18 February 2011

Thursday was exhausting...

After driving all day Wednesday in high winds and heavy rain, we discussed the options and decided Sean would drop me at the San Francisco airport car rental facility and go the rest of the way himself. It's a relatively short hop from there to Redding, interstate all the way, and his buddy was meeting him there to drive the truck into the mountains -- since he has experience driving a truck in the mountains in hairy weather conditions, and Sean definitely does not! And I didn't want to attempt it in a rental car.

So instead, I checked in with Enterprise and got a cute little black Nissan Versa for the rest of the day. My only grumble is that the major rental companies (Enterprise just happens to be my favorite) is that they don't have hourly or half-day rates. I just wanted to drive back to San Jose, cruise around my old neighborhood, and come back. My downtown hotel didn't have parking, and the closest garage is about 4 blocks away. And street parking in the big city is something else I didn't want to do in a rental car.

But customer service was -- as usual -- great, and the car was nice. I've been wanting to drive one for a while, and I liked it. Handled very well, even in the weather, and had a surprising amount of interior space. Looked to me like there was probably room for long-leggedy boys in the back seat, even!

Thanks to the new phone, I have GPS now, so the old house wasn't hard to find. Not sure I could have done it without the lady in the phone, though; I don't think our old exit actually exists anymore. We used to come in from the west, driving down another north-south avenue to Santa Teresa Blvd. Yesterday, GPS Lady directed me to Bernal Road, which took me in from the east -- and there are about three more streets now on that side of the subdivision than there were 35 years ago.

Otherwise, the neighborhood hadn't changed much at all. Still small stucco houses, middle-class and well maintained. The development hadn't gone up the hill in the back, and after driving around for a while, I found out why. It's now part of a huge park and wildlife preservation area.

In downtown San Jose, I quickly found my way to the Museum of Art, which currently has an exhibit of Robert Mapplethorpe's portraits. It was late -- half an hour from closing by then -- so I didn't have time to sit and ponder on my favorites. Still, they were beautiful and inspiring. So many of them were taken with a Polaroid camera -- it's unbelievable what the man was able to do with one of those gadgets. Everyone has seen his portraits of Patti Smith by now, lovely images that show a softness Patti isn't exactly known for -- a Patti her best friends see, and probably not many other people. The ones of Madeline Kahn, Debbie Harry, and Isabella Rossellini are gorgeous, many of the others were striking in other ways -- but the one that touched me most deeply was the self-portrait from a few months before his death. Mapplethorpe was by then very sick from HIV, and he looked much older than he was. But he was still beautiful. And his eyes, staring out of his pale face against the dark backdrop, were direct and intense and unafraid.

After that, there was only a quick search for a gas station (with one adventurous excursion through was turned out to be a very deep puddle!) and then back to the airport to drop off the car. I headed for the Air Train dragging my suitcase (thank God someone thought of putting wheels on them!) and toting my purse, briefcase, and crochet bag, and quickly regretted not spending the four bucks on a luggage cart. Then, just as I collapsed on a bench to catch my breath -- there sat a cart, abandoned at the foot of the escalator! I snagged it, and the rest of the hike was much easier.

Quickly caught a shuttle into the city. If you have to pick a shuttle service in San Francisco, I recommend Advanced. The driver loaded my bags for me and the other passengers, took us on a very efficient route to our various hotels, and actually made a trip back from several miles up the road to bring me a bag I'd left behind his seat! The call to his dispatcher hadn't caught up to him yet, but as soon as he saw it, he knew where he'd dropped the passenger who'd left it, and he turned around and came back.

The Marina Inn, at the corner of Octavia and Lombard Streets, is charming. Definitely a "bed and breakfast" atmosphere, so if you're looking for upscale modern, go with whatever chain you like. But the location is good -- just a few blocks from Fisherman's Wharf, and with some interesting little restaurants in easy walking distance -- and the desk staff are very helpful and personable.

I had dinner at Silver Clouds, up the street a few blocks. The owners are Thai, and they do have some Thai dishes on the menu -- mostly specials. The shellfish tom yum looks really good, and I may have to go back and get some. :-) But last night, I was worn out, and I wanted protein. And the bulk of the menu is good old American protein! I went for liver and onions, which came with a nice little salad, wonderfully crusty, warm bread, and steamed vegetables and a baked potato.

Back in the room, I conked out pretty quickly, and I think I slept for about 10 hours, then dozed for a couple more. And now it's noon, and I'm off for my San Francisco adventure!

(Yes, I'll post those pictures! But not right now... Things to do! Places to be! YIPPEE!!)

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