The Open Road; days 2 – 4

You can see all my road trip photos on Facebook (public link), or check them out on my Flickr set. Updated as we go.

Day 2

We  woke up early to a warm sunny day in Mammoth Lakes Motel 6, it was 6:30.  We walked across the highway to the strip mall.  The first breakfast place had no fruit, and the coffee didn’t hit the table within five minutes, so we told the waitress we were leaving.  A big group of Italian tourists ditched as well, and we saw them in the bakery later.  The bakery looked like nothing but diabetes, so we went back to Base Camp Cafe.  After breakfast we packed up and checked out, and were out of there around 9am.

The mountain meadows north of Mammoth Lakes were amazing; they started as huge vistas of valley and mountain side covered by a sagey, chivey alpine brush.  At Lee Vining and Mono Lake we turned and went up Tioga Pass, which was another specacularly curvy mountain pass drive.  Rocks.

We entered the Park, we didn’t have to pay because it was a free day.  We stopped at Tuolamne meadows to  walk in an actual meadow and visit a stream.  We also stopped at Olmstead Point, which looked like a crazy rock quarry from space.

We continued on to Yosemite Valley, which was lovely but crowded.  We bought sandwiches and ate them on a park bench, and then took a little walk near the Yosemite Falls.

We drove back out of the park right around two o’clock, and found another curvy mountain roads which wound down the mountain at a steep grade.  This time I was blessed with a driver behind me who thought i would be intimidated if he rode straight up my ass.  I kept going the speed limit, and he kept riding my ass, and the few places where it would have been legal for him to pass me, there was oncoming traffic, so he couldn’t.  So he stayed on my ass.  When slow vehicle turnouts started coming up, he’d flash his lights at me, as if I should pull over and let him pass, but I wagged my finger at him through the windshield.  He was right up my ass for miles, now he wanted me to go out of my way as a courtesy?  What a joke.  Miles later, when he finally was able to pass, I applauded him sarcastically.

After leaving the National Park, was the Stanislaus National Forest.  We passed through Groveland and Chinese Camp, where oddly enough there was a New Zealand flag flying.  We finally stopped in Oakville for a bite to eat.

After that it was straight on to Daly City.  There was one major disappointment in that the GPS we were following insisted that we go south to the San Mateo Bridge.  By the time I realized it, it was too late.  I had been planning to go across the Bay Bridge like a rock star, straight into the city, and then wind our way down to Daly City, but nooooo, we had to go the stupid back way.  That was disappointing.

When we got to Auntie R’s place we ate some punto and turron.  Cowsin J and I tried to tune a mandolin; he showed my mama his harp.  Later J and I tried to find a cool bar to hang out it, but when that didn’t work we went to the mission district for a taco and a beer.

Day 3

There was breakfast:  bacon, eggs over easy, and garlic fried rice.  Then Cowsin J took me to Golden Gate Park, where his swing dance club was having a potluck.  I stayed for a minute or too, but Januaugust was starting to get to me, so I told Cowsin J I’d be in the art museum.  I wanted to see the Musee d’Orsay exhibit, but they wouldn’t let me in to see it until 3:30, so forget it! I said, and just went to the other part of the museum.

There were very many impressive paintings and sculptures I had never seen or heard of, a handful of minor works from a few famous names (Rothko, Jacob Laurence, etc.) but the most interesting thing to me were three paintings by three different artists that were grouped together.  It was immediately obvious to me that they were works created about and during the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII by internees themselves.  I was a little annoyed that they were presented entirely without comment; just title, artist, year created, medium, etc.  And besides the context, there were technical and thematic things that unified the three paintings as well, that I thought was at least worth a description.

There was a big room dedicated to the Hudson River School, as well as a bunch of portraits I don’t care about, and I left to go meet Cowsin J.  I hung out at the Swing Dance party for a while, and then we came back to the ranch to meet Cowsin F and D.  We entertained each other with funny memories and creepy voices, and then Cowsin J and I took my mama to the airport.

I have had a blast palling around with my mama for the summer, and I miss her already.

After dropping her of, Cowsin J and I went to Chinatown.  We parked right near the entrance arch, browsed all the tourist trap crap, and then found a little cantonese restaurant.  We ordered hot and sour soup, beef chow fun, chinese broccoli with fried tofu, and two baskets of xiao long bao, which were NOT shanghai style, but it was all delicious.  On the way back to the car we talked some sass to some shopkeeper ladies in Mandarin.


I rolled out of bed at the crack of ten there was garlic fried rice, jamonado, and two fried eggs waiting for me on the table!  We talked a little bit about relatives in the Philippines, and I let Uncle R play the ukulele.

Cowsin J and I drove down to the BART station.  The BART is the loudest train I’ve ever been on ever in my life.  I don’t know why on earth anyone would want steel-on-steel transportation.  We got off at Powell St., bought cable car tickets and then wondered off to get some Thai food.  We ordered wonton soup with bbq pork and broccoli greens (I know it’s not Thai, but it was good), pork larb, and crab fried rice.  As always, I got excellent attentive service from the Thai waitresses, due to my resemblance to the laughing Buddha statue.  Seriously, check out my ear lobes.

After that, we waited in line for a cable car.  Yes, we knew we didn’t have to wait in line, but we totally did anyway.  There were Italians in line in front of us and behind us.  Cowsin J and I hung off the right side, just like in the rice-a-roni commercial, and I was right smack at the front of the train.  The sun was out at that point, and the ride was a lot of fun, more than I was expecting.

When we got down to Fisherman’s Wharf, Cowsin J and I walked the whole thing, kind of sight seeing, kind of shopping for pasalubong.  I had the brilliant idea to give a pirate’s hat to G’s wife, but they couldn’t find a new one for me.  Pity.  We saw the sea lions, the magic shop, a shop called “we got crabs!” or something, knives R us, all kinds of stuff.  We walked through the penny arcade museum, checked out the USS Pampanito and remembered our Tatang, walked by all the fish & chip stands.  At one point, Cowsin J had to use the bathroom, so we stopped in Jack’s Bar and I had a Jameson on the rocks.

Later we met Cowsin F and D and had dinner at Cioppino’s.  It was good but I didn’t have the cioppino because it was $30.  For thirty bones that cioppino better  sing in four part harmony; otherwise, forget it.

Later there was a cowsin jam session back in Daly City.

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