Thursday, July 13, 2006

the left coast

so i finally made it out to the west coast—passing my previous westernmost point, durango, colorado, where i spent a summer cleaning rooms in a 2-bit hotel and learning to play pinball while stephen went for the world record in consecutive days spent taking bong hits and playing sega hockey; ah, youth—and it confirmed what i already knew to be true: i am an new york girl through and through.

don't get me wrong, we had an absolutely, perfectly, wouldn't-change-barely-a-thing kick-ass time. and the land (and sea) is gorgeous out there, often breathtakingly so. but here's the thing: i remember once, back when i worked in an office, looking out the window of said office with my co-worker mike. the view was of a section of lower manhattan—rooftops, etc—and the brooklyn bridge in the distance, and i commented on how beautiful it was. mike replied that he didn't think so at all, that he'd much rather look out the window and see mountains and trees. so i asked him why, then, he didn't live somewhere where there were more trees and maybe some mountains, and he shrugged and said "you'd really rather see this than mountains, trees, maybe a river?", and i replied, with no hesitation, "yes."

for the first few days of our trip, we took driving tours of san francisco every afternoon while wile napped—at $3/gallon, the most expensive naps ever, but great because we really got to get to see and know the city. (i, the most directionally challenged human on the planet, even got my bearings and was able to tell stephen that we were heading west when he thought we were heading north! amazing!) and after three days of driving around and about and through, my reaction was a firm "meh?". i didn't get it. i got that the location of the city is amazing—drive 10 minutes out of new york over the george washington bridge and you're in some crappy jersey suburb; drive 10 minutes out of san francisco over the golden gate bridge and you're at a secluded little beach cove with a redwood forest behind you. i also got that half (more than half?) of the city has been taken out by the big earthquakes, so a lot of the old buildings, the old old buildings that are what i love about new york, that are what give a city it's character, are gone. and i also get that somewhere in a city in europe, someone is laughing at me for calling buildings in new york old old, so i'm going to shut up now. my point is this: i liked san francisco—especially the food (which will get its own post), and especially when we came back in to town for a few more days at the end of our trip and i saw the wonderful wood-frame houses that perch on russian hill and the cool shops in the mission and north beach—and i loved some the other parts of cali that we checked out: the mountains and beaches in marin county, berkeley (i am, after all, of hippie/anti-establishment descent), santa cruz. but i loved them as places to visit. and i was happy to come home to my city.

yeah yeah, you say, enough about you—what did wile think? wile had such a fantastic time, it makes me really sad to think that he's too young to be able to remember it except through pictures (or possibly hypnosis). so, without further ado:

wile's california top ten:

10. his first gay pride parade

we were on our way to the ferry building to check out the sunday farmer's market (what, you don't go to farmer's markets on your vacations?) when we realized that the parade, which we thought had been the day before, was happening at that very moment. and much to wile's delight, we came out on to the parade route just in time for....

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dykes on bikes! wile was enthralled. mow-ah (motorcyles) and plenty of ba-boo flying around, what more could you ask for?

9. big bah-bah

when we were in half moon bay visiting with the wrubels, friends of stephen's parents, we took a walk down to the beach by their house and came upon a fully operational construction site: two big backhoes (bah-bahs), a bulldozer, and a couple of dump trucks were working to replace a sea wall. sadly, i have no pictures.

8. 826 valencia

did you know that dave eggers has a pirate store in the mission district in san francisco? well, now you do. and if you're under 12 and you draw them a picture, you get to do this:

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you get to keep one piece of treasure. i bet most people, however, don't bring their own shovels....

7. bay-beees

wile likes to tell me now that he's a big boy. this fact was confirmed when he met, and "held", a couple of babies.

noah:

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and charlie:

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in comparison, it is indeed easy to see that wile is no longer a bay-bee. unless he wants to be.

6. bow-die and vih-shee

our friend bradly has a very large black lab named bowie. when we were in college and bowie was in nis un-neutered prime, i wouldn't have let him in the same room as my child, god forbid i had had one at 21. but now bowie is 10 years older and has mellowed out, and was the perfect friend for wile.

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wile lurved bowie. we stayed with bradly two nights, and wile spent the whole time we were there talking about bowie or playing with bowie or taking bowie out in the yard or talking about bowie pooping in the backyard or bringing bowie his toys to play with.... at one point i was in the kitchen making some bunny pasta when i heard from the living room wile yell "hoe-shee!"

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good dog, bowie. good dog....

and our friends kevin and jill have a beautiful lady kitty (or, as wile would say, "maow") named vixie, who wile also tried to befriend, but with slightly less success:

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thankfully, jill was able to step in and mediate a bit:

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in fact, i think that part of wile's fascination with vixie had to do with his fairly obvious crush on jill....

5. steam train

as we were driving through tilden park, up in the hills of berkeley, we saw signs that read "steam trains", with an arrow. so we followed the arrow. and we found a miniature little "station", with minitaure little tracks, on which ran an authentic steam engine, only in .25 scale. it pulled three open cars filled with benches, and for $2 each—and wile was free!—we caught the last ride of the day, out into the woods, through tunnels, over little bridges, past magnificent views of the valley and town below.

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before we left for this trip, i spent hours on line researching things to do in the bay area with kids. i did not read the words "awesome steam trains" anywhere. get on this, tourism people.

4. and more trains

technically, cable cars. but wile called them trains, and who am i to argue?

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3. o-shee!

wile has been to the beach before, but not since he could walk. or, more importantly, run. as in, run straight into the rip tide. we first took him to ocean beach, on the west (duh) end of san fran at the end of golden gate park. he put his little toes into the damp sand and stood there for a minute, i could see him thinking "this is either awful, or the best thing ever...." then he took a tentative step forward. then he looked over his shoulder at us, grinned, and turned and ran straight for the waves. so, yeah, i guess we don't have to spend money on those baby swimming lesons to make sure he's "comfortable in the water".....

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so after that we hit a beach as often as we could, in mill valley...

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half moon bay...

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and santa cruz, where it was too cold to go in the water but still fine weather for digging:

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2. sea lions

when we were talking about what we wanted to do in san fran, before we left, i told stephen that i wanted to take wile to see the sea lions that lived on the coast. i'm pretty sure he thought that maybe i was making this up. but they're there! you have to go through hell (aka fisherman's wharf, a mall-ified series of blocks filled with overpriced crab "shacks", tchotchka stands, and crabby families toting around large cameras) to get to them, but the speechless joy that overcame wile when he saw them was worth it.

on the way to the wharf wile was getting a little impatient, so stephen kept telling him about how we were going to see the sea lions, which wile calls "auh-auh" (as in the noise that they make. obviously. and accompanied with a hand (fin) clap). part of stephen's patter was as follows: "and they're called sea lions, right? lions? and lions are big kitties, right? so sea lions are kind of like the kitties of the sea...." after which wile was silent for a few minutes, then turned to stephen and said "maow auh-auh?". and so they have been called ever since.

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(i know, not the greatest picture. the maow auh-auh are those blobs on the docks.)

1. drums!

the most important reason for our trip out west, besides to see friends and for me to get my first taste of california, was for kayce and grace's wedding. it was an early-evening wedding, so wile skipped the sitter, put on a party shirt, and came along. he had a fantastic time. some highlights included giving his personal benediction to the happy couple...

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listening to kevin and nate whenthey told him, "put rocks in your hair!"...

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and the ultimate highlight of the wedding, and of the entire trip...

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...joining the band.

5 comments:

mad said...

Damn if that kid's not the cutest thing ever!! He just makes my stomach do little butterfly flips when I see him. And of course he has a crush on jill - who doesn't?

mad said...

damn if that kid isn't the cutest thing ever. he makes my stomach do butterfly flips every time i see him. and of course he has a crush on jill, who doesn't?!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

bong hits and sega hockey? they told me he was working really hard at some job. feh.

hey mama said...

woo! i just caught my breath from laughing...... "job".... hee! hee hee hee! really, stop, that's too funny......