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San Francisco


San Francisco, California, is one of my favorite places to visit. Such variety and color! So many interesting things to do and see. Or just lounge about watching the bison in Golden Gate Park. Posts are listed from oldest to newest.

Starting 2000 in San Francisco

I’m busy packing, getting ready to head out to San Francisco for the first week of the New Year. King and Gwen are my hosts for this California adventure. Tune in to this page to check out some of the things I see & do in SanFran. Here’s where I’ll be staying.
map of SF bay

Look very closely at the GOLDEN GATE PARK (between the E and N in GOLDEN) and you may see me cavorting with a basset hound. Soon, anyway. (I’m expected to arrive at the SanFran airport tonight at midnight, PT.)

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New Year’s Eve in San Francisco

I arrived in San Francisco after some 12 hours of travel (by van to Nashville, flight to Dallas, flight to SFO). Gwen retrieved me from the airport and took me to the current Rhoton West establishment — a spacious apartment located a block from the edge of Golden Gate Park and some 10-12 blocks from the Pacific Ocean.

King watching Khan

King watching Khan in his apartment

I saw a seagull fly by the kitchen window earlier today, but I really didn’t realize how close to the edge of the continent I am until I went with King to wait for the bus taking us to downtown SF (meeting Gwen at the Warfield for the Eve’s concert celebration). King pointed back at the other end of the street.

“See that dark line on the horizon?” he said.

“Um, sure, ” I replied.

“That’s the ocean,” he patiently explained.

Wow, I thought. It might have been a hill or a bank of clouds — I hadn’t noticed it. On Saturday I’ll probably get a chance to see the Pacific for the first time (from a closer vantage point than a bus stop).


The Warfield on Market Street

At the Warfield we saw Hot Tuna (with one of Jefferson Airplane’s founders) and Planet Drum (with Grateful Dead’s drummers). King and I didn’t hang around to see Rat Dog, but the rest of the Grateful Dead fans seemed to be having a groovy time.

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New Year’s Day 2000 in SF

this is it!

New Year's debris: Overstatement trapped in a tree

gg park

Golden Gate Park

New Year’s Day. First day of The Big Rollover. I’m not taking any strong stands on “New Millennium” vs. “2001 as the true mathematical heir” — it is The Big Rollover from 1999 to 2000 and that’s enough for me.

For those of you just tuning in — I’m in San Francisco, California. Today King took me and Kibble on a winding route, walking from the apartment through the southwestern end of Golden Gate Park and then — The Ocean.

The park is a beautiful green mixture of tall old trees and soft sprays of grass. Trails ranging from barely-perceptible indentations on the springy grass, to footpaths of dark cinder, to paved roads that amble and stretch and intersect — inviting you to make your own way as you make choices of paths beneath the twisty oaks and pines.


Bison in extremely still pose

The sun was falling near the horizon (just beyond the trees!) and ever so often slanting golden rays through the canopy. Kibble shuffled along (as basset hounds shuffle), snuffling the underbrush as King commented on the curiously specific uses of the park. He pointed out the lawn bowling area, the fly-fishing casting pool, the dog runs, the remote control boat lake, the bison paddock. I guess you can’t be too specific when it comes to bison.


After a while we happened upon a large wooden windmill which is next to something I like to call the Pacific Ocean. Very windy but it isn’t very cold in any kind of bitterness — probably around 60 degrees. We walked on the grayish beach out to where the incoming surf was reduced to a thin film of water flecked with foam.


The incoming ocean

So this is the Pacific: my first sight of it or her or them. As King watched Kibble dash (as fast as she dashes) on the sand, I called my friend Trish to let her hear the thundering sound of the rolling surf (using the cool PCS phone my brother Scott gave me for Christmas); I figured Trish would enjoy the sound since she grew up on the Florida beach and undoubtedly misses it. Got her voicemail and what with the wind interference the Pacific was probably indistinguishable from static. I imagine this is the modern version of listening to a seashell.

We left the ocean and followed Fulton Street some ten to twelve blocks back to the apartment. Kibble was getting tired and I was losing the spring in my step, too. Next, King gave me an overall orientation of San Francisco by driving me in a large circle through Golden Gate Park, through downtown, along the waterfront and back to the 38th Avenue apartment. Did I mention that the weather — though crisp — is very nice? San Francisco doesn’t seem as crowded as, say, Manhattan, and the city appears clean and friendly.


King & Kibble beachcombing



Also, today I reinstituted my Plus One exercise program, wherein every day I do one more push-up and one more sit-up. So today the total is 1 (each). Sure, it doesn’t sound like much now, but jes’ wait until this time next year! When I tried this last summer I got up to the 40s before I drifted away. I like the sense of gradually building on a daily basis, and it seems to serve as a good reminder that today is a day to be reckoned with.


Them there rocks poking outta the sea


Historic corner of Haight & Ashbury


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SF 2000, Day 3

Another day surveying the San Francisco Bay area.

Alcatraz island

Today King drove us over the Bay Bridge to Oakland, then Berkeley, and then over a big hill and some twisty roads which eventually led us back to San Francisco.

golden gate bridge, seen from berkeley

hills beyond berkeley

I visited my first California grocery store (a Safeway).

And slept.

(For more info on The City, check out SF Gate.

downtown SF (bay bridge on right)

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SF 2000, Day 4

Today’s travels took me across the famed Golden Gate Bridge (The Big Red One) to Marin County (turns out it’s pronounced mare-IN).

But first, we ate lunch at Joe’s Grill on Clement Street (though some people call it Bill’s Place) where I had a perfect bacon-BBQ-cheeseburger.

King, his wife Gwen and I went to Muir Woods, part of the California Parkssystem. The coastal redwoods there (“closely related to the sequoiahs”) are very old and extremely tall (sometimes as old as 2000 years and as high as 250 feet). We walked through the trailsfor a couple hours and then drove around more twisty roads, finally discovering an overlook that displayed the coastline alongside the rolling hills.

After returning to San Francisco, we rested and then went to the Red Vic Movie House (a small comfortable place on Haight St.) to see “Three Kings.” I was surprised by the movie (the previews made it look like a rehash of “Kelly’s Heroes”) & liked it.

Afterwards, strolling back to the car, we stopped by Amoeba Records, a former
bowling alley converted into a large music store (used & new CDs, LPs, videos) with an immense selection and excellent organization.


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SF 2000, Day 5

It was actually overcast this morning — the first non-bright-blue-sky treatment I’ve seen since last Friday. And it rained, at least enough that I could see the raindrops; evidently this is the first significant precipitation in three weeks. By the time I left the apartment,
though, the familiar blue sky had emerged.

This afternoon I took a tour through the Bay Area Video Coalition facility in downtown San Francisco. They provide video technology to community organizations and artists.
Those of you familiar with my obsession with community-oriented communication will recognize the extent of how fascinated I was to see a sustainable working example of something I’ve been ranting about for years. Wow.

The Macworld Expo kicks off tomorrow.

view from top of Transamerica Building

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SF 2000, Day 6

(Due to an Earthlink/Mindspring outage the update was posted later than planned. )

I”ve updated the design of my daily updates, hoping to make it more read-able.

I spent much of the day at the Macworld Expo in the Moscone Center, downtown San Francisco. It’s not as big as NAB/Las Vegas, but it certainly is a sizable exhibition. They’re expecting some 70,000 people to visit this week. Upon entering and riding the escalator down into the depths of Moscone I saw Gregory Hines just standing there, talking to a couple people just like a normal person. I didn’t have a chance to say hello (or snap a photo), but it’s probably just as well (for fear that he’d ask me to show him what little tap I’ve learned so far).

The Apple booth is large, featuring lots of iMacs, G4’s, iBooks, Final Cut Pro and the like. I watched a demonstration of OS X (“coming out within 12 months!”) and the new Aqua interface (kinda odd).

Lots of other booths, lots of drawings for free iBooks. (As I anticipated, the first day is mostly a blur; later visits should provide more coherence.)

I sat through a good demo of Dreamweaver 3 & Fireworks 3 at the Macromedia booth. I must admit I think Dreamweaver has developed a good set of capabilities for creating web pages (I use it for this site, in fact).

I seem to have a knack for picking the #5 bus that goes out of service on its trip toward Ocean Beach. There’s evidently some sophistication in picking the right vehicle that I’m missing.

Tomorrow I may be travelling out to Silicon Valley as King plays tour guide again.

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2004: More travel than ever

2004 will be the year Philip Travels Much More Than Ever Before. Kicking off the year will be my annual trip next week to visit King & Gwen & Kibble in the grand city of San Francisco. And then, in April – it’s off to Sydney & Brisbane, Australia! Woo hoo! More on that later, I’m sure. If my resolve holds true, I’ll have regular (daily?) updates right here.

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A Hop, Skip, and Jump…

A Hop, Skip, and Jump…

After only 12 hours of travel, I fell – or more like crashed – asleep this morning around 2 am, California time.

I left Chattanooga Friday at 3:30 pm EST on the Express Shuttle to Atlanta. I had a nice chat with the Express van driver (whose name I’ve now forgotten) – I discovered that he’d retired from the Post Office where he’d worked with my friend Sydney (a fellow worker from NightFall ) and that he’d seen my mom at the recent 75th anniversary festivities of Brainerd Baptist Church (where she was a secretary in the 1950s) and of course he knew
Bryan Fuqua, the Chief Engineer at WTCI-TV45 (where I worked for 8 years).

Anyway, as you can tell, the 2-hour ride to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (I know, The Airport Too Busy To Have A Short Name) went quickly – that’s what’s nice about Chattanooga: finding multiple connections to a complete stranger.

I checked in at the America West counter – so far as I know, my first experience on this airline. It was a good sign when the ticket agent cheerfully placed me in an exit row for both portions of my flight. I left Atlanta (ok, ok, the HJAIA) at 7:20 pm EST, flying on an Airbus A320 , seated in the spacious Exit Row 11 – the flight wasn’t very crowded, maybe 70% full. Four hours (and one disappointing movie, i.e. Runaway Jury ) later we landed in Phoenix, and then after an hour’s wait in the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (I
reckon the Arizonans were eager to be some kind of harbor – any kind of harbor!) I boarded another A320 for the flight to the Land of the Friskies. Again, on Exit Row 11. And again, with the same seat-neighbor from the earlier flight (a young computer programmer with Scientific Atlanta, returning home to SF).

It only took 45 minutes of waiting on the plane for the crew to determine there was a Problem With The Plane. So, we deplaned back to the terminal, and walked from Gate A12 to A23 in the now-empty PSHIA (oddly enough, also the noise some passengers were making) to board – surprise! – an Airbus A320. Turns out that a smoke detector on the other plane had a “broken shroud” – yet our spirits were unbroken as we took to the skies with a vengeance, leaving Phoenix only 75 minutes later than planned. One highlight was my discovery of a Russian couple seated behind me, giving me an opportunity to trot out what little Russian I’ve retained in my little rushed brain.

I’d notified King of our delay (giving him time to shave) and dozed fitfully on the 2-hour trip to San Francisco International Airport , arriving at 12:44 am PST – which is 3:44 am
EST, naturally – to be greeted by King just in time for us to wait for the appearance of my checked bag in the otherwise-closed-down SFO. And now, here I am in San Francisco. Just like that!

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SF 2004, Day 1

First Day In San Francisco

On Saturday, after sleeping like the dead, I went with King to the waterfront near the Ferry Building. Then, we grabbed some tasty burgers at Burgermeister, met up with Gwen back at the house, and, after I had a long nap, we went to see American Splendor at the Red Vic Movie House. Nice picture, very entertaining. Check out the pictures here on my site.

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SF 2004, Day 2

Second Day In San Francisco

On Sunday, King, Gwen and I travelled to Point Reyes to see the Lighthouse.

Pictures are available. (Note that I’m just adding on new pictures after the older ones, instead of creating a new section for each day.)

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SF 2004, Day 3

Third Day In San Francisco

Today I rested, and then wandered around Golden Gate Park and Haight Street. Another beautiful day in SanFran!

Oh, and here are a couple little videos I shot: By The Lighthouse and  Cello Music on Haight Street.

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To SF with a Twist!

Haaappy New Year! I’m about to embark on my annual pilgrimmage to San Francisco — traveling on Amtrak’s California Zephyr train from Chicago to SanFran. Check back for incremental updates… perhaps even From The Train!

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My train route

Leaving my house in Chattanooga in a few minutes… here’s my projected train route (map courtesy of Amtrak):

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Chattanooga to Nashville

I rode the Express Shuttle van from Chattanooga to Nashville, and now I’m sitting at Gate C-12, hoping my 9:05 am CST flight isn’t delayed by too much (it’s evidently snowing in Chicago, and half the Chicago flights are delayed, but not mine [yet]). You can watch the realtime progress of American flight 4360 (BNA -> ORD) on Travelocity’s Flight Status pages.

Well, so far so good. It’s a little chilly in Nashville and overcast. See you later! (Obviously, the wireless modem is working!)

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Nashville to Chicago

Makin’ progress! The flight from Nashville to Chicago was uneventful, other than the piercing pain I experienced when the plane started to descend. Must be some air pressure problem with my head. Oh well. More notes later on the Confusing Array of Signs within O’Hare Airport in Chicago.

Still, I managed to find my way to the CTA trains, where I caught the Blue Line elevated train/subway to downtown Chicago (took about 45 minutes, only cost $2). Then it was a 2-block walk to Union Station — the snow is nearly a foot deep in places, and big flakes were still falling. I checked in at the Amtrak ticket counter, and presented myself at the Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge, which is where I am now: sitting in a tastefully-decorated series of rooms with soft carpet, nice can lighting (not a fluorescent tube in sight), and comfy chairs and sofas. Even free drink machine & bathrooms. I can enter the Lounge by virtue of having a sleeper compartment, and therefore I am First Class.

My train will be boarding in a few minutes; the adventure (more of the adventure) continues…

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Riding AmTrak to California!

I’m officially riding the rails. I’m settled in my own private roomette, which turns out to be a good size for one tall person. Two people would be very cozy.

We’ve left the Chicago station and are currently speeding our way through the neighborhoods of Chi-town. I’m in Car #532, Room #12, on the lower level, right side of the train. I’ll be uploading pictures later here on my website — I anticipate having a little time to do that over the next couple days.

I’m somewhat spellbound by the scenery dashing by pell-mell outside my window, but at some point this afternoon I’m sure I’ll succumb to a nap. Not as much heavy residential now — more industrial scattered with housing. And snow, everywhere. The speed of the train is whipping up a stream of snow that creates a moving cloud outside my window. More later…

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Checking out the environs

I took a nice little nap and did some exploring on the train. I found how to get from car to car (the sleeper cars connect upstairs only), passed through the Dining Car (being set up for dinner), looked at the Lounge Car, and peeked into a Coach car. Also found the shower in my sleeper car, for future reference; actually somewhat roomy. Probably try that out tomorrow morning. I’ve made dinner reservations for tonight at 7:15 pm (CST). Should be tasty — it’s cooked on the train. They seat people together to fill up tables, so I’ll be meeting 3 new people.

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The Mount Pleasant Chronicles

We just stopped in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Actually we’ve been very close to the printed timetable so far (other than starting about 15 minutes late). Some stops are just for 2-3 minutes. Mt Pleasant was a little longer, and now I know why.

The station was on my side of the train, and I was idly watching the people standing around in the snow waiting to board the train (while talking on my Sprint PCS phone in a conference call with my mom and my brother) when I noticed a couple of police officers moving forcefully through the people toward the train. Our train pulled away a few minutes later and the Conductor came on the speaker to explain what happened. One of the passengers had become intoxicated and “didn’t hold his liquor well,” and so at the next stop the Conductor had the local police remove the drunk guy from the train. Not only did he lose his ticket and his trip, but he will be banned from future Amtrak travel, according to the Conductor, who also used this opportunity to emphasize that “if you don’t hold your liquor well” you would be facing a similar treatment.

So in a sense it’s almost like being a part of Railroad Survivor, to see who makes it to the end of the journey without screwing up. I will say that all the people I’ve come into contact with so far (Faye, our Sleeping Car Attendant; my neighbors across the hall; the Conductor that punched my ticket in a genial way) have been friendly and easy to get along with. Then again, I’m not drunk.

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Need some art with that story

I’ve posted some pictures in my Pictures section (featuring, yes, pictures). I’ll be creating a new section each time I post sets of pictures, for it seems that ftp via the wireless modem is kinda slow for uploads (but I’m perfectly happy with that).

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