A Sunday in Golden Gate Park

View to the south from the De Young Tower

View to the south from the De Young Tower

Although I knew that part of the park is closed to cars on Sundays so that cyclists, skaters, skate boarders, etc. can freely enjoy the park without vehicle traffic, I did not realize that on Sunday the 12th of January there was a half marathon. We had purchased tickets to the David Hockney exhibit at the De Young Museum, and we set out in two cars, planning to ride our bikes from the Dutch Windmill up to the museum. When we exited the freeway at Octavia Street, we noticed a lot of traffic, but as we entered the park the number of people was astounding. We threaded our way around the closed off part of the park only to be made to exit as we approached the beach.

We could find no way to the Dutch windmill where we were to meet our son and grandson. However, we found several parking places on 37th Ave. just off of Lincoln. Then followed an agonizing 45 minutes of cell phone communication with our son and grandson, trying to guide them to where we had found parking. They finally made it and we pulled out the bikes well aware that we were going to be late for our 11 o’clock entry to the exhibit. But we wended our way up on our bikes, tied our bikes to poles because the bike racks were full, and lined up to pick up our tickets. There was no problem raised about our being late although we were still a bit frazzled when we entered the exhibit. Our group was not unanimous in our opinion of the paintings, but I personally liked the many tree-lined paths through the woods depicted in Hockney’s works. These reminded me of a hiking trip that we did several years ago in the Cotswolds. Our grandson particularly liked the large iPad created scenes that filled one room.

Our lunch in the museum café was satisfying, and we were impressed by the efficiency of the staff in handling the large crowd of people. After lunch we headed for the Hamon Observation Tower where we were greeted by spectacular views without so many people pulsing around us that it was difficult to breathe. San Francisco was especially  clear so we could see long distances.

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After browsing some of the permanent exhibits, we headed back to the bicycles. We started out on John F Kennedy Drive but had to head over to Martin Luther King in order to get back to our cars. Here the car traffic was heavy, so after some discussion we rode on the asphalt path alongside the street. I have no idea whether this is legal, but we saw no signs forbidding it. However, at one point my three companions were ahead of me and I politely asked a man walking two dogs if I could get by him. He moved over, but he swore at me, calling me filthy names and threatened to push me off my bike. Perhaps he had been hit by a cyclist at one time or perhaps he was just crazy, but it was a scary experience, one that cast a shadow over the day. All in all this was a day that we will long remember. It was a difficult day, and we will never go to Golden Gate Park on Sunday again, but there were some high points in the day that we relished.

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New Year’s Eve Day in the Napa Valley

ciaWhen I read on Open Table about a four-course meal for $39 at the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant, I thought it was too good to be true. But I was reassured by phone that $39 was indeed the price for their special holiday season menu. Housed in a beautiful old stone building once owned by the Christian Brothers just north of Saint Helena, this restaurant is run by the Culinary Institute of America, and the food is always excellent. So I made a reservation for us, our children, and grandchildren for lunch on New Year’s Eve day. As always, when the wine country is mentioned, my husband started planning a bicycle ride. We decided to do our usual Yountville to Oakville Crossroad, to the Silverado Trail, and back on Yountville Crossroad route. Since we felt this route was a bit more dangerous than usual on New Year’s Eve day, we didn’t ask any other family members to join us. Although the air was on the nippy side when we started, it was pleasant to be out in the sunshine and riding through this wonderful rural area. IMG00160-20131231-1017 IMG00162-20131231-1110 However, as the pictures show, we here in this area of California have a major worry this year. Mother nature has not sent us enough rain  to turn the fields from brown to green. The grapevines were awfully brown on the 31st too, perhaps just due to being dormant which is natural this time of year. Anyway, people here in the San Francisco Bay Area are getting nervous about the lack of rain, and those of us who remember the drought in the late 70s dread that phrase “water rationing.” After our thirteen mile bike ride, it was a pleasure to meet our family and relax over a carefully cooked and served lunch in beautiful surroundings. It was a perfect New Year’s Eve day!