Western Road Trip – Day One

It’s that time of the year, again! The Annual Autumnal Road Trip Spectacular Extravaganza and Fish Fry! Though this year, sadly, just like the last several years, cholesterol levels have resulted in the cancellation of the piscatorial frying part of the Extravaganza. For this year’s version of the vaunted road trip or as the French call it Le Road Trip, we planned on going a little farther afield then in years past. Ostensibly we’d start in Colorado Springs, but then we’d immediately fly to San Francisco. From there we planned on a couple of days in Napa, swilling vino. Sorry, conducting sophisticated wine tastings. Then off to Yosemite National Park for some semi-rustic outdoor nature communing. Then a couple of days, that will seem like years, among the people who invented self actualization, some thousand or so years after the Buddhists, in Big Sur.

We arrived in SF early in the morning, giving us plenty of time for the oh, so inevitable breakdown of Skytrain (When You Absolutely, Positively Don’t Need To Get There In Time), the terminal monorail system. Eventually we acquired our rental car and proceeded downtown, the radio tuned to some jazzy classics, cause that’s how you roll in San Francisco.

It being a weekend, Mary had decided on a visit to the Ferry Building, which was hosting a farmer’s market. I firmly believe that Mary would sooner forgo tea with the Queen than pass up an opportunity to browse a farmer’s market, or any kind of market, for that matter. So we spent a couple of hours ogling stuff we never see here in the mountain fastnesses of Colorado. Like fresh oysters – why don’t we have more market stands selling raw oysters here?

A quick jaunt across the Bay Bridge and bam! There we were in Berkeley. I’ve never actually spent any time whatsoever in Berkeley so I approached it like visiting a exotic foreign city for the first time. I made sure all of our vaccinations were up to date, put all of our cash and valuables in my shoe, and brushed up on useful phrases like “Please don’t serve me mung bean sprouts” and “Where is the American consul?” Berkeley was instructional.  First, there are far fewer hippies than I’d been led to expect. That was a little disappointing. Second, there are lots and lots of Indian restaurants in Berkeley. From now on, whenever I wonder why we don’t have any (or at least enough) Indian places here in the Springs, I’ll know it’s because Berkeley is Bogarting them all, those damn dirty hippies.

But we weren’t in Berkeley just for the hippie spotting. We planned to visit with Mary’s old college chum, Kris and have a spot of lunch. Kris’ initial suggestion for a true gustatory experience as can only be experienced in Berkeley was a restaurant that offered 100% vegan food, untainted by any corporate consumerist tendencies and progressive enough to make one doubt their masculinity, or femininity for that matter, because after all, isn’t gender nothing more than a brittle façade that we adopt to blend into white male dominated patriarchal society? Mary wisely vetoed that idea, as I have a pretty deep seated aversion to food that’s good for me, at least while I’m on vacation. Instead, Kris scored some late lunch reservations at Chez Panisse. Well, Chez Panisse Café, which is pretty much the same thing, only upstairs and lunchy, since Chez Panisse downstairs is only open for dinner. It was quite good and well worth a visit if you happen to be in the area, and you can manage to withstand the siren call of all those Indian restaurants.

After lunch, it was a relatively short drive up to Napa and soon we were settled into our hotel, the Carneros Inn. Nice setup – the rooms are all actually sort of a cabin or a cottage affair. So privacy abounds, which is pretty cool cause if you had a hankering you could take your morning or evening shower outside on the private deck area. Why this is appealing to anyone is a mystery, but if it grabs your boat then by all means, give the Google spy satellites a thrill.

Our first day on the road concluded with dinner at an old favorite restaurant, old favorite meaning a place we’d visited once before, Bistro Jeanty. Since this was the second visit, Jeanty will now be upgraded to a ‘beloved old favorite’. As Mary remarked Bistro Jeanty is totally my kind of thing since it’s a restaurant that specializes in bistro food, with bistro ambiance and only costing bistro prices. A bonus is that I don’t have to haul out a calculator to figure out if the exchange rate for Euros is such that my meal had cost the equivalent of the price of a mid-size sedan. Bliss.




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