Monday, March 26, 2007

Spring in San Francisco is here and we're celebrating the begining of the season with the most drab weather we've had in months. The fog is laying very low and wet in the Richmond District it not rain but a thick wet mist that slowly soaks your cloths and chills your bones.

But we need the rain-mist and the weather didn't detour a walk on Saturday. I started at Inspiration Point, which is a vista point for viewing Alcatraz Island and the San Francisco Bay, just inside the Arguello Blvd. Gate in the Presidio and walked the Ecology trail. Short, 2 miles and family friendly all ages can enjoy the hike. Within minutes you have escaped the city and are strolling by a red wood forest.

Afterward I headed south-west past the Presidio golf course course to Mountain Lake. Nicely landscape and quietly pretty even on the most foggest of days. Mountain Lake feels like a neighborhood park but is part of the Golden Gate National Park Recreational Area. The park has a children playground, lake seating and a fitness trail (which needs some TCL). Finding the park can be a little tricky one entrance is at Park Presidio Blvd. and Lake (North East Corner).

In the spirit on drab weather I escaped into a double feature of two 2006 Oscar contenders, a British filmfest The queen and Notes on a Scandal. I have to admit doing double features is pretty challenging I usually only partake in one or two annually. But when you watch films that catch your fancy then back to back films can be a pleasure.

The first movie was The Queen a film main appeal for me was to see the performance by Oscar winner Helen Mirren. Her performance is excellent, if you have any interest in the British royal family and/or their response to Princess Diana Death in 1997 you may find the film fascinating. Also, if you enjoy films for good performances you'll find plenty in this film. If you needs lots of explosions to enjoy a movie this one may not be for you.

Notes on a Scandal seems to be a movie either people love or hate. I really enjoyed the movie Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett both gave great performances. Judi Dench was really fightening but both women were scary in their own ways. The film is about how bad choices can escalate and destory lives. So beware, those of you who live only for today. A bad decision today may affect you beyond the end of this movie. This is definitely an adult film with adult themes if that's your cup of tea enjoy!


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Each year I try for at least one weekend skiing. My annual trek is to Yosemite National Park where I can avert the crowds and ski in a mellow environment. Traditionally, it's an adult trip but times are a changing. This year we had a car full of kids and visiting Yosemite will never be the same.

For those who don't know, the ski season was a bust in California. Unlike the East Coast, where we heard news reports about snowstorms weekly, California’s rainfall is below level and this means poor ski conditions. Last weekend when we arrived in Yosemite it felt and looked like spring. Driving into the North Gate of Yosemite on Hwy 120 nary a flake of snow or clump of ice was found. At Crane Flats there was some snow/ice but the conditioning didn't look too inviting for skiing.

We stayed on the valley floor at Camp Curry (pic on left) in the Stoneman Lodge. The Lodge is a collection of simple rooms located near shuttle / bus stops, the outdoor ice-skating rink, and a few concessionaires. It's a good location for those with little children. The rooms are pleasant, TV free and clean but a little pricey, the best deal is to reserve the loft room. With an upstairs bedroom it gives the kids a place a play in the evening and a hiding place for an adult looking peace when the action is downstairs

Saturday, we took the bus to Badger Pass where Yosemite’s skiing facilities are located. The bus is a service that is provided from the valley floor free or charge; it’s very comfortable and convenience especially when snow chains are required for driving the parks roads.

We played with the kids in weather that deserved shorts rather than ski gear.At Badger Pass you can’t bring your own tube in their designated tubing area and you pay hourly for tubing, they provide the gear. There was plenty of snow for down hillers and tubing but the crowds were sparse as the snow was old. While not hanging out with the kids I relaxed at one of the several picnic tables available for Badger Pass guest at the lodge. Protecting our snacks, listening to a musician and watching the down hillers kicking back was sweet.

After tubing and snow play we ventured back down to the valley floor and walked to Ansel Adams gallery for a children storytelling program and afterward to the lower Yosemite falls which looked majestic Saturday evening with blowing mist and water flowing with primal strength. It was a very pleasant day; my only complaint was the ice skating rink was closed, which was very disappointing. It only seems fair that the rink would stay open as long as Badger Pass is open for skiing especially considering the cost of lodging. Fortunately all the walking and snow play had worn out the kiddies but there was still disappointment.

Sunday, was another beautiful day, we hiked to Mirror Lake a good choice for small children and strollers. At the Lower-Pines Campground trail head we were greeted by a small herd of deer and other wildlife. It’s a three-mile round trip, very flat and the trail parallels the Merced River and provided some scenic spots with mini-waterfalls.

At the lower lake there is a beachhead that's perfect for picnics. The kids had a chance to play a bit in the water at a very scenic spot. We stayed at Yosemite until the evening and headed back the Bay Area. We’re planning next year trip and hoping for snow in the mountains and spring on the valley floor.


Monday, March 05, 2007

Two of my favorite authors, Jimmy Baca and Ntozake Shange writings were used to create the play, A Place to Stand currently showing at Intersection of the Arts. The play is part of Intersections Prison Project, which is a multi-disciplinary exploration of the California Prison System. The play combined their writings to speak of the prison experience from multiple voices. Prison within this play is also not always the physical space but also mental prisons are explored. I found the play exciting to watch and sophisticated: in it's development and presentation.

Afterward we literally ran to Mi Linda Peru a Peruvian restaurant in the Mission District, the restaurant closed at 10:00 and we left the theatre around 9:25. I had visited Mi Lindo Peru over a year ago and enjoyed the meal. This meal was not as successful. Maybe the problem was we arrive late, if so I wish they had sent us on our way. First my guest who spoke to the waiter is Spanish was told to hurry the order because they were closing soon. He also told him but not me in Spanish the restaurant was out of bread and a course offered nothing in replacement. We order Calamari which was dry and salty, tasted like Calamari you would expect at a cheapie happy hour. My friend feeling the waiter was rude didn't order an entree but didn't tell me until after we left; based on a recommendation from the waiter I ordered a seafood dish. The dish's portion looked smaller than the lunch portion I had previously which turn out to be fortunate because the dish gave me blurps the rest of the evening. I have a slight feeling the seafood was not very fresh, all I can say is gross, gross, gross.

We went to The Boom Boom Room , a bar in the Fillmore district which keeps a good mix of live music. At the Boom Boom the conversation was limited as old clams and other surprises from the sea kept reappearing from the deep. Mi Lindo Peru has become Mi Feo Peru.

The only thing I could do after that ugly experience was drink pear ciders and check my stomach for status reports. The ciders didn't help my breath but at least I was feeling better. The music was pretty good, the drinks were reasonably price and we were able to get a table. I wasn't complaining for more reasons than one.


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