Wednesday, May 28, 2008

1 West Coast

We have enjoyed our recent trips to the left coast so much that we decided to plan an action-packed Memorial Day getaway out west. Accompanying us for the trip was Patrick's brother, Riley "Carl" Foster, for his first visit out west since the time he prowled Disneyland in a stroller. Much to the delight of the brothers they were able to catch all of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals en route thanks to Jet Blue's 34 channel's of Direct TV (yes we are a walking Jet Blue ad). Much to their dismay however, the Celts lost their first home game of the playoffs. Upon arrival at the Days Hotel in Oakland late that night we were checked in by a large man wearing a sky blue Days Inn polo, suspenders, and a mickey mouse timepiece around his neck. A more welcoming sight I cannot imagine.

The next morning we took a stroll along the highway to get to the Oakland BART station. We obviously looked a bit lost upon walking in to the station as we were immediately approached by a friendly Oaklander looking to help. He asked where we were going, showed us exactly how much fare we needed, and helped us purchase our tickets. As we very gratefully thanked him, he pointed to a destination where he was going, and showed us exactly how much he needed to get there. While it was clear he wasn't going anywhere, we very happily provided him the fare. Our conclusion: the beggars in Boston have much to learn from their helpful West Coast counterparts.

We rode the BART to the Mission District, San Francisco's Latin Quarter, to begin our day of exploring the city. The streets of the Mission District are colorful, lined with fabulous murals, cafes, and markets displaying fresh produce. Dolores Park, a sprawling greenspace located in the heart of the Mission District, provided fantastic views of the city skyline. After a few hours of wandering around we refueled with a strawberry soda from a local shop and hopped a bus to the other side of town. No first trip to San Francisco would be complete without a visit to Lombard Street and that was our next stop. This is the crookedest street in the world--tourists' cars line up to take a turn to wind their way down the hill, dodging people who jump into the street to take pictures (like us).

It has long been a Bergmann family tradition to visit Ghiradelli Square when in San Francisco. The chocolate shop offers free samples as well as every flavor, shape and gift basket they make. The adjoining ice cream parlor makes phenomenal sundaes, including a gigantic creation called "The Earthquake". The 10-scoop, fully-loaded treat taunted us, and we decided to take on the
challenge. The first bite was delicious, but as we worked our way through the task grew more arduous, the process messier. Eighteen minutes later, we finally took the last bite. Victory! As Riley and Katrina hobbled outside holding their stomachs, Patrick boldly declared that he was hungry, and the two looked on as Patrick downed an In-N-Out burger and fries. Once Patrick finished stuffing his face, we walked along Fisherman's Wharf to work off our mid-afternoon gluttony. We passed by street artists, musicians, and the infamous Bushman who jumps from his leafy disguise to scare tourists for tips. When comparing notes with Bay Area natives later we found out that this guy has been working the Wharf for years.

We returned to the Days Hotel in Oakland to get ready for that night's Sox-A's game at McAfee Coliseum. To prepare for the game we decided to indulge ourselves with some of the prominent local fare- Jack in the Box and 40's of Budweiser. After many ounces of Bud we were ready to be loud, rowdy, and represent. Unfortunately the Sox weren't quite as prepared and fell to the local nine 8-3. After the game the suddenly cocky hometown fans decided to verbally berate our red and blue clad crew. Patrick was more than up to the task and the walk back to our hotel was heated to say the least.

Before anyone came looking for the loud Sox fan in the number 24 shirt, we got out of town the next morning. We swung back by the airport to pick up our rental car for the day, Black Beauty, and set off northward for Seattle. The first few hours of the trip were rainy and quiet as people caught up on sleep but all were quickly roused by the promise of a visit to the northernmost In-N-Out burger in Redding. The next leg of the drive was truly scenic with vistas ranging from Mt. Shasta in northern California to the rolling, fir tree speckled terrain of Oregon. We were able to squeeze in a short visit to Portland, Oregon and were impressed by the green downtown and the local Thai food. That Saturday was a busy one as in the span of 5 minutes we came across two weddings and a prom (obvious Hugh Grant joke omitted here). The last miles of our day long drive were highlighted by a Celtics victory over Detroit with an assist from XM radio and a stunning setting sun to the west. After a 3 minute stand off between Patrick and traffic spikes at the entrance to the Rental Car Return, we finally reached our 10PM on the dot which was Black Beauty's curfew that Saturday night.

It was early to bed that night and late to rise the next morning as we continued our adjustment to PDT. Once the crew, now including Katrina's family, was assembled we set off for Tiger Mountain for a hike in the Washington woods. Tiger Mountain is well-known as a take off point for local paragliders and we were treated to quite the aerial show at both the top and base of the mountain.
Dinner that evening was at the heralded (at least by us) La Cocina y Cantina in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Seattle. There are two musts when you visit La Cocina, the massive La Cocina Burrito and an equally massive Margarita. Impressively, more burritos were finished than not, a rare feat that will undoubtedly live in lore for decades if not centuries to come. Jump-started by the aforementioned margaritas a night of game playing and imbibing ensued that lingered into the morning hours.

The next morning we slept in even later, but determined not to let our next to last day slip away. We rallied and headed to Pike Place Market, Seattle's famous destination for all things commerce (and tourist). There we scoured the sizeable selection of scaly seafood, contributed to the impressive yet disgusting gum wall, and received a singing fortune from Elvis. Next we skipped crosstown to the International District for a delicious dinner at Shangai Garden featuring Katrina's favorite--hand shaven green barley noodles.

From the the International District, Safeco Field is a short walk. Another baseball game you ask? You know it! The Olde Towne Team was facing off against the Mariners and this time the outcome (and ballpark) was much more to our liking. Thankfully following the 5-3 victory the post-game shouting matches were limited to deciding who was going to sit on who's lap as the six of us wedged into a Honda Civic. The loser was Katrina.

The majority of the final day of our trip was spent at the Museum of Flight housed at Seattle's captain of industry's Boeing Field. To say this museum is a must-visit is an under statement. Think Air and Space Museum times ten. We first toured a British Airways Concorde and then an Air Force One that made many historic flights and was in use from the Eisenhower to Clinton administrations. Other highlights included an entire wing on World War I and II history, an exhibit on flight attendants featuring the risque past of airline advertising, and enough interactive simulators to occupy Patrick for hours. The 4 hours we spent there was not nearly enough and we will probably go back to see what we missed the first time.

We were sent off in style that night with a gourmet home BBQ. Armed with a belly full of food to fight off hunger and induce sleep, we boarded our red-eye flight back to Boston. Though we once again had the luxury of our Direct TV there really isn't much on at 3AM. We aren't ashamed to say that a mini marathon of "The X Effect" did help pass the time. Morning greeted us at Logan and we bid goodbye to Riley as we hopped the T for work. Vacation days are a precious commodity and we certainly weren't going to waste one sleeping.

1 comment:

  1. We did a similar trip for DC to San Fran and drove up to Portland. It was just Great fun. This brings back great memories!

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