Posted by: GeekHiker | January 12, 2009

Randomly San Francisco

(Nobody minds that I’m still playing catch-up from the holidays, right? Hope not…)

I really should get up to San Francisco more often. I was only there a couple of days, but it rejuvenated me in surprising ways.

The difficulty in not getting up more often, of course, is the fact that we’re “all growed up” now. The older you get, the harder it becomes to schedule these sorts of things, owing to work responsibilities and what-not.

Funny thing is, when I was younger, poorer, with a crap (or no) job, I always figured it would be easier as I got older. I could afford to fly, get the time off work (and be paid for it!), etc. Now I’ve got the income and the paid vacation, but it’s harder to schedule time off work.

Makes me look forward to retirement.

One thing I did in San Francisco: I drank.

I’m not much of a drinker. I have alcohol maybe twice a month, tops (hence my confusion over the liver tests (which reminds me, I need to make that appointment for that (damn))).

This occasion, though, was one of those rare exceptions. I’d been saving up for this one. Drinking alone tends to make one melancholy (and would probably lead me down the path of becoming an alcoholic anyway), but having friends around makes it better, somehow. Several months of pent up need for drinking with good friends was stored up inside me.

And so it was that the first night we headed out to a Mexican restaurant where I consumed some very good beer. And some damn fine carne asada. And more beer. And capped it off with the best Mudslide I think I’ve ever had.

And we talked. About lousy jobs and politics and society. I vented pent-up frustrations about dating in LA in general, and the 29-year-old in particular. Even cracking the joke “it seems like I should be getting better at this as I get older, but instead I’m actually getting worse!”

And I felt better. Much better.

Damn, I need some drinking buddies in LA.

* * *

I gave The Best Friend and her man a very cool gift, I have to say (a copy may find a place on my own shelf one day), and we sat around enjoying the humor my last night there.

She’s not huge on the giving of the Christmas presents, but that’s okay. Simply having company with people who’ve known me for years was enough.

Well letting me crash on their floor for three nights didn’t hurt, either.

* * *

I discovered, while over at one of their friend’s houses, that I can no longer eat dishes with green chilies in them. Haven’t had a problem with them before but, boy howdy, when I woke up at 4 a.m. I had the worst case of heartburn I’d ever had. So bad it spawned it’s own cough, which kept me up for an hour or two.

And just for kicks, a spider or insect of some sort decided to crawl into my sleeping bag. I never found him, but he made his presence known by biting me all night.

Okay, check. No more green chili dishes for The GeekHiker.

Getting old is such a bitch.

* * *

When I visit my friends, we make plans for the things we’d like to do. They usually go straight out the window in the first five minutes.

TBF seems to fret about this a bit, but I find it kinda funny. Of course, I’m the one who’s technically on vacation, so maybe my sense of humor is more “up”.

So when it turned out that the first day there was double-booked, we simply combined some plans together on the second day.

Thus on the second day, instead of the first, we headed over to the revamped California Academy of Sciences. We didn’t spend long there. The crowds, even several months after its opening, were simply appalling. The line, in fact, stretched all the way out to JFK drive (for those unfamiliar, that’s a long damn line).

Luckily, TBF is a member, so we skipped (okay, no skipping involved, honestly) past said long line, waved her card at the door (held it up for the guy to scan) and danced merrily into the museum (there was no dancing, either).

We lasted about an hour before we decided to bail.

The museum is very nice, though like a lot of museums these days it seems to put more emphasis on the building than what’s inside, in my opinion. The most troubling area was the Steinhart Aquarium downstairs. It’s blue and dark and, I think, meant to evocate the feeling of being underwater. Stuffed full of people, it makes you feel like you’re stuck in a muggy fish tank.

I miss the fish roundabout, too.

The living roof, though, is pretty cool.

After the museum, we headed north to Sebastapol. What’s in Sebastapol, you might ask?

Something that’s been calling to me for some time. A little slice of GeekHiker heaven.

The Ace Cider Company.

They run a great little pub where we sat, ate British food (damn fine fish & chips, I must say) and drank copious quantities of cider. Well, her boyfriend and I did, as TBF was our designated driver.

It was good. I was happy. If I lived up there, I’d probably be heading out to Sebastapol much more often, liver be dammed.

I don’t need much. I’m a simple guy.

* * *

What pushed our plans for the first day into the second day was that my friends had already made plans to meet with their friends over in the East Bay for one of those quintisential geek activities: roleplaying. I was invited and told that I would be welcomed to the group.

I hadn’t really done any roleplaying since I was in high school, mainly because some of the people who I met who were into it were, well, a little TOO into it, if you know what I mean. I was a bit scared off, as you might imagine.

(Okay, total confession, I did try to get into it in college for a bit. Tried something called “live action roleplaying,” which, instead of a bunch of geeks sitting around a table rolling dice and playing out a story, is a bunch of geeks meeting in one place, in costume, inhabiting their characters and trying to actually act. Yes, geeks acting. It’s every bit as horrific as it sounds.

And why did I try this, you ask? Because of a girl. Duh.

And, no, I didn’t get the girl then, either. It’s not like my luck has changed much over the years.)

So most of the day, and well into the night, was spent in a small room with my friends and a few other geeks, sitting around a table playing a simple (thank goodness) game called 3:16: Carnage Amongst the Stars.

We created characters. We rolled dice. We told lots and lots and lots of stupid jokes. We drank beers. We ate the aforementioned evil chilies. And told more jokes.

It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. And the most comfortable I’ve felt around a group of people in a long time too, especially when most of them were strangers.

I wish I knew why this was. If it was just the fact that they were Northern Californians. Or that they were all geeks. Or that my oldest friend was in the room. Or the big black lab that had a tendency to welcome everyone in the room by mercilessly licking their shoes.

Whatever the case, I wish I had more of that in my life.

Oh, and not to brag or ‘nothin, but my character managed to rack up the most kills of slimy alien creatures. Which is cool, since our rather violent bunch had a penchant for throwing grenades at short range!

Oh, the power of imagination… 🙂

* * *

So went my couple of days in San Francisco.

I need to get back up there more often, I really do. The sense of balance I felt while there (while admittedly, perhaps, owing to being “on vacation”) departed all too quickly.

If only the airlines would lower those prices to make a weekend getaway more doable…



  1. You lost me after spider in the sleeping bag! *shudder*

  2. getting old sure is a bitch. however, drinking beer more frequently may help out. i recommend a dose of pbr atleast weekly. also, my la bff is now safely on the west coast. she works at a place called cabo. maybe cabo cantina? go have a drink and meet her.

  3. It’s amazing what happens as we age. New aches. New allergies (the wife is bothered by cats – a recent development). New forbidden foods.

    This is just my opinion but I prefer posts like these – positive, happy, and a little warm and fuzzy. You may want to consider moving to the San Fran area. It sounds like a sweet spot for you.

    The only thing I was disappointed in is the lack of true Tra-La-La skipping and dancing. Everyone needs to skip and dance every once in a while (well, maybe in private and not in public).

  4. The solution to the green chilies and heartburn dilemma is lots of garlic, but it has to be fresh garlic. And it sounds crazy but it really does work. I make this chili verde that calls for a whole buttload of green chilies, and if you put in a clove of garlic per every can of chilies, NO problem. Of course, then you can’t kiss anyone but since it appears neither of us are doing that anyway, oh well, right? And to answer your comment on my blog, “sleep? WTF is that?” : )

  5. I love San Francisco and usually get out there once a year (b/c the programmer has to go to JavaOne, and since the hotel room is already being paid for…). I always feel very balanced and happy there (despite the foggy weather) and just love roaming the city.

  6. Oh, the roleplaying… roleplaying people scare me a little… specially the ‘live action’ roleplayers, eeh xoD

  7. Aww.. happy to hear you had a great time! Honestly, good friends + beer cures a lot. =)

  8. I think there might be something about that part of California. A good friend of mine lives in San Jose, and while visiting her a couple years ago I drove to SF and spent the day there. It was cool. Then again, it could have just been that I am a midwesterner who was stuck in Texas for several years, and ANYWHERE in California beats that! lol

  9. Hey man, glad to see you had a good time in San Francisco! It’s very true, nothing warms the heart quite like having a few good beers with a few good friends.

    I’m not sure if I’ve commented before. I’ve been reading and enjoying your writings for quite a while now, at least 6 months. Discovered you through Miss SingleFabulous. If I ever make the big move west I’ll definitely be using your hike posts as guides!

  10. I hate being ‘all growed up’ now and not having as much time for fun vacations to visit friends and explore new places. Scheduling a vacation months in advance? Pain in the butt.

    Glad you had such a wonderful, relaxing time with old (and perhaps new?) friends!

    Jealous of your trip to San Fran – I want to go there SO BAD!

  11. I love MSTK. I just got four of them from Netflix today.

    San Fransisco is great. I used to get out there quite frequently when I could fly for free. Something about the economy and lack of money has interfered with my visits lately.

  12. I’m glad the role playing turned out well…when I first read that I got scared it was some sort of orgy swingers party with role playing. Whew – what a relief it was just geeks at a table. 😉

    I know it’s probably hard to manage work and take time off, but this is your LIFE! And it’s short. I say put your foot down and start scheduling more trips!

  13. “Funny thing is, when I was younger, poorer, with a crap (or no) job, I always figured it would be easier as I got older. I could afford to fly, get the time off work (and be paid for it!), etc. Now I’ve got the income and the paid vacation, but it’s harder to schedule time off work.”

    I TOTALLY get this. I imagined and planned out in my head all of the places I would go and the things I would do when I was “older” with a “better job” and “more money”.

    Turns out that you just have to live in the moment, enjoy where you are and get where you’re going when you get there.

  14. Accidentally nuked my own comments. *doh*

    But that’s what I call a post-holiday update!

    P.S. Please update my blog link.

  15. Just A Girl – Figured you might

    Kristin – Lots’a Cabo Cantina’s in LA, wanna help me out with which one?

    Homer-Dog – Tell me about it. I’m afraid you’ll be a little disappointed by a near-future post…

    Kori – I’ll have to try that…

    Anya – I’ve found, looking back, I much prefer visiting there to living there.

    Narami – It all depends on the group. Some people take it way-overserious. We just tell a lot of jokes; the roleplaying is just the support

    Little Miss Obsessive – California has so many varieties…

    Ashton Likes – Welcome to the blog! Indeed, drinking beers with friends is something I do not do enough of…

    East Coast Teacher – SF is only a plane flight away…

    Dingo – Who doesn’t like MST3K? Really, interfered? Shame…

    Mel Heth – LOL, you should try it sometime! Yeah, I know…

    BackPackerMomma – Yeah, sucks doesn’t it? I try to live in the moment, but my landlord lives for a check every month! LOL

    Aaron – Oops. Thanks. Will try to remember…

  16. […] O­ri­gi­na­l p­o­st­: Ra­n­d­om­ly­ Sa­n­ Fra­n­cisco « The (Sin­g&#173… […]

  17. dude, your trip sounds great. i love san francisco and that area (monterey, palo alto, etc). don’t know much about the roleplaying games but i did get introduced to settlers of catan this weekend.
    ps: bsg starts tomorrow – WOOT!

  18. It is ridiculously easy to get a black lab who will lick your shoes…

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