Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Shortly after the last post, Betty and I flew out to Oakland, CA to visit Tom and Kelly for a week. That was an incredibly good time. Best, of course, was time with my first son, and his marvelously witty wife. We would have liked more time with Kelly, but what we had was high quality. It's kind of unfortunate that she has a day job again, but that's show biz. Pay yer dues, kid. She is making progress. Tom says that she often makes more from her performing than it costs, and people are beginning to call her with offers. Good luck, babe!

We, of course, did most of the usual Bay Area tourist things: cable cars, Fisherman's Wharf, Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach. Also Berkeley's Municipal Pier and Sausalito. But easily the best tourist thing was Muir Woods. Going there from Oakland, we didn't take the famous Golden Gate bridge; that would involve lots of city driving through San Francisco. Coming from the I-580 bridge and going cross-country to Muir Woods reminded us a lot of West Virginia - tight curves, steep hills and no guard rails. Who needs guard rails? Most places the trees won't let you roll all the way down those 300 or 400 foot drops. And the trees are immense, and the whole place is beautiful. We walked around the path in awe; the feeling was the same as hiking in WV woods, or the Smokies. Sure, the Grand Canyon is awe-inspiring in its way, but we grew up in tree country and have Druids in our remote ancestry.

Tuesday Betty wasn't feeling good, so Tom and I went to Alcatraz and the City Lights bookstore. It was so good - SO GOOD! - to have that much time with Tom. He really is fun to be with, and I already miss him as much as I did before we went. But City Lights was good. I found a postcard with a Lawrence Ferlinghetti poem, and thought it would appeal to Jim Costanzo. I was right; after we got back he called and told me it was possibly the best thing he had ever had from family. Made me very happy!

The big surprise, though, was that I really liked San Fran and the whole Bay area. I had such a stereotype of California as the land of the flake and the home of the nutcase. But I found friendly, mostly normal people. Not only that, they walk on sidewalks and use public transportation as a normal way to go places. Add in the odd, non-chain shops and entertainments and you have most of what I like about New York City with little of what I don't like - dirt and fear. Sure, Ohio is still home, but if you see someone on a bus in Dayton it's an even money bet that they either can't afford a car or their driver's license is suspended or revoked.

So, even if Tom and Kelly end up elsewhere, I would like to go back sometime. (Of course if they stay around there I'm for sure going to go back.) I'm not quite ready to join Tony Bennett yet, but I'm closer than I ever expected to be.