Ralph Melton (ralphmelton) wrote,
Ralph Melton

California Trip Summary

We are returned from our trip to California and Origins. It really deserves in-depth LJ entries (particularly since we neglected to take any pictures). But Im not sure I can provide a deep discussion right now, so in lieu of that, a quick summary:

Wednesday, June 22:
Decided to pack before going in to work. This turned out to be wise; there was lots of packing to do, and I barely made it to work at all. We flew off to San Francisco by way of Minneapolis. We finally got to our hotel at about 1am local time--4am body time.

Thursday, June 23:
This was really a perfect day.

After breakfast, we went off to San Francisco. We intended to go off to Fisherman's Wharf. I parked too early, though, and ended up near the Ferry Building. This actually turned out to be a beneficial serendipity, because the Ferry Building is a big hive of foodie shops and restaurants. We tried chocolates at several places, bought organic lavender salt and beef jerky, and so forth. I enjoyed it much more than I would have enjoyed Fisherman's Wharf.

From there we went off to Ghirardelli Square. We got distracted the afghans in a shop window, and when we went in, the proprietress was extremely insistent on trying to sell Lori something. After extracting ourselves from that, we got distracted by Del Monte Square and a silver shop therein, where I bought Lori some earrings and she bought herself a silver brooch. But we did manage to make it to Ghirardelli Square and buy some chocolates.

From there, we noticed a 'scenic route' sign that led us through the Presidio and down along the Pacific coast. It certainly fulfilled its promise of being scenic; we saw a lot of great views. We stopped at China Beach, where Lori waded a bit in the ocean and found that it was just as cold as I had predicted.

We stopped at Safeway for some snacks for the week (the Safeway brand lemon-cranberry granola bars are really quite tasty), and drove through Golden Gate park back through town.

For a late dinner, we went to Mona Lisa (on Columbus Avenue in North Beach). We mentioned that it was our anniversary and that we had gone there on our honeymoon, and got a free tomato-mozzarella salad for doing so. The food was really tasty. My penne Philomena with garlic, artichoke hearts, and black truffles was really excellent.

Friday, June 24:

Got off late for good reasons.

Searched for Hobee's for brunch, but I'd misread Google's directions. We ended up going to a creperie named Twister's in San Bruno.

From there, we went up to San Francisco again. We did some shopping on Valencia Street, and then walked over towards the Castro to find about Pride weekend activities. We didn't actually find the Pride Guide we were looking for, but did find ourselves wandering through hordes of happy queerfolk. It was a good time.

For dinner, we went to California Culinary Academy. I have no chance of recounting the variety of foods that we ate, but Lori was as pleased with the trip as I was with our MacWorld expedition. I particularly remember the roasted filet mignon with whiskey demiglaze over three-cheese polenta, and the bruschetta with garlic, basil, duck, and brie.

Saturday, June 25:

Found Hobee's successfully for brunch. Lori agreed that it was really nicely Californian.

Our big goal was to go to Monterey. We drove over to Half Moon Bay, and then took CA-1 down the coast through Santa Cruz to Monterey. The whole drive was beautifully scenic. It was great to be able to see the ocean and the beaches and the cliffs. I'm really happy that we took this route.

We got into the Monterey Bay Aquarium just in time for the 3:30 sea otter feeding. I'm very glad we made it; Lori was delighted by the otters. It's really quite a nifty aquarium, and I highly recommend it.

After the aquarium kicked us out at closing time, we browsed through shops on Cannery Row a bit, and then went into a restaurant called Blue Moon. The view was nice, but the prices were steep and the offerings weren't calling to us--particularly since all their seafood was flown in from elsewhere, and Atlantic salmon is probably as good in Pittsburgh as in California. So we faked a cell phone call calling us away.

We ended up eating at Archie's American Diner. I ordered deep-fried artichoke hearts for us, because I had seen them advertised at several places in the area, and figured it for a regional specialty. It was really tasty--tasty even beyond the fact that almost anything will be tasty if batter-fried and loaded with garlic and parmesan cheese. I also had a very tasty fish taco wrap, and a nice Sparky's root beer that was manufactured right there in Pacific Heights.

After that, we drove back up to Santa Cruz and stopped at the Santa Cruz boardwalk. Lori was particularly delighted about the fact that this was the boardwalk featured in The Lost Boys. It was a really nice date destination, though. Mostly we walked around holding hands, but we also played an indoor miniature golf course that was really quite nice and had lots of interesting things going on. Lori also got to ride the roller coaster, and was giddy with pleasure over it.

Sunday, June 26:

We'd planned to go up to San Francisco to see the Pride Parade, but we didn't fight the circumstances that led us to not getting off in time.

Our main agenda for the day was to make it down to San Jose and join the Apple folks there, which we did without trouble.

The same circumstances that led us to miss the Pride Parade interfered with Lori's goals of going to Mass. But with a bit of web-searching, we discovered that there was a 4pm Mass in Stanford's Memorial Church. This was excellent for us; it provided a short visit to Stanford, and a really nice church for Mass.

After that, we went over to Uncle Eric's for dinner, and spent several hours in pleasant conversation with him. He gave us a beautiful handmade vase to give to Lori's parents--which complicated our packing immensely.

Monday, June 27:

I went to talks at Apple most of the day, while Lori did stuff around San Jose. We had dinner at Sonoma Chicken Coop with Sean, which was quite nice--mostly because of the company, though the dinner was pleasant too.

Tuesday, June 28:

More work talks. Lori went up to San Francisco to tour Haight-Ashbury. After the end of the talks, I went to a happy hour at Acapulco's with the folks on our team. I had 2 large margaritas and a Corona, and I felt decidedly tipsy afterwards.

After we went back to the hotel, we were making dinner plans. Sean suggested linking up with Roger and Brad in the lobby, and this snowballed until we had about forty or fifty people walking into Original Joe's. Fortunately, it was 10pm, so they could handle the sudden influx. It was a good somewhat-raucous gathering.

Wednesday, June 29:

More work talks. Went to Peggy Sue's with Sean for dinner.

Thursday, June 30:

Went to Apple for breakfast, to show Lori what Caffe Mac is like.

Sought to buy a couple of Apple t-shirts at the company store, but it was 9 and the store didn't open until 10--and getting to the airport precluded waiting. Fortunately, a kind security guard sweet-talked the manager into opening early for us.

Got to airport, flew to Detroit, flew back to Pittsburgh. What with picking up bags and getting out to the car, it was about 11:30 when we arrived in the car--but we wanted to get to Columbus by mid-day Friday, so we started driving. We got to Cambridge, Ohio before we had to stop at a Day's Inn to sleep.

I hope to sum up our Origins visit soon.
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