Monthly Archives: April 2009

Going out

Got to see Whispertown 2000 last night at Doug Fir. It’s been a while since we’ve been there, I’m trying to figure out when the last show we saw there was. Matt Sheedy opened.

Whispertown 2000 was great as usual. They played mostly stuff off of Swim, which I am less familiar with as it is new. I didn’t remember how much they switch up who is playing what, which is fun. They had a great t-shirt that looked like a 70s workout shirt with Swim on one side of the v-neck and Whispertown 2000 on the other. The crowd was a little weird. No one was really watching the show for some reason, and I’m not sure too many people had heard them before. Brian thought it was because they were there for the headliner (Maria Taylor), but a good number of people left before that. Very strange. They played Restless, which is one of my favorite songs.

Brian and I argued about the value of blogging in between sets. He’s decidedly against, both writing and reading.

Tonight Katie and I are going to wander up to Last Thursday to look at art and see what we can see. It’s suppose to be nearly 70, so it should be a pleasant evening. Wish I was in a position to buy a piece or two, although last month’s Last Thursday didn’t have as many people showing as I’d expected.

San Francisco trip, part the second.

Brian in North Beach, San Francisco.

Brian in North Beach, San Francisco.

Heh, sorry about the lack of updates, I got it in my head that I couldn’t write anything until I wrote about the rest of the trip to San Francisco. So here goes, I’ve thought of other things I wanted to post, so I’m going to push through this. This may be text and image heavy, but then I promise to write more often.

Sears' Fine Food in Union Square, San Francisco.

Sears' Fine Food in Union Square, San Francisco.

Sunday morning, we woke up and stood in line at Sears’ Fine Food across the street from the Sir Francis Drake. We stood in line on the sidewalk with everyone else, waiting to get in for our Easter morning pancakes. The waitress made a drink for me that was just club soda and lime, and honestly, it’s drink I think I am going to make frequently now for both breakfast and lunch. Since we moved to Portland, I don’t really drink soda, but I am still a huge fan of the bubbles, so it seems like a perfect drink to me. The restaurant had been there for a good long time, and at one point had a host who was 109!

We walked around Union Square – it was a gorgeous day so there were tons of people out. We skirted bits of the Tenderloin, and happened upon a church that had all its doors and window open. People were singing and clapping so joyfully and loudly, we were drawn to them from over a block away. Neat listening to that in the bright morning sunlight – I think it was a methodist church.

After that, we decided to retrieve our car and go for a wander in other neighborhoods. We didn’t have anything particularly in mind, so we really just did our typical, oh neat, let’s turn here.

In Xanadu did Kubla....errr.......Palace of the Fine Arts in San Francisco.

In Xanadu did Kubla....errr.......Palace of the Fine Arts in San Francisco.

As we were wandering through the Marina neighborhood, I saw a round dome sort of thing a few blocks over. I navigated Brian back to the area and we parked right in front of the Palace of Fine Arts. ?! I had no idea this existed! In the all the years I’ve been going to San Francisco, I never saw it or even saw a picture of it. Built in 1915, it’s under renovation right now to make it a bit more structurally sound against earthquakes, so the park out front was as close as we could get. The park was full of people having picnics for Easter, and the sky was blue and beautiful. I think it got up to 68 or so that day, so really idyllic.

The Palace of the Fine Arts in San Francisco.

The Palace of the Fine Arts in San Francisco.

Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge.

After getting our fill of wandering around it, we walked down to the beach at the marina and stuck our toes in the sand and admired the bay, the beautiful weather and the Golden Gate bridge. Both Brian and I had gone over the bridge in previous trips and didn’t want to pay the toll, so we were going to skip that. Except we got stuck in traffic in just a perfect way to force us over it. Alright, then we’ll pull over and take a few pictures. $6 to get back into SF though, eesh. It was $3 the last time I was there. Fernando brought up over dinner that the toll had originally been intended to just cover the cost of building the bridge, which was paid off years ago. But it’s such a good money maker, the toll has stuck.

Brian on Hyde Street.

Brian on Hyde Street.

We had a bit more time to spend that afternoon before we needed to head back to the hotel to get ready for dinner, so we decided to check out the Hyde Street Bistro on the recommendation of one of Brian’s clients. Except it was closed in preparation for an Easter dinner, so we walked up and down Hyde and ended up going to Nook. I’m glad we did – it was perfect for what we wanted. Brian got a cappacino and I got a glass of Chardonnay. We split artichoke bottoms stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in prosciutto with a dallop of pesto, a dish I am still craving a few weeks later. Yum. We sat out on the sidewalk and
watched traffic go by. I was as content as I can remember recently.

Headed back to the hotel, and found a parking spot right! out! side! of the hotel, which would save us $30 parking overnight, cool! After thinking about it, we decided to walk to Fernanco and Alicia’s – it was just under a mile, and that way we could walk up Grant Street through Chinatown. Which reminds me, Alicia told me about a great walking tour through Chinatown given by a woman who was born and raised in Chinatown, and I need to get the name from Alicia because I’d love to do that.

Gates to Chinatown, Grant Street, San Francisco.

Gates to Chinatown, Grant Street, San Francisco.

We walked right by a restaurant I’ve been wanting to eat at for about 15 years, the Stinking Rose (a garlic restaurant? how could I not love that?). We’ll eat there for sure next time we are back.

Their apartment is in North Beach, or it was until this weekend when they moved to a new neighborhood. We walked up the stairs to Coit tower and then walked to dinner at Pesces. It’s a small tapas restaurant in Russian Hill. The drinks were really bad, but once we switched over to wine, it was great. It was fun trying a lot of little things, and the four of us had a great dinner talking about Portland and San Francisco.

It was a work day the next day for both of them, so after a leisurely 2 hour dinner, they caught a cab home and we walked. It was early enough that we didn’t want to call it a night, so we kept our eyes open for some place to get a drink. We ended up at Brick, and had cocktails and scallops, and I wish we had made it back there again (next time). The bartendar was quite charismatic, and it was a great place to hang out at the bar and plot to take over the world.

Alright, almost done, I promise :) We packed a lot into two days in San Francisco, we like to do and see as much as we can when we travel.

I’m actually leaving out all sorts of stuff in interest of actually finishing this post with even one person reading it.

The next day we got up at 7 a.m. to feed the meter so that we wouldn’t get a ticket in our perfect parking spot, and walked across to Sear’s to eat breakfast. We went to the car to get in and discovered that we earned a $50 ticket during breakfast due to street cleaning. ARGH.

We drove to Berkley and wandered around there for a while. We ate lunch on the Berkley campus and then got a latte at Caffe Mediteranium, which is Brian’s favorite coffeeshop anywhere. This is the second time we’ve driven to Berkley just to go to the Med. The Med is known for having invented caffe lattes. No, really!

View in Berkley Heights.

View in Berkley Heights.

We drove up to Berkley Heights, which is beautiful and has great views. Brian loves to keep going up and up and up to see what he can see here. We parked the car and went for a long walk through the neighborhoods looking at houses and artwork and views.

When we started driving again, we went up some more, and found a park we didn’t even know existed in Berkley Heights – Tilden Park is over 2000 acres. We were greeted by a wild turkey walking along the side of the road when we drove in. As we were driving through, we saw a golf course, a stable, mini steam trains (we thought about riding them but didn’t), chatted with a woman on a horse ride, and saw some magnificent views. Lots of hardcore bikers in this park – I can’t imagine tackling those hills. I’d like to go back and hike there, maybe this fall.

City side of Tilden Park - that's Berkley and Oakland down there, although you can see San Francisco across the Bay too.

City side of Tilden Park - that's Berkley and Oakland down there, although you can see San Francisco across the Bay too.

Other side of Tilden Park.

Other side of Tilden Park.

After wandering the park, we decided to head back to the hotel to get changed for Leonard Cohen and go to Oakland early to avoid rush hour traffic. We figured we’d grab a bite to eat and relax before the show.

There’s not much around the Paramount Theater in Oakland. Oakland as a whole seems much more bombed out than the last time I was there, and I wasn’t so much in the mood to go too far given that. We found Cafe Madrid close by, which served Spanish food and drinks, so we had a few glasses of rioja and a cheese plate and called it good.

We were starting to see people who looked like they were going to the show, so we went to see if we could get in – turns out they let fans in two hours early, and I am a member of the fan club (and bought the tickets during the pre-sale). The Paramount theater is a beautifully restored art deco theater, really beautiful and maintained. It was strange in the middle of Oakland (if anyone ever wants to tell me about good things to do in Oakland, I’d love to hear it. We were a
bit baffled about how bombed out it is – Brian spent a good week there a few years ago and liked it and was surprised at how much it had changed too).

Leonard Cohen marquee at Paramount Theater, Oakland.

Leonard Cohen marquee at Paramount Theater, Oakland.

There was a bar downstairs in the area between the mens’ and ladies’ room, so we decided to do that before going to look at the t-shirts. While Brian was in the men’s room, an a cappella choir of men started singing Cohen covers in the men’s bathroom – something that has never happened to Brian before. He had the bathroom to himself otherwise, so he said it was a slightly surreal experience.

Turns out they were the Conspiracy of Beards, and they were there to sing in the lobby for a half hour for fans of Leonard Cohen. They cleared out as soon as everyone else was admitted. Brian and I stood in the lobby, had a glass of wine and listened to them sing. What a cool thing to stumble upon – I’m glad we were early even if we didn’t find much in Oakland to entertain us!

I’m so, so in awe of Leonard Cohen. There are very few Greats I’ve regretted not being able to see, but Leonard Cohen was one of them, and it was soooooo worth it. I love him even more than I did before.

It’s neat because my mom was really into Leonard Cohen when he was young, and she was living in San Francisco, so I grew up seeing his books of poetry and records, but I had never listened to him, and eventually forgot about him. When we were in Madison, Brian took me to see Rufus Wainwright at the Barrymore, who raved about Leonard Cohen, and did a cover of Cohen’s Hallelujah that actually choked me up. So the next time I was at a shop, I picked up an album by Leonard Cohen. Brian and I listened to it while we renovated the upstairs apartment, and I can’t even tell you how many times we listened to that album over the week. It’s said that Leonard Cohen is a perfectionist with his writing, spending years on just one line before he’s satisfied, and it shows.

So seeing Leonard Cohen in San Francisco specifically meant a lot to me – I was able to imagine how my mom felt, seeing him, and feel that connection, on top of a completely brilliant performance by LC. He definitely speaks to me. We tried to buy tickets in Seattle as we drove away from the show that night, but the only tickets still available anywhere are at Chicago, the second night, for $250, which I just can’t justify right now(more the airfare than the tickets).

We got a late start out of the city the next day. We had decided to drive Hwy 101 back, and started out on Hwy 1. An hour later, we were still only about 15 miles from San Francisco – it’s a beautiful drive this way, through eucalyptus groves which smelled heavenly, but waaaay more time than we had.

We cut back over to the I-5 route, and while we were doing that, we saw this van, which I love:

Seuss van!

Seuss van!

We hit some hard snow in the mountain passes, but luckily, we got through it without having to pull over. Just slowed us down. We also saw a bizarre accident that looked like a small aircraft crashed on into the side of the road, with fire trucks and police surrounding it, but I never saw anything on the news about it. Very odd.

We finally pulled into Portland around 1:30 in the morning – Brian was up for work at 7:30 as usual. Rough, but a really great weekend.

So. I promise to update this again rather than guiltily avoiding it!

San Francisco trip, part the first

Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge.

We got tickets in San Francisco to see Leonard Cohen over Easter weekend. Brian took a few days off and we drove down to explore.

The last few times I’ve driven to California, I took Hwy 101 along the coast, so I don’t think I’ve driven on I-5 on that stretch since I was a kid. It’s well worth it – you go from Portland, to Salem’s farmlands, to forests, to the mountains and up and down and up and down, to farmlands in California before bursting into San Francisco.

I drove Oregon, so I don’t have many pictures of that. We pulled over in Grants Pass to look at the monument to Oregon Cavemen. Here he is, in all his glory:

Brian with the Oregon Caveman in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Brian with the Oregon Caveman in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Also:

Caveman.

Caveman.

Continuing on, we hit the mountains near Ashland, and it was very beautiful. The rest of the drive until a good ways into California looked like this (click on it to make it larger, beautiful mountains):

Mountains.

Mountains.

As you cross the pass into California, you get a beautiful view of Mt Shasta, which was shrouded in clouds that day. Off in the distance, we saw Black Butte, which seems to sit at the bottom of Mt Shasta as if it’s waiting for you. Just at the point where you are convinced you will be driving over it, zoooom, the highway goes slightly to the right.

Black Butte on I-5, California.

Black Butte on I-5, California.

When we got into California, we saw signs that said that all vehicles must exit. Joking about the time Brian took a roadtrip into Canada and had to eat an apple every mile or toss them, we decided to finish off the strawberries quickly (mmmmmm so worth it). That’s the only reason I didn’t have to lie when the bored looking border guy asked, “Any fruit in your car?”

We got into San Francisco about 10:30 that night (yeah, we got a late start out of Portland) and walked around a little. We ended up eating at the restaurant attached to the Sir Francis Drake because of how late it was. The hostess there was so cool – she was older than us, but infinitely more elegant and cool than almost anyone I know.

Off to our room on the 7th floor, and to bed (more later, don’t want to type everything at once. You wouldn’t read it if I did).

South Falls at Silver Falls State Park.

South Falls at Silver Falls State Park.

We got in a great hike yesterday even though we got a late start.

We drove down to Silver Falls State Park, and bought an annual pass for the state parks. We hate to waste money so that means we will go hiking in state parks at least seven more times this year. Should be easy, assuming neither of us decides to break a leg or something.

Anyhow, I distinctly remember doing this hike when I was a kid with my mom and sister. I remember that Gretchen and I were not really down with it, hiking just seemed like too much walking to us, and all of Oregon is pretty, we get it. Funny how perspective changes everything.

I had super grand expectations about getting in a number of the waterfalls (there’s a hike of ten waterfalls that we are talking about doing perhaps later in the summer), but after we got going, we realized that a) it was too late in the day to do much and the park would close before we did a lot of the waterfalls and b) going up is hard work when you are as out of shape as I am.

I can’t imagine where I’d be if I didn’t walk as much as I do, and didn’t work out five days a week. I am planning on adding more to my workout plan because clearly what I am doing is not quite cutting it.

We managed three waterfalls – South Falls, Lower South Falls and another one that we didn’t catch the name of (might have been just a springtime waterfall) but over which we got to walk on wooden planks.

Brian was impressed that the day lodge was super nice – there’s a cafe there (with FOUR vegetarian options. FOUR!) and a gift shop, and info about the park. It’s somewhat like a miniture toned-down version of the Timberline.

Behind South Falls.

Behind South Falls.

The best part about South Falls is that after a hike down, you get to walk behind the waterfall. There’s a cave that is behind it, and you can stand there as long as you like and watch the water wall move in front of you. The mist feels phenomenal on your face. It’s my new plan to hike near waterfalls once per week in interest of skincare.

We hiked for about three hours – it was 73 degrees, and it felt like heaven to be out in the woods watching water and lichen and chipmunks.

After we got back to the parking lot, we decided to go to Salem for dinner. We couldn’t seem to find anything that appealed to us, and we weren’t in the mood for Mexican or Thai, so we ended up at McGrath’s, a restaurant that I’ve been going to since I was a little kid.

We had the worst meal I remember in a very, very long time, which surprised me as I ate there last year and had a completely fine meal. This time I was actually worried that Brian or I would end up with food poisoning. The salad was mushy – clearly the pears were old, and from the bottom of the can rather than fresh. It was drenched in dressing to the point of being sort of a lettuce soup rather than a salad, and the candied walnuts, instead of being cooked slightly in sugar, were encased in rocks of sugar (more sugar than nut, if you know what I mean).

The fish I had was old, and not good, and bland. I had decided to get a fish sandwich since we grilled fish the night before, and had asked for cheddar instead of tartar sauce. The cheddar was fried on the fish to the point of being hard.

It is the first time I’ve ever seen Brian order a prawn dish and not eat most of the prawns. The wait staff seemed great, but it took forever for the food to come out, with no apologies. The meal took almost two hours from the moment we were seated. Not what I had intended when I innocently suggested we grab a bite before heading back to Portland.

All in all, I think that’s going to have to be the last time I eat at McGrath’s. It was that bad last night.

However, we did have a nice walk around downtown Salem, and I got to see a building I didn’t remember but really love:

Capitol National Bank Tower in Salem, Oregon.

Capitol National Bank Tower in Salem, Oregon.

Today is gorgeous – 75 degrees, so I’m going to weed the backyard and take a long walk this afternoon. Gotta practice for another waterfall!

Sunroom flower view

Sunroom flower view

Anyone know what these flowers are? You can see the picture larger if you click on it. They are bushes over two stories tall and have been blooming for weeks. It’s what I see out of one of our second-story bedroom windows, and I have no idea what they are. I call them “Painting the Roses Red” because they remind me of the scene in Alice in Wonderland (the Disney animated version) where the gardeners are desperately trying to paint the roses before the Queen notices.

I was practically attacked at New Seasons today (our grocery store). I was browsing in the wine section, which I like to do to see what’s on sale, what’s new, that sort of thing, and this woman suddenly swooped in next to me and said: “I don’t know what your price point is, but you have to get this. It is. The. Best. Wine. It’s awesome. Anyone who tries it loves it.”

Well, that’s a ringing endorsement if I’ve ever heard one, and it was about the same price as a bottle of Erath, so I kinda had to get it, right? I’ll report back with the name if it is as good as she says. It’s a blend, and I’ve only vaguely heard of three of the grapes.

It’s super beautiful today – finally, spring. We weeded the front yard and mowed. I continued an ongoing battle with a holly bush that had invaded a flower tree hedge. Do you remember the scary rosemary bush at the place we rented last year? Holly is the new rosemary. I don’t mind the holly hedges we have under the sunroom windows, but it seems to travel to other places, and I’m determined to contain it.

Brian eventually went and got a crowbar and hauled it out of the ground for me. One of the trunks was almost 2 inches! The flower trees are going to be much happier I think, now that they aren’t being strangled.

In other news, I’ve decided that Dr. Pink is the neighbor with the hot pink sunglasses. Makes sense – he’s not the Hunter S. Thompson looking one, he’s the shaved head one. I’m still leaning towards the theory that he’s a DJ. There seem to be a lot of cute punk girls who hang around that house, so he seems to get some attention. Did I mention that Brian went over to introduce himself on Thursday night? Heh. The Bye-and-Bye may have been visited previous to this. *snicker* That’s all I’ll say.