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February 3, 2007

Have Camera, Will Travel

Since we threw away all of our retirement money on a new camera (ha ha...thankfully that's just a joke...), we decided to try it out today in San Francisco. And since our LAST trip to San Francisco ended in arguments, frustration, and lots of yelling things like "No! Turn LEFT!", and "I can't TURN LEFT HERE!!", or "DANG IT, why is everyone driving so FAST?!" and an occasional "HOLY CRAP YOU NEARLY KILLED THAT GUY", we decided to actually have a destination in mind. Maybe even a few directions. Which was a fabulous idea, I think.

Then we conveniently left the directions on our kitchen table.

Thankfully we had Caleb's Blackberry, and really. How many times has that little black thing saved our butts? More times than I can count. So things were great, we had even found a parking spot ON 24th STREET, THE STREET WE WANTED TO BE ON. And granted, I've only lived here a few short months, but I think I can safely say that it is nearly impossible to find parking on the street, let alone in the few parking garages the city has so generously sprinkled around.

Ha. Anyway.

We were headed to this cute little old fashioned soda fountain shop which was built in 1918, the oldest in San Francisco. Oddly, it's right in the heart of the Mission district, which is the Latin / Mexican part of the city. The area is gorgeous really - large professionally done color murals cover nearly every blank wall, and the air actually smells like a taqueria. I was a bit worried at first that we'd have a hard time navigating, but it turned out fine. (We weren't NEARLY as outnumbered as we were last night when we picked up our Indian take-out. We were two of the 4 non-Indian people in there. Which is fine really, I love to just be absorbed like that. It was just SO authentic, and I have a hard time pronouncing their words. "Um, I'll have the uh... Saalaaa.....Number 4? With a piece of...Na-hn? Nan? That lovely flat bread?!")

I really loved the soda shop itself, it was a strange mix of old and new. It is clearly dated, with the same wood, same stools, same machines (for the most part), even some of the same old-fashioned candy. Yet the workers were Caleb even commented after that he felt more out of place there than at the aforementioned Indian restaurant, because all the employees were Very Indie-grunge. It was odd, but I don't know what we expected. Grandfatherly men with big grins, dressed in red and white stripes?

After leaving "Spanish Town", we parked our car in the heart of San Francisco, and began to wander. Ah! The shops! Louis Vitton, Kenneth Cole, Bloomingdale's... The crowds and concentration of fancy stores reminded me of my time in Sydney. For some reason I LOVE to be smack dab in the middle of these big cities. I love to stand on one side of the crosswalk, totally immersed in people. All the city-folk have it down, and most begin to cross even before the green man starts flashing. It's like one of those classic movie scenes, when one gang is about to go head-to-head with their rival. Both sides stare at each other and then when the whistle blows they push forward until everyone is intermingled. It just makes me feel so...independent. Strong. Capable. I don't exactly know why.

Our wandering led us directly to Chinatown. It's amazing to me that in a space of just a few minutes, we could go through so many extremes - Mexico, America, China. I love it. We bought some almond cookies from a cute little bakery, wandered through rows and rows of Happy Buddhas and Lucky Cats, and listened to several old men play what looked to be an old-fashioned Chinese guitar of sorts.

So here are a few photos from the day. I tried to play with them in PhotoShop, but gave up. I need more lessons. Yeah, definitely need more lessons...

Pretty windows!!

Because nothing says San Francisco like a large mural of a woman in labor.

City children's park.

Mmm....Orange Italian soda.

A setting sun on our day in San Francisco...

...and just so that we don't end on an insanely cheesy note, I'll finish by saying I watched a grown man walk up to a building and pee in the corner. The best part? He was with a girl. "Hey, wait up! Lemme just finish this...."

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