Tuesday, December 29, 2015

High and Dry Out of the Rain

Things got groovy today with an epic walk and a few flashbacks.

And by epic, I'm talking somewhere in the 12-15 mile range, up and down monster hills, winding up in Haight-Ashbury to ogle Janis Joplin's cheerfully pink crash pad, the Grateful Dead house (well cleaned up by this point), the Simbionese Liberation Army safe house where Patty Hearst was held captive (cue Hall and Oates' "Rich Girl"), plus one of the many flophouses where Jimi Hendrix crashed back during his "Purple Haze" phase and, appropriately, now a head shop and music store.

Medicinal weed is legal here (ads tout "30 minute evaluations and prescriptions filled") and we inhale its heady scent walking down countless streets and not just in Haight-Ashbury where it's always 4:20.

Almost as frequent are passersby clad in the grooviest of threads: wide bellbottoms, fur vests, funky hats and silver jewelry. It's jarring when the trip down Memory Lane ends at the feet and I spot Nikes underneath those bellbottoms.

Others nail the look and I admire their '60s vibe, if not the vacant look in their eyes.

Buena Vista Park is worth the near-vertical climb to the top for the fabulous views, but then, I'm learning that killer views abound in this town given the topography. The other thing I'm learning is that every day is a weather smorgasbord of cold, warm, sunny, cloudy, windy, calm and they can all happen in the same hour.

Micro-climates, my fellow Gemini warned me before I got here, and damned if she wasn't spot on.

In the Mission district, we head straight for Mission Delores, you know, the one Hitchcock used in "Vertigo," but also notable for its pocket cemetery, a charming space tucked behind the old mission and new basilica. I couldn't miss a gander and salute at the Roxie, a small, non-profit art theater exactly like the one the Bijou crew is trying to bring to Richmond.

The Castro was a primer in gay history with sidewalk markers explaining both history and key gay figures - Tennessee Williams, Virginia Wolf, Harvey Milk - every few steps. Inside Twin Peaks, the first gay bar with windows open to the street, I spot several couples taking selfies in those very windows.

It was kind of touching. Anybody got a tissue?

Playing at the Castro Theater is "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "Roman Holiday," but who's got time to be inside when it's a sunny day in the Castro?

One thing, though, is already obvious: if you want fetish clothing or accessories, San Francisco is the place to come. Shops selling dog collars, leather panties and cut-out lingerie abound.

Not that I was in the market for any of the above.

Lunch was at tres hip and low-key Little Chihuahua, where grass-fed beef and organic vegetables are the order of the day. All I know is that my black bean nachos went down easily while our feet got a short break from the non-stop up and down.

On an unrelated note, I have never seen so many selfie sticks in my life and hope I never have to again. Everywhere we go, people stop mid-sidewalk to say cheese. Busses and cars roll by with sticks stuck out the side as if every moment must be documented for it to be believable. Spare me.

After a brief rain shower, we hoofed it down to the Embarcadero to RN74, a wine bar restaurant with lighting so dim I looked fabulous. Or maybe it was the Roderer Brut Rose that put a youthful blush in my cheeks.

We luck out at Boulevard, scoring a table at the bar in front of the open kitchen helmed by James Beard award-winning chef Nancy Oakes. Her crack team entertains us with the dance of the kitchen, putting out foie gras, tuna tartare and more plates of scallops than I could keep track of under a nonstop barrage of arriving tickets.

Both my roasted winter squash with red lettuce salad and the petrale sole in lobster cream sauce with lobster fritters that follow are things of beauty, much like the 1889 Victorian building in which they were savored. Sad to admit, but all I could muster for dessert was caramel ice cream with chocolate cookie crumbles.

Even a person who walks 14 miles in a day is not bottomless, try as she might. Fortunately, the week is just beginning.

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