Tuesday, October 6th

48 degrees, clear and calm this AM with a bright moon visible out the window from my coffee spot.

I started out the day as usual then at 8:30 hopped the 22 up to 16th and Folsom to the shopping plaza. Here I picked up a few cleaning supplies so I could tidy things up a bit before Bruce arrived home from vacation on Saturday.

Then, after my return it was around the corner to Farley's to upload the latest trip report and attend to my emails. When I got back from Farleys's I reorganized and was back on the 22 again by 11:00. This time it was off to the Main Library and SF Visitors Center.

Now I was at the 18th and Texas bus stop for the second time that morning. While sitting there, enjoying the early morning sun, a young woman popped in and looked at the overhead, real time schedule. We exchanged "Good mornings" and she said, "Arriving now - (reading the schedule), sweet". As we both stood there curb side, bus passes in hand I said, holding mine up: "This is like my own magic carpet" to which she replied: Yes, they are great - as long as you don't lose it!" Which was exactly my concern from the very day I shelled out the 55 bucks for it.

I got off the 22 at 16th and Mission and then boarded a 49 Van Ness which would take me up to Market Street just a short distance from the Main Library. The bus was fairly crowded and the activity and every stop.

Being the spatially challenged person I am, I was bit disoriented when I got off the bus but I got myself to the library on short order. There, I picked up a couple of copies of the City Guides schedule and then it was down to the Visitors Center at Eddy and 5th. Here I hoped to get a copy of the SF Parks and Recreation map the two gals from South Africa had picked up here. Unfortunately they seemed to have no idea what I was talking about and seemed generally disorganized.

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I left and went over to Powell Street where the always busy Cable Car turn around is. I started up the hill and past the Gold Dust Saloon where Steve and I had met for drinks this past Saturday. Looking up the looming and very steep street I decided to board a Cable Car at Sutter Street and ride it the three blocks to the top of the at California Street.

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The outside row of seats being taken I stood on the running board and hung on to the pole tightly. Since there is an adjacent traffic line just inches away from the Cable Car one would not want to lean out to far or, worse yet, fall off the car. At one point a series of upright, plastic lane dividers brushed my ankles like the teeth on a comb. That's how close the traffic lane is.

I jumped the cable car at California Street and then walked down Powell Street. At Sacramento I took a right and went down to Stockton and into the heart of Chinatown. Unlike the touristy Grant Street, I think of Stockton as the real Chinatown. Here, like Grant street, you will see throngs of people, all locals, shopping and running other errands, but you will see few tourists, chinoiserie trinket shops or Egg Foo Yung joints.

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By now it was almost 12:30 and I started thinking about some lunch. Not far from the corner of Sacramento and Stockton (and the Stockton Street Tunnel) I saw the New Fortune Dim Sum and Cafe (811 Stockton St - between Sacramento and Clay) and poked my head in to check it out.

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Just inside the door and on the left there was a room with a giant mixer running and a woman busily mixing up some sort of greens.

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To the right were two glass cases with an assortment of pastries and behind it was a steam table and large steamer basket with all manner of goodies as well as the above menu posted up on the wall. Most of the items listed here were unknown to me. So...what order?

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When asked what I wanted by the lady behind the counter I pointed to what this woman was having. She yelled something in "Chinese" to the woman in the back and then went about her other business behind the counter. I had to assume she had just ordered up my noodle bowl so I sat down at the opposite end of the table and waited for my lunch. Meanwhile a few people came in out and went off with stuffed, steamed buns called Bao (bow), or boxes of takeout for lunch.
It was not long before my lunch was brought out to me.

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Hot and steamy and plenty of it!

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Hmmmm... now how shall I describe these little morsels of pork?
Chewy? Gristly? Tough? Flavorful? Yes!

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I found the soup a little on the bland side which I remedied with some soy sauce and red chili paste.

As I was finishing up the woman sitting at the other end of the table asked: "You like?" I told her I did and asked here then she asked: "You know Chinese? How you know what to order?" I then told her how I had ordered and she laughed. I asked here what the soup was called and she said simply: "Rice noodles".

Rice noodles  - Copyright  2009 Sunset Publishing Corporation

At some point in our conversation she apologized for her English and said she had been taking English language classes for two years. She said it had cost $268 for the class and so far she had not passed the final test. She said the last time she took it she was given two more months to study or she would have to take the class again. Then, she told me her daughter-in-law was in a serious car accident and she had to take over the care of her 11 month old daughter. Because of this, she missed the 2 month deadline and was bemoaning the fact she would now have to take the class again and once again pay the $268.

She then pulled out a thick, stapled manual from the cloth bag she was carrying and handed it to me. It was citizenship manual. At that point a gentleman who come in and sat down at the back looked at the manual and asked : "You take?" She replied, rather hopefully: "Soon". He said "I have to wait five years". She looked at him pitifully and said nothing.

She then got up and we said our good-byes. I went up to the counter and paid my tab, a whopping $3.25.

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I walked out the door, past the Hop Hing Ginseng Company, and turned left down Stockton and found it very busy and bustling.

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I stopped along the way to take some digi-snaps. This is Bak Choi, or Chinese Cabbage.

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This a very common sight in Chinatown.

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While shoppers were busy, store clerks and delivery men were busy as well.

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Yet another mural. This one was a bit conventional/contemporary for my tastes.

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I saw lots of fish. Dead fish. Live fish. Whole fish. Dressed fish. Dried fish.

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Dried shrimp.

In Chinese cuisine, dried shrimp are used quite frequently for their sweet and unique flavor that is very different from fresh shrimp. They have the coveted umami flavor (or so-called "fifth taste"). It is an ingredient in the Cantonese XO sauce. Dried shrimp are also used in Chinese (mostly Cantonese) soups and braised dishes.

It is also featured in Cantonese cuisine, particularly in some dim sum dishes such as rolled and rice noodle roll and in zongzi. Despite the literal meaning of the name Chinese name xia- mi( ("shrimp rice"), it has nothing to do with rice other than the fact that the shrimp are shrunk to a tiny size similar to grains of rice.

Source: WikiPedia

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I went in and looked at this stuff but could not recognize any of it.

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Chestnuts.

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More hanging goodies.

I continued on down Stockton and crossed Columbus Avenue into North Beach, until I reached Washington Square. It was here that I ate for the first time at Pasta Pomodoro back in 2001(?)

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This is the Saints Peter and Paul Church which faces west towards the square. I noticed the church was open and decided to take this opportunity to go to Confession.

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Confession was not being held so I took a coupla snaps. Beautiful church and well maintained. Big money here.

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As if " respectful" is a word most cell phone users are familiar with.

Gone are the days when people whipped out a cell phone to demonstrate how "with it" they were. Now nearly everyone who wants a cellphone -- teenager to drug dealer -- are running about wireless. Hot it may be, but hip it isn't. And thankfully fading in impact are the "Guess where I am?" calls.

Still, there are those who think they are impressing everyone by rearing back to send their bell-like laughter into the unwired ether. And many cellphone calls are the inane (to anyone nearby) "natter" calls full of "...and then I go...and he goes."

No wonder cellphone backlash, even cellphone rage is with us. One report: Two men in a cafe were beaten and their phones destroyed by two others after the pair ignored repeated requests to curb their loud and continuous yakking on their phones.

Source: Copyright 2009 ROAD & TRAVEL Magazine

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I left the church behind and started my climb up Telegraph Hill via Filbert Street to the Coit Tower. This monument was built in honor of the San Francisco Fireman.

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Segway tours are popular lots of places.
SF is no exceptions.

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The Filbert Steps intersects Telegraph Hill Blvd near the top. At that point you can take the steps seen here or use the sidewalk which leads to the front of the Monument.

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One of the numerous big Eucalyptus trees at the top. These trees were full of raucous exotic parrots.

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As one might expect, the views are spectacular from this vantage point. This is the Oakland-Bay Bridge.

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Alcatraz Island.

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The interior of the Tower is famous for it's murals as well.

The Coit Tower murals were carried out under the auspices of the Public Works of Art Project, the first of the New Deal federal employment programs for artists. Ralph Stackpole and Bernard Zakheim successfully sought the commission in 1933, and supervised the muralists, who were mainly faculty and student of the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA), including Maxine Albro, Victor Arnautoff, Ray Bertrand, Rinaldo Cuneo, Mallette Harold Dean, Clifford Wight, Edith Hamlin, George Harris, Robert B. Howard, Otis Oldfield, Suzanne Scheuer, Hebe Daum and Frede Vidar.

Source: WikiPedia

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The murals represent workers as well as other scenes of daily life.

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This one depicts a library scene.

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This is part of the circular hallway at the base of the Tower.

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This mural and one below depict "City Life".

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Now we see agricultural and farm workers depicted.

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Makin' bacon!

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The gift shop was so stuffed with tourist trinkets one could hardly move through the place.

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An informative sign about the murals and muralists of Coit Tower.

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I took the sidewalk back down to the Filbert Steps. It has a low stone wall to separate the roadway from the sidewalk. Someone had installed small dioramas in the wall cavities.   Click for larger image

Finding the unexpected, unexplained and offbeat is one of the things I love about San Fran.

I made my way back down the Filbert Steps for the 2 mile walk past Washington Square then Filbert Street up and over the hill to Fillmore and Lombard, a now familiar bus stop to me. I boarded the next 22 and nearly dozed off a coupla times.

When the bus stopped at Market and Church Streets two uniformed officers boarded. One in green - a MUNI " Proof of Payment" (POP) COP, and one in black - SFPD. The MUNI cop positioned herself in front of the back door, the SFPDer at the front. The POP cop whipped out her citation book and said she was here to check to make sure everyone had a pass or a transfer and to please have then out and ready for inspection.

The very first person she checked was an older lady. She presented the POP cop with a Senior pass. The POP cop asked the lady how old she was and she mumbled something I could not hear, but the POP cop obviously did.

The POP cop then went on to check every passenger and finding no violators went back to the old lady. She said that since she was not old enough to be using Senior pass three things were going to happen: She was going to confiscate the pass, which she did, she was going to issue the lady two citations, one for improper use of a Senior pass and one for non payment of fair. She spoke loudly so everyone on the bus could hear her.

The old lady looked up at the POP cop and said something I could not make out. The POP cop then said loudly and sarcastically: "Oh, now you don't speak any English".

She then asked the woman for some sort of ID as proof of her age. The old lady seemed to not understand and the POP cop said she did not speak Spanish. She then told the women if she produced ID, she would write the citation and then everyone could go on their way. If she didn't, then the SFPD would search her purse for her ID.

About then the old lady got up to get off the bus. She did and the POP cop followed here. The POP cop stuck by her side and SFPD cop went out the front of the bus. As the bus pulled out of the stop I could see the little old lady standing there in middle of the sidewalk flanked on either side by the two cops. Then, they were gone.

How this all ended we will never know, but I thought it a rather pathetic use of public resources.

The bus rolled on and stopped at Franklin Square to take on more passengers. Six kids boarded the bus through the back door. The bus driver looked back and said "Front door, please." Twice. They started cursing him and yelling. The driver then informed them bus would not move until they entered the bus through the front door. They all piled off and then entered through the front. But, one of them apparently did not pay the fair.

Franklin Park - SF

Source: © Google Maps

The driver called back to him to come up and pay the fair. More cursing and yelling. A woman who was seated near the front approached the driver with fair money. He shook his head and she sat back down.

Once again the driver said the bus was not going anywhere until the fair was paid. Finally one of them went up and threw some money in the hopper. He went back to his buddies and they once again started slinging profanities at the bus driver. The driver, who still had not moved, then said if heard another word they were all getting off the bus. One kid shouted: "We apologize." and the bus continued on.

About five block later, near the Connecticut and 18th stop the swearing and yelling started again and they all got up to exit the bus. They continued with the swearing and as they went by the open front door and yelled at the bus driver. I was surprised when the bus driver giving it back. Then, on of the kids pick up a rock and hurled it at the bus. He then picked up another one and ran up to the still open front door. By this time the driver was on the radio and he looked at the kid and said "SFPD is on the way". The kid dropped the rock and ran off. The bus driver then proceeded to give the SFPD a very through description of the 6 kids and the direction they were headed in. Obviously, this was not the first run in with these brats.
Two blocks later I got off at my stop, and glad to be there.

It was now 4:00. I was to meet Steven, a 30 year resident of San Fran and long time friend of the family, at 6:00 for dinner. Tuckered out, I lay down for a nap and then left the apartment around 5:20 to once again board the 22 bus for the Mission.

I got of at Valencia and 16th and walked down Valencia to 24th, took a left and then found our pre-arranged meeting place.

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The Mission Branch of the San Francisco Public Library at 24th and Bartlett.

I was to meet Steven in the 2nd floor reading room and he arrived about 15 minutes after I did.

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A nice shot of Steven in front of the first cafe he visited in San Fran - 30 years ago.

After Steven presented me with an interesting and enticing list of dinner options I told him El Trebol (The Clover) sounded like what I had in mind. We walked the very short distance to 3324 24th St (between Bartlett St & Osage St). Steven has been here many times over the years, both solo and with the likes of me in tow, and the proprietors know him on site.

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We started out with two pupusas ($2.50), one cheese and one meat and both ordered Negro Modelo beer. We split the two between us then garnished them with the salsa. Delish!!

We then ordered the main course. Steven always gets the Puerco Frito (fried pork) so I decided to try it as well.

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When our dinners arrived I was amazed at the amount of food we getting for our $6.50. Everything was delicious. The pork was savory, tender and lean. The fried tomatoes were excellent - a first for me.

I thoroughly enjoyed the meal and conversation. Steven had lots of food ideas and other suggestions for me while I was here.

We said out good-byes. Steven lived near-by and I was to walk the nearly mile back to 16th, catch the 22 and then home by nine.
Nighty-nite...

 

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