March 28, 2002

One cool kid.

McKade and EliMcKade wearing shadesDoes this kid look cool or what? This is my nephew, McKade. If you want to see more of him, my dad is putting up pictures at What a lucky kid to have his own domain name. I figure it should put my dad in the running for grandpa of the year.

Anyway, it was nice being in Las Vegas and seeing the fam. This was the first time I was able to see my nephew in person (that grandpa I was telling you about bought us all webcams for Christmas, so I guess I have seen him before). For some reason McKade thinks I look hilarious because every time he takes a gander at me, he starts cracking up. I'm glad I exude that type of behavior on him; I guess it would be pretty awful if every time I held him he would start crying or something, huh? ;) Hopefully I'll get to see him again soon.

Posted by Eli at 10:07 PM | Comments (1)

March 27, 2002

Panoramic pictures added, again.

I just noticed that I forgot to include a link to the panoramic pictures on the new photos page. They are all panoramic pictures I took last year in Las Vegas, Portland, and around my house.

Posted by Eli at 04:51 PM | Comments (1)

March 21, 2002

L.A. Story

I just finished spending a week in Santa Monica, California. I stayed with an old friend of mine from high school, Kathy, and her husband Jeff. They have a nice apartment with a comfortable couch (i.e., my bed) that is just a few blocks from the beach. It was so nice to get up and stroll down to the Santa Monica Pier or to Venice Beach which will all within walking distance.

I was most impressed with all the gymnastic equipment in the beach parks. They have everything from parallel bars to rings to the balance beam. What's funny is that they have a miniature version of the same types of equipment for the kids, but that section of the park is relatively empty compared to the grownup section. I guess Los Angelans are really kids at heart.

Kathy and Jeff know a lot of great places to eat in the area. We went out to eat a lot, and now I know some really good places to get some grub at. One of the first places we went to was El Cholo on Wilshire. These people claim to have invented Nachos. I don't know if I buy that or not, but their food was delicious. If you're in the mood for Italian, you might want to check out Pizacotto (I must be spelling this wrong, because I can't find it online). Kathy's old boss told her about the place, describing it as someplace you can go to just get a cheap pizza to go. Well, the food was great, but it was hardly a pizza by the slice joint. It was a semi-fancy Italian restaurant where a meal would be in the $15-$20 range. I guess that just goes to show you what the well off consider cheap.

Speaking of which, houses are outragiously priced in the area. I thought things were getting expensive in Portland, but in the Santa Monica area you're going to really pay to live. A relative of Jeff's just bought a house for three quarters of a million dollars that they describe as a "shack". I guess the house on the property doesn't really add any value at all -- you just pay for the land. I won't be moving down there any time soon.

Posted by Eli at 11:32 AM | Comments (1)

March 15, 2002

From Monterey to Cambria

Today I drove down Highway 1 from Monterey to Cambria where I am now. It's a gorgeous drive, and I'm glad I've taken a little extra time to take the coastal route.

Cambria appears to be primarily a tourist town with a big art scene (there seem to be some famous artists who live here). But I was most impressed by the rolling greens hills of farmland and countryside that are on the outskirts of town. I saw breathtaking, picturesque scenes right across the street from the local high school. Just down the road was more of the same, including deer, country homes, and even a billy goat on the side of the road.

I'm staying at the Bridge Street Inn Hostel tonight. The owner is gone bicycling New Zealand. In her place are an interesting, if somewhat bizarre group of people taking care of the place. The hostel itself is great -- tons of interesting books and interesting decor from wall to wall. I guess it's time to call it a night.

Morning update -- I checked out the Nit Wit Ridge today on the way out of town. It's this crazy old mansion made of rock, hubcaps, old TVs, and other trash. It was created by a man who called himself Captain Nit Wit, who I'm told was Cambria's local garbage man for most of his life. You can now tour this mansion, which I'm told by the new owner give's Hearst's Castle a run for your money. It's definitely worth driving by on your way through town -- you don't come by pieces of Americana like this much anymore.

Posted by Eli at 10:55 AM | Comments (2)

March 13, 2002

Big Burgers, Little Towns

I stopped in Hollister to see my ex-roommate Geoff yesterday. Geoff teaches econ and coaches JV football at the local high school in town. He tells me that the place used to be largely a farming town, but now it is turning into a haven of silicon valley commuters. I think it's supposed to be about 45 minutes south of the valley, but since I left SF just in time for rush hour, my estimate was more than a bit larger. Commuting for over an hour, each way, 5 days a week must be a real pain in the ass.

It was great seeing Geoff and his now wife Jen again. I had a really good time staying at their place. So good, in fact, that I decided to leave my jacket behind to enjoy it for a bit longer -- thanks for sending it to me, Jen. Also, thanks for the biggest burger I've ever had.

Posted by Eli at 10:41 AM | Comments (2)

March 11, 2002

Out to Oakland.

Yesterday I had brunch with Liz and Kyle, two friends from high school. Liz has the distinction of being one of the few people I know who actually love their job. And she seems super busy with it, too.

I haven't seen Kyle in probably three or four years. It is always a little weird hanging out with someone that you haven't seen in so long. We ended up playing a game of chess at his place. His place was actually very interesting -- it's an old Mother's Cookies factory in Oakland that's subdivided into large studios.

I'm trying to decide what to do next in San Francisco. A search for the top places to see in San Francisco was somewhat fruitless yet satisfying -- it looks like I've hit the major spots. Maybe I'll just do my laundry and rest up to prepare for the rest of the trip, perhaps hitting the exploratorium before meeting up with Matt (who I'm staying with) for dinner. Later this week I'm thinking of driving down 1 through Big Sur, maybe camping along the way. I hear it is beautiful down there.

Posted by Eli at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2002

Hanging with Nikki P.

Had a great day yesterday hanging out with Nikki, an old friend from high school. She's unemployed, too, so we managed to find time in our busy schedules to meet up for some lunch and then tour some parts of San Francisco. Nikki is pretty into the art scene down here, so we checked out a few of the local art galleries near Matt's place in upper Haight.

Then we cruised around the city, heading out to The Cliff House on the coast. They had a great antique amusement park machine museum there. That's probably not the best way to describe it, though. They had all these fortune teller type machines, like the one in the movie Big. Plus all sorts of music boxes, player pianos, arm wrestling machines, etc. Unfortunately the museum is scheduled to close down for good in September 2002, so be sure to check it out before then.

After that we went back to Nikki's place to meet her fiance for dinner. They live in a high rise antique building on Russian Hill which provided great views of the city. One funny story: Nikki opened one of her windows which opens out to the side in order to let me take in the view. Well, it was really windy out so the window snaps open and is held open by the wind. We couldn't shut it. So we spent the rest of the evening in a rather chilly, windy apartment, but with an amazing view. I hope they got that fixed ok. Thanks for dinner, guys!

(I'll add some pictures here when I get a chance to unload them.)

Posted by Eli at 03:27 PM | Comments (1)

March 06, 2002

Oh my, Yosemite.

Matt and I just got back from Yosemite last night. What an amazing place! Everywhere you look you see a postcard-like picture.

Our first day we hiked to the top of Yosemite Falls (aka Yosemite Peak), which was a rather steep climb of about 8.8 miles roundtrip with about a 2800 ft elevation gain. Although steep, the trail was incredibly well maintained which made the climb a lot easier. I was amazed at the amount of work they put into creating this trail -- huge clusters of rocks placed to create a level surface.

Even more amazing was the landscape. Nearly everywhere you look are flat faces of rock jutting hundreds of feet straight up. Down below is Yosemite Valley, a flat area sperced with clusters of trees and interconnected rivers. The main attraction is Yosemite Falls, a massive waterfall that is made all the more beautiful by the sheer rock faces that abutt it. At the bottom of the waterfall is a giant "snowcone". I guess the moisture that builds up on the rock walls freezes over night. When the sun hits it in the morning, the ice cracks off and falls to create a thunderous roar and the "snowcone" seen at the bottom of the fall. We tried to get up early enough to witness this event, but unfortunately we missed it. However, the sites we did see were more than satisfying.

I would recomment to anything the he should at least drive through Yosemite. I've never seen anything like it.

While camping at night you have to put all your food in bear-proof metal containers. There's signs everywhere about these bears, so they were definitely on our mind. We didn't have a lantern, just flashlights. So as we were sitting at our campsite, we hear a rustling by the food locker. We're shinning our flashlights all around, admittedly more than a little freaked out. "Whoa!" Matt exclaims.

It was a raccoon. There was a whole possee of them that appeared to be much more of a nuesance than the nonexistant (at least to us) bears. One hopped up on our picnic table behind me while I was sitting there. We saw another one jump into our neighbor's car while he wasn't looking. When he started yelling at the raccoon to scare it away, the raccoon calmly looked up, stopped, then turned around and grabbed a bag of chips before it left the car! They certainly have no fear of humans.

Posted by Eli at 03:32 PM | Comments (0)

Dinking around Frisco.

Saturday was a beautiful day in the city. We walked down through lower Haight to Golden Gate Park. It felt like how thing were in college -- people coming out of the woodwork to enjoy a sunny day. There was a massive drum circle in the middle of the park, beautiful women and wacked out dudes dancing to the music, and a massive variety of folks like me sitting in the sun taking it all in. Scattered throughout the crowds of people were flying frisbees and jugglers. It was interesting to see how people with similar interests congregated; all the jugglers over here, the dancers over there, etc. I guess it would be a good way to meet random people with similar interests.

Saturday night Matt took us out to the Suppenkutche, a great authentic German restaurant just a few blocks from his palce. When we get there, this fancy smancy mator dee tells us it's going to be an hour and a half wait. So the group of us (Matt's girlfriend and some friends of his came along) went down the street for some drinks to bide our time. When we come back an hour and a half later, the matordee tells us it will be another half hour. Back to the bar down the street. We come back 25 minutes later only to wait at the restaurant's bar for another 20 minutes. This definitely seemed like the type of place where you could slip the matordee a $20 (maybe more) and sit down a lot sooner. Fortunately, the food was amazing. I'm not sure if that's because we were starving or because it was just great food, but it was damn tasty.

Posted by Eli at 02:25 PM | Comments (2)

Comment bugs fixed.

Sorry if you weren't able to add comments for the last week. My friend who hosts this site upgraded from Linux 6.2 to 7.2 which caused some incompatibilities with MovableType and Berkeley DB. Should be fixed now, and now I can add more entries! Be sure to read below, though -- some of my road trip entries are dated earlier.

Posted by Eli at 01:04 PM | Comments (1)

March 02, 2002

From Ashland to San Francisco.

Ashland was a pretty nice town. It reminds me of Flagstaff, AZ -- it's a college town with a bunch of rich retirees moving in and taking over. I suppose that allows there to be the large number of unique art houses in town. I was really amazed by The Hardwood Gallery -- everything was made from only wood including neck ties, briefcases, grandfather clocks, and even a bicycle. (I'll add some pictures later when I can upload them.)

I also checked out Lithia Park. Everyone I talked to told me I had to see it. It was designed by the same guy who designed Golden Gate Park in San Francisco (where I arrived yesterday).

The drive in was quite scenic. Mt. Shasta can entertain you for at least a half hour of the drive as it appears to be just off of I-5. There were also numerous sections of rolling green hills with scattered cows and trees that added to the enjoyment of the drive.

I found it interesting that as I got closer and closer to San Francisco, I could just feel the tension in the drivers around me. People drove faster, honked more, and changed lanes every chance they got. The transition from peaceful drive to intense road course was abrupt.

I figure it has to be a good trip because I got a parking spot right across the street from Matt's flat. Good parking spots foretell a lot.

I hunt out in the Lower Haight area of SF last night with Matt and his girlfriend Jennifer. We went to what they consider a dive bar, but the clientelle at a dive bar in San Francisco still seem much younger and shieker than they do in Portland. Everyone seems to have their own style -- great for people watching.

Posted by Eli at 01:35 PM | Comments (3)