Monday, 7-25-11, Day One of Post-Conference Vacation

Since my brother and sister-in-law were not arriving to pick us up until 10:00 a.m., and the Mission Grille at the Marriott seemed a little pricey, we returned for an encore performance at Mel's Drive-In Diner, where we had Sunday brunch. While we were waiting in the lobby for Tom and Dianne, I struck up an acquaintance with an adorable two-and-a-half-year-old Japanese girl, who was waiting with her mother in the lounge. Hojin was using her mom's smart phone to first watch a children's video on YouTube, and then play with an interactive virtual pet. She could make the monkey laugh and react to her touch, and then she brought up a virtual "baby," who could repeat anything a person said close to the phone, only in its own robo-baby voice. I was intrigued, given all the reading I've been doing about technology's influence and effect on human beings, to see a child ("digital native" as all the experts call them) so young be so comfortable with such advanced childhood (compared to Sarah's and Rachel's experience, or certainly my own).

We drove to Haight-Ashbury, because my daughters and I had such a good time there, wandering around, four years ago. This time, with all four of us being teenagers during some part of the 1960's, the sense of "time warp" was even stronger. We bought political buttons, bumper stickers, some funky clothes and generally wallowed in nostalgia of sorts.

Tom and Dianne recommended a wonderful restaurant close to Haight-Ashbury, to eat lunch. The Park Chow, I was amazed to find out, has only a canvas "roof" which they uncover in nice weather, into an open air dining facility. Because it was a brisk day (in the 70's) with a wind and overcast, the "roof" was on, but Tom said they did not have a permanent covering for the building. Apparently, the climate is so mild and protected, that they do not need one. It had amazing desserts, from Dianne's choice of banana cream butterscotch pie, to ginger cake and pumpkin pie ice cream.

Having had enough counter-culture and big city life for the time being, we opted to swing the opposite way, towards nature. Tom drove us north to the Muir Woods National Park, a few miles north of the city, driving over the Golden Gate Bridge and seeing Alcatraz island again in the process. Walking through this redwood forest was a humbling and peaceful experience. The Sequoias are so big and so old, it really dwarfs human existence in just about every capacity, except our ability to destroy them. Tom said only about 5% of the redwoods are left (at one point they grew all along the West coast, but have but systemically been chopped down over the last century or so. We walked through the trails for about two hours, bought some redwood souvenirs, and then drove to Tom and Dianne's house, outside of Sacramento.

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