Monday, February 27, 2006

Lucinda Williams - Feb 25.

The crescendo of our trip is hard to determine. It was such a great time seeing "J", S&S, bicycling all over the Bay Area, hanging out in the Noe Valley and Mission District. The timing of our trip was determined by a Lucinda Williams concert. I bought the tickets in November and then looked for accommodations and flights. This would be the sixth time that we saw Lucinda, and the second time that we left town to do it. The other time being a road trip to Kansas City, MO. I suppose that we could easily be accused of being stalkers.

The show was at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Oakland. Its a fabulous venue that is located within a half-block of the 19th Street BART station.

Lucinda and her band opened for George Jones, the country legend. Her set included: Fruits of my Labor, Reason to Cry, Overtime, Pineola, Well-well-well, I lost it, Tears of Joy, Jail House Blues, Joy, Get right with God and a great rendition of Ode to Billie Joe (the Bobby Gentry tune from the 60's). Given that the she was opening for George Jones, the set was a bit subdued from other Lucinda gigs that we've been to. The band was tight (as usual) and Lucinda's voice was probably the best of any time that we heard her perform.

The George Jones Show featured an abundance of self promotion between sets. There was a promotional video playing repeatedly on a large screen and there were people walking through the crowd selling CDs for $10. If you were a card-carrying George Jones fan club member, we got to meet George back stage before his set. We both found this a bit odd, although I have a lot of respect for George Jones and his legacy.

The George Jones Band came on. The first three songs were done without George, sort of a warm up. We were advised that George was having a throat issue, but would be out soon to do his best. George Jones graced the stage a few minutes later. He did have bronchitis and really struggled to make a go of it. I felt bad for him, and he genuinely felt bad that he wasn't 100%, and he said so ("...I swear that I'll make this up to you someday..."). We left after 4 or 5 songs. We were tired and it was getting tough to watch George struggle. I left telling myself that he is a gamer, so to speak. Plays hurt and did the best he could. What else can you ask from anyone in any position?

San Francisco - Feb 25

After another trip to Martha and Son's for espresso, we went to Herb's for breakfast. It was the only place that was open at 7:15AM on Saturday. Herb's is an independent neighborhood place that filled with Noe Valley denizens very quickly. The owner knew most of the patrons by name.

After breakfast we took BART to Orinda and did a ride through Moraga and over the hill to the Rockridge BART Station. We rode through Canyon and up Pinehurst Road. We must have encountered about 100 bicyclists in the short time that we were out. This first photo is taken on Canyon Road. The first two riders are S & S.

Here is another photo (below) from the same ride. While riding, I pointed the camera backwards and hit the shutter button, resulting in a cool photo of Kay and S behind her.

Finally - this photo (below)is from the top of the hill on Pinehurst. Mt. Diablo is back there through the haze.

We continued down the hill to the Rockridge BART station and bid farwell to S & S. Got back to the City, pedaled around the embaradero and returned the bikes. We ended up riding 25 miles today.

San Francisco - Feb 24

Today we would out the bikes on Bart and ride to Oriinda to meet my cousin "S" and her husband "S" (S&S, I guess). We rode from the B&B to a couiple of Independent Bike shops. First was Pedal Revolution on 21st Street and Shotwell. The next was Road Rage Cycles on Folsom near 7th, where we bought a couple of T-shirts, but them in the Bailey Works bag and pedaled to the Embarcadero Bart station. The SF Bike lanes are great. Despite a lot of auto traffic I never felt threatened on a bike. We rode the Mission and SOMA districts.

We did a 40-mile ride with S&S, including some of the same roads that Tour of California had taken just 2 days prior. Here are S, S and K in Orinda.

We did roads like Bear Creek Road, Alhambra Velley Road and Castro Ranch Road. Some of these roads make up a ride known by local roadies as the Three Bears, for the size of the three hills. We also rode to Moraga and Lafayette. This photo is typical of the roads that we encountered today.

We ended up riding 44 miles today. We left the bikes in Orinda because we'd return for a Saturday morning ride.

Dinner was in Orinda at an Italian place, though I can't recall the name. The pasta was good, nice place for dinner.

San Francisco - Feb 23

Morning coffee was a Martha and Son's, an indpendent coffee shop on 24th street. The espresso there is fabulous, and I think they use the ristretto method of preparing espresso. After our espresso, we went to Bay City Bikes by way of the J-Church and the F retro train. I had reserved a couple of road bikes for Thursday through Saturday. The bikes were Giant OCR-2 with a 9-speed Shimano Tiagra grouppo. I wouldn't want to buy this set up but it was a fine rental for us.

From the shop (in the Warf area) we rode over the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin, with our goal being to ride to Mt. Tamalpais. I had downloaded a cue sheet from the Grizzly Peak Cyclists website and I had the Marin Map that I purchased the day before, so there were no excuses. The weather was perfect... sunny with temps in the mid-60s. "Mt. Tam" is shown in this picture.

We rode through Mill Valley and then headed up hill on residential, single-lane streets like Cascade, Marion, Sequoia Valley and Edgewood. This was a typical Marin neighborhood with redwood trees, nice homes, nice cars and mud slides. After reaching Mt. Tamalpais park, we rode up Pan Toll Road and down the other side on Fairfax Bolinas Road.

We took the Ferry from Sausalito back to the Ferry Building in San Francisco. From there we rode Harrison and Valencia back to the B&B. It was an epic riode, 56 miles in all.

Dinner was at the Sushi Boat, 389 Geary. The Sushi was great, just as we remembered it. Of course no trip to downtown San Francisco is complete without seeing some guy urinating in public. We were witness to that on the walk back to the Powell Muni station.


We are off to San Francisco for a 5-day weekend and some riding. We decided to avoid booking on Northwest Airlines, due to the odds of a travel disruption due to any one of a number of reasons. We chose to fly America West through Phoenix. We took the bus to light rail and we were at the airport in about 20 minutes.

Upon arriving we learned that our flight was delayed due to a blown tire. America West had one spare but FAA rules require that they have another spare under these circumstances. America West had asked Northwest if they could provide a spare, but they were giving America West the run-around, in typical Minnesota passive-aggressive fashion. Net-net.... America West put us on a MSP-SFO non-stop flight. Cool.

After being randomly chosen for additional security, we were on our way. Upon arrival we took BART from the SFO airport to the 24th Street station, then the 48 bus up 24th Street to our B&B. The Dolores Place B&B is where we would spend the next 5 days and 4 nights. Its a great place in the Noe Valley, which is far more low-key than other touristy neighborhoods, yet offers a number of shops, coffee and restaurants. Our room is sort of like a studio apartment and is very comfortable. (Next time it will be BART to Balboa Park and then the J Church to the room). The first picture is 25th street, where the B&B is located.

Lunch was at Savor... very good. We returned two more times during our stay. We continued our walk, and I bought a Marin County Bike map at the Bike shop on 24th Street, and then walked over the hill to the Castro to check out the old 'hood. The second picture looks at Noe Valley from Castro Street.

After freshening up at the room we headed over to Valencia Street. Valencia has changed for the better since we left the Bay Area in '93. For starters, there is a bike lane in each direction and the street seems to be the epicenter for a vibrant bike culture. There are more restaurants, shops and coffee houses, and the area seems more inviting than when we lived there. We went to Freewheel Bike where I bought a pair of Chrome (brand) Pants. They are much like the Hankster from Hypnotic, which they also had in stock but not in my size. We met our friend "J" for dinner at the Herbivore, a vegetarian restaurant that we will return to. We hadn't seen "J" in a number of years and it was great to catch up.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Someone Had to Get Screwed

We drove through KCMO on the way back from Texas last week. That means that there is a mandatory stop for espresso beans from Broadway Coffee. If anyone has better espresso than Broadway Coffee, I will immediately purchase 5 lbs no questions asked.

When we arrived at the roastery they were about to close. The roaster employee was pretty geeked about some bald-headed dude and his wife from Minneapolis buying 8 lbs to haul back and redistribute, and he was happy to hang on for a few extra minutes to serve us, which we appreciated.

Problem is.... I asked for 8 lbs... and I know he filled 8 lbs... but somehow we left with just 7 lbs. It must have been the combination of excitement and the desire to close up shop. No worries, things happen, don't sweat the small stuff. No going back 'cause they were closed when we discovered this, and our motto is FORWARD anyway.

Now the real problem: Someone has to get screwed. So - who?

- Kay and I? No way. I need two lbs and could even down a third lb before the beans went bad. Besides, I'm getting the stuff.

- DM? No. He gets me shit at work and I promised him 2 lbs.

- SL? uh-uh. He's given me lbs of his own roast in the past and I don't want to get on his shit list.

- Moose? Screw the Moose? Yes - screw the Moose. Fucker isn't going to pay me anyway, I have to pay to ship it, and I also threw a Wheatridge Cyclery hat in the box.

The moral of the story: When in doubt - screw the Moose!