Yesterday, after having breakfast with Carol's family in Marin, Lulu and I were free to do whatever we wanted until we all were scheduled to meet again around 6:00 at (niece) Molly's apartment in San Francisco.
One thing I wanted to do was return to Vallejo to see Mare Island. I was stationed at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard from November '69 until May '70 while attending Fire Control Technician school. When we were going to San Rafael on Sunday, I could look down on the island and I was pretty sure it was no longer a Navy base. It looked like you could drive around and I kind of wanted to do that.
So, the first thing we did was head back to Vallejo. We got off the road at the northern Mare Island exit and drove right on to the "base". Most of the old buildings were still there although many looked like they had been bombed out years ago. I finally found the old school building, which had been the base hospital maternity ward before that, but we were asked to leave by a security guard who said it was private property belonging to some private college. Geez, we were just looking. Didn't even get out of the car.
The rest of the base was pretty run down and it was really hard to recognize anything, although I did see my old barracks which, of course, are now condemned. Oh, and I saw a Diesel Duck that was either all finished or in the final stages of construction.
Wish I'd taken some photos of the base.
Back in the car, we decided to brave the Bay Bridge and City driving. We headed back over to SF to have some lunch and then to maybe go on the Alcatraz tour.
The traffic was pretty light and I didn't get too freaked out driving across the Bay Bridge or driving around in downtown SF. After our trip over there on Saturday with Randy, we decided to have lunch at Tommy's Joynt, the site of an occasional meal by my high school friends before going to a show at the Fillmore.
Upon entering, I knew that this was not the kind of place at which I do well. As soon as you enter, before you've even had time to gather your wits or adjust your eyes to the light, you're standing in a queue getting ready to order.
So we're quickly advancing to the head of the line. The only thing we have for a menu are a bunch of signs up behind the counter and precious little time to read them. We quickly decide on something and order it from a guy whose poor command of English does not stop him from talking way too fast for me to understand. Next thing we know, we each have a tray of food and are some $20 poorer. We find a table, order a couple of beers and then find a menu that we can read at our leisure. The food was okay but we hate that kind of pressure. We decided that what we should have done was to come in, grab a seat at the bar, have a leisurely beer and peruse the menu. Then, and only then, should we get in line and order our food. Had we done this we both would have ordered something other than what we had.
Oh yeah, I forgot about the parking. We found a metered space a half a block away from Tommy's Joynt. Parking is not a bargain at $2.00/hour. Between us we managed to scrounge up enough coins for an hour and a half or so. If we'd known that Tommy's wasn't that conducive to a long stay, we could have spent less on parking. So we're into parking for about $3.00 so far. Keep this in the back of your head as it will become a theme.
After Tommy's we decided to go wholly tourist and take the tour out to Alcatraz. We drove down to the Pier 39 area and found parking at the bargain price of $7/hr. At least there was a $35/day maximum. We started hunting around trying to find the Alcatraz boat only to find out that it sells out early in the day and it would be best to get our tickets now for tomorrow. Well crap-o-rama! I guess we'll skip Alcatraz.
Now what to do? After retrieving our car ($7 poorer for a total so far of $10 for parking) we decided to head west to the vicinity where we thought Molly's apartment might be, find a nice little tavern and have a beer or two to pass the time while soaking up some local color. We reached the area with no serious problems. Well, there was that really steep hill that some yahoo was stopping traffic on while he maneuvered his way into a parking spot. That hill may have added years to my life as I'm sure it knocked excess plaque from my arteries in the process of freaking me out. I'd have taken a photo but, like waves at sea, the photos of such things never look as bad as they do in real life.
We found a little place called Dirty Trix and, after gathering enough change from two different vendors to allow us to plug the meter ($3.50, $13.50 total so far) we went on in. The place REEKED! Talk about your local color! Geez! To me it smelled like someone had spilled some bad homebrew and decided not to bother cleaning it up. Lulu's nose detected a somewhat sweatier funk mixed in. But dammit, we were thirsty! Besides, after 32 years in the wastewater industry I know all about olfactory fatigue. We'd be fine in a few minutes.
I kept a close watch on the clock as I didn't want to get a ticket. We had two beers and meanwhile Carol texted me Molly's coordinates. As luck would have it we were only about 1/2 mile away. We headed back to the car with time to spare. Figured we'd go over to the vicinity of Molly's apartment and just kill the remaining hour or so.
Once we found a (thankfully) unmetered spot a mere block and a half from Molly's, I noticed something under my windshield wiper. Let's see, who's selling what? Wait a minute. This can't be right. A parking ticket? A PARKING TICKET??? You have got to be freakin' kidding me! I'd have sworn we had plenty of time on the meter. Too late to check it now. How much is it for? FIFTY FIVE DOLLARS?! This may not seem like much to you but, in Silverton, we're used to $5 parking tickets, not $55 ones. Damn! Total parking for the day: $68.50. Such a freakin' deal! Thank you San Francisco, for the warm welcome.
Things got better after this. We had a brew (Lulu got a free one since it was her birthday) and some chips and 3 kinds of salsa at a little bar/restaurant a block from Molly's. Then, a whole bunch of friends and family showed up at Molly's to go out to eat. We walked down to Yum Yum's Asian restaurant. There were about 10 of us around the table and we each ordered something different and shared among ourselves. I learned a valuable lesson during this. You know how you look at a big menu and have such a hard time deciding on one thing. You're just sure you want the jellied eels but the salmon brain in ginger sauce sounds mighty good, too. Well, next time, if you see something, anything, described as "spicy, salty, crisp...", stop right there and order it. I don't care if it's bat lungs. If it's "spicy, salty, crispy", it's going to be good. Period. Needless to say, my order of Spicy Salty Crispy Pork Ribs was the best thing on the table. We had a superb meal and then reconvened at Molly's before wending our separate ways homeward.
Before actually getting home, we joined Carol and her friend Robert for some open Mike action in Fairfax. The house band at Peri's Bar was enjoyable but there were some real doozies as well. "James The Mystical Poet" among them. Finally got home and to bed about 1:30 AM. Zzzzzzzzzz