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Our trip to the west coast

We got back from a great trip to the west coast. We had most excellent weather the whole week which was full of sightseeing, seeing friends, and going to Queer Dance Camp.

We flew to San Francisco last monday. As usual we stayed in the Park 55 hotel which is essentially at Mason and Market right by the Powell Bart/Muni station which is convenient for travel from the airport and using Muni. We ate dinner at Farralon which was a very nice fish restaurant with interesting seascape decor.

On Tuesday we walked around Union Square and a bit of Nob Hill and had lunch with Nelson at Café de la Press - a warmup to our trip to Paris in the fall?  We went to Golden Gate Park aiming for the de Young Museum. There we saw a fantastic exhibit called The Girl with the Pearl Earring (I mistakenly called it the Girl with the Pink Earring when buying a ticket).  There was a lot of wonderful 17th century Dutch art - Rembrandts, Van Dykes, - the girl is a Vermeer, and other artists. Everything was  nicely placed and the information next to the works was very good.The Mauritshuis, a museum in the Netherlands, is undergoing major renovation and its art is out on tour.  If you can, I recommend going to see it - it closes June 2. That evening we went down to the Embarcadero for dinner and to see the lighting on the Bay Bridge. It was late and the restaurants were crowded - the Slanted Door had a 2 hour wait so we chose The Market Bar and had a fine meal.

On Wednesday we walked around the Castro, had lunch with Sarav at Café Flores, walked around Dolores park which was full of people enjoying the weather and some dogs. Then we went to Twin Peaks to enjoy the view. Dinner was a "soc.motss" dinner organized by Max with Ned, Jed, Bill, Chip, Rod, Éamonn, and Michael at the Japanese Brasserie. Afterward we all went to Max's apartment for and got barked at by Penny Lane when we arrived.

On Thursday we went to Sausalito so among other things we could enjoy traversing the bay. Later we spent some time walking around the Fisherman's Wharf area and had an excuse to ride a couple of F-line cars. Seeing the WorldWar II Liberty Ship and the submarine really brought back some memories of hearing about the war when I was a youth (well, in some ways I still am). We had dinner with Will and Keith at Fable on Castro. We've definitely eaten in that spot in an earlier incarnation.

On Friday we picked up the car and drove to Palo Alto with Ned to have lunch with Arnold as we usually do before camp.  And then off to dance camp.

Dance camp ran from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. Lots of Contra Dancing and English Country Dancing.  There was also some Swing and some Irish but we didn't do that. There were about 80-ish people there. The band was The Retrospectacles - four people playing two fiddles, a bass - sometimes bowed which is very rare in Contra Dance bands, a piano, and occasional banjo, another fiddle, or mandolin. For English a flautist joined some of them. The Contra Dance caller was Susan Michaels who was terrific and Alan Winston, a well known English Country Dance caller who has called for us in Jamaica Plain several times, called English. Dance Camp takes place at Monte Toyon, a church retreat facility in Aptos - near Santa Cruz in a lovely redwood forest. There is an overgrown very large Rhododendron garden there with many colors of flowers in bloom. A family that had lived nearby and developed it for ~40 years gave it to the facility a bunch of years ago.

After camp we went back to Palo Alto and had dinner with Bob and Dave as we often do after camp and then checked in to the near-to-SFO hotel and returned the car.

On monday at SFO while waiting for the plane to leave (~11am PDT) I found out who won the Marathon and that the Red Sox won although they had just blown the lead.  At some point during the flight the pilot announced something like - some of you have been watching the news (they had Direct TV on the plane) and know there was an explosion in Boston - we don't think we are going to be diverted. Later they said we would land OK, but no other information was known. When we landed I found out what happened. Silver line and Red line home were fine.

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had an excuse to ride a couple of F-line cars.

Some people (not naming any names) will do anything to find an excuse to ride the F Market cars. Others, especially those who actually want to get somewhere, will try to find excuses to avoid them.

The band was The Retrospectacles

As is often the case, we were told that for $15 we could "take the band home with us" -- i.e., buy their CD. I wanted to know how much we would have to pay to actually take the keyboard player and/or the bassist home with us -- they were both absolutely adorable.

I ate at Farrallon on a business trip in the early SGI-Cray merger days, with the group I worked most closely with (half CA, half MN), when SGI still had money to bleed. The CA people were foodies, and MN people were decidedly not but were certainly game, so it was a great drama to watch the ordering (done entirely by the CA folks) and the faces of the MN folks when the completely unfamiliar food arrived. I, of course, loved it, but thought it was definitely out of my price league at the time except for the most exceptional of occasions. I later found -- on clearance at a used book store -- the restaurant's coffee table book, with wonderful color pictures of their decor and fixtures. I'm sort of surprised it's still in business. Maybe I can find folk willing to go fancy with me when I'm next in SF.

When I went to SF for a week last year I also stayed at a hotel, also right at the Powell St. station, but my hotel (while as close to the muni stop as possible and overlooking Market, at an angle) was over the line into the Tenderloin so it was reasonably priced. I think there's a limit to what you can charge when there are homeless people sleeping in the doorway. But boy, that was so amazingly convenient -- even for crossing the Bay. Also it was the easiest airport connection -- BART to BART.

I checked out Fable -- apparently quite a recent opening. Looks promising.

Looks as if you had fun.

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