Monday, December 30, 2013

880 South: Oakland, Bourbon & Beef

updated 10-30-14

Bourbon & Beef  5634 College Ave./Keith Ave., Rockridge, (510) 788-4821.  L M-F, Sat-SunBr, D daily.  Featuring a dark, earth-toned clubby atmosphere—updated with comfortable tables and chairs along one wall, and with a long bar and high communal tables along the other—this smallish venue features a Spanish-Mexican tapas menu with other things mixed in.  We started with Sopa de Langosta (lobster bisque with corn flan, lime cream, and caviar), which had no lobster chunks or detectible caviar, but I loved the smoky flat bread triangles served with it.  We shared fish and chips that were over-battered nuggets of salmon with french fries instead of chips, but I loved the jicama slaw that came with it and would have liked extra.  What came next--pork belly and shrimp taquitos—made me want to return for more.  The saucy toppings are stellar, and filling choices include carne asada, salmon, chorizo, Kobe short ribs, chicken, and veggies.  If ordered alone, three will likely do it.  Promising dinner items include Carne de Res con Papas (grilled rib-eye steak with roasted shishito peppers and potatoes topped with chimichurri sauce and a shallot-bourbon demi glaze), Torta de Camarónes (shrimp cakes topped with coconut-mango chutney), and paella with giant Tasmanian prawns and chorizo.  My companion and I went for a sweet ending—she delighted in the kitchen’s signature crème brulee-rice pudding with bourbon and Bing cherries, and I blissed out with a hot fudge sundae with fresh whipped cream.  Weekend brunch brings on huevos rancheros and pan dulce (baked French toast stuffed with jalapeño sweet cream and served with strawberries, caramelized plantains, and rum whipped cream).  Cocktails are a specialty and twenty-plus bourbons are poured, but I sipped happily on a tasty, fruity deep-burgundy sangria, while my companion nursed a virgin mojito so she could get some work done after. 
Allow time to browse this delightful shopping street.  Right next door is gift shop extraordinaire—Maison d’Etre, which is filled to the rafters with lovely gifting items as well as many items you will want to purchase for yourself and your own home. 

Bourbon and Beef on Urbanspoon

More things to do in Oakland.

Way more things to do in Oakland. 

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images c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, December 20, 2013

880 South: Oakland, Alta Bates Summit Showcase--CLOSED

Alta Bates Summit Showcase  5615 College Ave./Ocean View Dr., Rockridge, (510) 653-1527.  Tu-Sat 10-3.  The inventory in this resale shop changes regularly.  You’ll find well-priced sets of fine china and etched crystal as well as books, children’s toys, and seasonal items such as colorful nutcrackers at Christmas.  All proceeds benefit the programs and community services of the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center.  Donations are welcome. 

More things to do in Oakland.

Way more things to do in Oakland. 

More resale shops.

More Christmas events.  

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways. 

images c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Midpines, Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort


Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort  On Hwy. 140, 26 mi. west of Yosemite Valley, (866) 826-7108, (209) 966-6666.  22 rooms.  Some shared baths.  No TVs or phones.  Restaurant.  Hot tub; sauna (fee); health spa.  Operating on the site of a former church camp and youth hostel, this lodging is spread out over a hilly site and offers group dorms, private rooms, cabins, and tent cabins.  My duplex cabin was comfortable and warm and attractively decorated, but unfortunately the mattress was a memory foam that was way past its prime and had forgotten its job. 
 


Plan to arrive in daylight, as the property is quite spread out.  It offers trails and a swimming hole, plus a comfortable communal area with a fireplace and also an outside sitting area—all this as well as board games, ping pong, and darts, too!  A counter-service cafe prepares simple meals, and live music is presented every weekend.  Amtrak and YARTS buses stop here.  Consult the website for how to visit this area without driving, using only public transportation.





YARTS  (877) 989-2787; www.yarts.com.  Ride the comfortable YARTS (Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System) bus into Yosemite park.  It stops in town at various spots in Mariposa and in Midpines at KOA and Yosemite Bug Resort. 

Things to do in Yosemite.

Things to do in nearby Mariposa. 


More things to do in Gold Rush Country.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers; bottom image depicts Italian traveler, Andrea, from Milan.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Greater East Bay: Pleasanton, Christmas lights


Christmas Cane Lane  4000 block of Walnut Dr./Ray St..  5:30-10pm, through Jan. 1.  Almost every house on this cul-de-sac goes way overboard with lights and decorations.  Cars move slowly around the entire perimeter.  A delight.

WidmerWorld  3671 Chelsea Court.  6-9pm, through Dec. 31. 
You can walk through this home's back yard holiday toy displays.  The display includes an electronic light show, snowy penguin scene, Mrs. Claus' house, Santa's golf land, and a train town.  Santa sometimes shows up on the last weekend before Christmas.



Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways. 

image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Mariposa, drinking venues



Bett’s Gold Coin Sports Tavern  Hwy. 140/Fifth St., (209) 742-7574.  L-D daily.  Referred to by locals as “the coin,” this family-friendly watering hole has a large rectangular bar with plenty of seating, a pleasant open-air balcony, and live music on weekends.  The building features a brick exterior with iron shutters, and a plastic-covered reveal of the original 160-plus-year-old adobe bricks can be viewed on the way to the restrooms.  In the days when the town had at least one murder every day, Fremont used this building as headquarters for mining operations.  Nowadays you can get sandwiches, burgers, and full dinners, and even kids are welcome and provided a special menu.   

Castro Oaks Fine Wine and Art  5022 Hwy. 140, (209) 742-2000.  This tasting room provides a free tasting of their hearty Zin and smooth Cab, but you can also purchase wine by the glass and stay a while.  Art by locals is displayed and for sale.  The Vineyard is located 9 miles away on Highway 49 in Mt Bullion; visits are by appointment.

Prospectors Brewery Co. Tap Room  4996 7th St.  M-F 3-10pm, Sat-Sun 11am-10pm.  Five families work together here to make this a friendly spot to
down a pint (and it is the only craft brewery found between Fresno and Yosemite).  I favor the German-style Bootjack Blonde.  Note that as is often the case in Ireland pubs, no food is served.

More things to do in Mariposa. 

More things to do in Yosemite area.


More things to do in Gold Rush Country.  


More breweries.  

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Mariposa, Mariposa Museum and History Center

Mariposa Museum and History Center  5119 Jessie St., (209) 966-2924.  Daily 10-4.  $4, under 18 free.  In addition to exhibits curated by topic inside the rustic, woodsy museum--including things like Miwok Indian baskets and an iron so heavy you can barely lift it--you’ll find mining exhibits and a Miwok Indian bark house outside.  A guided tour will make sure you see exhibits you might otherwise miss—a broom-making shop, the Gazette newspaper building displaying the original press and print shop, the blacksmith shop, and the still-working 1874
five-stamp mill.


More things to do in Mariposa. 

More things to do in Yosemite area.


More things to do in Gold Rush Country. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, December 9, 2013

San Francisco: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, de Young Museum

update/p.23

The de Young Museum is currently showcasing "DAVID HOCKNEY:  A Bigger Exhibition," and what a show it is.  Hockney is famous for his paintings on the bottom of L.A. swimming pools, but this show displays his further fascinating talents with synchronized digital videos, iPad painting, and inkjet printers.  Water colors, sketch books, and charcoals--which I found kind of boring amid his other vibrantly colored workx--are also in the mix.  Many depict rural East Yorkshire in England, but a series of vibrant iPad drawings of Yosemite are hung around the walls in one room giving me the feeling of being in that park looking up at the spectacular natural sights.  Tickets are timed.  You can purchase advance tickets online.  Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons are typically the slowest days/times of the week.  For day-of ticket purchasing on week days, you should have no problem. On Saturdays and Sundays, come in the morning as tickets tend to sell out by the afternoon. Show runs through January 20, 2014.


More things to do in Golden Gate Park.

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways. 

image courtesy of the museum: 
David Hockney, Yosemite I, October 16th 2011. iPad drawing printed on paper (6 sheets), mounted on Dibond (6 sheets). Each: 71 3/4 x 42 3/4 in. (182.3 x 108.6 cm); overall: 143 1/2 x 128 1/4 in. (364.5 x 325.8 cm). © David Hockney, 2013




Sunday, December 1, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Mariposa

     Named for the butterflies that are seen in abundance here, Mariposa county comprised 1/5 of the state when California became a state in 1850. Today the county has only 18,000 residents and no traffic lights.  The compact town of Mariposa itself has a Historic Downtown District with a raised sidewalk and wall-to-wall vintage buildings holding a variety of unique shops and restaurants.  Described as “above the fog, below the snow,” the town gets approximately 300 days per year of sunshine and makes a good jumping-off spot for visiting Yosemite.  
     While here, stop in at the Mariposa County
Courthouse.  Operating within a Greek Revival-style  building, it is the oldest continually operated courthouse west of the Rockies--since 1854.  You are welcome to visit the working courtroom upstairs. 

More things to do in Mariposa. 

Things to do in Yosemite area.


More things to do in Gold Rush Country. 
 
Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

San Francisco: Market & Rye

Market & Rye  300 De Haro St./16th St., Potrero District, (415) 252-7455.  Br-L-early D  until 7 pm daily; $.  No reservations.  Though this spot can be very quiet at dinner, it rocks for brunch and lunch.  Decor includes aconference table previously owned by George Lucas that is repurposed as a communal table and a black-board wall filled with celebrity-chef autographs.  Board games, children’s toys, and a large TV provide entertainment.  The menu includes pre-packaged salads such as crunchy Brussels sprouts, pickled yellow beets, and roasted cauliflower, but sandwiches are the mainstay.  The most popular is probably the messy, crispy
Cornflake Crusted Fried Chicken, but currently a Mojo Pulled Pork and a spicy Sriracha Roasted Chicken Salad are holding their own.  They all go particularly well with an icy-cold beer—the coldest I’ve had since years ago in Puerto Vallarta, where it was really, really cold!  Brunch items include pumpkin pancakes, a fried egg sandwich, housemade churros, and a bottomless Mimosa.  A giant cinnamon bun is available until they run out and reflects the season (now it’s pumpkin).  Unfortunately, the legendary mac & cheese grilled cheese sandwich I’ve only heard about is currently off the menu.

Market and Rye on Urbanspoon

More things to do in San Francisco.

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images c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, November 18, 2013

San Francisco: Exploratorium

update/p.27

As we walked here along the waterfront during our Staycation, we passed throngs of people strolling along the wide sidewalks.  Read this first.

Exploratorium  Pier 15, The Embarcadero.  Fee.  Now moved from the Palace of Fine Arts into its new $300 million reconstructed pier home over the bay, this famous museum has three times more space to present a combination of play and learning that is as much fun for adults as it is for kids.  It adds up to more than 150 new interactive exhibits among the total of more than 600.  I love that there are free exhibits outside the entrance, allowing you to get a taste for what is inside, because entry is an investment.  I was seduced outside by the rickety Rickshaw Obscura, which really reeled as I climbed in.  I have only found two other camera obscuras in California and do have an interest in “collecting” experiences with these old-time pinhole cameras that allow you to sit in the dark and view what is going on outside.  I was reeled in by teenage “Explainer” Rhonda Gaynor (they are found throughout, wearing easy-to-see orange vests and wandering the premises ready to assist).  Inside, the gigantic pier setting is broken into smaller sections and is abuzz with excitement. I thought the Sweepers Clock was very clever and fun to watch:



and I stuck around to watch a giant Mexican pendulum clock strike noon, but was hugely disappointed by just a few weak dongs:


when I was expecting this: 



I recommend walking down the museum’s center, then returning via the corridor down the south side.  A dissection demonstration is usually occuring at the bay end—perhaps a cow’s eye or,  if you’re lucky, a flower—and don’t miss the upstairs gallery at that end for a dead-on view of Treasure Island and the bay, not to mention another small camera obscura.  I appreciated the rocking chair gallery found at the beginning of my trek back. 
     The Tactile Dome is a geodesic dome with 13 chambers through which visitors walk, crawl, slide, climb, and tumble in complete darkness using only their sense of touch to guide them.  Participants must be age 7 or older, and reservations required ((415) 528-4444, select option 5).   The dome was designed and built in 1971 by August Coppola (father of actor Nicolas Cage and brother of film director Francis Ford Coppola).
     Seaglass restaurant consists of four cafeteria stations serving up sushi, pizza, tacos, and sandwiches plus wine, beer, and cocktails.

Nearby, you can dine at La Mar and at a plethora of options in the Ferry Building Marketplace.

More staycation. 

More things to do in San Francisco.

Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images and videos c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, November 15, 2013

San Francisco: Altered Barbie exhibit, at Shotwell 50 Gallery

updated blog post

Altered Barbie exhibit   At Shotwell 50 Gallery, 50 Shotwell St./14th St., Mission District, (415) 240-2202.  Free, but donations welcome, including donations of used and new Barbies and Kens and accessories.  Don’t miss this exhibition of clever Barbie art, contributed to by artists who like to have fun.  Displayed against black fabric walls in this converted garage space located on a mostly residential side street, the clever, campy art pops out.  Are you ready for Barbie as a tarantula, or a toasted Barbie lounging in a toaster?  The show does include some x-rated interpretations, so is not appropriate for children.  A few related crafty items are for sale, and special events include a make-your-own altered Barbie workshop. Runs through Sunday, November 17, 2013. 

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

More art galleries. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

image and videos c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers
spider Barbie by Lavonne Sallee

"Beheaded Because" and "Working Her Way Through College"by John Franko





Wednesday, November 13, 2013

San Francisco: Keane Eyes Gallery


updated December 31, 2014


Read this first.
Keane Eyes Gallery  3040 Larkin St./Beach St., (415) 922-9309; www.keane-eyes.com.  By appt.


Located across from Ghirardelli Square, this expansive gallery is devoted to the work of artist Margaret Keane.  Well-known for her paintings of children and animals with big round eyes, she can make even a bull dog look cute.  Prices range from $35 for a poster to $850 for a limited-edition print to original paintings beginning at $12,000 and rising to more than $185,000.  Back in the Beat era, her paintings hung at Enrico Banducci’s famous hungry I nightclub on Jackson Street and you could pick a painting up then for as little as $50.  "Big Eyes," directed by Tim Burton--who is a longtime collector of Keane paintings--and starring Amy Adams and Terence Stamp, tells more of the story. 


More staycation. 

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

More art galleries.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, November 11, 2013

San Francisco: Wipeout Bar & Grill

Read this first.

Wipeout Bar & Grill  On Per 39, lower level, (415) 986-5966.  B-L-D M-Sat.  No reservations.  Located near the pier entrance, this place gets busier as the day moves on.  It features a fire pit and large seating area outside, where you can watch the throngs go by while you chow down to surf music.  Choice items include garlic fries, onion rings, clam chowder, a bacon-guacamole California burger, and of course, tacos, burritos, and pizza.  All seafood on the menu is sustainable.  Many people stop to refresh on nachos and one of their signature 23-ounce cocktails.  We came for breakfast, when it is just beginning to warm up and so a lot quieter, and we sat inside amid the TV sports bar atmosphere.  My husband had the California Breakfast with eggs over easy, and though he prefers his potato wedges crisper, he cleaned his plate.  My chorizo-cheese scramble with sourdough toast was also tasty, and portions were substantial enough to see us through to dinner.

Wipeout Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

More staycation. 

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Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, November 8, 2013

San Francisco: see the sea lions at Pier 39

update/p.40

Read this first.
I'm always amazed by the throngs of tourists flocking to Pier 39, and the only time I really "get it" is when I am actually there.  Everyone is having a good time, and the festive atmosphere is catching.  And then there are those spectacular sea lions basking, barking, and belching on the floating docks. If you get lonely for them when you return home, you can always watch them in the video below or watch what the sea lions are doing right NOW via webcam.

More staycation. 

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video c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers





Wednesday, November 6, 2013

San Francisco: Fog Harbor Fish House


Read this first.
On the first night of our Staycation, we dined at Pier 39.  After, we strolled the pier and checked out the shops.  My favorite is still the magic shop. 

Fog Harbor Fish House  On Level Two, (415) 421-2442.  L-D M-Sat; $$.  You can rest easy and fully enjoy your meal here because all seafood on the menu is sustainable.  Located near the pier entrance, the expansive white-tablecloth dining room offers bay views from most seats, which come in the form of window-side tables and raised booths (both regular and half-moon).  We started with a cup of clam chowder (also available in a sourdough bread bowl) and an iceberg lettuce wedge topped with Pt. Reyes blue cheese dressing.  Addictive Boudin sourdough bread is freshly baked in-house.  Entrée choices include everything from wild salmon to whole Dungeness crab to fresh lobster, but my heart said fried shrimp with thin french fries and a tangy coleslaw with horseradish dressing.  My husband bibbed up and dove into a massive seafood cioppino.  Steaks and pastas are also options.  Our drinks of choice were a yummy Alcatraz Escape cocktail for me (coconut and dark rums mixed with orange and pineapple juices and some grenadine) and
a tasty Oregon Pinot Noir from RouteStock for my mate.  Desserts are housemade and samples are brought out on a tray to contemplate—hmmm, should we have a heavy one (bread pudding topped with ice cream) or a light one (raspberry sorbet)?  And all the while we enjoyed watching the changing light of the evening view.

Fog Harbor Fish House on Urbanspoon

More staycation. 

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Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, November 4, 2013

San Francisco: Radisson Hotel Fisherman’s Wharf


update/p.55

With this blog posting, I'm going to begin a Staycation itinerary for you locals (those of you from out of the area can call it an old-fashioned vacation!).  My husband and I did this quick escape without a suitcase.  We packed the bare essentials in our day bags, and on the first day took BART and an F-car historical trolley to Fisherman's Wharf.  The next day, we walked along The Embarcadero, stopping here and there, and returned home on BART.  Today, I will describe the lodging, and in future posts I will describe some restaurants and activities.  Stay tuned.

Radisson Hotel Fisherman’s Wharf  250 Beach St./Powell St., (877) 497-1212, (415) 392-6700.  4 stories; 355 rooms; $$-$$$+.  Heated pool; fitness room.  Self-parking $44.  Covering an entire block, this lodging has some rooms with bay and city views.  The pool is located within an enclosed courtyard, and a Johnny Rockets opens adjacent.  Guest rooms are decorated attractively with full-wall murals depicting the Golden Gate Bridge, and the sleep number bed underneath the mural lets you determine whether you have a soft or firm mattress.  Among the several hotel entrances and exits is one that allows you to exit into the beating heart of Fisherman’s Wharf.

More staycation.

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers