October 5, 2009

Brick House Cafe

We stopped for a casual dinner at the Brick House Cafe in South Beach close to AT&T Park. They had a nice beer selection and happy hour specials to sweeten the deal. I also liked the funky bread plates that they put on each table.

The Brick House also had some interesting art on display. This tricycle had me intrigued. They are just setting up a couple poor kids for heartache... Imagine the frustration of peddling in opposition to someone and never getting anywhere. I hope this isn't the artist's metaphor for life. That would be too sad.

October 2, 2009

Candy Corn Window

I have a major sweet tooth. I was excited to see this window display in The Candy Store in Russian Hill. The sight of 4o pounds of candy corn nearly made me swoon. Not only that, but it got me excited for Halloween. I can't wait to see how our neighbors deck our their houses for the holiday.

September 29, 2009

Mills College

I attended a lecture on the Chemistry of Pesticides at Mills College in Oakland on Saturday. What a beautiful campus!

I wasn't familiar with Mills College prior to visiting this weekend but I quickly learned that the college boasts some serious history. A college for women, Mills was founded over 150 years ago.

I was impressed by the fountains and the Campanile (the first structure made of reinforced concrete west of the Mississippi) that surrounded a lush green oval.

I was also intrigued by some smaller details like the whimsical graffiti in the bathroom ("cats are so soft and very cuddly", "rainbows are pretty", "I love nice people").

The Bender Room in Carnegie Hall had a Middle Ages feel to it. I was amused when I saw the energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs gracing the exterior of this chandelier. It felt like a true anachronism.
The one disadvantage of traveling to the East Bay from San Francisco (and especially to Mills College which isn't walking distance from BART...) is fighting the Bay Bridge traffic to get there and back. I was stuck in traffic on the bridge when I looked out the window and saw this cute little fellow staring at me. He made the traffic just a bit more bearable.

September 28, 2009

Big Book Sale

We trekked over to Fort Mason on Saturday afternoon for the Friends of the San Francisco Library "Big Book Sale".

We saw this makeshift amphitheatre composed of used computer circuitry gracing the parking lot.

Fittingly, the retro Kerouac.com RV ("the Beat Museum on Wheels") was parking outside the Book Sale.

We managed to hunt down some great book bargains on this Safari. There were over 200,000 books for sale at less than $5 a piece. We walked to the event specifically to limit the amount we could carry. The price was right and the sale is for a great cause (benefiting the San Francisco public libraries). Our bookshelf is simply the limiting factor at this point.

Picture of the Day - Workin Hard for the Money

I see these gentleman nearly every morning pushing their shoe shine cart about four blocks down Spear St. to Market St. Even though they are pedestrian powered, they merge into the flow of traffic. It doesn't look easy but they're there day after day working hard to make a living.

September 26, 2009

Dollar Holla

The Chameleon Cafe just oozes creativity. The Chameleon is my go to spot for my morning latte. I liked this money mascot hanging out on top of the register to greet me. It definitely made me smile even before I had ingested my dose of caffeine.

September 25, 2009

Flowers in the Park

Now that the summer has come to a close and we've officially welcomed Fall, it's fun to reflect on the good times had taking time to smell the flowers. We spent an afternoon with friends several weeks back strolling through the Inner Sunset with a detour into the Botanical Gardens at Golden Gate Park. We saw this noble wooden figure in a store front along Lincoln Blvd.

The flowers were in full bloom...

...and showcased an amazing array of shapes...

...and colors.
The great thing about Northern California is that we tend to have different plants growing and blooming nearly year round. I wonder what Fall will bring.

September 23, 2009

Final Stop: Steinbeck's Salinas

(Continued from Part V)

We stopped in Salinas on our way home to visit the John Steinbeck museum.

The town lives and breathes Steinbeck. From this restaurant's claim to fame: "Sang's Where John Steinbeck Ate!"...

...to this mural on the side of a downtown building...

...to the National Steinbeck Center.

We learned a lot about the town and the times that informed much of Steinbeck's literature. Clips played throughout the museum including movie and stage versions of The Red Pony, Of Mice and Men, and The Grapes of Wrath. The Steinbeck Center also included an agricultural exhibit. I was particularly impressed by this quilt on display which highlights the massive amounts and hugely varied types of produce grown in the region.

Salinas has certainly changed a lot from Steinbeck's day. The museum featured this painting of a bustling Main St. Today the streets were eerily quiet with plenty of parking. How times change.

Just as we were about to cross the border into San Francisco on our way home, we managed to extend our glimpse into Steinbeck's world just a little bit longer. A line of antique cars was headed North on 101. They seem to have strayed far East of Eden.

Thus concludes another Safari filled weekend.

September 22, 2009

Weekend in Monterey - Day 3 - Quaint Cottages and Grand Sand Castles

(Continued from Part IV)

We spent our last day in the Monterey area exploring Carmel. Carmel is a quaint village put on the map by former celebrity Mayor Clint Eastwood. It sits along the water which explains its "By-The-Sea" moniker.

Where else can you find a weather-worn wooden snail? Escargot, anyone?

We started with some fuel at the Carmel Bakery and Coffee Company. Their multi-seeded pretzels were divine.

The creative window display also made me smile.

Carmel has a look to it that makes me feel like it comes directly from Lord of the Rings. Actually, it's less edgy and sinister than Lord of the Rings. On second thought, I felt like I'd just been dropped into the Smurf forest while strolling through downtown. The cottages just ooze a certain smurfy quaintness.

Even the cats in the area have a certain charm. We found this little Cheshire Cat at The White Rabbit, a store devoted to Alice in Wonderland memorabilia.

Carmel has a lush quality to it. This house is practically engulfed by a wall of greenery.

Our real motivation for coming out to Carmel was to check out the fanciful Sand Castle Building competition on the beach. Would be sand architects could use any natural materials they found. There was some interesting stuff that the tide brought in, including these rubbery tubules.

People took their creations very seriously.

There seemed to be a canine theme this year which pervaded many of the works. This bad-ass guard dog was my personal favorite sand sculpture.

I was also happy to see the felines get their due as well.

Hmm...no one seemed to be standing near this pile of sand. Could this be a finished sand castle? It seems like someone is trying to channel the mound of mashed potatoes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

We actually arrived on the scene on the earlier side so many works were still in progress. Check out this link for some pictures of the completed sand castles. What an awesome, whimsical experience!

(Continued to Part VI)

September 21, 2009

Weekend in Monterey - Day 2 - Pacific Grove

(Continued from Part III)

After wine tasting in Carmel Valley Village, we drove back to Monterey via Pacific Grove. A dense succulent ground cover lent a reddish hue to the beach.
Despite the fog, it was amazing to watch the waves crash among the rocks.



We took a detour to see the Point Pinos Lighthouse.

Sadly, it was closed for the day and highly fortified too.

On our way back into town, we finally stopped at Burlwood industries. We'd passed by several times and were intrigued by the wooden carvings decorating the parking lot. We bought a wooden pelican to commemorate our weekend in Monterey. We'd seen large flocks of pelicans fly by near our hotel the night before.


(Continued to Part V)

Weekend in Monterey - Day 2 - Carmel Valley Village

(Continued from Part II)

We started our second day in Monterey on the prowl for coffee. We saw this padlock labeled "Coffee Bar Cabinet" and knew we'd hit a dead end at our hotel.

We drove into Seaside and stumbled upon The Alternative Cafe.

Not only did the latte hit the spot, but we also had a chance to peruse some imaginative works featuring artists Gabe Leonard and Eric Joyner. One of my favorite paintings was Joyner's "Pandora's Box" where a group of whimsical robots are peering with wonder into a box of donuts. Leonard's paintings were striking and included scenes from the old west. "Blood Bucket" especially gave me a chill (several cowboys with guns staring down a victim).

We continued on to Carmel Valley Village which included a drive on the Laureles Grade. The fog dappled valley was particularly beautiful.

Our first stop was Heller Estate, an organic vineyard that featured not only quality wines, but also free tomatoes!


Heller's sculpture garden was also worth a look.



Our next stop was Boekenoogen Winery. Pinot Noir was their specialty.

We took a short walk through the village after our tasting. I loved this sign "Nifty Lube". Are they a knock-off of "Jiffy Lube". Perhaps "Nifty Lube" came first. There is a lot of history in this area, after all.

The Carmel Valley Market featured a colorful 3D carving of barnyard animals.

Our stroll led us next to Joullian Winery. They have the distinction of having a "Merv Griffin" Sauvignon Blanc. I was tempted to buy a bottle just for the name.

We stopped for a fantastic lunch at the Corkscrew Cafe. The meal was served in a sun dappled courtyard complete with cherubic fountain.



We tried a flight of wines from Georis Winery which shares the property with the cafe.



Dessert was unbelievably good -- Olallieberry Pie with fresh cream. Double Yum!

That dessert was almost certainly the highlight of our afternoon, until I saw this display:

"Does anyone still have a cassette player?????? You Do??? Help yourself to free cassettes!!!"

That's a quintessential Sidewalk Safari moment right there!

(Continued to Part IV)