Autopilot Disengaged

Greetings, Readers!

Looks like I’m back. Even though it was really only an extended weekend getaway, and in the end, I didn’t really get away, I still had a wonderful time, thank you.

On Friday, we arrived in San Francisco. I usually fly to Oakland, but this time, we went to San Francisco International. An interesting thing about this airport is that it has a computerized tram that passengers can ride from one terminal to the next, to the BART station, and to the car rental building. We were given a giant SUV, since the midsized cars were apparently all checked out and the rental desk was understaffed.

We then began the long drive to wine country, which remained much as I remembered it. After checking in at the dumpy motel, we met up with some friends. The gathering soon became a Rock Band party.

I learned that playing the drums is "freaking impossible" while playing the bass is "indeed quite challenging." I also learned that there is no song that I cannot murder, although by the end of the night, I was able to get a 91% rating on a Radiohead song.

On Saturday, I discovered that I was in the presence of a fellow Flickr member, and so we engaged in the sacred ritual of the photowalk. Fortunately, there was a small street fair of some kind up the street. While we snapped photos of scooters and musicians, the non-photography-geeks sat, listened to music, and discussed MMORPGs.

After a while, we all piled into the SUV and drove to Oakland for the Dream Theater show. I’d never been to the Paramount Theater in Oakland before, but it was quite a treat. Delightful Art Deco decoration was everywhere, although I was unsure as to how much of it was actually original. The show itself was, well, mostly it was loud. Which was to be expected, of course. What I did not expect was that the opening acts were mostly all death metal. The musicianship of the groups was great, but lyrics delivered in a drawn-out belching sound just doesn’t do it for me. I suppose that’s an odd thing for me to say, since I usually manage not to understand traditionally delivered lyrics. Or maybe it’s not an odd thing to say, since because of that, I tend to consider the vocals as just another instrument. So maybe it’s the same as preferring fiddles to bagpipes.

Anyway, by the time the main act (which was all I had expected) had finished, we were all quite restless, as it had been a long concert. We finished the evening at a Lyon’s restaurant, where we discovered that if one has no better excuse, telling someone the time in an incredulous tone often works just as well.

On Sunday, we drove out to Cafe Citti in Kenwood, which is worth a try, if you’re in the neighborhood. I usually order the special and have rarely been disappointed. However, the ravioli is also very good, and friends swear by the fusilli and AOP (garlic, olive oil, and pancetta.) Afterward, we saw Iron Man. I was thoroughly entertained and felt that it was a decent adaptation of the comic book. Now, when I saw X-Men, I left the theater feeling as though I’d really seen the real X-Men. I didn’t quite have that feeling leaving the theater after Iron Man, but I did leave with satisfaction and excitement, especially after waiting through the credits for the easter egg.

I believe that the rest of the evening was spent playing Mario Kart Wii and watching Superbad. Although this wasn’t the sort of movie I’d choose on my own, it did have some amusing moments.

On Monday, we took a scenic drive through Sebastopol, Bodega, Jenner and Guerneville. The Northern California coast is beautiful and dramatic, though the waters are cold and often full of dangerous currents and jagged rocks. And although the weather is often (as it was Monday) what most people would classify as "gloomy," it brings fond memories to mind of the town further up the coast where I lived as a boy. As did the redwood grove we visited later that day. Not so much the burger stand we visited after that, fortunately. The evening was filled with more Mario Kart and a showing of Planet Terror.

On Tuesday, we bid farewell to the dumpy motel and drove back to San Francisco. There, we took a cruise out to Alcatraz Island, which was surprisingly beautiful. Much of the island was closed off due to nesting sea birds (the parade ground) or to the danger posed by the age of the crumbling structures (the factory buildings). So we went on the audio tour of the prison, walked around the lighthouse and exercise yard, and then bid farewell to Alcatraz.

Then, we did a very touristy move and ate dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe at Fisherman’s Wharf, before returning the rental car and flying home. And that was that. I was a little bummed that I didn’t get to go to Maker Faire or back to the Computer History Museum… but there’s always next time.

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