Topic: San Francisco
Today I did something I've been wanting to do for a while, which was to have some of my co-workers from Namco join me for a day out and about. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing, but not badly attended for being so short notice.
Fellow Namcoites (Namconians?) Amy Steele, Bryan Chang, and Jeff Buccellato arrived, along with Jeff's fiance Eileen. They carpooled up to Oakland and met me at Jack London Square. The overall plan was a day in San Francisco, but the only thing I had decided for certain was our brunch destination. I planned to wing everything else.
After recent rains, and Friday's downpour, I was concerned that the weather might not be condusive to running around. However, Mother Nature smiled on us and after the morning gray it was sunny and not cold. So, we went with Plan A and took the Ferry across the bay from Oakland. I love that ride, out on the bay and under the Bay Bridge. Sometimes it can be frickin' freezing, but not today! The ride was so nice I proposed that we not get off the boat at the San Francisco Ferry Building and instead ride the ferry to its final stop at Pier 41.
There was one big rule for the day: no talking about work! This was a social exercise and I wanted all of us to hang out as friends and not get into office stuff. Fortunately, no one really crossed the line, so spankings were not required! Well, maybe I'm just a tad disappointed by that, but that's not really appropriate to discuss I suppose...
As we arrived I told the group the story about the Transamerica Pyramid and the Bank of America building as seen from Marin County across the Golden Gate, where the two are often referred to as "The finger, and the box it came in." And yes, "finger" as in "giving the..." Take a look at ye olde pyramid from due north sometime and see what I mean...
After disembarking at Pier 41 we made a beeline for the F Line streetcars. My goal: get as far away from the tourist trap that is Fisherman's Wharf (Pier 39) as quickly as possible! After a very short ride on an old SF steercar we had to change to a different car, which was from Milan Italy (the F line usues vintage streetcars from all over). We rode this car along the Embacadero (SF waterfront) and then up Market Street to the end of the line at Castro. Ah, Market Street, where the socio-economic scale fluctuates by block almost as rapidly as a Gough Street changes altitude... but perhaps that's a tad too much an S.F.-insider comparison.
Anyway, after showing they group ye venerable Castro Theater, we used an L underground train to get to West Portal, where I took the crew to brunch at one of my favorite restaurants; A Cafe for All Seasons. Rob Schoeppe joined us there (he lives on the far west end of S.F.) and we have a very pleasant meal with mucho good food. Bryan had never had polenta before (he's from Irvine, CA, so we cut him some slack), so we expanded his palette with a taste of these "fried italian grits" as I called them.
Our boss Kenji-san was out of town an unable to join, but he left a phone message saying that uncle PAC-MAN should pick up brunch, so the meal went on the company credit card. Thank you PAC-MAN!
As we were leaving, co-worker Umesh Ghodke called and told us that he was sorry that he could not attend. I hadn't actually expected he would make it, but one of these days I'm going to make that man come have fun with us! Hmmm...a plan must be formulated. Bribes musy be made...plots must be thickened...
We piled into Rob's vehicle, but there wasn't really room for six, so poor Bryan rode in the back. He got pretty comfortable...he looked like he was napping!
Next stop was Ocean Beach. The sun was shining, the waves were impressive without being big, and the temperature was perfect for an early March day. I was the only one who dared to shed shoes and dip toes in the ocean. Amazing how people can be so fearless about all kinds of things, but hesitate about putting their feet on sand for fear that someone somewhere broke some glass there. Wimps! Needless to say, my tootsies survived without incident. A few jokes were had about all the great white sharks that inhabit the waters offf the S.F. coast near the Faralon Islands, and we did make a few obsevrations that kids and dogs playing the water's edge would be "tater tots" for said fishies. But no fins were seen, and no puppies were gobbled up like so many deep-fried potatoes. Ah, never any excitement on this beach!
Amy's boyfriend Bill met us at the beach, and we moved the group slightly up the coast to the site of the old Sutro Baths. Most of the group climbed the rocks north of the old tunnel, but Eileen didn't feel up to it, so I stayed with her and Jeff and we climbed around the old foundations and eventually met with the others.
Naturally, being a mere 26 blocks from Tommy's we couldn't leave the city without stopping for a drink or six. We were there for quite a while (where DOES the time go?) and put away a lot of drinks but none of us crossed the line in drunken slobland. Rob and Bryan were the odd men out, though, because Rob was drinkign Jack and coke, and Bryan drank maybe half a margarita total to my 3+ or whatever the heck I drank. Heck, even Amy drank more than Bryan and she's the lightweight!
We parted company at this point, Amy and Bill heading back to San Jose in Bill's car, and Rob drove the rest of us downtown so we could catch BART. Jeff and Eileen live near the Froment BART so Bryan and I bid them adieu at the Lake Merritt station. We then strolled back to Jack London Square to fetch out cars from the garage, and parted company there. Lucky me, my drive home was like 5 minutes. Bryan's was probably 40+!
Everyone seemed to have a good time, and it was nice to hang out socially without work stuff interrupting. I actually genuinely like my co-workers, and I really enjoyed this day out with them. Another excursion seems mandatory. But where? Angel Island? Bodega Bay? Las Vegas? The sake tasting place in Berkeley? Tune in next time to find out!