did I sit in a room by myself and learn it by osmosis, no, but I did learn Mandarin Chinese by choice as an adult)

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41. Sung karaoke (okay, it was New Year's eve - enough said!)

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa (in the top ten on my bucket list)

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had my portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person (was in Rome and saw St. Peters and the Vatican, but no money for the Sistine Chapel unless I gave up food for the day or my bed at the youth hostel that night.

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (both, snorkeling is my favorite)

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud (did I mention I have boys?)

54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China (another top ten on the bucket list)

57. Started a business (I'd count my stint as a Creative Memories consultant, but it was really just a way to get scrapbooking stuff cheaper for me and my friends)

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies

62. Gone whale watching

63. Got flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

67. Bounced a check (I was very young...."but how can there be no money, I still have checks")

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (I can't remember one - all I remember is favorite books - some of which I still have)

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten Caviar

72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades (can you believe we lived outside Tampa for five years and I never went to the Everglades?)

75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (rafting it is another thing on my bucket list)

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had my picture in the newspaper

85. Read the entire Bible

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous

92. Joined a book club (started two!)

93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee

100. Rode an elephant (rode a camel once, though)

For a total of 53 plus a couple near misses.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Exposing Santa

Conversation in the car on our yearly pilgrimage to see Santa:

Dakota, "Can we turn around? I forgot to bring paper."

Me, "No, honey, we can't go home. Why do you need paper?"

Dakota, slightly whiny, "I want to get Santa's autograph."

Me, "Why do you want to get Santa's autograph?"

Dakota, "To see if he's a suspect."

Me, "What do you mean, suspect? Do you mean an impostor?"

Dakota, "Yeah, that's it, an impostor!"

Dylan, giggling excitedly, "Yeah, then we can get it next year and check for differences."

Dakota, "That's what I wanted to do!"


Teaching Dakota to sew

The boys have both been begging me to teach them to sew. However, I know better than to try to teach them both at the same time. I would be playing yet another variation on my least favorite game, "Which one do I love more?" (For an explanation of this game, see halloween-scare-i-couldve-done-without.html) One would be cutting himself with the rotary cutter while the other pierced _______(pick an appendage) with the sewing machine needle, probably repeatedly! And that's just the FIRST scenario that comes to mind! Give me a minute and I can easily come up with a dozen more! Today, however, I had the perfect opportunity. While Devin took Dylan to the skate park, I helped Dakota choose a project, some fabric, and sew it up. He had a really good time and was extremely excited by his finished item, a steno notebook cover. He loves notebooks, keeping careful tally of who wins what game on game nights. When Devin got home, he exclaimed over and over that he had sewn this all by himself and even made Devin watch him sew for awhile. - I dare you to try to imagine anything more boring than watching someone else sew.

I even got to do one for myself. I've been meaning to do one for weeks but haven't had a chance. They are from a tutorial at two wacky women if anyone out there is interested in a really fast, easy project. ( This just might be what the teachers get for Christmas.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


The boys had their first wrestling match last night. Dylan wrestled last year and is one of those kids you just think of as a wrestler. He's all wiry and muscular and loves to be physical but will probably never have the size for a football player (I think he'll top out just under 6', as opposed to David, who is 6'5" at 19). He really enjoys wrestling, although I think part of the attraction just might be that Evan, his best friend, also wrestles, so they get to practice together and they have way too much fun.
This is Dakota's first year. I didn't think he would want to wrestle in a million years because physical contact is just not his thing. When he was a toddler he would sometimes throw himself on the ground screaming that I had hurt him when I tried to hold his hand in a store! It's called sensory defensiveness (oh, if I had only known that at the time) and occupational therapy helped but he still isn't what you would call a physical kid. However, he really enjoys the conditioning part of the practices and it's so good for him that Devin goes so he can help out with the practices in general and Dakota in particular. Dakota doesn't have a good feel for where his body is in space so he tends to have a very narrow range of motion. Here he is, "crouching" at the beginning of the match. This was his first meet ever and, although he was quickly pinned in both matches, he is still enthusiastic, which is a good thing.
Dylan did really well. He pinned his opponents in both matches and won his bracket. So now he has one of those pin-on medals attached to a ribbon to add to his two trophies (from Pinewood Derby and football). He was VERY excited and plans to take it to show-and-tell next week.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pow-Wow and Potlatch

Dakota's class studies a new topic in depth every month. September was dinosaurs, October was rocks and minerals, and November was all about Native Americans. Each of the students chose a tribe and had to do a research report and project on their chosen tribe. Dakota chose the Acoma (a Pueblo tribe). Since this is his third round with the report, he did really well, flying almost totally solo. We only helped with final editing and formatting.

For his project, he made these tiny items. The spear, bow, and arrows are toothpicks. He also made the little clay pot and beaded weaving because that tribe is known for those things. Other students' projects included models of villages, basket weaving, or small tepees.

After all that hard work, the kids got to have a pow-wow today. I asked Dakota what he was supposed to bring and, after first saying he didn't remember, and then thinking about it, he said he was supposed to bring the tablecloth. I thought it was a little odd that a pow-wow would require a tablecloth but he was pretty definite so I made a special trip to the store to get one anyway. The next morning, when I told the teacher I had the tablecloth, all she said was, "hmm, interesting". Dakota was supposed to bring a BLANKET to sit on! and FOOD to share! Luckily we live close enough that I was able to get home, grab some food, and still get back in time. The kids all sat on blankets with others in their tribes and told a little of what they had learned to visiting classes (3 classes at different times). They also shared food like carrots, sesame seeds, dried fruit and nuts with each other. They all did such a good job and I was so proud of Dakota. I just never quite know what to expect when he's the center of attention. Sometimes he acts up or he freezes. Not this time, though. He made his presentation and even thought of an Indian name for himself on the spur of the moment. Small Pig, as he shall henceforth be called, got quite a few laughs after announcing that name.

Tomorrow they will have a potlatch. Dakota will take some of our tumbled agates from last year. Everyone brings something and then they will all gift each other with their "wealth". I've said it before but it bears repeating. I really like Dakota's teacher.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Salmon season at last

This morning when I walked out the door to take the boys to school, I noticed that my neighbor had caught a salmon. - I always notice because he hangs them on a tree in his front yard while he unpacks and cleans up. This is the same neighbor who is a tuna fisherman during the summer. He says he fishes for tuna to pay the bills so he can fish for salmon when they're in season. Anyway, this was a BIG salmon. Probably not big as far as big salmon go but definitely big as far as fish hanging from trees go. It was almost four feet long from head to tail. It was only about 8:00 in the morning and, aside from admiring his dedication in getting up what must have been insanely early to catch this fish and hoping it would still be there when I got home so I could take a picture of it (it tickles my funny bone to see a fish hanging from a tree), I paid no attention to it because the boys are barely on time to school most mornings and this was a typical morning.

By the time I got home, the fish was gone. But as I passed by, my neighbor poked his head out the door to let me know he'd left a present for me on our porch. I immediately told him about how he is our favorite neighbor but he just laughed. Actually, he IS my favorite neighbor but I probably would have said so right then even if he weren't. He'd set aside a yummy (and huge - this is on a dinner plate) piece of the fish for us.
We all love salmon. I buy it in the store when the craving gets especially strong but only get wild salmon - the farm raised kind just doesn't compare. When we lived on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound (has it really been more than 10 years!?), Devin would catch Silver Salmon (I think they're Coho). Most were only about 3-4 pounds. I would stuff the belly with onions and spices, wrap it in foil, and he would grill it that evening for dinner. Up until we moved here, it was the best salmon I had ever tasted. I have to admit that there is something extremely satisfying about knowing exactly where your meat has come from. Also, when you eat fish so fresh that it was swimming upstream less than 24 hours earlier, you just can't go wrong. The salmon caught here is even better than the silvers from Whidbey. The first bite I took last year just blew me away. It has a mild, sweet taste and the texture of the tenderest steak - enough to bite into but it almost melts in your mouth. Best of all, since it is so fresh and delicious, the simplest method of cooking is the way to go. I poached this one over lemon slices and celery (smiley face optional) and served it with a creamy horseradish sauce. Yumm!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Blog Award - Real Person Award

WOOHOO! I'm so excited. I just got my first blog award. Okay, I didn't JUST get it, but I just found out about it. I actually got it about two weeks ago. With being away in San Francisco, Thanksgiving at our house with my parents, boys out of school, etc., I'm just now catching up reading the 40+ blog posts I've missed over the last two weeks (I only follow about 6 bloggers).

I've been awarded the Marie Antoinette award... - I know... - Really?? Let them eat cake, Antoinette?? Uh, thanks a lot!

Anyway, as explained by the blogger who presented me with the award, lemondingo, this is also known as the "Real Person Award". Evidently the more private, less vilified Marie was very devoted to her children, had a circle of close friends, and loved reading, music, science and philosophy. Now, I don't care for philosophy, but the rest pretty much fits.

I think what I'm supposed to do now is make a long speech thanking all the people who ever believed in me when I no longer believed in myself, blah, blah, blah.... Okay, just kidding, we'll skip the speech. I would like to pass this award on to two other bloggers: my friend Barb,
(, who is definitely a real person if there ever was one, and Sandra at - who seems like a real person but who gets so much sewing done I'm starting to suspect she might actually be twin seamstresses blogging as one person, lol.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm thankful for...

my parents, who, in addition to being my parents (and thanks for that, by the way) looked after the boys for NINE DAYS so Devin and I could have a "mini-moon".

my husband, who completes me (she sighs with a disgustingly dreamy smile on her face).

our three boys, without whom life might become boring pretty quickly - believe me, it's NEVER boring!

enough. We have enough of everything that matters - friends, food, health, family, etc.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Well, today we drove home. It's kind of sad to see our lovely vacation end, but it will be nice to see the boys. We really thought we were going to be home just in time to see them before they went to bed but fate (or a bad road) intervened. We got a flat about 120 miles from home. I'm not sure what was going on, but four other cars were pulled over to the side with hazard lights flashing within a half-mile of us. I can only assume they got flat tires, too. By the time we waited for AAA to get there and change the flat (our flashlight batteries were not up to the job and there was no moon) the other cars were all back on the road. Anyway, we ended up getting home about 9:15 or so, too late to kiss the boys good night.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Well, this is our last day in San Francisco. And what would a trip to San Francisco be without visiting Chinatown? I was especially looking forward to this because the last time I was there was about 20 years ago. In a past life, I went to the military language school in Monterey, Ca. to learn Mandarin Chinese and we made several trips up here with our instructors. Here's the entrance gate.
We mainly just wandered around and followed a guide book walking tour, visiting a temple, a fortune cookie bakery, and several shops. The highlight was our dim sum lunch. Dim sum is Cantonese so I can't tell you what it means but it's like a lunch of Chinese appetizers. You order more or less a la carte. My favorite for originality was this dish, fried shrimp balls. I didn't even know what it was but saw it passing us several times and finally asked the waiter for one by describing it. -And just how would you describe this? My favorite for taste was the egg rolls, which were absolutely delicious. The wrap was flaky and the inside was tasty and mild. Devin, being more used to Chinese food off a buffet, prefers soggy, pungent ones - ugh. I even got to speak a little Chinese for the first time in about 15 years. It was only a couple words, but the replies were appropriate, so I can still make myself understood, even if I am appallingly rusty.
Before we headed out of town for our hotel, I convinced Devin that the trip wouldn't be complete unless I visited at least one fabric store (I had three picked out as possibilites). Britex Fabrics is just off Union Square a couple blocks from Chinatown so I went there while Devin did his own thing. The place is HUGE! It's probably only about 20 feet wide but it's about 80 feet deep with 10 foot ceilings and there are FOUR floors. It was pretty impressive. I ended up going into overload, though, and didn't buy anything at all. It happens quite frequently that, if I feel rushed, my little homosapien brain is overwhelmed by the possibilies of what could be done with all this eye candy and I can't focus to save my life.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Today we did one of the greatest things yet this trip!! We rented a GoCar. I have to preface with a caveat. It probably is not for everyone. It is a rumbly ride and you are totally at the mercy of the elements. Also, it is a little tiny car with top speeds of 30 mph (going downhill) on roads with normal cars. Once I even had to get out to push on an especially steep hill. Last, but not least, I felt like a total dork at first.... Then I got over it and started waving and smiling to everyone we passed. We had perfect weather for it - just warm enough but not too warm - and no rain in the forecast.
A GoCar is a little 3 wheeled go cart that is street legal and can be parked in motorcycle spaces. As we checked our car out, I had to admit I had a brief thought that the helmets were just to help preserve our facial features so our next of kin could identify us. Not particularly reassuring was the fact that #25, pictured here, wouldn't even start, so we were moved to #29. #29 had a bashed in front with the light secured by.....yes, that would be bathtub caulk! -I asked. I was reassured to find that the "ejection seat" button actually controlled the GPS. The GPS unit keeps track of where you are along the tour route and gives you a guided tour of all the places you are driving as you get to the corresponding way points. We ate lunch at Fort Point below the Golden Gate Bridge and watched the surfers ride the waves. A sea lion even made an appearance out there. Then we pretty much drove all over the western side of San Francisco in our little putt-putt.
The website said the tour we selected would take about 2.5 hours so we thought we were safe planning for 4 hours. My biggest piece of advice to anyone who wants to do this is to get there when they open and plan for all day. We had a total blast! We were gone 5 hours and didn't even complete the tour. We only returned when we did because the place closed then and it was getting dark. We probably could have easily taken twice as long and it still would have been fun.
After we turned the GoCar in, we tried to meet up with Devin's Uncle Lyle and Aunt Margaret for dinner. After a little navigational error, we finally got together and had a lovely dinner at one of the restaurants down at Fisherman's Wharf.
After dinner we headed to the Audium ( for a show. It was one of those places you might walk right past a dozen times before you really see it. Luckily we had no trouble finding it. They have 174 speakers (floor, ceiling, walls) in a small room where about 50 people are seated in circles. The lights are turned out and it gets pitch black. Then different sounds are played through the speakers. It's like surround sound but better. It ended up feeling very Zen. You just sit and listen. You can't make things move faster or slower, you can't see, and there is nothing for your brain to do but process the sounds as you hear them. I think we all enjoyed it (Uncle Lyle and Aunt Margaret came with us).

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Today we got a late start (yeah, yeah, I'm sure it's my fault again!). First up was the Golden Gate Bridge. We drove across the bridge to the Marin headland on the north side and ate lunch in Sausalito at this wonderful little restaurant, aptly named Fish. It had a seafood-cafe style menu and was on the end of a dock in a marina. -Very picturesque and the food was VERY yummy.

Devin wanted to walk across the bridge all the way to the other side. I am still scared of heights and walking on a shaking bridge a few feet from traffic high above hypothermia-cold water just didn't sound like that much fun to me. However, it was one of the things Devin had to do it just to say he had done it. Imagine how bummed we were when two different locals told us it can only be walked south to north, not north to south. That didn't make much sense to us although we thought they probably knew what they were talking about. We stopped at the north end anyway and were thrilled to discover they were wrong after all. There was a pathway that led under the bridge to the walking side so Devin got to walk it after all. I met him on the other side, thinking that just driving across that bridge with its narrow lanes and heavy traffic was plenty of excitement for me.

We were having such a good time we ended up being nail-bitingly late for our twilight tour of Alcatraz Island. When we ran up, huffing and wheezing, we probably had an entire 2 1/2 minutes to spare. The ride out on the boat was beautiful. Here is a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge with the sun going down behind it. And now I'm finally where many people probably believe I should have been long ago. I thought about calling my parents and telling them I was in prison and could they come down to bail me out but I don't think I could have done it without laughing. It was a great tour (one of those audio tours) but a little weird walking around with lots of other people in a space in which not one of us actually belonged. -Like touring a ghost town. I also got a great night shot of the sky line of San Francisco.


Today we walked, climbed, climbed, walked, climbed.... Okay, you get the picture. I know why everyone in San Francisco has skinny butts. It has nothing to do with the abundance of Asian fusion food. It's because they are on nature's treadmill every time they walk down (and up!) the street.'s my photo essay about our day:
Coit Tower - one of the highest points in San Francisco with awesome views from the top after a slightly scary ride in a rickety elevator.

View of downtown with the Transamerica building (the one with the pointy top).

View of the Bay Bridge with the Ferry Building (from Monday) just below it.

We could see EVERYTHING from up there, including the sun. It was the first time we glimpsed blue sky since Monday when we drove in from the valley (it's been foggy).We went down Telegraph Hill (where Coit Tower stands) by the steps on the water side. The people who live here have to carry everything up these steps - which sometimes amounts to 4-5 stories, depending where they live along the steps. I can't even imagine what unloading a trip to the grocery store with small children would involve.It was very pretty, though. There were public gardens along the way and all kinds of serene nooks and crannies, like this small fountain. Next we went to the curvy part of Lombard Street. This is the one you seem to see in every car chase filmed in San Francisco. The view from the bottom, enhanced by my wonderful husband......and the view from the top......and a shot of one of the houses with beautiful flowering bougainvillea climbing all the way up the side......and the view from the top at night. That's Coit Tower to the left and the Bay Bridge that's lit up behind it.Next we went to the Presidio. Last time I was here it was still a military base. It still looks like a military base but was semi-privatized in 1994 and both Devin and I agree it was a little surreal driving around a military base that clearly is not a military base any longer. I didn't take any pictures and we didn't stay long. It was kind-of unsettling.

Last stop was the Palace of Fine Arts. This was originally built for the World's Fair in 1916 (I think that's the right year). It is currently closed for renovations but is extremely beautiful from what we could see from outside the fence and across the pond.

Last but not least, here is a night shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. In one of my blonder moments, I forgot to pack a tripod so most of my night shots aren't turning out at all. This one was a joint effort. Devin held the lens while I balanced the body on a post and snapped the picture. It was just at dusk - magic time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Today we got up and headed for San Francisco. One of the tips from the guidebooks is that the public library sponsors about two dozen free tours ( all over the city (donation suggested). One of the dozen or so things on our list to do this week is to visit the Ferry Building and there was a library tour at 12:00 today. We searched and searched for someplace to park once we got across the Bay Bridge (pictured here) but garages were full and all the spaces had two-hour limits. I was starting to freak out when we finally found a lot with spaces to park in and ran up to the tour group - already in progress but we squeaked in only a couple minutes late. Whew. It was a fabulous tour and I highly recommend this tour program.

The Ferry Building was built almost a hundred years ago and at its height about 100,000 people a day passed through it. This photo is of the central tower. There is also a wing on each side which extends about 250 feet. You can see what a beautiful building it is now but only 15 years ago it was in disrepair and you couldn't get this view because of the freeway which ran between where I was standing to take this and the front of the building. The 1989 earthquake damaged the freeway badly and it was decided to tear it down instead of repair it (Thank goodness!). Also, in the fifties the beautiful space inside was turned into offices. The skylights in the ceiling were covered by a fluorescent drop-ceiling and there were three floors of ugly cubicles. - I'm sure glad we got to see the restored version without the freeway running in front of it. It really is quite an impressive building. The bottom floor is now a bunch of boutique style shops and eateries.

We enjoyed the Ferry Building tour so much that we picked up another tour of Market Street that began about a half-hour after the first one ended. It was a lot of architecture and history and wasn't quite as good as the first tour but was still very enjoyable and informative. By the time the second tour was over, it was time for dinner, so we headed for our hotel and dinner.

After dinner, it was back downtown for a concert at the Fillmore. The Fillmore is an old rock venue that almost every well-known band has played at one time or another. Everyone from Cold Play to Willie Nelson to Norah Jones. It was VERY cool. We were there in plenty of time to get a primo place to stand - close enough to get sweat spray from the warm-up band. We got to see Blues Traveler with 998 of our new best friends. Although there were no-smoking signs prominently posted all over the place, there was enough pot being passed around for anyone close to the stage to get a really good contact high (Not a single cigarette, though. I'm sure they would have stopped that cold!). Nobody seemed very concerned about keeping it hidden, either - must be because it's San Francisco, CA, not Newport, OR. I'm sure glad Devin doesn't have to do drug testing for NOAA like he did with the Navy because he might have some 'splainin' to do. Sorry about the sucky picture but that's as good as it gets when there is no flash allowed and the entire floor is moving like a trampoline from all the people bouncing (and in some cases jumping) to the music. -The venue is on the second floor. It was AWESOME!

On the way home I had to stop and get a picture of this beautiful, lit up building. I think it's a court building or something. Can you tell I love old buildings?