Where We Went This Year! (22,000 miles of driving!)

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Last week in San Francisco - Driving to Seattle

Apologies for the delay in posting, gentle readers. You may attribute it to the following:

1) Packing a corporate apartment full of six weeks' worth of accumulated unpacking,
2) Placing same apartment's worth of belongings into a car still left out in Berkeley,
3) Fifteen hours and 800 miles of driving or stopping/eating/relieving/dog walking between San Francisco & Seattle,
4) A remarkable amount of lethargy which, after said packing, loading, and driving, can have a cumulative effect when combined with the following,
5) Seattle weather, mid-Fall, full rain and gray matter until just yesterday.

Our last couple weeks in San Francisco were great. We sampled some more of the local cuisine, and we entertained yet more family, as Angie's brother Brian and his wife Tammy came into town - Brian once again sponging off the largesse of FedEx to 'dead-head' his way to our little corner of the world. Lest you be mistaken, Brian was not donning tie-dye and driving a VW bus to follow a favorite band, but instead exercising his right as a FedEx pilot to catch a free ride, making or a much cheaper trip to wine country for him and Tammy, who apparently brought a small vineyard back with them. They met us after a show one Sunday night and the four of us had a late dinner at Rue St. Jacques. Brian practiced his French, confident that one day he will in fact have use for the Rosetta Stone CD's he bought & assiduously studied, while Tammy and Angie charmed our host & the owner, a significantly tattooed Frenchman a good playlist on his iPod who cheerfully let us stay long after they had shut their doors...

My cousin Lisa brought Alyssa again and also her mom Nancy, this time. Afterwards we all went out to The Hidden Vine for a drink (where we also met Henry Stram, Kate Fuglei, and Ben Lively from our show). it was nice to finally meet Nancy, and I happened to have my computer with me, so I spent the evening showing Nancy, Alyssa, and Lisa photos of family gatherings from the East Coast branch.

And the final week, the adults all went out to Berkeley for dinner at Chez Panisse, which I knew nothing about but which Henry and Kate were all excited about because of it being Alice Waters' restaurant (who, apparently among cognoscenti, is well-regarded for her insistence on using locally-grown food, on working with farmers use ecologically-sustainable farming techniques, and yadda yadda kinda stuff). I will say, for the record, it was durn tasty. Pretty reasonably priced too. And nestled as it is in lotus-eating Berkeley (or as Peter Foley calls it, Berzerk-ly), it was a very whole-grain-goodness evening through and through.

Now I know what you're thinking - that all we did while we were in San Francisco was eat out. But the reality is I just learned how to paste links in this blog and the restaurants are most of the things that have websites, so it's just easier to write about them. I mean, we did make sure to take advantage of what the city had to offer, but we made good use of our kitchen back at the apartment, don't worry Mom.

The last week in San Francisco passed a bit like a blur, and when the weekend came, neither Angie nor I was remarkably inspired to do a very good job of packing. But we got the stuff in the car well enough, and after the matinee on Sunday (there was no evening show), we headed North to Seattle. We got about four hours of road behind us by the time we decided to pull off for the night. Thanks to the GPS, we just looked up the hotels immediately on the way, and ended up at the Cave Springs Motel, a very cool, old-timey, black-and-white-memory-inspiring kind of roadside hotel nestled a couple miles off the I-5 in Dunsmuir, CA and in the shadow of Mount Shasta, as we discovered the following morning (and as we had suspected that night, looking out into the black sky and trying to discern whether the white fluff on the horizon was clouds or snowfall - turned out to be the latter).

Cave Springs has been in the family for generations, having started around something like 1929. The current owner/manager (yes, his actual name is Louis Dewey) is a former dancer, having trod Hollywood and Vegas stages before returning to the very place he grew up, as the scion of the former owners of Cave Springs. The whole story is on the website, and if you like - after reading this tome - you can read that one as well.

Very simple rooms, but well-taken care of. High ceiling, king-sized bed, railroad-style motel straight out of "The Grifters," but with a 1970's Holiday-Inn-cum-hunting-lodge panache. And directly adjacent to a beautiful state park, with a prototypical babbling brook, replete with plaques placed in honor of all the fly-fishers who harvested the waters there in days gone by. In fact, the whole little area is well-aware of all its history, not for any particular selling point but just because, one gets the sense, that it's a community that's small enough to have its history written nearly completely, and just large enough to have people there still who care.

We took Butley on a great walk that morning, and we got the photos to prove it.

Then we headed on. Monday was the big day of driving. Eight hours of driving, probably. Stopped in Ashland, OR for lunch. Somewhere you would have thought would have been dog-friendly enough to let you bring your dog into the patio seating area of a restaurant. But no, Ashland has a city-wide ban on dogs at any eating establishment. So we got salads at a groovynuttyhomegrown shoppe and ate in the park. Butley, as always, made fans out of every simple passer-by.

And once in Seattle, we unloaded into our hotel room at the Quality Inn - which we've re-named the "Squalidly Inn". In a nutshell: two double beds, NO drawers (that weren't immediately in front of a bed and rendered inoperable), one miserable little window overlooking the highway, a bathroom that looked like it had been recaulked a few too many times, no tub, no fridge, no microwave, and no room to move around.

Tired as we were, we just said the hell with it and crashed. The next day, though, we made sure to find another room. We went to the front desk & explained our situation to the goth-chick attendant. "Oh, yeah, the pet rooms suck," she said plainly and empathetically. When we told her just which pet room we were in, she empathized still further. "Oh yeah, that room REALLY sucks." Long story short, under cover of a late-night hour and a manager's distraction, she upgraded us from a room that was miserable to one that is simply decent, but it felt like first class to us after where we'd come from and we've enjoyed its legroom, its bath tub, its view of the Space Needle, and its desk (o ye luxury of luxuries).

So, here we are, in the Emerald City, the Sleepless City, the home of grunge music, caffeine as a food group, and flannel as formal wear. Stay tuned for our misadventures in this town next week, gentle readers.

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