Part One – Los Angeles and San Francisco

June 17 – Travel and Los Angeles

I flew out of Pearson airport Toronto 10a.m E.S.T and landed in Los Angeles 1p.m P.S.T. First thing on the checklist was to get to Enterprise car rentals and pick up my car rental. This was the first exciting part of the trip, as I was told my car rental was going to be a Dodge Challenger or something similar. After paying my deposit and stepping into the car lot, I was led to a choice between a 2017 Ford Mustang or a 2017 Chevrolet Camaro. I chose the Mustang and the real fun began.

Then I was off to my Airbnb in West Hollywood with my travelling companions. We were right in the heart of Hollywood just two streets away from Hollywood Blvd. Unpacked we head out for something to eat. We picked a restaurant and bar called 33 right on Hollywood Blvd so named because it had 33 beer choices on tap including beers that they had brewed in-house.

My choice, house-made wheat ale was light, crisp, with nice notes of citrus fruit (very similar to wheat ales like Stella Artois and Hoegaarden). I also ordered a Moscow mule, served in a copper mug with ginger beer and fresh lime juice, a great cocktail – very refreshing! A blackened chicken sandwich with a basil pesto, and fresh tomatoes hit the spot perfectly.

Ironically, the only pizza place close to us in Hollywood was called Greco’s New York Pizzeria. Thousands of miles away from home and work, Shawn Greco still intruded on my trip. I can’t comment on this restaurant as I avoided it. (Sorry, Shawn!)

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San Francisco

June 18th

The day began with a wonderful home cooked breakfast at the Airbnb and then off to San Francisco. The Mustang windows were not tinted and the temperatures were 105 degrees Fahrenheit – a reflection of the California heat and the drought. It was a 6-hour drive and, of course, I was sun burnt on my left arm and left side of my face. All the vegetation looked dead except for citrus trees on farms and the very few vineyards I saw on this portion of the trip. Trees were dried up and fallen over, and everything was a golden straw colour for as far as the eye could see.

Nearing San Franciso and the Pacific Ocean, the temperature dropped drastically. The temperature on average here was 85 degrees Fahrenheit with a beautiful breeze and mist coming off the Pacific. I was staying in San Francisco with a relative I had never met.  They took me to one of the oldest standing restaurants in San Francisco called The Old Clam house, built in 1861. It still retained the original exterior and one room in the restaurant was still original.

The waiter greeted the table with fresh clam broth in a three-ounce shot glass, served hot and with some green onion. It tasted of the sea water and the fresh clams that you knew they had boiled in this broth for the rest of their amazing dishes. The menu provided the history and a photo of the original restaurant.

As you can see the first question was “Have you had your clam juice today?” and I could have had three portions of their clam broth/juice. As well in the photo you can see that the restaurant is so old, that in the front they have a spot for patrons to tie their horses while they went inside to enjoy what I enjoyed.

After the broth came a platter of mussels and shrimp fresh from the bay. A Manhattan (called Clamhattan) complemented the garlic and butter from the platters as well as my main course. a clam linguini pasta. An oaked chardonnay would have complemented the meal a bit better

The linguini was fresh home-made noodles, and the sauce was a straight forward beurre blanc sauce made from white wine, butter, garlic and oil, with some fresh parsley and about 15 fresh clams in my bowl. Very simple, very fresh.

My family members then gave me a quick tour of the city and we ended at twin peaks, the highest point in San Francisco to see the sunset. The views from here were breath taking as you could see the downtown core, the golden gate bridge and the fog rolling in off the ocean over the city towards San Francisco Bay.

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Back at the house a quick tour confirmed that this was “family”. They had a fully stocked wet bar! I made us all a Tom Collins to sip on – a perfect end to a great day.

 

June 19th

I started the day on the subway with a family member. This got me to the ferry building and I walked the piers. The photos tell the story.

San Francisco Ferry Building and view of Bay Bridge

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Pier 39 – Carousel, Alcatraz and the sea lions

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I picked up the car back at the house and headed north out of San Francisco,  over the Golden Gate Bridge, through Sonoma wine country, and finally to a forested area with trees as tall as buildings, gas stations only every 60 miles, and no cell reception. Destination the Chandelier Tree in Drive-Thru Tree Park in Leggett, California. I drove so far north that I was closer to Canada than I was Mexico.

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