Part of the beauty of vacations is that you're escaping the mundane of your life; you know... the responsibilities and day-to-day details that eventually make you want to pull out chunks of hair ~ partly from frustration and partly to see if you have indeed went completely numb from the monotony of life. So just the sheer act of being on vacation makes everything seem better. I know this, and take that into account. But, even with that under advisement, San Fran is amazing. It's so beautiful here and, as a largely pedestrian-driven city, it really appeals to me. I love that they're set up on a grid and have been walking everywhere. I bought a trolley pass for my stay that I have yet to use. Don't want to, there has been too much to see to have any of it zooming past me. No thank you, I'll walk and take it all in.
The hotel is gorgeous and kind of quaint at the same time. I changed to a smaller room to accomodate the couple(s) behind me - the people a few ahead of me went to check in and were told there were no more king-sized beds available. Being one person and only really caring about having enough pillows (not so much the bed size, I'm all about the pillows); I offered to give mine up for a double-bed room instead. I lost my living area by doing that, but the hotel loved me for it (I know this by their reaction to a mishap that happened later that day). I don't know if this is a chick thing or a Crystal thing, but I HAVE to unpack straight-away when I get into my room. I'm not really comfortable until I do. Clothes hung up, folded into drawers, shoes put in the closet, suitcases put up, bathroom items arranged and accounted for. I just don't like living out of a suitcase.
So, after I unpack, I settle in for a quick nap because I thought I had enough time before hang-gliding. Dumb move on my part -completely slept through it. Then, when I went, my worst fears were realized: the hippie-dude that was on the website picture was my glider guide. Yeah, don't think so - no way was this guy taking me up - not going to happen. Trying to reschedule for Sunday when a decent looking instructor shows up and off we go. THAT? Was A-MAZ-ING; but I was a little afraid I was going to die. Just sayin'.
Thursday evening: Culinary tour of Chinatown and Northbay. Fab-u-lous. What is NOT fabulous is that my checkcard has disappeared. Darn it. Thank GOODNESS I've got cash or I'd be totally screwed. Chinatown is cool. Kind of discombobulated and random in the way the stores/shops are set about, but I'm finding this is true for much of S.F. You'll see a rather elegant art gallery next door to a smoke shop next door to an expensive bedroom shop next door to a massage parlor next door to a slutty lingerie store. Ok, maybe there is an order to that: get your motor running on a great piece of art, have a smoke to wind down, buy some Egyptian Cotton sheets, get a massage so you're loose enough to use them and get kinda turned on by the person giving you the massage so you get some lingerie to use with your sweetie. Nevermind, I stand corrected: there is an order.
Anyway, the Culinary tour. My tour guide, Tom, was totally fun, kinda flaming and something of a perv to boot. He seemed to go on forEVER about San Fran's history of prostitutes, brothels, and the like. The history he provided extended to the numerous times the city burned down. In fact, with the exception of the fortune cookie excursion, he gave us NO information about food whatsoever. Even still, I had great dim sum in a cool hole-in-the-wall place (love those), some fan-flippin-tastic coffee where the screenplay for Godfather was written (by the guy who wrote it, whose name I can never seem to recall); and finished up with some pizza and wine at a place called "The Purple Onion" where the Grateful Dead played (and a ton of other people).
The Purple Onion owners were cool. We met the owner upon arrival, so I took a picture of him and gave him a hug before I went downstairs to the stage area. When we came back up, he asked me to take a picture of the other owner, and I was happy to oblige. Only this guy wanted to do European Kisses after - sure, why not. They were fun. There were two older couples with me on this tour - one from Atlanta who had children my age and one from England. They were both QUITE a bit older than I and I'm fairly certain I shocked the Atlanta lady. She remarked it was a pitty I didn't have someone to share this experience with. I laughed a little and told her I didn't; and this was ~ in an odd little way ~ a wildly appropriate way to spend what would have been my wedding anniversary had I still been married. On the way back to the hotel, there were several sax and guitar players. I had to sing/skat with one of the sax players for a bit. I had a grand evening.
Friday morning I woke up at 5, Texas time. There is NOTHING to do at 3am in San Fran that I'd feel safe doing with the number of homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks. So, I made myself go back to sleep for a couple of hours longer. After all, this IS a vacation darn it. When I got up and going again, I still had plenty of time to get to Starbucks for breakfast coffee. Found my checkcard, which was good. Ended up in a limo with Witty/Holly, Heather/Scott, Susan and her friend Steva, Jon, Matt and his friend, Shawn. We went to several winderies and we must have been fairly rambunctious, because we (as a group) got griped out by the french winery guy. Actions have consequences; we bought no wine from him. Out of the 78 people that went on this trip (including me), a couple of the married men got very fresh. Those who know me even remotely know that is something I find extremely distasteful. But, I have learned over the last couple of years that is not something I'm able to be as cutting wth as I'd like to - so, I tried to subtly mock them. When one guy told me he wanted to have "fun with me for fun's sake" - no relationship issues, I remarked that "Yes, that would make things much less complicated, wouldn't it? Especially with your wife." Yeah, he took that as an invitation. It wasn't. I commented later that I wanted to have sushi for dinner and when one of the guys said he did too (over and over again) and started cracking up with another guy that we could do sushi together ~ I came to the realization that we were NOT talking about the same sushi. And I'm sorry, but that's just not cool. I DID do sushi - the kind I meant- just with a different group of people. Let me tell you, Ali makes an AWESOME sake lemon drop. We had a LOT of sake. Jon and I went back to the hotel together where I proved I'm still directionally challenged and got us lost. Ooops! But, we made it back in one piece and were were going to watch one of the movies together (they had theatre-run movies on the TV)... except I crashed after I got off the phone with Eric. I'm pretty sure he thinks I ditched him for something more exciting I didn't, unless you can get really excited about feather pillows.
Again, woke up way early this morning; but this morning, I needed to. Went kayaking. Saw the sun rise over the water and it was so amazingly beautiful. By the way, was completely dressed inappropriately for the occassion. There were these two guys (a couple) who were dressed in flourescent wetsuits and I was totally making fun of them (in a nice way) - told them they were so lame! They totally returned the favor when we got done and I was wet and freezing my ass off in jeans. They were cool and we're going to be pen pals. Went back to the hotel, got cleaned up, and then walked back down to the piers and played in the marketplace for an hour before my morning brunch cruise. If the gorgeous views and city bustle weren't enough to make me fall in love with San Francisco, that marketplace IS. Awesome. Fresh flowers, great breads, fruits, oils, meats AND it's an experience to boot. I'd totally shop there every time I needed something if I lived in S.F.
The brunch cruise was cool and I got a LOT of writing done there. The food was fantastic and I ate WAY too many carbs, but it's the only time on the whole trip I was bad unless you count the millions of calories I consumed in alcohol. The views are so amazing and I've decided two or three things while on that cruise:
1) I will live in San Fran for at least one year before I die. Perhaps not consecutively, but cumulatively.
2) I want a sailboat AND a motorboat.
3) Nope, guess I just decided two things. But, I really do love the water, though.
After the brunch cruise, I went down to Pier 39 and played for awhile. It was SO much fun there. Very busy. Went into the Aquarium on the Bay, which is fun because you get to go under the bay and touch sealife. Lots of fun, funky shops at Pier 39 and Girhadelli (sp?) Square is nearby. Eventually, the driver for the Seaplane picked us up and up I went to view S.F./Sausilito via air. Lovely. Really kind of cool to get that view and I liked the seaplane; it was a very smooth ride. The pilot was totally boring, though. When I went to tip the driver (who was REALLY cool), found out my whole wallet was gone from my backpack - which REALLY sucked (never did find it, btw). Fortunately, I always leave 20 bucks and my driver's license in the hotel room. Had to cancel my checkcard and everything though which was a total bummer.
Saturday night was our KBIC dinner cruise. Again, what a blast. We were all there having a good time: open bar, pretty decent food, dance floor - the shots were flowing and everyone was feeling pretty darn good. We went to Cliff's and Suite 181 to dance after that. I'm sure I made a complete idiot of myself dancing (I typically do, but yet I never seem to care) - but, I had a great time. I really drank to excess that night though - and can't remember much other than we were "VIPs" at this club and had the entire downstairs to ourselves for a few hours with many carafes of vodka and juices.
My head hurt SO badly Sunday morning. But more than that, everything else on my body hurt. First time I tried to get up it didn't work, so I had to lay back down for another oh, I don't know - three hours or so and try again later. Even then, I only made it as far as the tub and soaked in a Lush Marathon Bar bath. OMG, those things rock. Eventually, I was able to get up and go to starbucks for their smoked cheese quiche and coffee. Did another quick swoop through Chinatown and then it was back to the hotel to write until checkout.
We got to the airport three hours before our flight, so I had a lot of time to read and write. Reread Stupid and Contagious which remains a really fun book and wrote another chapter. I may finish this darn book in November after all! I was SO glad to be home. Like I said, it was seriously sick how excited I was when I finally made it home to my bed.
I'm sure I'm glossing over a million different details, and I know I still want to address the homeless issue. But that will have to be tomorrow as I'm totally exhausted now. :)