California Journal: 20 – 30 jan 2010

California Journal

Wednesday 20 Jan 2010

Sharon & I flew Continental from Hopkins (CLE) to LAX., where we walked through a dark, wet area to finally locate our rental Ford Focus, and using – for the first time in our lives a GPS -headed to our LA headquarters, which was the Residence Inn in Beverley Hills.  Ate corned beef sandwiches and chicken noodle soup at Factors Deli ( – a real (think J) deli across the street.

Thursday 21

Using  GPS again- as well as Google maps – we went to the Petersen Auto Museum.  Supped at Jar on Wilshire($).  The web site said “business casual”, but I’d call hoodies  and jeans “after school casual”.  Worked out in hotel gym.

Friday 22

Raining, so we went to Beverly Center – an indoor mall (  Bought for me a top at the Ferrari store.  Supped at Grace (also $).  Worked out in hotel gym.

Saturday 23

Sunny.  Went to the Getty Center, a complex of museum buildings in the hills. Reminisced with Rembrandt, made an impression on Monet, etc. Lunched there ($).  Supped at Cafe del Ray in the Marina Del Ray – a location which brought me back to the early seventies.  As we left, a Ferrari, a Bentley, and a Maserati were valet parked by the door, turning green with envy at our Focus’s lower fuel consumption.

Sunday 24

Our motivation for the excursion was a memorial service for my late friend Anne Marie Staas Niedorf, held at a quaint facility called the Ebell of Los Angeles –  The service alone was worth the trip.  Among the high points was the singing of K.B. Solomon –  Many testimonials, much adulation.  In the chapter “Begin with the End in Mind” in “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People”, author Stephen R. Covey asks us to imagine what our friend and colleagues would say about us at our funeral: Anne Marie was indeed a highly successful person.
We ate at the Farm on S. Beverly.

Monday 25

We drove out of LA up I405 to I5 and on across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco.  Scenic, pleasant drive, took less than six hours.  Into the City and onto our Hotel, the Argonaut, at Fisherman’s Wharf.  Raining.  Walked to supper in a restaurant in Ghiradelli Square.

Tuesday 26

Walked around the Cannery neighbourhood, and bought “Game Change” at a Border’s (which did not have anything on Paul Robeson).  Took two touristy tours in double decked buses: the down town tour and then the evening tour.  I could smell brake linings while on a few of the downhills, which are as steep as some coasters.  Great tour guide (Keith Oshins).  Ate at a waterfront touristy place in the neighbourhood.  N.B.: If the word ‘Victorian’ were not so pejorative, I would have appreciated the houses more.  Worked out in hotel gym.

Wednesday 27

Tremont met Kelly’s Island for us on Wednesday, as we took a tour to Sasualito, across the Bay, accomplished by way of that magnificent erection known as the Golden Gate Bridge.  (If it were in Cleveland, the critics would say looks like part of the rust belt.)  The Ferric oxide look was not a prominent sight in Sausalito, where trendy shops and eateries thrive on tourism.  I asked a tour guide if the Bridge were a WPA project, and he asked me what that was(?!?). BTW: It is.  N.B.: Tremont is a trendy area on the near WestSide of Cleveland where art shops and eateries abound, and Kelly’s Island is in Western Lake Erie. Turned in our rented car, as it was of no value.  Supped at a great restaurant on the Wharf. ($)  Then we went to BuenaVista, which has some claim to Irish Coffee in the USA.  Sat with a couple of brits who were great company.  Place was straight, great, and jumping.  The IC was small, and not as good as my friends make in Western Cuyahoga County.  Worked out in hotel gym.

Thursday 28

We took a cable car to Union Square, where we admired the works of local artists, looked in exclusive shops featuring over-priced merchandise for sale to under-taxed yuppies, and saw no trade unionists.  We lunched at Nieman Marcus, where we were under dressed.  Then we took the Park tour on the bus.  Supped at an Italian named restaurant on the Wharf.  Visited a bar next to our hotel, at which the owner had a collection of Studebakers.  As my dad had a 1954 Coupe and 1955 sedan, I was interested and talked with him.  He recognized that the car picture on my phone was of a Mini (1960).  Worked out in hotel gym.

Friday 29

Tour of 3 Sonoma wineries (no boxed wines there!) and then we went to the City Lights bookstore -, where all old beatniks come to die.  We bought a book on Paul Robeson, and also Howard Zinn’s history.  Place was quaint, left progressive, and manifestly devoid of Neocon’s. Ate in China town.

Saturday 30

Parked outside of our hotel was an Icon of the ’60’s: a VW MicroBus (1964).  Original color, but not original paint.  As we passed through the Marina district, the harbor was filled with sails – must have been a regatta.

Flew Continental back to Hopkins, supped at Frank and Pauly’s, and that was the vacation that was.

Summary: Great things to do while we are still young enough to do them. Shall we say: Adventure before dementia?  Got in some quality in-flight reading.  LA was good; SF was great.  Did not do Chocolate or Alcatraz – the later was government housing for behaviourally challenged; the former was insalubrious.  When we got back home, we saw more ladies who get three squares a day, if you know what I mean, and that is good.

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