Monday was our big day in San Francisco. We had snagged a primo parking spot, just outside our garden apartment’s gate, which made offloading the vehicle pretty easy. Not wanting to give up that spot, we left the car there today, as we went walk about. In the morning, we headed downhill, knowing at the end of the day that we would have to walk back up that hill or take an Uber. We headed to Golden Gate Park, San Francisco’s version of Central Park or closer to home, Forest Park. Everything was so green. Probably because the marine layer was misting most of the morning. Our first stop was the San Francisco Botanical Garden, where with reciprocity, we got in for free with our MoBot membership. It was a beautiful garden, smaller and denser than the Saint Louis one. We enjoyed it until noon. At which point we headed south out of the park and snagged some lunch at “LaLe”, a cosmopolitan eatery, with some French flare, but also basic American cuisine. I had lunch with a chicken wrap, while Anne had breakfast with a Seattle frittata. Recharged, we reentered the park and headed to the California Academy of Science, because the art museum was closed and it was still cold out. We spent the rest of the afternoon there and closed the place. There are two huge spheres in the museum. We toured the first, which was a recreation of the Amazon jungle. The second ball was the planetarium, which we had a reservation for, but technical difficulties caused a cancelation of our show. I suspect that the marine layer clouded it over again. Which was just as well, because I was kind of scienced out by then and the museum closed shortly later. The museum also has a nice aquarium, which since we won’t be able to visit the aquarium in Monterey, was a good substitute. On the way back to our apartment, we stopped off for dinner at an authentic Chinese restaurant. We got their hot pots. The center of the table was opened for a foot diameter boiling pot of broth. Actually, two broths, one chicken, which we loved, but the other spicy, which was too much for us. We ordered about half-a-dozen ingredients to throw into the boiling pot. Utensils included one solid ladle for the broth and two strainer ladles to scoop up the ordered ingredients. We also each got a small plate and a small bowl, about the size of a cabin ice cream bowl. When we asked for utensils, we got chopsticks. It was a long and, in the end, very Weight Watchers friendly dinner, but also very educational. We did end up walking back up the hill to the apartment.
Yesterday, we took a boat ride on Lake Tahoe in the MS Dixie II. Modeled after the paddle-wheelers of old, it sports the pictured stern wheel. After much struggle, I managed to translate this live action iOS picture of the paddlewheel that I had taken on my iPhone into a form that this blog could use. We departed port from South Tahoe, across the Nevada line. Think lots of casinos. South Tahoe is the most congested part of the lake. From there, we headed north to Emerald Bay, just south of where we are staying, a relatively shallow bay where the lake’s deep blue water turns green. In this bay, there is the lake’s only island. We were hoping that our scheduled two-hour tour would be lengthened into a fabled three-hour tour. The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed, if not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Minnow would be lost… But there was not a cloud in the sky then, so our boat headed back to South Tahoe sans shipwreck. We did see a historical home in Emerald Bay, called Vikingsholm. Lora J. Knight, a rich woman (Heiress to controlling shares of National Biscuit, Continental Can, Diamond Match, Union Pacific and Rock Island Railroad, anyone of which would have made her very wealthy.), built it and modeled it on medieval Viking castles. She is best known for building this house, but she did help fund Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of Saint Louis flight. The property belongs to the state now and tours are available, but they don’t start until the end of this month. Supposedly, Knight wanted to furnish her home in the style of the Vikings, but none of the Scandinavian governments would allow her to export any of their historical artifacts. She then had very exacting copies made instead. She owned the one island in the lake also and had a teahouse built upon it. We saw its ruins as we circled the island for home.
Yesterday, we drove up into the mountains to Lake Tahoe, a two-hour drive. We’re staying in Frank and Kathy’s Historic Stanola Lodge. Built in the forty’s by Stan and Nola, it was eventually sold to the son of Buster Keaton. Junior’s mother, Natalie Talmadge, was also a silent film star. Buster Senior is said to have visited the lodge on occasion, so every time some odd artifact is found around the place it is said to have been Buster’s. Frank and Kathy have only owned the place for a year, but have already made many improvements, combining the charm of the past, with the convenience of the future.