Posted: September 26th, 2012 | Filed under: Out Of Town
Saturday, May 12, 2012: San Francisco
The great thing about traveling with an infant is that you see the country during daylight:
The not so great thing is that you are often limited to getting take-out for dinner, although burritos from La Espiga De Oro in San Francisco’s Mission District were nothing to whimper about:
Then at least one of us went for a drink at Bloodhound, which was next to our hotel.
Sunday, May 13, 2012: San Francisco
Early coffee at Sightglass before Mother’s Day dim sum at Yank Sing, where we did not have a reservation and where we were lucky to get in (benefits of getting up early):
The parking lot at Rincon Center is ridiculously tight and I’m not totally sure why, though this time I thought to take a picture of it:
We walked along the waterfront because some moms like the Ferry Building and some uncles like the Blue Bottle coffee there:
Until now we haven’t paid much attention to playgrounds, but Dolores Park‘s new playground is one of the nicest I’ve ever seen, and a four-month-old strapped to your chest gives you the cover you need to explore it:
Dinner was take-out bread bowl from Boudin, which was purchased while the baby slept in the back seat and I took a long (turns out unnecessarily long) detour down Columbus Avenue:
Gas in San Francisco cost $4.59 a gallon that day:
Monday, May 14, 2012: San Francisco to Pacific Grove
We started down US 101 toward San Jose before deciding to detour to see what Palo Alto, Stanford and Mountain View looked like. Palo Alto is where Jeremy Lin grew up:
Stanford looks like a resort:
And Mountain View was a hoot:
But really, the whole point of driving this way was to see the “beautiful . . . but bizarre!” Winchester Mystery House (the YouTube video at the link is intended to capture that phrase, which you hear over and over when you visit the house; it became a trip meme):
After cutting over the Santa Cruz Mountains, we started our epic trip down Highway 1 from Santa Cruz. The first leg — Santa Cruz to Monterey is not the most picturesque part of the road:
But we did get to see artichokes growing in the fields along the side of the highway:
We had dinner on the municipal wharf in Monterey early enough to catch a beautiful sunset from the Rocky Shores addition of Asilomar State Beach in Pacific Grove (baby’s first Pacific Coast sunset!):
Tuesday, May 15, 2012: Pacific Grove to Paso Robles
After waking up on the not-as-early side, we left the hotel and started driving down the coast, beginning with Ocean View Boulevard and Sunset Drive in Pacific Grove, then connecting to the 17-Mile Drive through the Del Monte Forest and Pebble Beach:
(An aside: Even though they tell you how long it is, it’s not a great idea to drive 17 miles on an empty stomach.) (Another aside: I assumed there was some connection with Del Monte and the food people, and there sort of is, but it’s not as interesting as I thought it would be, meaning no aristocratic family farmed the land there and built a forest or whatnot.)
We had breakfast in Carmel before setting out on the prettiest drive of the trip, Highway 1 between Carmel and Cambria, through Big Sur. Yes, that sign warns of families wild boars crossing the road:
All of the overlooks we stopped at during the drive down that day were stunning, but Hurricane Point might have been the most stunning, windy and foggy and way up on the hill overlooking the ocean:
A tip: The Henry Miller Memorial Library is closed only one day a week, which is Tuesday, but the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery is always open:
We were really impressed with the Best Western Plus we stayed at in Paso Robles. That night we had dinner at the A.J. Spurs in Templeton:
Gas that day cost $4.35 a gallon at the Arco on Ramada Drive in Paso Robles:
Wednesday, May 16, 2012: Paso Robles
Goober says that the high point of the trip for him was breakfast at Margie’s Diner in Paso Robles:
It was a great breakfast (we ate there twice), but I think he thought that it was especially nice because it evoked a sense of promise for the rest of the trip, and probably a little because we were filling up before going out tasting wine around Paso Robles.
Now “Paso Robles” means something along the lines of “oak tree pass” or something like that, so it was cool to see actual oak trees out on Chimney Rock Road on our way to Justin Vineyards (baby’s first wine tasting!):
A word about how people in California pronounce Spanish things: “Paso Robles,” I didn’t learn until much later in the trip, is not pronounced “Pah-so Robe-less,” like you’d expect from three years of high school Spanish, but rather “Pah-so Row-bills,” like you’re specifically trying to mangle the accent. It sort of sounds like how Bugs Bunny mispronounces “Los Angeles” with a hard “G”, until you remember that “Los Angeles” itself is mispronounced, and then all names everywhere in California, and especially Los Angeles, start seeming ridiculous. Los Feliz? No, try “Los Feelies.” “La Cienega” is not “La See-en-ay-ga” but rather “Lahsee-en-uh-gah.” Same with “Sepulveda.” It’s like a city full of folks who talk about how crazy Eye-ran is being while they eat Eye-talian food made by a guy from Vee-It-Naaam (i.e., rhymes with “Sam I Am”).
Anyway, we continued to Adelaida Cellars, then Tablas Creek Vineyard where we debated bringing home a grape cutting, not that the zone is right for one but it was fun to think about:
We took Vineyard Drive to Turley Wine Cellars just south of Highway 46, then hit Niner and the Dr. Suess-sounding Windward Vineyard before heading back to Paso Row-Bills where we had dinner at Thomas Hill Organics downtown.
Thursday, May 17, 2012: Paso Robles to Buellton
Drove out to Hearst Castle, the second house we visited built by a nutty rich person:
From Hearst Castle, Highway 1 driving into San Luis Obispo:
The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo was recommended to us:
The baby needed to stop, so he had another nice meal overlooking the ocean at Spyglass Park in Pismo Beach:
We had dinner at Hitching Post II in Buellton. In addition to being good, it was also featured in Sideways (the experience of which the owner talks about here):
We stayed at the Days Inn Windmill, which is also featured in the film, not so much because we’re fans of the film (though we are — and I watched it again after coming back from the trip) but rather because if you spend a night in Buellton, it’s likely going to be at the Days Inn:
Friday, May 18, 2012: Buellton/Lompoc/Los Olivos/Solvang
After breakfast we drove out to Babcock Winery, Foley Estates and Melville Vineyards & Winery in the Lompoc area. From there we went up to Los Olivos to visit the Qupé, Alta Maria and Dragonette tasting rooms (with lunch at R-Country Market):
From there we went back to Buellton to visit Lafond Winery on Santa Rosa Road before walking around Solvang:
There are many Pea Soup Andersen’s billboards along US 101 as you approach Buellton:
So of course we had to try it:
Saturday, May 19, 2012: Santa Barbara to Los Angeles
Gas was $4.25 a gallon that day:
We drove down to Santa Barbara and had breakfast at the original Sambo’s Restaurant on the beach there. I assumed all the Sambo’s had closed, and they mostly have, but this is the one remaining restaurant, the one that began the chain. As for the name, it’s supposedly misunderstood (the owners were “Sam” and “Bo”), although it seems odd that they still use imagery that evokes the controversial connotation. But the food is good:
Santa Barbara is a beautiful town to drive around, and the mission is beautiful as well:
We dipped the baby’s toes into the Pacific Ocean at East Beach, though he did not like it much:
We then got back on US 101 and spent hours stuck on the Ventura Freeway. Just when you start to think California is magical, you get stuck in traffic.
Sunday, May 20, 2012: Los Angeles
The Farmer’s Daughter Hotel in Los Angeles is a nicely updated motel and convenient to the Farmers Market (where they now have really good fancy coffee):
I had never seen the La Brea Tar Pits in Hancock Park and it was as strange and wonderful and as stinky as I’d hoped it would be. I saw people relaxing there, which seemed relaxing in the way that hanging out behind an asphalt truck might be relaxing:
From there we walked around Santa Monica and passed by the Natural Resources Defense Council building which I discovered later seems to be the real-life spot of one of the semi-autobiographical side plots in a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode.
I know it’s my own damn fault that I always think of Sheryl Crow when we’re on Santa Monica Boulevard.
Zankou Chicken (another sort of Larry David locale) is really, really good chicken.
I wanted to drive down one of those Beverly Hills streets with all the palm trees. This is Bedford Drive; I don’t know if it’s the one they always show on movies:
Elsewhere, we walked up and down Rodeo Drive while I worked on my Julia Roberts impression and went up to Greystone Park.
I love the billboards on Sunset Boulevard:
And this is the Canadian section of Hollywood Boulevard:
After heading back to the hotel, we walked up Fairfax Avenue to Animal where we had foie gras before the ban went into effect in July.
This was the day of the eclipse, and people gathered across the street to look at the sun:
I don’t know how they were looking at the sun (it was really bright) or how they were taking pictures, but you can see the eclipse refracted somehow in this image:
I’m afraid to go to the eye doctor now. For dessert we got a slice of cheesecake to go from Canter’s.
Monday, May 21, 2012: Los Angeles
We dropped off the car at LAX and flew home. Final tally, 879 miles driven:
Posted: May 2nd, 2012 | Filed under: Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx
If you stare deeply enough into your drink, messages appear:
Custom House in Lower Manhattan:
Even though we missed the scheduled tour, one of the park ranger people let us into the ornate Collector’s Reception Room:
Back in June, the Freedom Tower was still short enough to fit into the camera frame:
I already talked about visiting Yankee Stadium.
The awesome Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens:
I could watch the exhibit showing how they produce a live baseball game for for hours:
The 36th Avenue Subway Station in Astoria.
Block Drugs on Second Avenue:
The remnants of Mars Bar also on Second Avenue:
We already talked about seeing the Phillies play the Cubs.
There’s a lot of stuff behind fences in the East Village. Albert’s Garden:
And the New York Marble Cemetery:
They were even using St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery for some sort of film shoot.
Prince Street in Lower Manhattan:
(Funny detail: The Google Street View up right now is from right around when I went walking around there — theirs is from July 2011 — so all the billboards look the same . . .)
There’s a great view of Union Square from the Whole Foods cafe on the second floor. They also have a bathroom you can use:
Astoria Park at dusk on the longest day of the year; this is at 8:40 in the evening (I knew there was a reason I took this but it took a while to remember):
Staring out the front door at Coppelia on 14th Street:
There’s nothing more depressing than an emergency room entrance at an abandoned hospital:
Well, OK, maybe some things are less depressing . . .
I honestly don’t remember what interested me about 60 Spring Street:
Was it because it was a blue jean store or something? Who knows . . .
The Astoria Market at the Beer Garden:
It took me two years to get two pictures of the San Antonio Abate Festival on Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria. Maybe in another year I’ll put a link up to the page:
Posted: April 11th, 2012 | Filed under: Out Of Town
We were up in the Rhinebeck area for a wedding during Memorial Day 2011.
Market Street, with its requisite iconic wooden Indian and Doughboy:
The A.L. Stickle store on Market Street is hard to describe — other than totally awesome, that is. It’s a time capsule of sorts what with all those Revell model car kits (do you remember Revell model cars? do kids still sniff model glue?) and vintage display cases. I remember huge zipper displays in our local supermarket — what happened to all that stuff? I haven’t thought about some of these things in years. So wonderful . . .
We bought some herbs and various plants at the Rhinebeck Farmers Market for the backyard.
Mill Street and Montgomery Street both comprise U.S. 9 around Rhinebeck; one is U.S. 9 north of Market Street and the other is U.S. 9 south of Market Street. The Rhinebeck Reformed Church is on Mill Street, just past the Lions Club Eyeglass Drop Box:
The wedding was at Camp Rising Sun in Clinton.
Posted: April 1st, 2012 | Filed under: Brooklyn, Citywide, Manhattan
Chief of which is Brooklyn Bridge Park, which was a lot more elegant than I expected, especially considering how ugly/utilitarian the piers used to be:
It’s like, where did all that dirt come from?
There’s a staircase thing-place that overlooks Lower Manhattan, which is just stunning. Propose here:
Grimaldi’s has since moved from its longtime location, just down the street at 1 Old Fulton Street:
I really, really want to start a “I [Heart] Unicorns 4-Eva” meme:
Remember when they thought the world would end on May 21? And people spent their life savings on subway ads? Why did they do that? Not because they weren’t right (they weren’t), but what difference would it make if you saw this ad on the subway beforehand?
One day they’ll finish the East Side Access project. For now, it’s kind of a constant thing:
Vacant spaces are so strange looking, like repeating a word over and over until it sounds completely foreign:
I sat outside a bar one night in May 2011 staring at the bright lights in this space, just sort of pondering how weird it looked. Now I know that it’s a “cursed” spot, only recently occupied by a somewhat stable business.
Posted: March 28th, 2012 | Filed under: Brooklyn, Out Of Town, Queens
First part of 2011 . . . I’m caught up to about May now . . .
We saw the Supermoon on March 19, 2011 from the Westfield New Jersey Transit station:
Hard to believe how little snow there was this year, especially compared to last year:
One thing I’ll miss/won’t miss about our old neighborhood is how many film shoots there were there:
There’s a sort of park/playground in the old neighborhood that was created from a sliver of land leftover from the Queens-Midtown Tunnel called Old Hickory Park, which the Parks Department seems to have disowned, at least judging by the fact that it’s somehow disappeared from their website. The name is a goof on Jackson Avenue, “Old Hickory” being Andrew Jackson’s nickname. Stupidly esoteric:
Robert Moses did a lot of neat things in the New York City area. He also oversaw a bunch of ridiculous orphan roads. The Prospect Expressway, for example:
Blockbuster closed and some guys eventually took away the sign:
Back when we lived in Astoria we called this passage to the municipal parking lot “Deuce Alley” because it smelled like people took shits back there. Now it’s gussied up all fancy and such:
I love the fact that there are public restrooms at the end of the subway lines. This is graffiti from the Ditmars Boulevard Station on the N/Q line in Queens. The idea of having sex in one of these restrooms boggles my mind; I can’t think of a worse place to do it:
On the other end of the spectrum, Michael Bolton graffiti at Sweet Afton, which is where we celebrated Kawama:
Posted: March 19th, 2012 | Filed under: The Bronx
Now that I’m caught up with baseball outings from 2011, we can finally get ready for the regular season. In 2011 we saw the Diamondbacks vs. Giants at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, the Phillies vs. Braves, Phillies vs. Rangers and Phillies vs. Cubs at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, and the Yankees vs. Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
It occurs to me that we saw some pretty good teams in 2011 — I definitely didn’t expect the D-Backs to be that good when we saw them back in April. We saw four playoff teams play. In fact, I challenge anyone to have seen teams with a better combined record than we saw in 2011 (minimum five games? can we create a variable to take into account how many total games one saw?). Let’s tease this out:
Arizona Diamondbacks: 94-68
San Francisco Giants: 86-76
Philadelphia Phillies: 102-60
Atlanta Braves: 89–73
Texas Rangers: 96-66
Chicago Cubs: 71-91 (you can always depend on the Cubs to screw up at least one thing a season)
New York Yankees: 97-65
Boston Red Sox: 90-72
Total win-loss record: 725-571 for a .559 winning percentage.
Well, did any of you do any better?
Mom and Dad were in town while the Red Sox were playing the Yankees and they had never been to see the new stadium, so we went early. I had never seen Monument Park, and neither had they, so we got to see that. Much has been said about the giant Steinbrenner plaque in the center of everything. Here it is:
We also had time to visit the Yankees Museum with all the hardware:
The collection of signed baseballs from everyone who ever played for the organization is actually very cool. Here’s Cory Lidle, who crashed the plane he was flying into an Upper East Side building in 2006:
And I searched out Ian Kennedy’s ball:
This was the first full season after Steinbrenner died, so there were a lot of tributes to him around the park (in addition to the oversized plaque in Monument Park:
Oh, and we had good seats, for once:
This was Jorge Posada’s last season, which we didn’t know at the time:
And “We Want Pie” is a shoutout to A.J. Burnett, if I’m not mistaken (yup, that’s it); that’s all behind us now as well:
The Red Sox won, by the way; A-Rod struck out to end the game:
Posted: March 13th, 2012 | Filed under: Out Of Town
We didn’t get down to Philadelphia as much as we usually do in 2011, what with moving and baby stuff, but there were a few Phillies games we went down there for, basically in May and June.
We (or some of us at least) ate a Pork Scrapple slider at White Dog in University City:
Before we installed the toilet at Kawama, and before we even ordered the toilet on Amazon, we checked out toilets at the Lowe’s in South Philadelphia. They want you to know that it’s not too difficult to install them yourself:
Just across the parking lot at IKEA (where we bought pulls for the cabinets) you get a nice view of the S.S. United States from the Meatball Chamber:
At the Braves-Phillies game, we saw how much of the Spectrum was finally gone:
Later in May, I think I took this picture because I was surprised how expensive gas was. That seems reasonable today . . .
At the day game on the 21st against the Rangers, it was just after the end of the world and everyone was still a little anxious:
And at the game in June against the Cubs, expectations about the season were sky high:
Of course we know how that turned out:
Posted: March 11th, 2012 | Filed under: Queens
This Times article about the Millennium Theater in Brighton Beach was interesting — so many theaters have been shuttered over the years that it’s cool to see a theater being used for something approximating what it was meant for — i.e., some performance of some sort.
It’s cool because so many theaters are now Duane Reades or whatnot, to which @RICANROLL tweeted like the theater on 30th Avenue and Steinway is now a Duane Reade. Yup, that’s exactly which one I was thinking. We walked by it yesterday:
In this case, the Astoria Sixplex (which I actually went to once or twice before it closed in 2002) actually became a Duane Reade, a Chase bank and a New York Sports Club.
I’m not even upset that @RICANROLL fucked me by spoiling a Walking Dead plot point.
Posted: March 6th, 2012 | Filed under: Out Of Town
On the airplane (new page for Airplanes, by the way) . . . some strange things. Here, for example, is the way the Royal Jordanian in-flight magazine described Eat, Pray, Love:
And here is the way the Delta in-flight magazine described it:
We also marveled at the come-hither look the lady on the Delta fasten seat belt announcement had. Hubba hubba:
In Phoenix, we went back to Hance Park and saw the I-10 plaque installed there. Under Hance Park (aka Deck Park) is the final link in the transcontinental interstate, completed in 1992:
A new page for the Palm Tree Stealth Monopole at 15th Avenue and Camelback Road. I love these things:
In April, we had to fly through O’Hare and saw one of these old school Airfones. I almost forgot about these things:
We ate at Culver’s (nearest location to NYC is about 473 miles west in Reynoldsburg, Ohio).
We saw the D-Backs vs. Giants at Chase Field early in the season when no one — no one! — knew that the D-Backs would be that good:
Posted: December 27th, 2011 | Filed under: Brooklyn
The Seddio Christmas House in Canarsie, Brooklyn at the Southwest corner of Flatlands Avenue and East 93rd Street features 50,000 lights and can be seen from planes landing at Kennedy:
Clearly there was some hubbub going on between the Seddios and the Department of Sanitation; not sure if it stretches all the way back to 2003, but here’s some evidence of that:
In all, quite a display and worth the trip if you can make it out there!