I arrived on Thursday night at the house of my cousin Ashley and his wife Kathryn. They served a wonderful dinner of lasagna and super fresh salad, along with terrific conversation. Friday a.m. I acclimated. The weather was warm enough to have coffee on their deck, which looks out over the city of San Francisco and the bay. Directly below is the Claremont Hotel, from which issued the faint sounds of music on Friday and Saturday evenings.

The fog obscured about half the view of the city and the bay, but the vista was still dramatic. I never did get to see the Golden Gate Bridge from that perspective, though the uprights would occasionally poke through the fuzziness. The weather turned downright hot in the afternoon, which made getting to the car even more of a challenge. That little adventure occurred because the house is on a path rather than a road. It consists of blacktop that rises at a steep angle, interspersed with steps every few feet. My guess is that the change in elevation between their house and the top of the path is probably 50 feet – spread out over about 75 feet of incline. It was even more of a challenge walking up from the bottom of the path, which is longer and seemed steeper. I was breathless when I reached the top and noticed they were, too, even though they’ve been doing that walk two or three times a day for six years. Ashley said he lost 25 pounds when he moved there.

After giving the GPS time to wake up, I drove into downtown Oakland and met Ashley for lunch and a tour of KTOP, the city of Oakland’s television station, where he is the station manager.

The place is huge, filled with equipment that the station uses and rents to outside groups. It’s one of the few city agencies that actually makes money. The revenue is much needed in these times. The place is staffed with busy, happy people – a diverse crew who have all been there for years. A couple of the studios were occupied with “guests” who were recording. One guy was working in 3-D. I couldn’t visualize how he was doing it even though the images were right in front of me.

Ashley has begun posting video on Youtube, which seems to be a great way to spread the city’s message. I’ll have more on KTOP’s coverage of the city council meeting in another entry.

From the station we walked to lunch at a Japanese restaurant. The place was much more traditional than East Coast establishments. They do not give you spoon for soup but expect you to drink directly from the bowl. I had sashimi, which had the usual tuna and salmon, plus octopus, mackerel, and squid. Ash had an enormous roll filled with shrimp, crab, spicy tuna and avocado. The seafood in both was fresh enough that it could have been swimming in the Pacific just hours before, but I suspect it was probably flown in from Japan.

Then we walked down the street to meet our other cousin, Anna, who had taken BART from the airport. After her tour of the station, she and I drove back to the house where I made tea and we talked and giggled until Kathryn came home. Once Ashley arrived, we ate another terrific dinner of asparagus and pasta pesto that he prepared. Then we looked at his family photos, which included many taken in Old Saybrook at the grandparents’ summer cottage before the 1938 hurricane.

Ashley’s dad had hand-colored some of the photos, an amazing feat. When he worked at James’ Pharmacy during the summers that meticulous, painstaking work was apparently part of his job. Ashley also knows how to do it but could only find one.

I was still operating on EDT so retired early.


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