Home Again

I have returned from the Left Coast – a true voyage of body, mind, and spirit. Verdict: Will happily visit whenever asked but will never live there under any circumstances. The traffic is horrendous with rush hours that start at 3 p.m. and end at 8 p.m. Even in the less congested outer areas, the car density is beyond ridiculous. Plus I got dizzy more than once as we teetered on the edge of a hill in San Francisco. The idea that an earthquake could send those hills crashing into the sea just added to the trauma. Oh, and did I mention that my cousin’s house is right on the edge of a fire zone? Most of the properties around his have been rebuilt since the 1991 Oakland Firestorm. It was so bad it gets capital letters. As I’ve said before, I’ll settle for the occasional blizzard and the very occasional hurricane.

Otherwise, the trip was terrific. Our Saturday foray was to Napa for an open studio event featuring art work and wine tasting where I got to play sculptor on a piece of soapstone. A study in contrast arrived on Sunday with a trip to Costco (my first).  Another contrast a day later when Anna and I took a cable car from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf via Chinatown. On another day we saw the blocks-long farmers market in the mall by City Hall and ate terrific soup when the weather turned windy and cool. Another day featured a private guided panoramic tour of the city: the Embarcadero, Golden Gate Park, Pacific Heights, the Presidio, the Castro, the Mission District. Over successive days we saw the coast as far north as Bodega Bay and as far south as Santa Cruz. And we got to watch a part of the Oakland City Council meeting. It may not sound exciting but 150 people showed up to protest the rules change for parking meters.

We ate healthy (well, mostly) and terrific meals and enjoyed the fabulous views of the Pacific and San Francisco Bay.

I’ll be writing about this stuff in detail over the coming days but will follow the advice of the King in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “Begin at the beginning … and go on till you come to the end, then stop.”

At the beginning was an uneventful but oversold flight out of Bradley to Dulles. We waited a few minutes to take off. The pilot blamed traffic out of New York. When we landed, we had to walk out on the tarmac to the terminal because the plane was too short to reach the gangway. We must have missed the rain by just a couple of minutes. Inside the terminal it was a shock to encounter the smell of cigarette smoke. I had forgotten that Virginia is tobacco country so of course they have not caught up with the rest of the country to ban or at least limit things so nonsmokers aren’t poisoned.

Despite a two plus hour layover, I had to walk only a few steps to my connecting flight so I sat and listened to a woman yakking away on her cell phone because her mother had gone to the wrong building for therapy. The phone talker was trying to get her relatives to hire an “estate attorney” to handle a conservatorship or whatever. While she talked, she kept eating and eating and eating from plastic containers of stuff that she’d brought from home. I glanced up at her. She could have given the anorexic Olsen twin a run for her money.

Once I boarded the long flight to SFO, travel deteriorated. They had no room left in the luggage bins when I arrived so I had to check my bag and then of course had to wait at the baggage claim, which defeated then entire purpose of carry-on. At least they didn’t try to charge for it. Note to self: Next time fly Southwest, which doesn’t charge for baggage.

Then the flight was delayed leaving the gate. We sat and sat and sat with no explanation. The pilot never said a word for the entire flight except “Seat belts, please” when we hit a bit of turbulence.

I sat with a guy who had played football at USC and was returning home. He sported a championship ring, which attracted the notice of the other guy, a veterinarian from Long Island who was going to San Francisco for a wedding.

Remainder of the flight was uneventful, but it was hot when I landed. Lonely Planet said to expect cool weather. I found my way through rush hour (it was 7 p.m.) to my cousin’s house which is nestled in the hills of Berkeley. They have a gorgeous view of San Francisco and the bay when fog doesn’t obscure everything including the building that’s about a city block away and a few hundred yards down the hill.

To be continued.

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One Response to “Home Again”

  1. Betsy Says:

    So glad you’re home! I’ve got lots to tell.

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