Day 11: Sunday - October 17th

I feel awful.
My head hurts.
Why did I do this?


Click on the photos below for a larger image.

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This fuzzy photo pretty well represents the feeling I had after staying up too late and drinking too much at Viracocha. Thank god I had that bacon dog before going to bed or I would really feel like shit.
Now I have to get my house in order. Today is a special day. I get to meet Linda.

I first met Linda via email back in late June. Linda had stumbled across some of my SF pages and wrote to tell me she enjoyed them. More specifically:
"Mike, I ran into your site this morning and I've been spellbound! As a native San Franciscan, I'm ashamed to say I think you know more about my city than I do. I adore your photos and your writing style! Such a talent! Best, Linda"
Wow. That's high praise for a point-and-shoot wielding hillbilly scribbler like me.

With that short note Linda started the ball rolling and we began to email back and forth on a regular basis.

Linda has a webBlog and writes a good bit so this was a good chance for me to find out some firsthand info on what another web writer does for ideas, inspiration, etc. I get a kick out of what she writes about - and how. A good example is one of her latest pieces " Why I Won't Have A Face Lift". I suggest you read it. Linda tells it like it is as only she can.

When my plans finally gelled for this trip I alerted Linda I would be in the area and we made plans to meet. After some back and forth Linda suggested a way to meet which would make it easy for us. Take the ferry from the Embarcadero over to Jack London Square on the Oakland waterfront. There, she and husband Alex could meet me and we could have lunch together. Groovy.

Since Jon, Jess and Nola live in Oakland I let them know of my plans to meet with Linda and Alex. Jon had earlier suggested I visit with them at their house up in the hills. He felt I might be ready for a break from The City and find a window view of Redwoods and Madrone a nice change. He was right.

So, after my lunch with Linda and Alex, Jon would meet me at Jack London Square and we would then head up into the hills.

But first I had to catch the ferry.

Linda suggested meeting at noon which would work out well since, according to the ferry schedule, there was a boat leaving the terminal at the Ferry Building at 11:30 (through October).

Alameda/Oakland Ferry route map

Since the N Judah Embarcadero Station was only a few steps away from the Ferry Building getting there should be a no brainer.

Ed and The Rev had told me about which would allow me to track the arrivals times for the N stop which was right out the front door. Generally, these GPS based predictions are pretty accurate and fortunately this morning was one of the times.

But, knowing first hand how shit can hit the fan at any time for any transit line I left way early knowing if I missed the 11:30 ferry the next one wouldn't be until 2:30.

Ok. Time to go. I stepped out Ed's front door into the fog and steady rain, walked across the street to the train platform and was soon on the N and heading downtown to the Embarcadero Station and Ferry Building.

Ferry Buiding San Francisco

Photo: WikiPedia

The Ferry Building as I would like to have seen it that morning.
Actually, the cold, wet, depressing weather had been a good match for my hung over state of mind that morning. Had I actually seen a view this glorious it would have been more than I could stand.

To the right is the Oakland - Bay Bridge with the Oakland shipyards in the back. In the center is Angel Island where the bridge makes a right hand turn.

Opening in 1898 on the site of the 1875 wooden Ferry House, the Ferry Building became the transportation focal point for anyone arriving by train from the East, as well as from all the East Bay and Marin residents who worked in the city. From the Gold Rush until the 1930s, arrival by ferryboat became the only way travelers and commuters—except those coming from the Peninsula—could reach the city

Today ferry terminals operate at Larkspur, Sausalito, Vallejo, and Alameda with plans for continuing network improvements and expansion. Extensive renovation of the Ferry Building is now complete. The Ferry Building redevelopment represents approximately 65,000 square feet of first floor Marketplace space, and an additional 175,000 square feet of premium second and third floor office space.
The Marketplace, organized along the central Nave, provides a distinctive space for bringing together the greater Bay Area's agricultural wealth and renowned specialty food purveyors under one roof. The exterior and main public hall have been restored to their original grandeur for use by ferry passengers and the public at large.

Source: © 2005 Equity Office

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The backside of the Ferry Building as seen through a steady rain. This is the same place, where on my first weekend here, I accompanied Ed to the amazing Farmers Market which fills the entire area.

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I entered the Ferry Building. The resteraunts were doing what looked like a brisk breakfast business. I had an hour or so before the Ferry to Oakland arrived so I got myself a cup of coffee at Peet's. The coffee was no help. I went back outside and stood under an overhang and watched it rain. I stood there and stared at the terminal as if this would somehow make the ferry magically appear. Didn't work. My head was still a bit fuzzy and felt like it was going to be that way for a while. Crap.

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I wandered around for a bit. When I saw this place I fantasized about sitting there in the warm sun nursing some hair-of-the-dog.

Eventually I found the place to get my six dollar and fifty cent ferry ticket. I was told I could get a ticket onboard, but I wanted to be sure.
The ferry got there on schedule and I boarded with about a dozen other people. The crew worked quickly and efficiently and were helpful and pleasant, but not overly so. Perhaps MUNI should consider sending their people to the same place where these folk learned to act like professionals.

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Being on board the ferry would normally provide the opportunity for some nice snap shots. But this morning's overcast skies, fog, steady drizzle and rain spattered windows made it a bit challenging.

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The Bay Bridge. In the background you can see the new span which is still under construction.

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A look at Angel Island where the bridge hangs a right.

From 1910-1940, Chinese immigrants were detained and interrogated at Angel Island immigration station in San Francisco Bay. U.S. officials hoped to deport as many as possible by asking obscure questions about Chinese villages and family histories that immigrants would have trouble answering correctly.

Men and women were housed separately. Detainees spent much of their time in the barracks, languishing between interrogations.

The immigrants expressed their fears and frustrations through messages and poems written or carved into barrack walls. Some poems are still visible at the museum today.

Immigrants were detained weeks, months, sometimes even years. Word got back to China about the prolonged questioning, so people would try to mentally prepare before even crossing the Pacific Ocean.

Source: Angel Island: Immigrant Journeys of Chinese-Americans

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Although the view was mostly obscured, everyone was having a look-see.

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One of my favorite things - a grabby, in-your-face kid.

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My first close look at the container cranes.

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If you bought it from WalMart it probably passed through the Port of Oakland: Facts.

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The Port of Oakland loads and discharges more than 99 percent of the containerized goods moving through Northern California, the nation's fourth largest metropolitan area. Oakland's cargo volume makes it the fourth busiest containerport in the United States, and ranks San Francisco Bay among the three principal Pacific Coast gateways for U.S. containerized cargoes, along with San Pedro Bay in southern California and Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest.

About 58.9 percent of Oakland's trade is with Asia. Europe accounts for 10.3 percent, Australia/New Zealand and South Pacific Islands about 4.7 percent and other foreign economies about 8.8 percent. About 17.3 percent of Oakland's trade is domestic (Hawaii and Guam) and military cargo. California's three major containerports carry approximately 50 percent on the nation's total container cargo volume.

Source: Port of Oakland

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The box hanging from the center is the crane operator's roost.

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All these containers will eventually be craned onto rail cars or trucks. Or back on board a cargo ship.

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The San Francisco skyline as seen from the Port of Oakland.

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A short 35 minutes later we were docking at the Oakland Ferry Terminal.

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The rain had let up a little bit by now, but not for long.

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Linda and Alex were there waiting for me and I took advantage of the let up in the rain to get this nice photo of them.

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We walked the short distance to IL Pescatore Restaurant where we had a really nice lunch.

I have to admit I am not quite used to having such elegant menu options for lunch. Fortunately one of the specials made it easy for me to choose and I ordered the Grilled Orange Roughy with Swiss chard and mashed potatoes.
Here, now, was my chance for some hair of the dog, but I decided to wait.

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Mm, Mm - good!

We had a nice, leisurely lunch and each of us took turns filling in the blanks about ourselves.

Hopefully the next time we all get together we will be sitting out on the sun-drenched patio!

As we departed IL Pescatore I thought I recognized one of the staff. Not likely since I had never been there before. But, then I realized I had seen a photo of him on Linda's June 29th Blog entry.

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Alex and Linda wanted me to see a very famous place which was just a few steps away.

This is the interior of Heinold's First and Last Chance Bar. Although newer and smaller this place took me back to the Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop in New Orleans. They both have a feel of comfortable decrepitude and a sense of walking back in time.

Opened in 1883 by Johnny Heinold as J.M. Heinold's Saloon, this Historic Landmark looked much then as she does today. She was built right here in 1880 from the timbers of an old whaling ship over the water in a dock area that even then was at the foot of Webster Street.
For nearly three years, the building was used as a bunk house by the men working the nearby oyster beds. Then in 1883, Johnny's $100 purchase, with the aid of a ship's carpenter, was transformed into a saloon where seafaring and waterfront men could feel at ease.

It is for good reason that this is known as Jack London's Rendezvous. As a schoolboy, Jack London studied at these same tables we still use today. Later, he would return to his favorite table and write notes for The Sea Wolf and Call of the Wild.
At age 17, he confided to John Heinold his ambition to go to the University of California and become a writer. Johnny lent London the money for tuition and, although he never got beyond his first year, it was while studying at this saloon and listening to the stories of shipmates and stevedores that he developed his thirst for adventure.

Source: WikiPedia

We had hoped to have an Irish Coffee as a warm-up dessert, but they had none. So, Linda and I had pints of stout and Alex, iced tea.
When we finished up we said our farewells. I knew it was unlikely we would see each other again on this visit, but there is always "Same time next year". And, with good,old email it is pretty easy to stay in touch.

Thanks Linda and Alex!!

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This is the main entrance to the Square. Pretty gloomy looking.

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We then went our separate ways and soon my cell phone was ringing. As expected, it was Jon Altemus letting me know he was heading my way and would be there shortly to pick me up.

In the meantime, I wandered around Jack London Square taking a few snaps.

Jack London Square is a popular tourist attraction on the waterfront of Oakland, California. Named after the author Jack London and owned by the Port of Oakland, it is the home of stores, restaurants, hotels, an Amtrak station, a ferry dock, the historic Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon, the (re-located) cabin Jack London lived in the Klondike, and a movie theater. A farmer's market is hosted among the retail shops on Sunday mornings. The former presidential yacht USS Potomac is moored at an adjacent slip.

Jack London Square is located at the south end of Broadway, across the Oakland Estuary from Alameda.

The name has also come to refer to the formerly industrial neighborhood surrounding Jack London Square proper now known as the Jack London District, which has undergone significant rehabilitation in the last decade, including loft conversions and new construction. Former Oakland mayor Jerry Brown made his home here before moving north to the Uptown neighborhood.

Source: WikiPedia

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There is much to see at Jack London Square and much of it is outside.

Cheemah, Mother of the Spirit-Fire, is an eighteen-foot (5.5 meter) tall bronze monument dedicated to celebrating cultural diversity, world unity and care for the earth. Osprey Orielle Lake is the artist and founder of the International Cheemah Monument Project.
Ms. Lake's vision is to place eight Cheemah monuments around the world to create an inspiring bridge between cultures. Three of the eight monuments have already been placed in Hamburg International Airport in Germany; Majorca, Spain and in the San Francisco Bay Area at Jack London Square.

Source: © Osprey Orielle Lake

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On Thursday, May 16, 2002, the third Cheemah Monument, destined for North America, was unveiled. This 18 foot (5.5 meter) tall bronze statue was erected at the Port of Oakland's highly visited Jack London Square where it will be on view to the public for generations to come.

At the unveiling ceremony, the artist and founder of the Cheemah Project, Osprey Orielle Lake, and Oakland's Mayor Jerry Brown made presentations along with other celebrated speakers. Ms. Lake spoke eloquently about diversity and our living earth.

Source: © Osprey Orielle Lake

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This 8' bronze Sea Urchin fountain, by Aristides Demetrios, is one of several that grace Jack London Square.

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I imaging this must sparkle like a gem on a sunny day.

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This is the "World Wall for Peace" which can be seen in the previous photo.

I could not find much info on this project but it consists of 3000 tiles installed between 1995 and 1999 by both school children and adults.

World Wall for Peace is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization that teaches nonviolence through a peace empowerment workshop. Focused in the creative arts, the program culminates in the production of a wall made of individually hand-painted ceramic tiles. Over 36,000 tiles make up the wall, which has 33 sections located in six states and four different countries.

There are several wall sites throughout the Bay Area, with two in Berkeley and four now in Oakland. Such celebrities as Whoopie Goldberg contributed to the wall in Oakland at Jack London Square with a tile painting resembling a bird.

Source: © 2010 The Daily Californian

Below are a few details of some of the tile art.

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While wandering around I saw these notices in a storefront near Yoshi's.

I wish I had know about this group sooner so I could have joined them on one of their Urban Treks.

The Oakland Urban Paths is a group of dedicated walkers, planners, historians and fund raisers with a common mission: to raise awareness of the paths and Oakland’s heritage through a variety of activities in partnership with Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (WOBO) and the City of Oakland.

OUP hosts walking treks and community archive of Oakland’s paths and stairs. More details coming soon. If you have something you’d like to add, let us know.

Source: Oakland Urban Paths

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The Bikery is a Cycles of Change Oakland, not-for-profit, collectively run, community bike shop!

We are committed to making bikes accessible to everybody. We offer a range of affordable used bikes for sale, repairs, classes and community events. We also have a repair space where you can sign up and use tools to work on your own bike, and get on the list to earn a bike!

Source: Cycles of Change

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Jack London Square is directly adjacent to a very active rail line which services the Port of Oakland.

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Although interesting to sit and watch, it took almost a half hour for the train to clear the intersection. I imagine this gets a bit tiresome for people trying to leave or enter the Square. It also blocks pedestrian access but I saw a couple hipster 20 somethings hop over at a coupling point.

Shortly after that Jon called again and we spotted each other, cell phone in hand, strolling towards each other along the promenade. Jon then whisked me up to the Hills for some R&R and a fine dinner.

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While Jessica and I chatted, Jon whipped up this tasty dinner of homemade sauce with chicken and asparagus.

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Are these photos fuzzy? My head was also. Still.

After dinner Jessica and Jon had a special treat for me.

Jessica and daughter Nola have been taking Flamenco lessons for 3 years.

Along with its Spanish origins, Gypsy, Byzantine, Sephardic and Moorish elements have often been cited as influences in the development of flamenco. It has frequently been asserted that these influences coalesced near the end of the reconquista, in the 15th century. The origins of the word flamenco are unclear. It was not recorded until the late 18th century.

Flamenco is popularly depicted as being the music of Andulusian gitanos (gypsies) but historically its roots are in mainstream Andalusian society, in the latter half of the 18th century.[note 1] Other regions, notably Extremadura and Murcia, have also contributed to the development of flamenco, and many flamenco artists have been born outside the gitano community. Latin American and especially Cuban influences have also contributed, as evidenced in the dances of "Ida y Vuelta".

Source: WikiPedia

Tonight there was to be a performance by 3 three groups of dancers: The youngest group of "Las Flamenquitas" (little Flamencas) must have been in the 6-7 year old range. The group Nola danced with was a bit older - 10 to 11.

They all performed admirably in front of a group of about 30 people who were mostly parents.

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These dancers are the youngest of the two groups. Too bad these photos turned out so poorly.

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Here, Flamenco instructor Yaelisa directs the youngsters back to the dressing rooms.

It was at this point I was asked to take no more photos using a flash. This pretty much meant no more photos for me.

Then Nola danced with her classmates Kira, Alejandra and Talia. I am looking forward to seeing Jessica and Nola perform together someday.

Then Yaelisa and Marina performed and what a performance it was!
Jessica provided the following information:
The professional performers were members of the company called ' Caminos Flamencos' featuring Emmy award winning dancer and choreographer Yaelisa. Her compañeros were:
- Jason Mcguire "El Rubio"/tocaor (guitar, also Yaelisa's husband)
- Felix De Lola/cantaor (singer)and
- Marina Elana/Dancer (she was the one with the red hair.)

I cannot remember what type of songs Felix sang but the singing is really the center of all flamenco performances and most of it can be considered gypsy improvisation based on some traditional songs. Yaelisa and her company are known for their very authentic dance style but she was also featured in a more contemporary setting in a music video for group "Iron & Wine". It's kind of interesting, though not as authentic as what you saw (also Jason is not playing in this video) Here is a Youtube link: - Jessica

This is a beautiful video! Please check it out.

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This is Yaelisa. I am getting warm just looking at this photo.

Yaelisa is the daughter of Isa Mura, an intrepid dancer brightening the Old Spaghetti Factory Spanish nights back in the late ‘50's and early ‘60's. With other youthful San Franciscans smitten with Spanish flamenco, Mama Mura helped make North Beach atmosphere particularly wonderful.

...Yaelisa is medium-height, full-bodied, nothing to suggest a ballet dancer, except the grace in her arms which frequently outdoes said dancer type in fluidity. Beguiling filigree hand gestures are executed with tapering fingers which look as they experience the practical part of life. She plays a lot with her skirts, usually effective, and her pauses can speak volumes.


This video was shot hand held with a Canon Elph. The original .mov vile was converted to a .wmv file by Raleigh Bill. I then converted the .wmv file to .flv file for use in player below. Well, somthing "got lost in the translation". While the file Bill sent me is very sharp, the video file is choppy. But, it will at least give you a taste for what I saw and heard that night.


If you want to download and play the better quality .wmv file Bill made for me you can find it here.


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Last shot of the day in the well used bathroom at the Ashkenaz.

Ashkenaz was founded in 1973 by David Nadel, a dedicated human rights activist and folk dancer, in response to the San Francisco Bay Area's strong interest in international folk dance. David himself had a life changing experience when he became involved with the Westwind International Folk Ensemble. He saw that listening and dancing to the music of other cultures fostered an understanding of different heritages and he was determined to make this experience available to others.

In its 30-year history, Ashkenaz has built an ever-expanding community through multi-cultural, participatory music and dance. In a world increasingly filled with racial and ethnic strife, Ashkenaz creates community by providing a safe place where diverse audiences gather, dancing together to the rhythms of cultures from around the world. Ashkenaz is an all-ages venue, a place where children are always welcome.

Source: Ashkenaz Music and Dance Community Center



Thanks to Jon, Jessica and Nola for such an exciting and stimulating evening!



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