After a Friday of packing and general running about, we found ourselves holding reveille at 0300 for a 0415 departure for the airport. Our destination being San Francisco; Baghdad by the Bay, Land o' Open Minded Gentle Liberals (Yes, I know. They aren't)
The first flight was pleasant enough, we made it to Dulles by 0730. We waited another hour and caught the non-stop to SFO. Being a "free" flight, we were jammed in steerage with our newest friends, spending five hours enjoying their general closeness and the wailing children.
Why would a loving parent bring little children on a plane? Is it to punish the rest of us for not making the choice of raising lovely, well behaved kiddies? Or is it that you feel obligated to share the love and beauty of two year olds? Either way it kept me aware of the moment. Each long moment.
Did any of you know that a two year old will wail at 130 decibels when their ears won't adjust to the altitude? Hmmm?
I could only smile in quiet knowledge that these nice parents get exactly what they deserve for keeping a child trapped on an airplane.
We arrived at 1215 Saturday morning, our luggage was promptly at the carousel with no wait. We crossed over to the rental car train and were at National by 1240. After fumbling around with the self check in machine, we found ourselves in a blue Chevy Equinox by 1255 and headed out to the Hwy 101, going South to the San Mateo Bridge.
I could not believe how efficient the good people at San Francisco International were, and how we might try to export some of that to Jacksonville International Airport.
With any good fortune one enjoys, it must be tempered with the knowledge that bad news is just down the street. We arrived at the Claremont Hotel by 1345, knowing that I had scheduled a 1300 Check In time via a phone call in the past week.
Our. Room. Was. Not. Ready. "My apologies." Sayeth the nice desk dude.
We went to the "Paragon" Restaurant for lunch, hoping room would be ready by three o'clock.
Checked in the room, which was sufficiently posh, especially after we had been charged $259.00 per night.
This is when we took the chance of a little afternoon kip, as we knew a full evening was planned. Naturally, the maintenance staff was busily trying to prepare our floor for guests. Yelling back and forth en Espanol, they worked feverishly in the passage way doing good works.
I know, because I was awake for the next two hours noting every joke and cheer given. Only a pendejo would be snoozing in the middle of the day, ¿Qué?
This was just like being in the Navy! Only costing much, much more. Like cash and our fragile sanity.
1900 came soon enough and we shifted into glad rags. This was when the Staff became curiously absent. Maybe a Tsunami was inbound, I can't be sure. There certainly was no one apparent at the Concierge Desk. Or the Front Desk for that matter. Next time I will try to riffle the cash drawer.
We went outside hoping to find a doorman who might call us a cab. A cab would be good because there will probably be a little bit of boozing, and we mustn't drive after imbibing.
Nope. Not even a doorman to call us idiots, for expecting a doorman to call us transportation!
Claremont Hotel has succeeded in not meeting expectations. Thrice. We shan't darken their towels, again.
Soooo, we drove the Chevy to the Emeryville Marina to meet Christopher and Chris for drinks and dinner. They were great hosts who showed us their 30th floor penthouse, which has a bay view from both sides. I got vertigo walking past the windowed walls and it was quite breathtaking to see all the San Francisco Bay!
Christopher had gone through High School and College with the Spousal Unit. It was great fun to meet up with these nice cats, and they were a really great at hosting the party.
Dinner was to be at Trader Vic's, which was conveniently located by the boats in the Marina.
Our first drink; A Stinger Bowl!
Our hosts; Christopher and Chris.
A great party had broken out, and a Stinger Bowl was a good way to begin.
We enjoyed some wonderful Peking Duck appetizers and started in on dinner.
View of Condo; It is the tall building on right, the condo was top and right corner.
Here are more views of Bay:
Morning view of Port of Oakland and NAS Alameda the second is a view of Angel Island and the ruins of the Berkeley Pier
To summarize our visit to the Hotel; We were less than impressed by the Hotel's Staff and how we were not "valued guests". It seemed that the wedding parties were a bit more important than the paying guests, and we could never find a member of staff when we needed one. The room was nice, the view fun but there was something missing with this experience.
The next day, Sunday, found us hurtling up Hwy 24 and the Caldicott tunnel. We were on a mission to find new jackets for us, and a bottle of wine for our visit with Erik and Mary.
Erik was an aircrewman with myself at the HS Squadron back in '83. We were good friends and had become Navy Reserve Recruiters at NAS Alameda. I departed Alameda in late '86, and moved to San Diego. We loosely kept in touch for a couple years, but I had been out of contact since mid 1989. That was when I moved to Mayport Florida. In the meantime, Erik and his bride raised a family and made a very successful life for themselves in California.
Military dot com was the conduit for reconnecting, so I thought we might visit in California. Plus, I was worried that the years may have made reconnection impossible, so we made sure to not be a inconvenience.
SWWBO got careful directions over the Blackberry, which I wound up botching. I followed a unnecessary sign and took an extra lap around the Sacramento/ San Joaquin Delta. Once arriving, we were warmly greeted by Erik and Mary, and naturally, I noticed that they looked better than I did. My looks are a result from Pabst Blue Ribbon and good foods. Erik looks like the water/snow skier he has always been.
Other than our friends having raised a fine family, there was no difference from twenty years ago. What great fun reconnecting!
We all made way to Berkeley and dined on Indian food and wrapped up Sunday.
Monday was going to be the first day in the Wine country...