Monthly Archives: March 2017

Beth in Mexico!

For the next 12 days (March 25 to April 6, 2017) Beth is on a Road Scholar Trip through Baja Mexico!  That being the case, she won’t be posting anything during that time.  I have a few things I have been thinking about so stay tuned.  Then, when Beth gets back and pushes off into retirement we will be starting the final stage of our plans to go on the road.  We have to finish downsizing our belongings and sell the house.  That should be fun! (Not!) (Do people still say that? Probably not).  Anyway, come along with us as we explore retirement and soon the road!  Thanks for looking.

The pics.  Above a random picture I took at Don Edwards Preserve of a plane going in to San Francisco to try out our new long lens.  By the way, Beth HATES to fly.  Below, Beth in the Berkeley Botanical Garden, a very neat place.

Reviewing Eats – A tale of two restaurants

I haven’t reviewed a lot of restaurants.  Beth has reviewed lots and lots over the years and I think is very good at it.  With the blog now, and especially my interest in how our opposites have attracted I think I will try and review some of the places we go.  That being said I have been thinking about reviewing and how to write one.  What makes a meal good (or bad)?  Is it all about the food?  The service?  The atmosphere?  The price? This past week Beth and I went to one of our favorite short out of town places, Berkeley, California for a couple of days and ate out at a couple of places.  In thinking about them I saw an interesting and to me dramatic contrast.  Let me tell the tale.

On our first day we went to a well known local restaurant that specializes in Cajun food.  It was early evening and there were not a lot of diners when we got there.  We were seated promptly and the atmosphere was pleasant.  We ordered an appetizer and dinner and visited while waiting for it.  The appetizer order was simple, hush puppies and my expectations were pretty measured.  When they came out they looked ok, but when we tried them both our eyes grew wide as we tasted, they were delicious!  How can a hushpuppy be delicious?  I have eaten probably hundreds in my like, but until these I never thought of delicious.  I don’t know what it was about them but they were great.  As we ate I could not help but notice that our waitress was going to each table and adjusting the settings.  There was a knife, spoon, fork on a folded napkin for each setting and the waitress was carefully aligning the napkin for each and every one, then aligning each piece on the napkins.  She did this for all the tables.  I was amazed at the attention to detail.  I felt the same in her waiting on us.  She was very attentive without being in the way throughout the entire experience.  We ordered and when the food came it was very attractive and the portions were generous.  During the meal we were well attended and I don’t think my glass got near empty before there was someone there filling (I love this). There was plenty for sharing a good size taste of each other’s plate.  The food was very good.  This was one of the few times ever I have seen nothing left on Beth’s plate.  She always leaves a little bit of something!  And finally, when the bill came it felt ok.  Not a huge value, but I felt we got our money’s worth.  Overall, a good experience with some nice little touches and surprises.

The next morning we went to another well known local spot for breakfast.  It is as I said a favorite and pretty small so we had to wait a few minutes for a table, but the wait was very close to what they expected and didn’t seem long.  The place was in fact pretty full and felt a little claustrophobic,  We got a table in the back corner so at least we were not surrounded by people.  Our waitress was somewhat less than enthusiastic and took our order without much help and offered no information about the day’s specials.  We were advised due to part of the order it might take a few minutes, which I think was good.  While waiting I noticed that our waitress kind of disappeared, then I noticed she was working in the counter area and a new waiter seemed to be buzzing around our little area.  Well, my coffee cup emptied and sat for quite a while before the new waiter asked if I wanted more and brought some.  Then, after a good while a third person brought out the plates to our table.  The waiter checked back a time or two but for me it was too late.  Bad service.  I ordered a bagel which came before the meal and when it showed up it looked…well…small?  It was not bad tasting, but what stuck in my mind was small (not so crazy about small).  What was interesting was that I like lots of cream cheese on the bagel and usually run short, but not this time.  The attending portion of cream cheese was pretty big, and combined with the size of the bagel the cream cheese was ample.  Unfortunately, when the meal came “small” was also the word that came to mind.  I ordered an omelet with fried potatoes.  There seemed only a couple forkfuls of potatoes and the omelet looked like the one that came with the plastic set we got for the grandkids.  It was not bad, but very small.  Finally, when the check came it just felt like a lot.  It didn’t feel like a good value at all.

So, in talking about the two after the fact, Beth (an established expert) said she gave the second a “solid 3” and the first a 5.  She doesn’t give many 3’s and a “solid” 3 is a statement!  I feel the same and I think it was an interesting experience doing the two close together.  But is this accurate?  Fair?  Was our experience typical or exceptional?  Was the one really better because of an obsessive waitress?  Was the other not as good because we happen to experience a change of the station guards?  Does size matter?  I think it is really fun now to look at this.  I drink A LOT so keeping my glass up is important.  Beth drinks in drops.  It is rare when she finishes her original cup of water in a meal, so that is probably not an issue to her.  I’m not so concerned about particular ingredients, but for Beth there is always, What kind of cheese is used?  What kind of milk? Where did those green beans come from and who picked them? (well, maybe not that last one).  So, as we keep going I think it will be fun to think more about the places we go and trying to share those explorations with others.  I hope we can make it interesting!

How about you?  What makes a dining experience fun?  Good? Bad?  Quality, quantity, value, service, atmosphere?  What about pet peeves?  Take a minute if you will and let us know in the comments.

The pics.  While these are from the many, many, many pictures we have of eating, neither is from Berkeley?  Just ones I like (and could find).

Beth Retires!

It finally got here!  March 17, 2017, Beth’s last day at work.  The couple of weeks leading up was hectic and she had lots to do with her ongoing workload and getting things packed up and cleaned up, but she made it.  On her last day they had a very nice retirement party with many people to send her off.  She was anxious and worn out, but people were very kind and the day was wonderful (I had to finally pry her out of the building).  We had a nice dinner at a local Thai restaurant, then Saturday it was off to our daughter’s home for a small family gathering in celebration.

There was another wonderful cake and some tea time goodies to eat.  It was great fun!  (It was a combined Retirement/Birthday celebration, but we won’t mention that.)

Then on Sunday we headed off to the Don Edward’s Wildlife Preserve on the east side of San Francisco Bay for some bird watching.

You know there had to be a picture of Beth taking a picture!  It was somewhat overcast and there were not lots of birds but it was fun!  When we were done we went to a neat, cozy Afgan restaurant for a nice dinner.

On Monday (today) we had lunch with a very good friend and then tomorrow and Wednesday we are off to Berkeley to visit the botanical gardens and see a show at the Berkeley Freight and Salvage.  That is one of our favorite music venues.  We will probably get in some bird watching also if the weather and time permit down on the water.

Thursday looks like we are going to a musical at the Gallo Theater featuring 40’s Big Band music.  Then finally, Saturday Beth is off for her 12 day tour of the Baja Peninsula with the Road Scholar group.

A couple of people texted this morning and asked if Beth slept in on her first day.  Not hardly!  This is the kind of pace she would love to keep up.  It is going to be really interesting to see how retirement unfolds for this unexhaustable explorer (and her driver).  Come along and enjoy the ride!

Why a blog? #5 – For me

As the last segment in “Why a blog” I will think a few minutes about what I hope to do with it.  First and foremost I will get to help Beth.  If that were the only reason it would be enough.  Listening to her talk and watching her make her posts makes whatever time I spend worth it.  Seeing that family (so far) looks and comments makes it even better.

But…after having worked on this a while I think I will also enjoy creating content (new fancy language!)  Having explored with Beth for a few years now there are lots of stories that are fun to tell.  Looking back over the tens of thousands of pictures is fun.  I am even in a couple.  I have always liked writing.  When I was in 7th grade many years ago I was put in an English Class where we each had an Underwood Typewriter (manual) and did a lot of writing.  I seemed to get in trouble a lot for it.  I remember writing one piece on a teacher at the Jr. High and my English Teacher was so impressed she put it up on the board, after she cut my name off so it couldn’t be traced to me.

So, I’ll probably write and post here too.  I really like sayings and quotes so I might throw one up every once in a while, and maybe even do a book review or two.  I also think I will try and put up a few on the in’s and out’s of RVing.  Other people’s tips and tricks helped us out a lot.

Beth will want to be sure and add that the opinions expressed by this author DO NOT necessarily reflect those of the blog’s namesake!  I plan to do a post on how I think we are a really good example of how opposites attract.  If we comment on each other’s posts it may be fun and interesting.

So, this concludes my initial thoughts and doing a blog.  I hope it has been interesting for the couple of people that have read it.  I plan to look back from time to time to see how things are going and what might be changing.  Join us as we explore!

 

Favorites – Favorite City to Explore

 

 

There is nothing like walking the streets of San Francisco, my favorite city to explore!  The best way to explore San Francisco is by foot and walking the stairways and neighborhoods is always a fun adventure.  I was introduced to the book, “Stairway Walks in San Francisco” written by Adah Bakalinsky by my friend Arlene, an avid walker and hiker.  From the moment I began these walks which cover many neighborhoods and showcase the number of stairs in hilly San Francisco I was hooked!  San Francisco is more than just Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge, but you have to get out by foot and explore the winding, steep streets, hidden alley ways and paths, homes pitched on hillsides with secret gardens and admire the ever present views.  In February 2012, Shannon, Melissa and I did a stairway walk that centered around the Telegraph Hill area and what a beautiful walk it is with a great work out.

As you can see, we might have a few weary walkers as we trudged up and down numerous stairs through this interesting and iconic part of San Francisco near Coit Tower.

The Filbert Steps are the showcase stairs of Telegraph Hill and mighty steep in places.  Some of the homes along the stairs can only be accessed by way of the stairs, there are no roads or driveways to reach them!

In November 2012, Beth and friend Arlene took a great walk in the Golden Gate Heights near the Sunset District of San Francisco.  The views from tiny Grand View Park are perhaps the best in San Francisco and almost 360 degrees.  We had a perfect clear day when we visited.

The stairway leading to Grand View Park (picture below) is a delight, but the showcase stairway on this neighborhood walk is the Moraga Stairway, perhaps the most colorful set of stairs in San Francisco and decorated with mosaic tiles representing sky, water, birds, fish, flowers.  What a visual delight it was to experience this long and beautiful stairway!

In May 2012, Beth, Melissa and Shannon did another great stairways walk in the Land Ends area where we had amazing coastal views.

In 2014, during another walk I discovered this very large bougainvillea plant in bloom near a stairway.   I never tire of walking in San Francisco and each walk has added to my appreciation of this gorgeous and interesting city, full of endless opportunities for exploration!

Why a blog? #4 – Kindness

Beth and I have always tried to reach out and help others.  Almost 40 years ago we sponsored a native African missionary who pretty much lived on the $25 a month we sent him.  Since then we have tried to stay engaged in some effort to help others.  At this point in our lives looking at having more time to call our own we hope to keep up and even expand this.  I am not yet sure how this will look while exploring but we are doing some research.  We have located a few internet resources that help connect RVers with volunteer opportunities but I have always like to make our effort more personal and direct.  Like I said, I’m not yet sure how this will look, but do want to make an effort to make it an integral part of our daily life.  I am listening to a speaker now on uTube who is talking about compassion.  He says most people will take opportunities to show compassion and kindness when they occur spontaneously in our lives, but he challenges people to live lives where they purposefully plan to reach out with compassion as a planned activity.  I like this idea very much, but am not sure how to do it yet.  As we try to make compassion and kindness a part of our lives I hope to talk a little about it on the blog to both seek input and ideas from others, and maybe in some small way encourage others to think about and do things themselves.

Another way I hope to do this, and this will probably sound really crazy, is to look at the Amazon Affiliates Program.  What?  How?  As I started doing research on blogging I could hardly find any books or material that were not about “How to make money blogging.”  I looked and looked and most all had a little on making a blog and then a lot about developing “revenue streams.”  As you will note, developing revenue streams is not on my list at all, so I didn’t pay much attention to this.  However in continuing to research for how to blog and watching vlogs on uTube I learned a little more.  Anyway, so, later on as we get the blog going I am looking at signing up for the Amazon Affiliates Program.  This means if anyone reading the blog then goes to Amazon from a link on the blog and buys anything a very small part of the purchase price will become Amazon credit for us.  It does not cost any more for the person purchasing things so it looks like a win-win kind of situation.  Beth and I have talked about then taking any credit we might accrue and using it to help others.  We use Amazon a lot (not a plug, a fact) and think there are others who do also, and might want to add a little benefit by helping others at the same time.  We imagine as we travel looking for people, places that could use a little gift and using our credit on Amazon to spread a little kindness.  Is that crazy?  I’m not sure if it will work out, but if it could work we hope to give it a try.  We also plan to continue to set aside some of our own money each month in the budget to help others.

Anyway, while maybe not yet really well developed, I hope to use the blog as a vehicle to practice and spread a little kindness and compassion.  As we go (or now)  I will be asking for ideas any of you might have.

As you may have guessed the pictures this time don’t have anything to do directly with kindness.  They were taken on our last trip to Moss Landing, CA.  Although really, what I was thinking was about the kindness God has bestowed on us in nature.

Just over TWO WEEKS until Beth retires!