I left my heart in San Francisco [ 2011-09-25, 11:40 p.m. ]

I thought I'd give a little synopsis of my San Francisco trip.

My flight left Charlotte to Minneapolis at 11:15ish. The flight was pretty uneventful. My seatmate was pretty quiet and I read a book. The layover was short because when we took off from Charlotte we were probably on the runway for an extra 15 minutes. So I had to hotfoot it to my gate with only a few minutes to spare. That flight was fine. My seatmates were nice and we chatted a little. I landed a little early,about 4pm. Jen (whom I know through a message board) picked me up once we figured out together on the phone where I was. It was a big lifesaver to have her pick me up since that saved me a bunch of money and trouble.

She drove me around to show me where the venue for the concert was and then dropped me off at my hotel,the Opal. Check-in was fine. The hotel lobby was very nice and elegant for being on the edge of the Tenderloin section. I was on the 3rd floor and had a view of the street. The room was small but clean and comfortable. Which is all I wanted anyway. It was also at the end of the hallway so that kept most noise out. I freshened up and unpacked. Contacted my couple of music message board friends about going to dinner and then headed out to walk to Union Square to meet up with them. It was about 8 blocks to the Macy's that Jen suggested we meet at since it's easy to find. I ended up meeting up with just one of them,Cindy,who is from Chicago. We walked up to Chinatown and finally found the restaurant (Grant Place Restaurant). I had a Dim Sum platter and two glasses of plum wine. That was a really good meal for not much money. The place seems to be a local favorite,too. At dinner we had two other music board friends join us. But after that we split up. Cindy and I wanted to find Biscuit and Blues. We managed to keep getting turned around even though we had a map. It might have been the wine....

We encountered the very steep hills of Nob Hill on our way. My ankles still hate me for the descending slant I had to take so I wouldn't fall head over heels. I kept threatening to push Cindy down the hill for making me do this but she claimed I didn't have the strength. Which by that time was true. We gave up after two or three blocks and flagged down a taxi for the remaining blocks to the club. We went upstairs (by elevator) and sat at the bar for a couple of hours and listened to a blues band while we drank. I had some delightfully cold Stella Artrois that made the journey there totally worth it. At about midnight we both headed back to our hotels. I was tired but didn't drift off till 3am. Jen and I had a date for Alcatraz on Saturday morning to meet up at 9am. What was I thinking?! I pushed myself out of bed at 7:30am. Went downstairs at 8am and had them call me a cab. I instructed the cabbie to take me to the closest Starbucks to the pier. After a sip of pumpkin spice latte, I almost felt human. I have to admit I was a bit hungover.

It took about a half hour to walk to the pier where the Alcatraz ferry was docked but I made it on time. Jen was there and we boarded the ferry on time. The ferry was crowded with those damn tourists (or fucking tourists,as I liked to call them) but that's to be expected. The visit to Alcatraz was made so much better with the addition of fly season. How lucky were we?! But anyway, it was cool to be there even though it really is too crowded. When we came back, we found the In 'n Out Burger and had lunch. I had my cheeseburger "animal style" though I really wanted it "wild style". So that was a bit too much on my burger but it was still good. The fries are the best part,I'd say. For a chain,I would say it's definitely worthy of appreciation. After lunch,Jen and I went to the cable car turnaround at the waterfront. There was a bit of a line but we were "entertained" by a hippie playing bad guitar and making pretty silly but funny jokes. I ended up giving him a dollar because I liked his puns. The cable car ride was an adventure. A bit like an amusement park ride. Especially on those dreaded hills. Jen and I parted ways at Geary Street. I walked back to my hotel and got some rest before the show that night.

I met up with a bunch of the superfans at a bar on Geary called Edinburgh Castle. It was the best bar ever. Mainly for the fact that it had the Afghan Whigs and the Twilight Singers on the jukebox. Twilight Singers being the band we were going to see and the Afghan Whigs being the band that the lead singer was in before. One NEVER sees the whole catalog of those bands in a jukebox much less even one song. So we were all very happy about that. We went over to the Great American Music Hall to stand in line since it was a general admission show. After an hour of standing in line they opened the doors and we all got right up to the stage. I won't bore you with the review but it was worth every single dollar I spent getting to that point. No regrets at all. Very happy and yet sad that the show is over and I won't see them again for maybe another year. Ah,well.

After the concert,we were all so tired but we went over to Grubstake diner. It's a tiny place but has good food. I had scrambled eggs with home fries and sourdough bread. They put apple butter out for your bread and that was delicious. At 2am the party broke up and I went back to my hotel to crash. I got up at 10:30am,packed and checked out before noon. I left my bags behind the front desk to pick up later. I walked up to Chinatown and shopped at some of the little souvenir shops and picked up some things for people. Grant Street is blocked off from traffic for Sunday afternoon so that made it easy to walk around. I finally made it up to North Beach where I really wanted to be. Jack Kerouac alley had a street fair of vendors with handmade ware. I bought two rings and a glass. The rings were for me,naturally. I was then next to Mecca. City Lights Books. I spent at least an hour in there. I browsed & took pictures and just took in the atmosphere. I bought a copy of "Howl" (naturally) and a City Lights tee shirt for myself. The poor offbeat looking clerk at the counter was being given attitude by a customer so that when I went up to her, I tried to make up for it. I got a smile out of her which I hoped help. It must be rough having to deal with tourists.

After the bookstore I went over to the Beat Museum. It's pretty low-rent for a museum but that's only fitting, I think. It has a nice gift shop and then for $5 you go into a museum which gives you a bunch of background on Beat literature and it's biggest contributors. There were a lot of cool photos and things like Allen Ginsberg's organ. I stayed in the museum for a while and then after that I wanted to find a place for dinner. After much wandering, I spotted The Stinking Rose. I had heard of it but didn't know what kind of prices they had. The menu outside made it seem more than reasonable. I got a table and ordered the lasagna which had wild mushrooms and eggplant and lots of garlic,of course. They also give you delicious bread with the pesto and olive oil to dip it into. The lasagna was heavenly. Just perfect.

I texted Jen and we decided that she could pick me up at a Starbucks that I found open in the business district. It was about 8pm when she came by. We got my bags at the hotel and then she whisked me away to the airport.

The redeye flight home was just crappy. I was cramped up against the window and could barely move my legs. I don't think I really slept. There was some turbulence and I could see lightning off in the distance. But nothing too exciting. The flight from Atlanta to Charlotte went by quickly since I fell asleep after takeoff and only woke up when we landed. I came home and crashed for 8 hours.

I would love to go back to San Francisco and have more time to explore all the things I wanted to see. But I'm kind of impressed with myself for how much I did do.

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