I had done some small bit of research on a particular feature of Missoula, Montana. Brennan’s wave is a man-made whitewater attraction on the Clark’s Fork River. The last time we were here, there were people on surfboards riding the wave.
I had packed everything I needed for a whitewater trip except a boat and a buddy. Ace Hardware of Missoula had a fine selection of inner tubes for rafting. I scouted both sides of the river carefully. There were no paddling buddies to be found. There were several witnesses. I sent Mrs. JonTheBruce a text message on where to find the Highlander, if I didn’t report back in an hour and half.
I was about to dip a toe in the water and my Teva broke. I went back and changed shoes.
I went down river left first. No problems except that my tube was leaking. I paddled over to river right, blew some more air into my tube and walk above the right side. It is a much faster trip. The water is crystal clear and pumping. The wave was glassy. It was awesome.
Spinning lazily below the wave, having survived my adventure, looking up at the sky was magic. I kicked over to river left and hiked back to the car. Checked in with my accountability buddy and got moving.
The Sports Exchange Missoula
This place is full of fun and interesting outdoor gear. Much of it for sale. I bought a ginormous camera backpack for way too much money and a carbon fiber paddle for $15.
The Rest of Missoula
I dilly dallied for a bit too long around Missoula. It is literally the best town ever. 80,000 people. REI, Costco, Bass Pro/Cabelas, Walmart. So much fun stuff. and this doesn’t include the year round outdoor activities. I was also trying to make up my mind about next steps of this trip. I thought about grabbing a tent so I had more housing options. I decided not too.
Back on the Road
I-90 is many things, fast, curvy, scenic. It is not a good place to plan an adventure by yourself even with a cruise control. My broad plan was to go swimming at Yellowstone at the Firehole River Swimming Area. Then exit Yellowstone into Grand Teton and go rafting or paddling or swimming in Wyoming. I was using Travelocity to find a hotel near West Yellowstone. Travelocity was also showing me really great rates in Gardiner, Montana. The travel time and distances were very similar. I booked the room in Gardiner. I should have stopped and done more research.
It Turns Out
Life is what happens while you are making other plans. The drive to Gardiner was uneventful. Pretty. I saw Sandhill Cranes in the fields. I pulled into Yellowstone Basin Inn in the golden hour. The time between getting dinner in a small town restaurant and not. The Front Desk person was very helpful.
This summer the flood damage at Yellowstone that resulted in the closure of the north gate at Gardiner and north-east gate at Silver Gate has been national news. National News! I should have known better. I really booked a room and adjusted the GPS without a moments thought to how this was going to affect the rest of my week. I blame Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment for not co-piloting.
Yellowstone Basin Inn
My room at Yellowstone Basin Inn, Gardiner, Montana was spectacular. The staff was amazing. The advice and maps and suggestions made my stay one of the best of the trip. I rarely stay in places Mrs. JonTheBruce would approve of if she isn’t with me. I can safely say that Yellowstone Basin Inn is Mrs. JonTheBruce approved. One of the very best. Literally, my host gave me dinner options, a rafting trip for the next day, and put me on elk and antelope before I went to bed.
It was an almost full moon. The Yellowstone Basin Inn is gorgeous. The room was clean and nicely appointed with a kitchen and internet and a great breakfast. I would go back to visit Yellowstone Basin Inn if Yellowstone National Park blew up or tumbled into the ground.
Gardiner has a lot to offer even if you can’t get into Yellowstone.
I had breakfast at Denny’s to make sure the plane with Mrs. JonTheBruce on it left. I hit the dollar store twice. A new charging cable, a pallet of Fiddle Faddle. Diet Coke. Windex. Towels. I moved stuff around in the car to optimize the setup for a solo driver. Eventually, I headed East. It takes a minute to get up to speed.
On The Road
I was heading out on I-90 East. Stole a Trump Sticker off a gas pump. Not surprisingly, they are not very high quality. It came right off.
I started catching up on my podcasts. I hadn’t listened for two weeks. The whole trip was basically a digital detox. No streaming, No podcasts, No PS4, Except the all the digital stuff I did. We didn’t watch any shows besides a bit of news and whatever happened to be on the TV.
Pendleton is in Oregon off of I-84.
Idaho is the next state over on I-90
Idaho could basically be demolished by a super volcano. It seems to attract the most wrong-minded dipshits from near and far. Maybe Idaho is worth saving. Maybe Idaho just attracts dipshits like some sort of anti-science, super collider of bad ideas. I know decent, hard working people who have moved to Idaho and fallen down the conspiracy rabbit hole. Clinging to the worst, dumbest ideas the internet can generate. God keep and bless them.
If you find yourself thinking about immigrating to Idaho, do yourself a favor. Pick up a copy of “The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan” by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. It’s a funny, fictional book written back in 1984. It’s basically playbook for all the conspiracy crap that is filling your head right now. I read it back in the early 1990s.
This frame of reference has left me incredulous and cynical. I want to see sources and references and honest reporting. There is way too much commentary and outright speculation.
Neil Gaiman is another fantasy, sci-fi, fiction writer who anchors his stories with actual historical info and people. He says the human brain leaps to form real conspiracies with his work. People approach him all the time with with their delusions about the mystical power of his work. How it speaks directly to them. It’s not a source of secret wisdom. It’s just very good creative writing.
Elephants will walk through a hotel lobby because a tree with food on it blooms every year on their migration path. This is a useful form of pattern finding. The heard migrates according to their learned pattern. The herd eats. A useful pattern doesn’t give a shit about your feelings. It helps successful genes get passed onto the next generation.
We can find patterns where they exist. Human brains are extremely capable of finding patterns, even when they don’t exist. Most light shows are successful because people will correlate the flashing lights with the music. I have put together a lot of light shows over the past 30 years. Very few were activated by changes in the music.
People who find patterns in things that don’t have patterns need to learn about pareidolia. Pareidolia is how people will find rhythmic patterns in flashing lights. Faces in trees. Huma Abedin’s connections to Al Queda.
I live in Missouri. I would describe myself as a moderate. The pattern I have found is someone who talks about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on social media is a kook. I live in Missouri. Missouri is chocked full of embarrassing, crazy people who want to be in politics. I don’t know anyone who voted for Ocasio-Cortez. I don’t know anyone who lives in her district. In the normal course of my week, I don’t see any news about the congresswoman. Except from people who think she is part of some vast conspiracy to accomplish something fantastical. Kook Shit. Just Stop.
Identifying actual patterns are how we pass our genes on to the next generation. Undercooked pork can make you sick. Undercooked Chicken can make you sick. Farmer workers can transmit e-coli to the produce they harvest. Eating lead paint chips is bad for your health. For instance, the CDC said a new virus is very infectious and spreads via airborne particles. The pattern that emerged was people who were within a couple of feet of an infected person could also get infected. They even figured out that this was spread via droplets in addition to direct contact.
Public health measures were enacted to slow the spread (masks, social distancing, etc). It helped. There are other ways pathogens get transmitted, so the response must vary. Actually, I looked it up. The American Animal Hospital Association lists 5 transmission methods. Direct contact, fomites (surfaces), aerosol (airborne), oral (ingestion), and vectorborne(insects). CDC is a little more high-level.
Vehicleborne (turkey stuffing!)
Vectorborne (mechanical or biologic)
They put together a fancy spreadsheet with data and kept updating the spreadsheet as the body count climbed and the virus mutated. A useful pattern doesn’t give a shit about your feelings. It helps successful genes get passed onto the next generation.
Change My Mind
My mind is open to change. Give me a real verifiable piece of information that changes what I know about something. I will move on to another way of thinking about that thing. I respect this trait in others.
Idaho is also home to Aliengear Holsters. They have a showroom right off the highway. Who doesn’t need a new holster? America doesn’t have a gun problem. We have a holster problem. Every handgun in America requires at least six holsters. Aliengear has solved this problem by creating a single holster system that can be used six different ways.
There was more ground to cover.
I pushed onwards to Missoula, Montana. Stayed in the same hotel Merryweather and I used last time. The Days Inn and Suites Downtown Missoula-University is all about location. Smack dab next to a McDonalds.
It was getting late so I went across the street to the Press Box Sports Bar. I felt right at home on a Monday night at a local watering hole. I was at the bar between a steam fitter who was in town for work, and a young lady half his age who didn’t have to pay for any of her own drinks. The steamfitter gave up eventually. I could have been Marlin Perkins commentating from the safety of the Mutual of Omaha studios on a saga as old as time.
The next act in tonight’s program was a fifty something Marine, who wanted to talk about home roasted coffee and hand rolled cigarettes playing against a young lady who wasn’t getting the kind of emotional support from her partner that she deserved. I think we collectively decided that each of them needed a better class of friends, but not each other. I bailed before the third act.
I ate breakfast across the street at the McDonalds, just like last time. Here the path diverged.
A couple of my cousins and I went kayaking in Gig Harbor with Gig Harbor Kayak & SUP Rentals. Gig Harbor has basic kayaks. Really basic nine footers. I was a little sketchy about paddling a cheap nine foot rec boat, but it was fine. The water was glass smooth. We paddled all the way to Crescent Creek Park and back.
We saw Harbor seals. They are more active and standoffish than manatees. It was very nice to finally get on the water after a thousands of miles of hot, dry and hazy.
I had fish and chips from What a Catch Fish Bar at Point Ruston. It was great.
I got cleaned up and moseyed down to the event space for the Birthday Party. I handled A/V for the slideshow and took pictures of all the guests, and managed to sneak a little master of ceremonies into the mix. I have definitely learned how to relax and just be a guest at this point in my life. lol
My aunt Karen is one of the best. My cousins and I all have stories of getting dropped off at some relatives house for some period of time. I think my first experience on a microphone was messing around with Karen’s home intercom system. I would wander from room to room pushing the “Talk” button. This is what we did before video games were invented. Good times. Getting to hang out with my cousins and share stories was probably overwhelming for people who have married into this thing of ours. Bless them.
Silver Cloud Hotel Tacoma at Point Ruston Waterfront
The event space is one of the nicest I have ever seen with an amazing view of Commencement Bay. The cocktail space opens onto the Bay. The room we used also face the bay. They turned the room three times that day. The room captain was great. When it was time to get everybody seated, she was pretty insistent that an announcement needed to be made on the microphone. I was like… “Let me do it in person.” There were like 75 people. So she made her announcement with a microphone that wasn’t setup in the cocktail area for a group of people who mostly have or need hearing aids. Mission accomplished! One of the servers and I proceeded to personally invite everyone to their tables. Everybody wins.
The food was also excellent. I have had some hotel chicken in my day. This was not that. It was really great. Elevated, delicious, even flavored!
We closed the place down, then moved to the pool area VIP.
20220807 – Mrs. JonTheBruce’s Birthday
We woke up early and went down to the restaurant for breakfast with my aunt. She was ready to get home. She also had an open house planned, because she also knows how to take it easy, too. We hit the Costco and picked up some supplies. Got to the house and ran some laundry and started prepping for the party.
I haven’t spent much time with Karen’s grandkids. They are all very awesome. In fact, they picked up something on their way to the party.
Dairy Queen in Washington State can make a Purdue Boilermaker ice cream cake. The colors weren’t perfect, but we were 2,209 miles away from the Big Ten. So it was awesome. Mrs. JonTheBruce was suitably embarrassed by a loud, off pitch, unlicensed version of the Happy Birthday song.
We visited for a while. Mrs. JonTheBruce and I headed out for dinner at Anthony’s At Point Defiance. It was nice. We headed back to the hotel and got organized.
202200808 – Parting is such sweet sorrow
Mrs. JonTheBruce loves a long tearful goodbye. I reassured her that I was going to be okay with out her by my side, but also miss her terribly. Two weeks of being tied to the hip in the same car, every moment, was not enough quality time. I don’t know know how we survived COVID which required her to be in a separate room for the occasional conference call. I can not imagine how we managed any separation wider than a bathroom door for the past many years. Love will find a way.
We woke up in Reston, Washington. We stayed at the Silver Cloud Hotel Tacoma at Point Ruston Waterfront. This place is amazing. Several years ago, a developer hired Nature By Design of Fircrest, Washington to build a spray park and landscaping as a keystone for an ambitious redevelopment project. Today that project is the center piece of a thriving success story. It is a waterfront, informal gathering space for people of all ages. Guests in the hotel brought bikes so their kids could cycle through the splash park. There was something going on all day. Amazing people watching.
We had a window seat on the action for four days. It is amazing. Merryweather, Charbonneau and I had got a tour when the WildFin American Grill had first opened. You could tell in the chill, early spring break evening that this place was going to be a big deal. It is gratifying to see how the space is being used by people of all ages today. For more information on transforming your space and your relationships with people and the world around you, contact Nature by Design. https://naturebydesigninc.com/
We went into Seattle.
Seattle Art Museum
This is a very modern collection of art. Who ever designed the spaces we walked through just loves the word juxtaposition. I enjoyed it, too. The interplay between the pieces challenges us to consider the work in a new context. I am not attempting to write the museum brochure, I am spitting facts. It’s really cool.
Pikes Place Market
We had a snack at Pike’s Market. Earlier this year, I had bought a print of the Original Starbucks location by an artist who sells prints at Pike’s Market. I got to see a bunch more of his work. I found this fascinating. They women who sell his art was confused as to how I had obtained a print that was not from her.
Ranier Cherries were $7 a pound. My cousin, who was visiting Mount Ranier at the same time was getting them for $2 a pound from the roadside vendors. I bought enough to get back to the hotel. She bought enough to feed an army.
I am a sucker for great product demo. So I loaded up on https://www.getmobii.com/ Seattle Grunge Beanie 2.0 also doubles as a face covering and an infinity scarf. I want all that! We got two. Merryweather took one. Mrs. JonTheBruce took the other.
I also bought a deluxe wooden top and a hand turned birch bowl.
Modernist Cuisine Gallery
As we were exiting, Pike Place, I noticed a gallery that looked interesting and some prints I recognized. Prints of food. We ducked in. The Modernist Cuisine Gallery features the work of Nathan Myhrvold and his team. He has gone all the way down the Modernist food rabbit hole and produced a series of books on food. Along the way, he has created images of food that are art.
We bought a book called “Modernist Cuisine at Home” which is a condensed version of the five part complete version. It’s only 500 pages. The best way I can think to explain it… There is a two page spread that explains cooking eggs in hot water times and temperatures with photos of the results. It also includes a companion cookbook.
Back to Point Ruston
We got back just in time for an assembly of Bruces. A whole bunch of them. Pity the poor waitress who had to serve a rolling cast of 12 for three hours. Muhahahaha. We went to a late dinner within walking distance.
No Travel Day – 5 stars
It’s nice to not have a mileage goal for a change.
Eagle Crater Lake Inn in Chemult, Oregon is maybe one the worst places I have ever stayed.
I booked directly and was charged almost double the Travelocity rate. I was trying to be a good guy. Support local businesses. This was not my only issue with the Inn Keeping. Allow me…
The deadbolt on the door was not working.
The Front Desk Clerk/Owner said it wasn’t completely installed yet… A locking door is bare minimum requirement. I am not sure how much a room with a locking door would have cost. We would have been safer doing sex work in the truck stop parking lot.
The Sink was leaking.
Technically, this is incorrect. Technically, the hot water was turned off at the valve under the sink because the faucet was not holding back the tide. The sink was leaking so badly that leaving it on would be wasteful and expensive.
The Broken window.
The front window is broken. She helpfully mentioned that it had only been broken for the entire SIX YEARS she had been there! AND it was only the outer pane that was broken. She is correct on both counts.
The Security Cameras
Behind the counter are two monitors and most of the parts of TWO Lorex camera systems. I have something similar at home. Only one monitor was turned on when I checked in. It looks like it covers everything you would want to watch in a small, older hotel. Where are the other cameras located? Why was the second monitor not turned on? Creepy.
Trail magic and road magic
We had breakfast at KJ’s. It was entirely pleasant. We would have been more comfortable sleeping in the bathroom of KJs than Eagle Crater Lake Inn. Mrs. JonTheBruce had all nice things to say about KJs bathrooms.
We were sitting across from two Pacific Coast Trail hikers. I don’t think I talked the entire time . Just listened to them. Older dude in a kilt and younger woman. They were getting a train to move past fires in Oregon. The guy has done Appalachian Trail and PCT. Stayed on the trail through Covid. Absolutely, the best eavesdrop I have had in ages. As we were leaving, I offered them a bunch of our snacks for the train ride. Super fun.
We back tracked to see Crater Lake in the day time. I would tell you that the sky was flat, and bright and the lake was blue. I took a bunch of pictures. Everywhere you look is mind blowing. Crater Lake is right at the edge of human understanding. It’s really big, but you can take in the sweeping expanse from many vantage points. Being there doesn’t do it justice. My pictures are AMAZING. I am not kidding. The pictures I brought home lack the high, dry mountain air or the drama.
Phone service was pretty spotty around Crater Lake. My parents, who were dog/house sitting, called and said that our Irish Setter went out this morning and had to be helped into the house. He was acting like he had broken a leg. Todd (irish setter) had been having joint and stability issues in the past couple of months. He had just been to the vet a week or two before and there were no red flags other than he was older.
We got a call back that he hadn’t improved. They had called the vet and were taking him in to be seen. I called Merryweather and told him to get involved “NOW”. He was with me the last time we lost a dog. He needed to know what was going on and make decisions. He and my folks got Todd to the vet. We got the worst news. Broken Leg, most likely cancer, just suffering, no good outcomes. I feel terrible for Merryweather and my folks for being in this situation. I feel so much worse not being there. Todd was a treasure. One of the best dogs I have ever met. I am comforted that Merryweather was there for him at the end. Doesn’t make it any easier.
We were totally fucked. We were hours from a decent airport. On the side of the road trying to help Merryweather and my folks make a decision and cope with that decision. Helpless and hopeless. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Really no option, but to keep going. We could have split up. But it was all over except for the crying at that point.
Our waiter was named Todd, last night at the Crater Lake Inn. We passed several Todd streets or Ways or Boulevards. Road or Way has popped up the whole trip. The Gordon Setter we met on the way into San Francisco had cancer. In San Francisco, In Denver. Almost every day. There was a sign. I don’t believe in signs.
There was also a decrepit sign on the side of the road with the Animal House movie logo. I did a quick google search “Dexter Lake Animal House”. I learned that Dexter Lake, Oregon is home to the Dexter Lake Club. Until this moment, I was sure that the place in the movie where they take their dates from Emily Dickinson College, was the Def De-Lay Club, because the actor playing Otis Day said it so cool. Animal House was filmed in Oregon, and the Dexter Lake Club is a legit film location. SHOT FOR SHOT. They had no shot glasses. No T-Shirts. No bumper stickers. Nothing. I took a couple of pictures and bought some Diet Cokes.
A thousand miles between the driver and passenger seats.
It was a pretty quiet drive. Trying to figure out if one of us should go home right this instant or keep going. In any case, we had plenty of time to think about it. This was a pretty ambitious driving day.
We ran into a curious issue in Portland. The gap between the driver and passenger seats is like three feet, but the difference in perspective between the driver seat and passenger seat is profound. This is real. We have been sitting next to each other in the truck and pointing at things that are totally invisible to the other person.
Mrs. JonTheBruce was pointing. “Look at that, look at that!” I couldn’t see IT. She was pointing at Mount Hood. From my seat, Mount Hood was playing peek-a-boo behind the A pillar of the truck. Once I saw it, I could understand her frustration. How far apart are we from almost everybody else than the person sitting next to us in car?
This freakin’ guy
Maybe the only highlight on a really, very terrible, not very good day. Vintage, Glorious, Corduroy, Cigarette Smoking, Chuck Taylor wearing goodwill ambassador of Portland.
This was supposed to be a travel day.
We drove from Crater Lake to Reston, Washington. Stopped and picked up some new Columbia shirts in Portland. Got a solid taste of Portland rush hour. 1 of 5 stars. Would not care to repeat.
DRIVING INTERSTATE 5 North – 0 STARS
Don’t ask for much of a positive review when a fella’s dog dies before lunch time. Thursday Portland rush hour was long. Long dry, boring, slog. Mindset affects Outcomes.
I am perplexed watching people at hotel breakfast bar. What is the hold up? Have you never had done this before? Get in there. Make some choices or get out of the way of the hotel breakfast professionals:
Choose your own breakfast adventure.
Dry old bagel
Choose! Choose now! For god’s sake what is taking so long? By the way, that spray next to the waffle iron isn’t for that. Just stop.
We checked out Eureka, Woodley island, and Arcata. We got Costco gasoline. Moved up the road.
Proper planning and preparation prevents piss poor performance
A simple plan poorly researched. I have a problematic jacket designed for kayaking. It has rubber gaskets at the neck and wrists to keep water out. It is called a Dry Top. I have a huge head and on my best day in the past 30 years I have a 18 and 1/2 inch neck. The jacket has a rubber neck gasket wide enough to accommodate my elbow. You can not imagine how hilarious my family finds this. I have struggled for minutes to get in on, then I start turning blue. I stretched it out over a pot for days. I trimmed it. It didn’t get any better.
In my imagination, I thought a visit to the Kokatat factory would involve a cowardly lion, a straw man, and a little dog too! End result would be me meeting the magic man behind the curtain and walking away with a dry top that fits my fat head. There is no great and terrible OZ handing out wishes. There isn’t even a show room or factory outlet. There was a polite and efficient HR lady. She gave me the 800 number and told me to call repair and talk to the guy. He was helpful and informative.
Back to the trees
We checked out the Redwoods. I think we repeated a lot of the places Merryweather and I visited. I had a grove in my mind to visit, but couldn’t quite remember the name. We stopped at the National Park visitor center north of Eureka. They were extremely helpful. The place I was looking for was very close.
Ladybird Johnson Grove
The Ladybird Johnson Redwood Grove is a pretty easy walk. They have a nice parking lot, but don’t allow trailers. This was unfortunate because some a-hole had parked their trailer and totally messed up the parking lot traffic pattern and also managed to park smack dab on non-pavement.
I persuaded Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment to go ahead while I found a parking spot.
I eventually got parked and grabbed my cameras. There was a little boy, let’s guess 6 years old (is that first grade?). Walking with his family. He had a sling shot at half draw and wheeled around on me as I passed him.
I had this moment of clarity. I could see that he had not broken or killed anything with his sling shot yet, but he was close. He was at the inflection point. I stopped and explained to him that he shouldn’t point it at anything he wasn’t willing to destroy. His parents tried to poo – poo my concerns. So I repeated myself. Twice.
I eventually caught up with Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment. She thought I was an idiot. But I was struck by that awesome, terrible power of life and death or destruction, annihilation. That kid was about to cross a line. Like a caveman discovering fire. The Redwoods were almost completely devoid of awe or mists or portents. Still pretty amazing.
All this shaman-like fore knowledge had left me hungry. We had lunch along the coast at a taco stand. I had a huarache flatbread with chicken, cabbage and Cotijilla cheese. Huarache flatbread is something I have never seen before. It was either a fry bread or a naan. It was ok. At only one point, did I wonder if an old huarache sandal would taste better, there was a lot of cabbage. How often does life present us with a new ingredient in the taco world? Not very often, they should be avoided at all costs.
Have a Plan B for entertainment in the Redwoods
Or be prepared to be alone with your thoughts and your physical media. Sirius xm is spotty, cell service is spotty, terrestrial radio is for the birds. Luckily, we have a usb with Shane Smith and the Saints and sixty-four gigabytes of hits. We saw some elk and a turkey and an eagles nest.
We turned out the pacific coast and headed for Crater Lake. We got to Crater Lake towards evening. I think this was maybe the second unplanned day.
The drive was dry and hot and fire season
Heading away from the coastal redwoods towards I5 was a swerving climb towards the sun. The kind of dry and dirty that clings. It gathers in the unseen creases. We pushed pretty hard. Drove past the last town. Drove into the park. We had no plan. No reservations. The person in the passenger seat was hungry and a bit grumpy.
A lucky break
I stopped at the Crater Lake Lodge. There was no room in the inn. The restaurant was reservation only for guests of the lodge only. The hostess and our waiter thought they could accommodate the big tippers from St Louie. I ran out to the car to get a parking spot and shivvy Mrs. JonTheBruce inside for food.
Dinner was excellent. Fancy, Famous, National Park Lodge, buffet style. I asked a lot of questions, because I wanted to make sure I understood how the dinner was to proceed. The house salad had blueberries and goat cheese and was delightful. I chewed all my vegetables thoroughly and survived another serving of broccolini.
Our waiter would be offering desert when we were ready. There were four options. We got them all. She only had a bite of each. Me too… But my bites were much bigger.
Crater Lake may be the opposite of the fountain of youth. The man sitting next us in the dining was maybe, positively ancient. And not a fun, healthy ancient. His wife was complaining about the lack of a dress code because 10 years ago they had to suit jacket and dress to dine there. I thought she was being catty. Mrs. JonTheBruce was gorgeous, but I had neglected to put on long pants. The ancient one’s crone was wearing a pair of knock off sport sandals that weren’t quite long enough to keep her talons from clicking on the polished hard wood or ripping apart the carcass of an elk along the roadway. She was offering her opinions on how who or what they had left in the camper would be faring while they were at dinner. They had left a window open. The camp hosts probably wouldn’t even notice.
While Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment was tending to her Maslov’s heirarchy for food, I made a reservation at the closest reasonable hotel available using the lodge internet.
We drove out of the park along the western side of Crater Lake towards Chemult. The most amazing sunsets ever thanks to the heat and haze we had endured all day long.
Unfortunately, we used up all the good luck. I had booked the next closest hotel room. An hour away, google said it had 9 reviews and four stars. Mrs. JonTheBruce pointed out after I booked it that the smaller print non-subjective rating of this hotel was actually two star hotel with a Four star rating. This was unfortunately a gross exaggeration. The Eagle Crater Lake Inn was an old motor lodge and the start of a bad day.
Woke up late Mrs. JonTheBruce got 17k steps Taxied to Timbuk2 Not open yet Breakfast and coffee at La Boulangerie de San Francisco on Hayes. So good, I wrote a google review. Her sandwich was great. Turkey Brie croissant My blueberry cream cheese patisserie was perfect. All buttery goodness, not a hint of crumbly stale Was any where to be found. Delighted.
We hit Timbuk2 next. I found the perfect bag for Merryweather to steal as soon as I get home. The sales person mentioned that Peak Design was across the street when I asked about camera stuff. Mrs. JonTheBruce picked out a MagSafe charging car mount, which turned out to be awesome. High Speed super charger. We could swap phones for GPS changes on the go readily. No more partial charged overnight phone going dead worries. https://www.peakdesign.com/products/car-mount
Cotopaxi was on the same block, but we already did that in Salt Lake City.
We hopped in a Uber to Dragons Gate in China town where we engaged in tourism shopping and used the cash register this time. Much less exciting. Much more productive.
We hopped in another Uber to the hotel and checked out. We took the Highlander through Haight Ashbury then the Painted Ladies. I thought they were called Seven sisters, but somehow Mrs. JonTheBruce figured it out.
We got to see the parrots again. In the park, across from the Painted Ladies. They are pretty well camouflaged for my kind of color blindness. Mrs. JonTheBruce got a great picture. I may have too, but won’t know until I get in front of a computer and can look. I definitely would have brought the big guns if I thought this was a remote possibility.
We checked out the Presidio and Golden Gate with views from both sides of the bridge.
Muir Woods Requires Reservations ALWAYS
Should have known better. It’s a National Monument located within minutes of one of the most populated cities in North America. The parking lot attendant did allow me to run in and buy a National Monument pin. I was pretty ambivalent about it because it is Redwoods all the way up from here.
We bee-lined for Redwood National/State park to see more Redwoods and more coast. We were racing against the sun. I manage to show Mrs. JonTheBruce the river and the forest along the Avenue of Giants and the fairy ring at Burlington campground and Robison creek.
We took some head shots in case we get cast in the next season of Virgin River. (It’s really filmed in British Columbia) but it will always be in the vicinity of Burlington Campground in my heart.
At some point, we encountered a really good gas station. How good? They had Skor and Heath Bar candy bars in the same store.
Here is the official description from Hersheyland.com.
SKOR Milk Chocolate with Crisp Butter Toffee Candy Bar
HEATH Milk Chocolate English Toffee Candy Bar
They are both delicious.
She said “I am glad we didn’t eat some place local instead”
We pulled into Eureka, California late, but just in time for Applebee’s happy hour. We stunted on that late night happy hour like a couple of mid-20 something’s after Lollapalooza. Our first impromptu hotel was the last room in town and a Holiday Inn. Easily the largest hotel room I have been in (maybe second). Accessible with an in-room jacuzzi tub, kitchenette and a fire place and a sitting room. Ridiculous. Plenty of room for roller skating, but directly above the front desk and back office.
Gentle readers may inquire. Yes of course. I used the giant in room Jacuzzi tub. I did call down and double check with the front desk before firing it up. Because I would be landing in some front desk persons lap if it collapsed. I am the reason for the California Water Crisis.
I was trying to wrap this up and realized how crazy this day was. We went hard. We last left our intrepid tourists in Little Italy. It was mid-late afternoon, early dinner time. I kept thinking there was no way we went from Little Italy to Levi’s Plaza to Pier 39 to a ride across town on the Powell & Hyde Cable Car Turnabout to Powell and Market to 54 Mint Ristorante Italiano to the hotel. It’s like packing a whole extra day of activity.
I blame the Princess Cake. We should have gone to the hotel and ordered room service. Instead, we walked from Victoria Pastry to Beach Street. On the phone it looks like 3 blocks, actually more like TEN.
We hopped a street car, rode it past our destination, which was VERY closed. We then cross the street to
Levi’s Plaza is a very pleasant place to walk, if you are still interested in park walking. We moseyed over to
We messed around a bit a Pier 39. found a fancy bathroom. Then rolled over to
Lush has free handwashing. No restrooms. But I was super excited about washing my hands, because Pier 39 was so crowded, I was sure I was going to get Super Covid. I also learned about soap rests. Soap rests are things you set bar soap on so it makes a soapy mess on the soap rest and not on the the counter.
I also had a revelation, that my travel soap container was a piece of crap. Lush doesn’t sell a metal one that holds Dial Soap, so I didn’t buy anything. It wouldn’t have been any good anyway. Luckily, Mrs. JonTheBruce was able to pay off both employee’s college debt and founded a school in Africa for underprivileged children with a couple of soaps and sundries.
Powell & Hyde Cable Car Turnabout
There was a pretty long line for the Powell & Hyde Cable Car as closing time was fast approaching. They had four cars stacked up and about a 30 minute wait. The people watching was strong here.
The young teen attempting to disassemble the wrought iron fence was saving a space in line for his “grandma” with a mirror ball cane who was sitting. Luckily, we found after twenty minutes of waiting that she was saving a space for her thirty-something “son” and his partner and a baby with a stroller, the early teen’s early tween brother, AND a little girl who was in a cute dress, absolutely charming and wasn’t biologically related to any of these line cutters by a mile. Also they brought snacks, but not for everyone who was losing a spot in line, just them.
I am going to spend the rest of my life trying to figure out the relationship matrix of this weird ice cream treat family unit. Not to mention the “30 something son” was sitting on “mirror ball cane grandma”‘s lap, at one point. “30 something son” also seemed to be a happy, thriving, living the best version of his life doppelganger of my cousin who took his own life several years ago. I hope everyone saves a spot in their heart for weird, mismatched line cutters. It might not make sense to anyone else, but if it works for you. Good for you.
The Mismatch Line Cutters decided to wait for the good seats on the next cable car so we got on as the sun was setting. I took a gorgeous picture of two Germans on the back the cable car with perfect light. It would have been more useful if I had taken it with their camera.
We rode for a while inside the car. The MUNI guy with the non-brake job said there was a spot up front. He was incorrect, but I bounced and surfed most of the way back. I had a hell of a good time hanging on for dear life. My phone DIED. We got off at the end of line. And some how stumbled to
54 Mint Ristorante Italiano
It was pretty good. They didn’t have any Diet Coke. Luckily, I was carrying one for just such a crisis. We had a bottle of wine and all the water. Additionally, I had the broccolini which almost killed me. I tried to swallow a piece that wasn’t all the way chewed and still stuck between my teeth. I have never had this experience before. An ungraceful self rescue. I haven’t run into broccolini in a restaurant very often. I will be better prepared for it the next time.
Uber to the hotel
We got an uber to the hotel. Mrs. JonTheBruce would like you to know that she got 17,000 steps. Which is basically a 100 miles.
We woke up. Had a quick bite at the hotel. Then went to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
SFMOMA has a great exhibit Diego Rivera’s America. I wasn’t familiar with Rivera’s work. I am more familiar with his famous spouse, Frida Kahlo. And I am not familiar with her at all. Eyebrows? Spanish Dancing?
Rivera was doing public art in the first half of the 1900’s. There is a GIANT Mural on display. I don’t think I have seen a bigger piece of art anywhere. Charlie Chaplin is all over it. The scope of exhibit is impressive, but the mural is off first floor.
The rest of SFMOMA is exceptional. My favorite piece is “The Living Wall” by David Brenner. I want this in my life. I might even start watering the ivy I planted in the back yard after seeing this.
I also had a great moment with a SFMOMA staffer. He was working on an installation and was pushing his toolbox down the hall. I asked him about picture hangers and tools. He was extremely helpful and informative. Let me take a look at his drawer of hardware. The one advantage he has is that the drywall is backed with plywood. This was amazing. Most of the time, I feel like museum guests are treated like feral pigeons in a zoo. Shoo me away from an installation in progress one more time. I dare you. I guess the Indianapolis Children’s Museum has spoiled me. I have been to enough museums that I really enjoy interacting with people a work there. I want to see installations in progress.
Next Stop Dim Sum
ABC7’s star reporter Stephanie Sierra was getting ready to do a segment in front of SFMOMA and gave us a hot tip for dim sum. I can not wait to try it out.
We got an Uber Black over there. It was a giant Escalade. I was curious about the third row seating so I hopped in the back. Totally busted my tail bone on the Latch seatbelt AND Mrs. JonTheBruce’s rating got dinged for “moving seats while vehicle in motion”. I got a nice bruise out of the deal. The back row of a Cadillac Escalade is very spacious, but the seatbelt configuration could be more butt friendly.
We got over to the restaurant only to find out they were closed on Mondays. We walked to another highly rated dim sum place around the corner, because it’s China Town. Dim Sum is like small plates or steamed or fried or cooked delicious things. Dim Sum is Chinese Tapas like Tapas is Chinese Dim Sum. It was always popular choice on No Reservations. Merryweather and I had a blast earlier this year at a similar restaurant in St Louis. I think Mrs. JonTheBruce was okay with it.
There was a large party of definitely not organized crime types wandering from their ten top table out front and back the whole time we were there. There was another ten top occupied by the prodigal son and the dutiful son and their momma. There was a table in the corner occupied by our waitress and the rest of the waitress eating their own late lunch. It was a pretty casual late lunch that proceeded on a course all it’s own.
Going Down like China Town
I was stuffed to the gills, but also sampled a bite of Peking Duck. Like those Ducks that hang in restaurant windows. It was delicious.
Big Trouble in Little China is a better headline
We were checking out a clothing store. Mrs. JonTheBruce was interested in a silk robe. The person who was helping us decided to try an interesting tactic. Pretending to sell us a robe under the counter while the boss out front wasn’t looking. I was like “sure” let’s play this game. I was 99% sure this was total BS. Mrs. JonTheBruce evaporate in a vapor trail of guilt. I handled the drop and swap. Our sales lady was over acting a lot. I was worried there might be a shake down when we exited. I leaned in. I tried on a sweatshirt that fit so poorly our sales lady geniunely laughed. Mrs. JonTheBruce wandered back and had a laugh at my expense as well. We sauntered out. Cool like Fonzi. I got a silk robe that was too small by half and paid double the money. Lesson learned.
I also bought a thing that neither I nor the person working in the electronics boutique could explain. I think is one of those grippy things that stops stuff from sliding around. It cost $5. I will figure this out at some point and report back.
I had successfully wander towards Jack Kerouac Alley. I had seen it on the map and marked it. Didn’t know why is was called that. We were at the top of the alley taking a picture. I was also keeping an eye out for a person who was dressed like a Jim Henson Labyrinth monster. They were was destroying a Zodiac display because reasons. I had my head on swivel after my supreme court arrest the day before.
I stand by it. We negotiated the alley with the Zodiac Destroyer only to discover that we were standing in front of City Light Books. I know this place! I bought a copy of Rum Diary with a signed book plate from here back when Hunter S Thompson was still alive! I was so excited. This place is awesome. This is the Beat Generation’s ground zero. Beatnik’s were a tourist attraction in San Francisco before Hippies were invented. Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs. I just read On the Road: The Original Scroll by Kerouac this year. Everyone’s real name was left in so I was able to make all the connections. Mind Blown. I have read On The Road when I can’t find anything else to read for 30 years. I just bought a book of poems by Allen Ginsberg that includes Howl and an ode to Neal Cassady. Cassady (Dean Moriarty) ripped across America and Mexico for 40 years. He shows up in Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test driving the Futhur bus in 1960’s. A living through-line to the counter culture. William S Burroughs probably deserves credit for being the actual through-line. 1918 – 1997
I bought a couple of things.
We got an Uber to somewhere. We ended up Ubering down Lombard Street and then onto Little Italy with the most pleasant driver EVER! He was a San Francisco native. Drove a car up Lombard in high school for a film project and pointed us to the best pastry place. Absolutely charming.
Victoria Pastry Company
Victoria Pastry Co. is amazing. Delicious, beautiful, they had Diet Coke. Mrs. JonTheBruce looks adorable in front of a pastry. She is my queen and the princess cake was amazing.
This day wasn’t over yet. Not even close. More stories. Keep clicking through!
We headed out at the crack of 10 for San Francisco. First stop, Jelly Belly. Our hosts had told me how close the Jelly Belly Factory was to their house. It was closer. Right next door to a Budweiser Brewery. Napa has wine and also happens to have the exact same water required to make an ice cold Budweiser.
Merryweather and I had done the tour last time. Mrs. JonTheBruce opted for a slightly longer visit. She went down the wall of single flavors and made a series of custom Jelly Belly mixes. The traditional Chinese herbalists in the crowd were wowed by her perceptive, instinctual mixing. I opted for a more direct approach. I bought a case of Belly Flops, which are random rejects that are delicious. That is twenty pounds of Jelly Belly. Cash and Carry. Plenty for sharing.
Next stop was Costco. I needed to update my tech. Crunched the screen on my iPhone. Mrs. JonTheBruce found some cute stuff, very practical.
We headed towards our next stop
The home of tiki culture, Trader Vic’s in Emeryville
Mrs. JonTheBruce and careful long time readers will remember that we have visited Trader Vic’s at the Beverly Hilton. My buddy Joe used to visit the location at the Palmer House in Chicago.
One of my favorite things is a frosted Walt Disney tiki glasses from back in the day. I like to imagine some dad enjoying a tiny bit of alcohol while trapped in the Magic Kingdom living the American Dream. I bought another tiki glass for Merryweather that features a Magical Japanese Raccoon Dog with Giant Testicles (Tanuki). Tiki is fun. There are a billion “collectible” bar glasses secreted away in the basement bars and “man caves” of America.
Trader Vic’s basically started Tiki culture, with a mish-mash of Polynesian cultures and plenty of alcohol in fun-looking barware. Conrad “Hotel Magnate” Hilton expanded Trader Vic’s to the world. Now caucasians every where drink out of fun shaped glassware and eat Asian Pacific stuff and come home to tell their friends about the authenticity of their experience with scantily clad natives doing the hula.
Tiki is remix. Remix is the best thing about America. The Hawaiian Luau is also a direct descendant of this “fad”. Trader Vic’s in Emeryville is the the defacto source, the origin, the home base.
I had pretty low expectations. Most of these vital, important, historic places I have visited are faded echoes of their glory days. Flaking paint on rusting, duct-taped road side attractions. Luckily, Trader Vic’s in Emeryville is still awesome. Clean, up to date, dusted, everything was in good repair, no duct tape. The drinks came in fun glasses. The food was good. I would go back again and exit through the gift shop which also tasteful and fun.
Onward towards San Francisco.
We checked into our hotel. Found tickets to a San Francisco Giants game and walked down to Oracle Park. Oracle Park is no Busch Stadium. It’s pretty cool. I was very excited to see the kayakers. I would rent a kayak for a game if I went back. The dorks sitting behind us were the first indication that San Fran wasn’t in Kansas any more. Three guys. Poorly socialized, tech dweebs probably. The baseball junky asked his peers to guess who would hit the first home run and then gave the dumbest, had to wear a helmet but never played sports, suggestion to the guy who he thought didn’t know anything about baseball. Mrs. JonTheBruce and I chipped in with our suggestions. They pretended like we weren’t there. Weird. Later during the game, the bookmaker of the trio was talking about me like I couldn’t hear him either. Weirder. Good news though, he did tell his co-workers that he had gone on a date with a girl.
We bailed because watching the Giants win or the Cubs lose wasn’t going to change the St Louis Cardinals history making run in 2022. Checked out the stadium. They have Churros. They also have the best value in MLB Cracker Jack. Easily 10 times as much as the serving at Busch Stadium and the mice riddled crumbs they serve at Wrigley for the the same amount of money. The cost of living is supposed to be really high in the Bay area, but not if you judge it by the cost of Cracker Jacks at the ballpark.
And the kayaks! I could get into baseball if they moved Busch Stadium closer to the Mississippi River.
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
This was totally not even on my radar, but we ran into wild parrots down by the The Embarcadero & Ferry Building. I had watched a documentary about it several years ago. They may be hard to photograph or run into on purpose, but they are pretty easy to spot and recognize. Even in San Francisco they are louder and brighter than any native bird has any right to be. I was like…
They left as quickly as they appeared. I was delighted. I didn’t get a single good picture. They are cleverly camouflaged for my type of color blindness, which was confounding. Mrs. JonTheBruce got some cute pics.
A typical tourist experience in San Francisco
I am usually head on a swivel in big cities. I am not going to name names, but one of my regular travel companions tends to carry a purse with a recognizable brand name. Usually something that screams… “Hey pickpockets! This thing is full of credit cards and valuables and the bag has a high value on the secondary market!”
I have the boys trained to form a tactical wedge when we are moving from location to location in big cities like Beyonce is visiting Tiffany & Co. This is a handy tactic when my own Queen B is visiting Tiffany & Co. We have never really had an issue. It’s always in the back of my mind.
We have upped our purse game for travel in the big city. Cross body that closes with a street value that makes it unlikely to be the real thing. It is important to note, that Mrs. JonTheBruce does just fine without me, also. It was actually a topic of discussion in Napa. We were advised to keep an eye out for the sneaky pickpockets, probably not going to see some Chi-raq style strong arm, snatch and grab action, social media wilding.
Sophisticated, experienced travelers
We were ready to hit San Francisco as we left Oracle Stadium. I downloaded the San Francisco Muni app. We got on the modern people mover thing towards the harbor then walked to the streetcar station.
I wore my new Pendleton Westerley shirt to the game, because sports. I think this, in addition to my magnetic personality, attracted the attention of a woman, who claimed to be a Supreme Court Justice. She might have just been an under-supported, unhoused person with untreated mental illness. I briefly pondered out crazying her honor. I choose not to engage. This person was clearly local, clearly in her element. I was turned partially away from her. Not engaging. Mrs. JonTheBruce had my six. My ride or die watched Supreme Court Justice walk up behind me and tap me on the back with her magic wand. A koosh ball on the end of a pencil.
I like to think Mrs. JonTheBruce might have taken action if it was a gun or knife. In the future, I am going to keep her between the threat and so things get handled. I was like Frozen and “let it go”.
Bend Like A Willow in the Wind.
There is a funny story in the JonTheBruce mythology about me and Mrs. JonTheBruce and Charbonneau and Merryweather walking in downtown Chicago. We were walking directly in front of bank in the heart of downtown. The door to the bank banged open right in front of me. A fella who was having a bad day almost ran into me. He screamed “Fuck You, too!” right at me, just like I was responsible for the color of his skin or my own, his credit rating, his circumstances, his kids, his baby mommas, and every bad choice he had ever made. He stormed off a victim of the universe. This tiny moment of human interaction is BURNED into my children’s minds. We kept walking to the next thing we are doing. I should have the boys recount their version of this story. The moral of my version of the story is…
Supreme Court Justice de-escalated a tiny bit, but got on the same streetcar. Thankfully, she fucked right off when we got to…
Pier 39/Fisherman’s Wharf was packed with tourists. Probably the least masked, most crowded place we had been in a week. We had dinner at Fog Harbor Fish House. We covered all the day one tourist stuff. Clam chowder, sourdough, fish on the harbor, boomerangs, shrimp on the barbie, tea with the queen. The SF Bay and my bae were cooling off quickly. We checked out the sea lions along the pier. From the restaurant to the end of the pier the temperature dropped about 90 degrees. We left before absolute zero temperature was achieved. We moseyed back to the hotel.