Archives for posts with tag: San Francisco

The San Francisco-Oakland Bay area is rich with adventures, so each day of my recent trip was spent exploring something new, including revisiting San Francisco to see the things missed on previous trips. We passed the incredibly ornate City Hall (those city fathers wanted to make a statement) and buildings with the old state seal.  DSC_0393

DSC_0300There were the obvious places, such as Fisherman’s Wharf, which was so crowded with tourists (not that we weren’t) that we skipped stopping there.DSC_0328We did join the crowd at Lombard Street, only because I hadn’t seen it and felt I must.  Driving the crazy curves in the line of cars and standing for the obvious pictures was actually pretty charming, only because it is what is is. DSC_0322We drove through the business district with the imposing iconic TransAmerica building…DSC_0351And this delightful lady reaching between tall buildings…DSC_0387Streetcars are as delightful as ever…DSC_0329And we visited the waterfront, enjoying the sailboats and fishermen…DSC_0339DSC_0342Leaving the city, we passed this delightful mural…DSC_0536before reaching the Golden Gate Bridge, which never fails to delight…DSC_0540On this day, we headed towards Sausalito, changed our minds and I suggested the beach, which looked pretty close on the map. Of course, I forgot that this is the coast and that short road was crooked and narrow and the trip to Stinson Beach took way too long for what we were planning. But we got there and dipped our feet in the ocean and enjoyed the views and people watching…


DSC_0544…before heading back along the same long, curvy road…IMG_7353On other days, we headed into Berkeley, driving through the campus of UC Berkeley, intrigued with its ties to the incredible Phoebe Hearst and her son, William Randolph Hearst, along with buildings of every architectural style.  A hodgepodge of buildings strung through the hills.DSC_0230


DSC_0412with the classic Clock Tower at the center…DSC_0242Looking for a late lunch, we found the Gourmet Ghetto district…DSC_0251opting for Oscar’s, a classic burger place, over the fancier trendy restaurants nearby. The selling point was that Oscar’s had been there since 1950 and was destined to close in a few weeks to be replaced by yet another salad restaurant. We wanted to experience the history not the health. IMG_7250That day, we drive north to the towns of Benicia and Martinez, the location of the historic home of one of our national heroes, John Muir. Entering Martinez, we were struck with the irony of the oil refineries in the home of the man who protected our wilderness areas. DSC_0260We found his home on a major thoroughfare, back by an interstate highway. You have to wince, but the site at least has preserved enough to let you envision the way it used to be. Looking at old photos of the rich orchards that covered the hills, you look out at the modern mess of franchises, motels, and fast food that have replaced the fruit and trees. But, if you look the other way, it’s the way it was, somewhat. You get the idea. This is the home where Muir took over his father-in-law’s orchards very successfully and began his writings that so enlightened the world. I had read much about him, but had forgotten how painful it was for him to write since his words are so lovely. DSC_0262

DSC_0264I should have realized when I saw the mess of his office with papers strewn around the floor as he did. It was nice to pay tribute to this genius of a man.DSC_0267On another day, we drove to Palo Alto to see the Stanford campus, probably the most beautiful campus I’ve seen. In contrast to the variety of building styles at Berkeley, from classic to contemporary, Stanford has consistency (like my own Oklahoma State University), which gives it much beauty.  This 8,000+ acre campus is casual and elegant and impressive as we entered through an avenue of magnolias and beautiful homes, followed by streets lined with oaks and shops and restaurants and then through the campus gate and an avenue of palms leading to the heart of the campus. DSC_0592


DSC_0614The Stanford Memorial Church has a simple name that belies its grandeur. Having toured many cathedrals and historic churches, I have to admit that this lovely sanctuary reached me with its beautiful warm details. The incredible mosaic murals on the outside stand over the central quad of the university. IMG_7373

DSC_0611and the interior somehow comforts the worshipper.IMG_7375Across the campus, there are architectural details and fountains that delight. Students walked through them casually in their shorts and tanks. A group played in the elegant fountains, a perfect example of the atmosphere. I reminded myself that these are the brightest of the bright, playing and not studying at the moment.DSC_0644


IMG_7402 - Version 2On our final morning in the Oakland area, we visited a beautiful botanic garden, the plants displayed by the region of California in which they grew.







DSC_0722Around another curvy road (that’s all they have – I’m sure of it), we delighted in an old fashioned carousel with its colorful, fanciful animals and lovely paintings of California history.  Built in 1911, one of the last original merry go rounds in the country, it has been in this location since 1948, hidden away in the California hills.DSC_0735



DSC_0726And so ends my tour of the areas around Oakland, an area of history, natural beauty, and absolute delights wherever you go on your adventures. Put it on your bucket list again and again because there is always something new to see.

Years ago, I visited Hong Kong, the closest I ever got to mainland China.  It was still under the British, but they were counting down until it was returned to China.  I loved all the exotic things about it, the foods, the smells, the bright colors, the fabrics, waking up to watch the people do tai chi in the park, all the beautiful people.  Of course, I was coming from Oklahoma, so it was definitely not like my home.  These days, I have a Chinese boss on the campus of Oklahoma State University and see Asian people everywhere I go.  I still don’t speak or read Chinese, but it’s a tad bit less foreign.

Chinatown in San Francisco is always a must see when I get to be in that interesting city of hills and history.  This time I didn’t get to eat, but I took the time to watch new things.  There are always the signs and the lanterns…I love this corner on Clay Street with the wonderful street lights and lanterns and where I have feeling of my son, Clay, around me…the first Chinatown I ever visited was in Seattle with him…DSC_0528There were old signs…DSC_0359And signs that mixed the old with the new…DSC_0507DSC_0522When you look up, you see signs of the family life going on above you…DSC_0508And, down an alley, you can find a tiny fortune cookie factory that produces 30,000 fortune cookies a day to be sent around the world. They give free samples and you can watch this lady make them so quickly. They offered to let me write my own fortune, but I’m not sure that would work.  After all, don’t you want the surprise of seeing what the cookie gives you?DSC_0516DSC_0518I was trying to find a mah jongg game in progress to report back to my friends who share the Americanized version with me, but found none. In the parks, I discovered Chinese Chess played by men surrounded by their friends who quietly watch and then shout excited comments when a play is made.  One game was crowded and always quiet.  My friend said that must be the money game. DSC_0369Nearby, this man enjoyed his cigarette, unnoticed by any but us..DSC_0377On a Sunday, amidst families and tourists, there were groups of women playing a poker-like game, dragging their crates and cardboard boxes to the park.  Some would stand up and throw the cards down ferociously, adding to the fun of watching.  DSC_0533Walking the streets, ducking in the shops full of made in China trinkets and treasures, listening to the foreign voices, smelling the delicious smells, peeking down the alleys…a few hours in Chinatown is always a fun stop.  A peek into another culture that will always seem mysterious and exotic as the residents keep the traditions of their homeland in the land of opportunity.

It’s that time of year when I’m stricken with Wanderlust. “Wanderlust is a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world” – Wikipedia. The word says it all. I’m ready to go…anywhere, anytime. Wanderlust has many symptoms – desire to see new things or revisit favorite places – desire to see people you miss – desire to explore and, literally, wander – desire to learn – desire to cleanse your soul of the everyday routine and worries of life.

I’ve got a bad case of it, but I’m not sure which way I want to go this year…I’ve been all over the place but there are so many places I haven’t seen, so many places I want to see again. Each time I travel there is something new. The places I saw as a child or earlier in my life have new meanings, look different now. I both know more and learn more. Lately, I’ve been heading west…there’s so much there…but I’ve been east, north, south too…and to other continents…such a rich planet is our earth.

It’s all good. As long as I have my camera to catch memories, help me remember, I’m ready. Here are a few of the places I’ve been in the United States – I’d go back to any of them…or elsewhere around the world…

Florida sunrise


Grand Canyon of Yellowstone


Sunrise over the Tetons


Elephant seals on California coast




Grand Canyon


Zion National Park


Monument Valley


Santa Fe


San Francisco


Denali Highway, Alaska

Denali Highway  Alaska  July, 1999

Glacier National Park


I love cities, I love mountains, I love the ocean. Oceans and mountains, running water, green forests…all necessary to restore my soul.

Maps are out, research has begun…where to go? Wanderlust…I’ve got a bad case of it!