Family around the Bay Area

Aaron and Jess dropped me at the Sonoma hotel, we'd had a good day at different beers spots, now I'd soon be catching up with my family. They were flying in from Connecticut late night, I headed to the front desk to let them know I was part of the group to avoid being bothered if I was to hang around the lobby. Somehow they decided to give me a key and check me. I could have been anyone, I just knew the name of someone checking in and claimed to know them.

I walked towards the room, passing a pool and a hot tub along the way, I decided I'd be coming back for that. I went to the room and fished out a couple beers from my bag, along with a bottle of sake. Donna had given me the sake, she said it had gone bad, but I wasn't ready to believe that.

I headed for the hot tub and sat for a bit, sipping on my beer, the sacramento home brew. A couple joined me, they were in Sonoma on vacation doing some wine tasting. We talked for a bit, then they eventually headed back to their room.

I was thinking about heading back myself, but just then a few exotic looking models entered the pool area, all about my age, they smiled at me and dipped into the hot tub along side me. They were in town for one of the three's bachelorette party. I'd exhausted my beers, so I offered them the sake bottle, they turned it down though, they'd just come back from some wine drinking.

We talked a while, then a couple of them went back for the room to get some others. I jumped in the pool with the girl they left behind, she was from the New York City area. I told her about my friend Mark who worked at a bar on Park Avenue, she made me repeat the details several times saying she was going to visit when she got back sometime.

Twice as many girls came back than had left, we hopped back into the hot tub, talking while I sipped the sake, I didn't think it was half bad. Soon they were done and heading back for their room, I took another sip of sake and headed back to my room as well.

I ate a leftover burrito, took a shower, and laid down on the couch. An hour or so later I awoke to the door being fiddled with, it popped open and in came my mom, step dad, bother and sister. We caught up for a minute and then passed out shortly.

In the morning we headed out and met up with my aunt, uncle and cousins - the same aunt and uncle who gave me the backpack I've been using for almost three years. My aunt says the backpack has been as far as Turkey on a backpacking trip. We all rolled down the road towards my grandpa's house, his 75th birthday was coming up and this was to be a big surprise, this was the reason all this family had flown and drove out here.

We parked off to the side and knocked on the door, my grandpa opened the door in surprise, mission accomplished. We came up and enjoyed a big breakfast and mimosas, catching up all the family and friends about. My brother and I watched the basketball game in the midst of this.

We headed back to the hotel, then my step dad and I headed out to meet some others in search of a winery. Being easter sunday, we were unable to find anything open, so headed back to the room.

Later we went out for a big fancy dinner with wine, champagne, appetizers and lots of good food. Loose plans were made for the following day, we all parted ways to our hotels and homes and passed out until the morning. For breakfast we went to a diner called the Red Grape for pizza, I got an Anchor Steam Porter to go along with the meal.

The subsets of family parted ways, myself with my mom, step dad, brother and sister - we were heading for San Francisco. We checked into a fancy hotel called the Fairmont. We hung in the room for a minute, then headed for the trolley. The trolley seemed pretty inefficient, but somehow we'd landed in a tourist state of doing things for lack of other direction. We waited a bit, then hopped on a trolley car that had the heavy scent of marijuana, it took us down to the wharf.

My mom was on crutches, she's busted her ankle in a freak rebounding incident during one of my little brother's trick shot sessions back in Connecticut. She hobbled along as we walked along the wharf without much direction or intention. My step dad went looking for tickets to alcatraz while I laughed at my sister's fear of street pigeons. He came back without tickets, they were booked solid, we caught a cab back to the hotel.

We hung there for just a bit, then all but my mom headed to a chineese restaurant down a few steep San Francisco blocks where we had a good meal. We went back to the Fairmont, my step dad, brother and I headed to the lobby to watch the end of the Duke-Butler championship game. I drank a couple Prohibition Ales from the San Fran Speakeasy Brewery. Butler missed a half court buzzer beater that would have won the game, we headed back to the room and shortly fell to sleep, I slept in the big walk in closet.

haight, my sister was eager to go shopping for things like prom shoes. My step dad wanted to see the grateful dead house, it was just a few blocks away, not much to see, just something to think about.

We grabbed some pizza and I guided them into Golden Gate park towards hippy hill, a place I'd discovered my first trip here with Kimmie and Rudy. It was pretty much what I expected, we got offered pot at every turn, relaxed folks with dreads were piled on blankets showing their beads, cardboard signs looking for money to fund trips up the coast, things like this. One guy offered us shroomz, saying "I'm just keeping everyone happy!".

My sister continued her shopping, the rest of us wandered around Amoeba Music looking at the wide selection they have. We all met up again at a coffee shop after my sister picked out various outfits, then headed back to the hotel, meeting my mom at a park out front she'd managed to get to.

We relaxed in the room for a bit, then cabbed it to a nearby sushi spot for a good meal. I also had a taste of sake, furthering my thought that Donna's sake wasn't all too bad. My mom and sister caught a cab back, I hiked up the hill with my brother and step dad.

We went into a place next to the Fairmont called Top of The Mark, we saw what it looked like and caught the dress code, then headed back to the Fairmont to find my mom and sister. They took a little convincing, but soon we were all back at the Top of The Mark, high above San Francisco as night was falling. I sipped on a martini, their beer selection was lacking, this was the thing to do anyhow.

We drove out of San Francisco, heading south to Pacific Grove, a town just by Monteray on the coast where my uncle's family had a house. We stopped along the way at Maverick, a spot know for wicked waves that surfers swarmed to. We took a walk down along the beach to get a look, there were no surfers at the moment, but waves crashed against big rocks.

We kept cruising, passing up a stop to see seals on the beach, we didn't stop again until Santa Cruz. We went to Seabright Brewery, we filled our bellies with beer pub food. I had an oatmeal stout and a strong beer called Double Donkey, both very good.

We'd passed an amusement park on the way to the brewery, so we went back to the boardwalk to check it out. A few of us went on some roller coasters and a spin cycle ride, it felt good shooting through the wind on the coasters, I hadn't done that in a while.

We got back in the car and cruised, the coast line the whole way had been incredible to see. As we pulled just a block or so away from the motel, we saw my aunt walking along and shouted at her. We stopped at the motel and checked in, she came walking up, they were staying just behind the motel and a hair down the street. We dropped our things and headed over.

It was a cool little house loaded with memories, it was the only house on the block covered in greenery, shrouded it in privacy with bamboo along the edge of the property. I enjoyed a beer while my uncle walked me around telling me stories about the place, he was concerned that his family may be selling it, so he was particularly taking time to appreciate the place.

We rounded up a bunch of bikes and cruised along the coast towards Monteray. We stopped by a fence and saw an army of seals passed on the beach just at the edge of the tide. We went further down and then looped back, it was a good ride.

I sipped a margarita back at the house, then we all headed to dinner at a place called Peppers where I got myself a mendocino beer and some jambalaya. That night I grabbed my sleeping bag from the motel and went to my uncle and aunts place to set myself up in their camper van. I stayed up for a bit with my uncle talking about the area and more memories from the house.

I had some coffee and leftover jambalaya in the morning, relaxing in the ocean air. I got my haircut that afternoon with my little brother, the barber told me a story of a couple who got married at lovers point, a rocky point just outside our motel window. While taking a picture on the rocks and freak wave came up and knocked them both in the water, only the groom surfaced.

I helped carry a kayak to the beach later, I never paddled on it, but my step dad and brother went out pretty far until they capsized and had to swim back to shore. I laid in the beach, then headed back to the motel to relax a bit, then back to the beach to help carry the kayak back to the house. We went to dinner next door, crab cakes and a Black Butte Porter.

The next day the family would be leaving and I'd be going on to the next thing, heading towards Paso Robles to see my friend Candice in her new home.