Adventures with Friends Prt. 1

Laziness combined with business is for me the mostly deadly of combinations.  Since both have kept me hopping lately, it has been about two weeks since my last post.  Ah well.  You’ll get over it.

This week I got to be a tourist in my own city when my friend Sara came up for a visit!  She’d been talking about coming up for spring break but wasn’t sure she had the money until I convinced her that if there was anyone to show her a cheap time, it would be me.

Wednesday we visited different areas of San Francisco, all of which I’d been to before but some it had been a while.  We began the day with a beach walk with our friend Holly, culminating at the ruins of the Sutro Baths.  The baths opened in 1896 and closed in the early sixties before being burned down in 1966.  The ruins are picturesque, located right next to the dramatic crashing waves.  We also saw a lot of pelicans in the water and swooping overhead.  It always amazes me to look at the bath ruins.  One would think that they were the ruins of an ancient Roman bath house, only the Romans had no idea that this part of the world existed.

After our beach jaunt, Sara and I made some sandwiches and snacks and I introduced her to the SF Muni system.  We got off at the end of the park to check out Haight-Ashbury.  I hadn’t been there since moving to San Francisco, so I was eager to check it out.  For those that don’t know, Haight-Ashbury was the epicenter of the Summer of Love in 1967, and the mecca for the hippies of the time.  Many psychedelic rock bands such as The Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Jefferson Airplane lived close to the intersection of Haight Street and Ashbury Street.  Today, the area still retains a bohemian atmosphere, and has a lot of new age-y clothing and accessory shops, record stores, “head” shops with pot pharaphernalia, and cafes and bars.  Sara and I had a great time leisurely strolling the street, poking in to every shop that caught our fancy.  She was looking for some earrings, and we finally found a pair for her with “om” symbols and a long feathered one for me at an Indian imports shop.  We also stopped at the Goorin Brothers hat shop, a company that I’ve long loved that’s been manufacturing hats since 1895.  I tried on a 1920’s style cloche hat that looked amazing on me.  The friendly salesperson told me that many of the blocks they use are the same that they’ve been using for decades, so the hats have an authentic period fit to them even when they aren’t vintage.  It was such a gorgeous hat.  If only I had an extra $125 lying around!

"When you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair" -John Philips

When we were hippie-d out, we took the bus to the Castro.  The Castro is the gay neighborhood of San Francisco, and one of my favorites.  Again, I had not been over since I’d moved, so I relished the chance to walk around.  Gay neighborhoods are always great: they are clean, have classy restaurants and shops, fun bars, and all of these establishments have cheeky names.  Happy, fashionably dressed men and women walk around holding hands and rainbow flags wave proudly in the breeze.  What’s not to love?  I wanted to show her Castro Camera, Harvey Milk’s shop and the center of his campaign.  I also wanted to stop by the Human Rights Campaign shop.  I was pleased to find out that the HRC shop had moved to the very sight of Castro Camera!  They had a plaque on the door commemorating Milk as well as a mini-exhibit on him and the history of the gay community in San Francisco in the shop.  Also, the back room that used to be Harvey Milk’s office now houses the Trevor Project, a non-profit focused on suicide prevention and resources for GLBTQ youth.  HRC is always an organization that I’ve proudly supported,  and this reinforced my good feelings about them.

575 Castro Street, the old site of Castro Camera and new sight of Human Rights Campaign and the Trevor Project
HRC's storefront

From the Castro we walked over to the Mission.  And we actually did see the real mission, although it was closed so we just saw the outside.  I enjoyed taking Sara over to some of my spots like Dog Eared Books and Lost Weekend Video, and together we also tried something new.  Along Valencia there’s a classy little cheese and wine bar called Mission Cheese that I’d passed a few times.  Sara had never seen anything like it so we decided to try a “cheese flight”, a tasting of 3 different cheeses.  Mission Cheese only uses American artisan and farmstead cheeses, as well as California wines and beers.  We had the California cheese flight, and while I don’t remember exactly what varietals were served, it included a pungent goat cheese, a drier, harder cow cheese, and a soft buttery cow cheese with a rind.  There were also some delectable dried fruits and pickles on the side.  While this wasn’t something I’d do all the time, I am so glad Sara convinced me to do it!  Such a nice experience and such yummy cheeses.  I’m a sucker for any restaurant that has mason jars for water glasses.

A cyanotype portrait of Sara in Mission Cheese

The night ended pretty mellow.  We walked to the liquor store and got triple sec to make cosmopolitans and watched My Week with Marilyn.  I’m not sure that I liked the film as a whole, but I do think it was a nice character study and that Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branaugh were fantastic.  Marilyn Monroe is oft poorly imitated, but I’ve never seen her embodied so well.

Wow, it’s been a lot of writing so far, and that was just Wednesday.  I’ll break this one up into a two-parter, but I have to get it in before Mel, my twin sister and my parents come this weekend.  Huzzah!

Until then. . .

Good Luck and Happy Travels


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