100 Posts!- Culture Vultures in San Francisco and Snowy Roads

To my amazement, this is the one hundredth post that I’ve done since I started to blog last January. It seemed to happen so fast. I guess it really is true that time flies when you’re having fun. Thank you to everyone who reads and comments!

We just got back from a four day trip to San Francisco, which is about six hours south of where we live. We knew that the weather was predicted to be “interesting”. Little did we know. But first, here’s a really special photo my husband took before we left. I was out running errands, he went to get the mail and saw this little grey fox snoozing in the sun right out in the driveway of a house across the street. He got the camera and he/she was still there. This is one of the best shots. Pretty cool.

Grey Fox
Grey Fox

As anyone who has cats and dogs knows, they figure out pretty quickly when something is up and the humans are going away. Some get anxious and some, well, don’t.

Persephone
Persephone

When we left, the ocean looked like this:

Clam Beach near McKinleyville
Clam Beach near McKinleyville

We speculated on where we might see snow on the mountaintops and maybe even on the road. I figured Rattlesnake Pass between Laytonville and Willits.

Near Confusion Hill, Humboldt County, US101
Near Confusion Hill, Humboldt County, US101

Wrong. This was almost an hour north in Redwood Country, where we rarely see snow on the coast.

Near Leggett, US101
Near Leggett, US101

Mmm, it’s getting heavier and right down to the road.

North of Willits, US101
North of Willits, US101

It’s a….Winter Wonderland!

Oak trees just north of Laytonville, US101
Oak trees just north of Laytonville, US101

Snow, snow all along the route. Laytonville and Willits were covered with snow. Really beautiful and an unusual treat for us coastal northern Californians where the average temperature in January is 55F.

View from our room
View from our room

But we got to our room at the Emeryville Courtyard Marriott and had this killer view of San Francisco at sunset. And the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge

Notice the clear skies. So we had nice weather, but cold, for what we came down to do: Family visit, the Yves St. Laurent show “Style”, at the de Young Museum and the Afghani treasures show, “Afghanistan” at the Asian Art Museum. A bonus at the de Young was an absolutely knock-out show of geologic forms, “Systematic Landscapes” in a variety of media by Maya Lin, who designed the Viet Nam War Memorial in Washington D.C.

We got in a stop at IKEA, too.

Of course we took advantage of the culinary richness of the Bay Area, eating Thai (Boran, Solano Ave., Berkeley), Ethiopian (Addis, Telegraph Ave., Oakland), Italian (Pasta Pomodoro, Bay Center, Emeryville) and seafood (Sea Salt, San Pablo Ave.. Berkeley). At the Sea Salt Restaurant, I couldn’t an unexpected opportunity to try the legendary drink Absinthe for the first time. There were three choices and I went for the St. Georges, which is distilled in Alameda, right down the road from Berkeley. It was…..amazing. A little goes a really long way. We found it at a, hate the name, BevMo and indulged in a bottle, which ought to last a couple of years depending on how many artist and other friends care to try it.

And, since David had accidently put his cell phone through the washing machine and our contract was up next spring anyway, we went to an Apple store and got iPhones. Absolutely revolutionary devices. Effortless to use. Intuitive. More stuff than you ever thought you’d want to do. The procrastination possibilities are almost endless. And the phone works just fine, too.

The trip home yesterday was in rain, hard rain and pounding, monsoon-like rain. We were glad to collect the collie boy and kick back for a quiet evening.

I’m going to take next week off and celebrate the holidays with family. Mongolia Monday will return on the 29th. Before we left, I got this photo of Michiko snuggled in her chair amongst some garlands that I’d draped over it.

Michiko
Michiko

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Keep Them Doggies Movin’!

So, to pick up the story of my first rescue transport last month-

The plan was to go on Sunday. I got a call at 8:30 am on Saturday from Jean, the transport co-ordinator. Could I go that day since the weather looked like it was going to get really nasty on Sunday? You betcha. I had seen the forecast, too. Over to the shelter a little before ten. Loaded up four (yup, four) dogs into our Volkswagon Eurovan. One border collie, one Rhodesian ridgeback mix, one lab mix and a pit bull, all in crates. Spanky’s (the pit bull) crate was facing between the front seats, so we could look at each other en route. Finished the paperwork, loaded up towels and anti-stink spray and away we went. The route was from Humboldt County down to just north of Ukiah, east on Highway 20 and out to where it joins up I-5 at Williams. About a five hour drive. A little barking but no real fuss. Loaded up the CD player and locked in the cruise control. Ate a lunch while I rolled. The funniest part of the trip was when some harmonica (Bob Dylan?) came on and Spanky started to sing along. On the way on 20 through Lake County, lots of flooding near the road and small slides and “flooded” signs in the towns. Snow on the higher hills and some by the road. Made cell phone contact with the woman I was meeting right as I came down out of the hills. We both pulled into the gas station within a couple of minutes of each other. Whew. Got the dogs out, let them pee, loaded them into crates in her horse trailer, went to pee myself, called home and hit the road. Elapsed time at the rendevous: 20 minutes. Another five hours of driving. Ate dinner (another tuna sandwich) while I rolled. Got home around 8:45pm. Long, hard day, but four dogs have a chance at a great new life, so it was more than worth it!

Second transport was just over two weeks ago on Feb. 9. I was going down to the Bay Area to hook up with my husband anyway, so figured I might as well help move some more dogs out. There was one to go on Wednesday, two on Friday and a third by the time I got to the shelter on Saturday morning. This time it was a blue heeler, a real redbone hound and a shepherd mix and two drop off points. One dog, the heeler, in Petaluma and the other two in San Rafael. With some in-flight adjustments, it all went fine and then it was on to San Francisco. The top priority was to finally go to the new De Young Museum and generally kick back in The City for a couple of days. Mission accomplished. Here’s the sundown view from our 8th floor (out of 9) room at the Hotel Carleton, our favorite, reasonably moderately priced place to stay in San Francisco. Very convenient location on Sutter Street. Close to art galleries, Japanese, Indonesian, Italian and Vietnamese food and just down from Nob Hill.

view-from-hotel.jpg

The De Young was terrific, inside and out. I had been very skeptical of the outside, but when we stood across the street in front of the new, mind-blowing Academy of Sciences building, we decided that it worked. There is a whole “orchard” of trees in the sunken bandshell area and they look great against the flat plane of the museum’s facade. The tower still looks a little odd, but the design needed that. Too bad I forgot to take some pictures. Sorry.

The inside is everything a great place for showing and viewing art should be. They have so much more room now, so there is a lot more to see. Lots of old favorites like the Sargents and some I don’t ever remember seeing like two by William Keith, a killer Thomas Hill and a couple of Diebenkorns. One of the best modern works was a suspended cube made out of charred wood from a southern black church which had been burned by an arsonist. It was an amazing visualization of objects in three dimensions. It’s called “Anti-mass” and if you go to the De Young, don’t miss it!

We then drove on out to Ocean Beach. Winter in California. We are so spoiled. Here’s a view north towards the Cliff House. It was t-shirt weather warm at four in the afternoon.

gulls-and-cliff-house.jpg

One the way back to the hotel, we drove through Golden Gate Park and ended up timing it perfectly for “magic light” as you can see from this photo of the Conservatory of Flowers. Got lots of pictures of cypress trees in great light too, but you’ll have to wait for the paintings.

conservatory-of-flowers.jpg

The next day, we went to the Legion of Honor for more art, this time European (the De Young only has American art). I found, in both museums, that my eye and technical ability in painting has reached the point where I can probably seriously bore almost anyone talking about underpainting, in what order the colors were put down, how many strokes of the brush an area had, the variety of edges, etc. Here’s one of my new favorites from the Legion of Honor, “Portrait of a Miniaturist”, artist unknown. Stylistically, it could have been done last week. It was done quickly, with confidence and probably for the artist him or herself, maybe as a break from the much more tightly finished work that one usually sees from the time (late 18th century).

the-miniaturist.jpg

Had lunch at a fantastic Vietnamese place on Lombard St. called Pot of Pho. Pho being the “national soup” of Viet Nam. Then it was across the Golden Gate to the Marin Headlands, which I had never been to. We drove every road and went out to the ocean’s edge. It was another warm, sunny day and there were lots of people on bikes, at the beach and hiking the trails. The piece de resistance was on our way back, where we stopped for what has to be one of the all-time great views of San Francisco.

golden-gate-marin-headlands.jpg

You can see why millions “leave their heart” in San Francisco.