...the Journal

The Guest
Refrigerator Door

The new magnets are from Jeri's refrigerator. Jeri's fridge has some unusual stuff attached to it.

This is a postcard from Spain, with supposedly each of the kings that the figures on a deck of cards were modeled after.

* Discussion *

If you have anything to discuss, go to this link. Feel free to start a new discussion on anything.


I'm a Stranger Here Myself

Bill Bryson

I enjoyed his Australia book so much, I decided to try the one about this country.


Battersea Park Road
to Enlightenment

(this is a book I picked up in London)


Peter Pan
(I was reviewing the production)

That's it for today!


16 June 2001

Iím polishing up the limo and dusting off the chauffeurís duds in preparation for giving The Grand Tour again tomorrow.

I love showing off San Francisco. My friend Martha has come into town with her husband, who is attending a librariansí convention. Martha has never been to San Francisco before and so I offered to show her around. She also has lung problems, so weíre going to do the tour from the car (her problems arenít serious--unless she wants to walk and breathe at the same time, when it can become an issue).

The Grand Tour has evolved over the years. During the time when we were hosting foreign students on a regular basis, The Grand Tour took place several times a year. Itís such a no-brainer way to keep guests entertained for a day while they are here visiting.

I generally start out by driving up Market Street to Twin Peaks. This is a great way to begin for several reasons. For one, Market Street is where you find all those rainbow flags flying and the huge rainbow flag at Market and Castro--and this is, I suspect, unique to San Francisco and not something youíre likely to encounter in Cincinnati. For Martha, a PFLAG mom, this will be an especially good way to begin. If the sun is out, itís such a beautiful ride.

And then up the hill to Twin Peaks, trying to keep conversation going to prevent the rider from getting a glimpse of the unfolding panorama of San Francisco off to the left. So much better if they see it for the first time from the top of Twin Peaks, the second tallest point in the city (Mt. Davidson wins the record of tallest point, but you canít drive to the top of that peak).

I always have a decision to make after we finish oohing and aahing over the view from Twin Peaks. We drive down the other side of the hill and we either turn right to meander slowly through the Haight-Ashbury District, or turn left to go through Golden Gate Park and on out to the Pacific Ocean.

Itís getting so the Haight-Ashbury is kind of a generational thing. For young people, it means nothing and itís like having to explain the punch line to a joke to tell them about flower children and the Hippie movement. "Oh," they say, trying to look interested. But it means nothing to them. Martha, however, is my generation, so it might mean more to her. The Haight-Ashbury has turned into hippie-wannabe, or faux flower children. You can buy incense and tie dye, and there are guys in long hair and bare feet wandering around with a vacant stare, but you can also buy postcards and tacky souvenirs and sip coffee at Starbucks. Somehow itís just not quite the same.

After the Haight-Ashbury, weíll drive through Golden Gate Park. At least on Saturday you can get to all of the park. On Sunday, the central section is closed off for bicyclists and skaters, so you canít see the outside of the DeYoung Museum, the Japanese Tea Garden or the science museum. You canít show your passenger the statue of John McLaren, who designed the park and hated statues. But you can drive past the Portals of the Past, a set of Ionic Columns set by a small pond. I was looking through a book about the 1906 Earthquake and Fire once and saw this set of columns, the only part of someoneís mansion that was left standing after the devastation caused by that catastrophic event.

Itís also fun to point out the rocks which line the roadway all through the park. My friend Will used to give guided tours of the city (for money) and told me that newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst once bought a European monastery, intending to move it to this country, presumably to his property at Hearst Castle. Anyway, the monastery was carefully disassembled, with all the blocks marked so that it could be reassembled once it was unloaded off the ship which was carrying it here. Only there was a shipwreck and what had started out as a Leggo Building Block set ended up as a pile of rubble, so the rocks were taken to the park and now line the roadway. Occasionally you come across a rock that actually looks like it used to be part of a monastery, but mostly they just look like weathered rocks.

Weíll drive along the ocean and watch the waves. I love any excuse to watch waves, and Martha is a wave watcher as well. Then weíll come back through the park, past the windmill that marks the Queen Wilhemina's garden, which in the spring is filled with tulips.

Iíll point out the paddock where there are bison grazing (which is a long way from the San Francisco zoo). And weíll head back into town, passing through civic center, with the new gold gilt dome on City Hall, and the symphony hall and opera house. Iíll even show her the theatre where The Last Session is going to be presented this fall.

Weíll drive up Van Ness Avenue, which used to be "the" place to buy cars. You can still buy a Mercedes or Cadillac from a showroom that looks more like a grand palace ballroom.

Next weíll pass by the Palace of Fine Arts, my favorite building in San Francisco. Itís left over from the Panama Pacific Exposition of 1915 and was the only building left standing after the fair was dismantled and the fill land used to build housing. (This is the part of the city which is most at risk in an earthquake, because the fill land is subject to liquefaction and it shakes the hell out of the buildings). The Palace was rebuilt several years ago, when it had begun to deteriorate. A bazillionaire named Walter Johnson paid for taking the building down to the ground and rebuilding it exactly as it had been, of permanent material. I have a piece of the original building (the face of one of the statues) in my living room, a piece which Gilbert picked up when they were taking the original building down.

Weíll drive under the Golden Gate bridge, to Fort Point, the last brick fort built in this country, just before the Civil War. When they were designing the bridge, they had to settle on a design which incorporated an arch over the fort, because it is an official national monument.

Weíll end the tour by driving over Lombard St. to the "twisty part," the "crookedest street in the world." All the tourists want to see Lombard St., but I add a different twist. Since it is just 3 blocks from where I grew up, we then drive by the place of my birth (a big hit for all my guests--Iím thinking of selling t-shirts and postcards), and then we circle around and drive down Filbert St. Most tourists miss this, but it is the steepest hill in a city of very steep hills and it never fails to take the visitorís breath away (come to think of it, with Marthaís lung problems, maybe this isnít such a good idea!)

I generally stay away from Fishermanís Wharf as too crowded and entirely too tacky (except for Pier 39, which I kind of like). But by the time we finish with Filbert St., it will be time to take Martha back to her hotel and drop her off. And then on Sunday, weíll hit all the parts we missed and drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County for lunch.

At least thatís the plan.

One Year Ago:
In the spotlight

Some pictures from this journal
can be found at
Club Photo

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Created 6/15/01 by Bev Sykes