Our Mid Life Crisis Trip (Chapter 3.)

Finally... Civilization... haha

Some time around 11:00 AM, we started to see signs of civilization. We rolled in to Carmel Heights... I guess that's a suburb of Carmel where Clint Eastwood was the mayor ( maybe he still is... I'm not sure). We passed a lot of surfers along the way. Actually there was one place where there were so many surfers that Chris and I thought that they were sea moss or sea weed (they were way out there or we are losing our vision). We also passed a town called Davenport with a population of 49 people. I get a kick out of those small towns. They make me think of a movie I watched with my brother John called Waking Ned Devine about a small Irish town, in the middle of nowhere. Everyone knows everyone and two of the townspeople find out that someone in their town has won the lottery. So they start being real nice to everyone until they figure out who it is. Its a funny movie. These small towns must be interesting to live in.

Chris started getting hunger pangs for Mcdonalds so we started on the lookout for a Mcdonalds. Its strange how even when you are out of town, you look for the familiar places. We were really on a Mcdonalds hunt. We even exited the freeway a few times in search of the elusive Mcdonalds... Mcdonalds... Mcdonalds... Mcdonalds... Please help me find Mcdonalds... Oh well. We found one eventually and got our egg mcmuffins etc. As we pulled out, we saw this cute small town diner across the street that had cheap breakfast and we thought, "boy that's where we should have went".










We started seeing more frequent population centers but we still drove a long way before hitting San Francisco. I don't think I'll ever get tired of visiting this town (I said visit... I'll never want to live there). I put the top down because it was getting a little warmer and I wanted to be able to see the sights above. We came straight up Highway 101 into town. It took us through a nice (crowded) section of town, then into a nature area. I think this would have taken us straight over the Golden Gate Bridge, but I turned off and headed east because I wanted to take in some of the sights from in town.

We went straight through town and ended up on a street called Atascadero. This brought us right under the Bay Bridge. That is some sight. That bridge is lllloooonnnggg. I had to get out of the car for a while so I parked and after prying Chris out of the car (she was cold for this whole trip... I don't know why), we crossed the street and walked along the docks for a while... a short while. We stepped into a small deli restaurant on the dock. This is the one thing I regret more than anything. We met the owner of the deli while asking for directions. He was a funny guy. He had hair coming out of every opening on his face... e.g.. ears, nose, etc. I wish I would have got a picture of this guy.

Anyway, he looked at Chris and said something to her in who knows what language? When Chris told him she was Polish, he laughed and said, " How's the electrician?". We were baffled. Then he said "Lech Walesa! You Polish people go to the bottom of the barrel to pick your leaders, don't you?" He was a character for sure, but we ended up kind of liking him (he came from Greece 40 years ago and opened up this little restaurant on the dock). He gave us directions to Little Italy and to the Wharf..

So we started off driving again. We found Little Italy, parked and jumped on a trolley car for a while. I didn't get a picture of that either. We visited the trolley museum. That was interesting (for me... Chris wasn't too excited about the museum). Then we just walked and walked. We figured out that people in San Francisco. should never be fat after going up and down hills all day. We visited a bunch of Italian stores and delis. We bought bread and pastries and split an Italian submarine for lunch.

We saw a funeral procession for an Asian woman that passed away. They had a band marching down the street playing brass instruments and being followed by the hearse and the family. That was different.


We also visited the Wharf. We parked and walked more. We went to the Giardarelli Chocolate Stores and looked at gift shops. Of course, I collected all the newspapers and brochures about San Francisco. I have a problem about things like that.. I think I'm a garbage collector.

Finally at about 2:00 PM, we decided that we should start heading off on our way over the Golden Gate Bridge and towards our Uncle John's in Santa Rosa. We approached the bridge from the scenic drive along the bay. Its really quite a site to see. We went thorough the old Presidio Army Base, I believe. There were a lot of homes that looked nice, but nobody lived in them at least as far as we could see. Seems like a waste of good property.


We reached our destination at about 4:00. It was great to meet my new Auntie Addie and to see my Uncle Johnny. We haven't seen him in about 6 years and he looked great! It made me think of my mom a lot. We had a few snacks together and talked and then went off to meet Caterina, my cousin for dinner. It was a great time. We ate at a beautiful Italian restaurant that my uncle picked out, called An Italian Affair. The people were nice and the food was delicious. We had Calamari appetizer... I ordered Canneloni, and Chris had Linguini with Clam Sauce... All good... But especially the company. It was great to see Caterina again. She has opened up a storefront for her business. She does a lot. She teaches art, runs art therapy classes, sells artistic jewelry. It really was great to see them all. Cathy gave Chris a nice set of earrings.

And then, I had to ask Uncle Johnny how he finds these great women (Of course, its not like he is out picking up women every night, he was married for 48 years... I think Addie was married for 50). Auntie Addie is a doll. She was so hospitable and just a blast to hang around with. She's totally set up on the Internet and has this Web TV. That's a nice setup. I think her son got her it as a gift. I feel bad because I should have gotten more pictures.

On the way home, we stopped at Cathy's studio. She just opened it up a few weeks ago with a partner. It really looks great. There is room for all the supplies they could ever need and plenty of room to work. There is even a loft room for overflow. They also rent out part of it to other art teachers to keep costs down. They've got a nice arrangement there. I wish them the best of luck.

The next morning we were up pretty early. Auntie Addie and Uncle John were right up with us making breakfast before we could even get to the table. I hope I have half the energy these two people have when I get to their age. They know how to have fun together. We had eggs and toast and hash brown potatoes... maann that was good... better than any restaurant.

After a while we set off and met Cathy at her house. We also met her boyfriend Eric, a great guy... also an artist. Cathy showed us some of her art and her home. They have a good half an acre up there. That was nice. We met the dog, Muttley and cats Baby and Bobby. I loved seeing them all.

We took off from there with Cathy too and went to Lenders Winery. The building was a large castle-like building. Chris and I noticed it on the way to Uncle John's. We tasted wine, bought cheese, and had a lot of fun there. Just being in that house was a lot of fun. They rent it out for weddings and parties too.

We spent the rest of the day in the old town of Sonoma. We visited a cheese factory and boy did we eat cheese. I went through the free sample line a few times. It was good. Then Uncle Johnny showed me this one cheese that was HOT. We both ate some then had to sit down for a while and cool off. Of course then, we still had to have lunch so we went to Mary's Pizza Place. The lady who started this chain used to play poker with Uncle John. He didn't like the pizza too much though. After that, we went for Cappuccino and Gelato at this Italian Cafe. We sat there for a while and listened to a nice group of kids playing a soft jazz type music. It was nice to see those young kids playing that kind of music. They had one of those giant base guitars that you usually only see in an orchestra.

When we got home, Chris, Uncle Johnny, and Addie rested and I went over to Cathy's house for a while and we talked about computers and the Internet and ways for her to add pictures and things online. She has some beautiful art and I hope that in time she will be able to display it online. There are a lot of possibilities for that. I left at around 9:30 PM and when I got to Uncle John's we sat around and talked for an hour or two. We really enjoyed hanging around with them. Too bad we all don't live closer together. But Chris and I resolved that we would try to make visits more frequently.

Cathy gave me one picture that I am going to treasure for a long time. It's funny because my son has asked me about this type of thing. Some time ago, my son Anthony told me and Chris that when he got older, he was going to start a business selling ice cream from a bicycle or truck, but that his vendors were going to all wear white hats and uniforms. The image we got was that of a Good Humor Ice Cream Man. Well, what do we see as soon as we get to Uncle John's? An old picture of him when he was in his twenties and fresh from Italy as a Good Humor Ice Cream Man. So I had to get a copy of this picture to save and to show to my son. Check it out.

Well, it finally got to the point where we had to leave. We slept pretty good and had another great breakfast prepared by the two chefs who allowed us to stay with them. We had waffles today. After talking for a while, Chris and I said our good-byes and headed off, not really sure of where we were going to go. We debated a bit between heading back for San Francisco. or going up to the Napa Valley and seeing a Candle Factory and visiting the CIA. What's the CIA? Well, it stands for the Culinary Institute of America and if you are married to a cooking nut like me, you would know about them because they have a show on the Public Channels every day where they teach the finer points of the culinary arts. Chris always watches it. No wonder she is such a great cook!