Let’s start at the bottom: my friend Erika (long-time friend from the ‘boro
) is chugging a boot of beer at Suppenkuche
(world’s best family-style German restaurant). At the top, her husband chugging the same boot, but like a woman. Look closely: his left pinky
is starting to creep up to Full Salute.
These kids, who have their own kid by the way, managed to make their way out to visit SF from Denver. They flew in early Sunday morning, and were back on a plane to Rocky Mountain highs on Wednesday night. Shocking? Not yet. But read on… look at all the awesome stuff they got to do while visiting the Hotel Hansen for three short days:
Sunday: a quick brunch at the Crepe House on Polk Street was followed by a roughly 4-hour walking tour of the highlights of northern SF. We walked from Polk Street up Nob Hill and descended into the nostril-raping fishmonger markets of Chinatown (Erika: “I just wanna see it!” My wife: “Why?”); once we realized that we were bigger than all those people, we were able to do our White People On An Agenda
walk, throwing elbows & upsetting apple carts until we were able to breach like whales onto the shores of North Beach (for you non-Bay Area folk, this is our version of Little Italy, with fewer people from New Jersey who claim to be Italian).
We strolled through North Beach at a leisurely pace, were appropriately accosted by the restaurateurs on the sidewalk – seriously, it makes me feel wanted, and therefore I enjoy it and consider it appropriate – as we headed northward to the Place Where Hope Comes In A Bread Bowl, Fisherman’s Wharf. For all its splendor and hub-bub, the Wharf is not all that spectacular. There are restaurants, there’s a fun sourdough bakery that you can see inside of, and then there’s just a bunch of frikkin’ tourists & sailboats. But we checked that box for them, and even went over & saw the sea lions relaxing on their K-dock.
We had also JUST missed a ferry over to Sausalito, which Ryan really wanted to refer to simply as ‘Saucy’, so we nixed that idea. (Erika: “Can we just kill an hour down here until the next one?” Me: “Killing an hour down here is more like torturing your own will to live right out of every fiber of your being, but yes, if you want, we can.” Ryan: “Well don’t sugar-coat it, tell us how you really feel.”)
Onward we strolled, back toward the nowhere-near-setting sun on a leisurely waterfront walk. I continued to parlay my perfunctory prose of prior periods in SF’s history into what seemed to the unweary an unquestionable, unforgettable and unique monologue as we gallavanted along gaily toward the Golden Gate. Boat, boat, another boat, $10MM waterfront home, guy that shouldn’t be running without a shirt on due to man-boobs, little girl flying kite, middle-aged nerd flying 12 kites and making little girl feel insufficient… and left turn into the delightful ‘Marina’ neighborhood. More restaurants, small independent candy store, over-priced clothes & accessories store, hey there’s Mr. Man-Boobs running again, open house, cougar, another cougar, cougar’s Mom, some over-paid venture capital analyst with too-white teeth, Pottery Barn… and south to Union Street.
I took Erika & Ryan to That Takes The Cake
for a sample of what I have come to consider the world’s best cupcake. (Seriously.) But this is what I love about having grown up in a small town: we all immediately noticed that we could get one freshly-baked cupcake for $2.75, OR we could get SIX freshly-baked-yesterday cupcakes for $9. For those of you math-challenged folks, that’s nearly a 46% discount for 24 measly hours of sitting around the bakery… or $0.05 an hour of staleness. “We’ll take the ones on sale.” “They’re all on sale.” “Maybe to you, honey.”
A quick phone call home to Denver for the parents to check on their offspring, and we quickly realized we were pooped. We headed home to enjoy our cupcakes – after all, as soon as we took them out of the shop they started depreciating. Upon our return, we rested, shared the splendor of sugary substances with R, and then decided we’d DRIVE over to see the Painted Ladies (a.k.a. the houses from the opening credits of Full House), maybe even do a drive-by of Haight-Ashbury.
Painted Ladies pictures carefully procured on our professional-grade photographic paraphernalia, we sallied forth to Haight-Ashbury, saw the freaks, and then spent about 90 minutes sponsoring a trip to Amoeba
for Ryan. (Aside from being a funny nerd-brother, he’s an even bigger music nerd; I couldn’t very well let him leave SF without experiencing the heaven that is the Bay Area’s second-largest used records store. FYI, the nuts in Berkeley also have an Amoeba, which is reportedly bigger.) Proudly, Ryan exited having refrained quite well, purchasing less than $30 worth of merchandise but feeling satisfied. Spinning his new purchase in the Prius on the way home, even their tour guide felt this was a day well-spent. To reward ourselves, we ordered Chinese food for dinner (Tai Chi on Polk Street still can’t be beat) and stayed in to watch ‘Baseketball’ and ‘So I Married An Axe Murderer’
. The latter is a San Francisco specialty, but I have to admit it’s starting to lose some of its appeal to me. It may have something to do with The Love Guru.
THIS WAS JUST SUNDAY, people. They said numerous times that they couldn’t believe how much we’d done & how much they’d seen in just six or eight hours.
Monday: Luckily, they were off to drive up through the redwoods (they stopped at Muir Woods) to Wine Country, where they’d booked a night at a Bed & Breakfast that included bike rentals in its rates. This, people, is genius. They got there early on Tuesday morning, started drinking & eating & doing what people do in Sonoma, and they never had to get back behind the wheel of the rental! They wined & dined, realized that Sonoma’s still a small town that closes around 8pm especially on a Monday, and retired to the spa/sauna in their manse-for-a-night.
(The following details of their romantic evening at the B&B have been edited for time & have been re-formatted to fit this screen.)
Tuesday: They rode out to more wineries, saw some more beautiful scenery, and came back into the city to help pre-celebrate my pre-birthday at Suppenkuche and drink beer out of oversized glass footwear.
Wednesday: I didn’t even get to talk to them about what they did on Wednesday before they flew back (I was working all day & they got themselves to the airport easy-peesy). But what more COULD they have done, really? They talked about trying to get in on a brewery tour (Ryan = beer nerd, his third ‘nerd’ in this post alone), and they wanted to maybe see the Presidio or go to the Cable Car Museum… no idea what they ended up doing, but holy crap they’d already done a lot.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I lay at your feet your duty: you must find the defendant, Excuse Not To Visit Guilty #3 “I Don’t Have Enough Vacation Time”, guilty of fraudulently portraying itself as a Valid Reason Not To Visit. I think that’s clear. You can be in and out of San Francisco in three days & do more in that time period than some people do in an entire month in Denver, Chicago, St. Louis, or rehab. That’s clear. The evidence has spoken for itself. I think that’s clear.
Nothing further, Your Honor.