Dad came for a visit last week. (And it’s getting hard to come up with entry titles that are just variations on “A Visit From Dad”.) He flew in on Thursday and left on Wednesday. By this time we’ve gone to see most of the things in the Bay Area I know about, so it was a visit mostly of re-runs and hanging out, although he did have a couple of new things he wanted to see.
This is the first time he’s seen our new house, which we’ve now been in (hard as it is for us to believe) for 11 months. Mom saw it on her visit a year ago, but that was before we’d even closed (we were doing a walk-through with the seller the day she arrived), so it almost feels like it doesn’t count, since it was completely empty. Dad had to wait a little longer, but he got the full experience, since it’s well lived-in by now.
The day he arrived we walked down to the nearby Safeway which has a Starbucks in it, as he has been in the habit of walking out in the morning on his visits to get coffee, and his previous place, the 7-11 near our old home, is rather farther from the new place. I think he walked there every morning but two during his stay.
One place he wanted to visit was the campus of University of California – Santa Cruz, because it’s on a list he saw of the 10 most beautiful college campuses in the world (I think he saw this one). Although I’ve been to Santa Cruz many times, this was my first trip to UCSC.
I gotta say, it’s a very unfriendly campus for visitors. Apparently you are supposed to buy a parking pass to park most places on campus, which isn’t a bad thing, but they don’t tell you this. I saw no signs driving in to this effect, the booth where you buy the passes is not marked at all, and none of the parking lots we drove by or through have any indication that this is so. We only figured this out because most of the cars in one lot had things hanging from their rear mirrors, and we asked some people and they confirmed this. It’s like it’s a big trap to issue tickets to the unwary. Bastards.
We didn’t buy a pass but rather just drove around to see the place. Is it stunningly beautiful? It’s not bad; the buildings set in the redwood forest are pretty. The regions in the nearby fields look a little more generic. The architecture didn’t seem especially noteworthy. (Then again, Stanford is also on the list, and its campus has never impressed me either.) The campus is very spread out and I bet students spend a lot of time on buses or bikes to get from place to place.
We also visited the arboretum, which is quite impressive, large and varied. It’s the place I’d suggest visiting if you go to the campus for the scenery.
Saturday we drove to Livermore wine country, having lunch at Garre (nice restaurant, but their wines are not our thing), and then dropped by a couple of wineries for tastings. In the evening we went to a new restaurant that I discovered through a cow-orker, Bistro Vida, which we all enjoyed.
We came home from dinner to find that the power had gone out. We lit some candles and Debbi and I walked around the neighborhood a bit; it was a failure that covered several blocks, and it didn’t come back on until after 11, by which time we’d gone to bed. Our neighbor Juan said the power goes out from time to time – I think it only went out twice in the 10 years I was in my townhouse, so hopefully it won’t go out much more often than that! Apparently it was because of a equipment problems rather than due to the heat we were having on Saturday.
Sunday morning we went to the Moss Beach Distillery for their Sunday champagne brunch, and were pretty disappointed compared to earlier visits. They weren’t playing the classical music that Dad remarked on at his last visit, and worse, they had taken both french toast and pancakes off their brunch menu! Since I don’t eat seafood or egg dishes, that left hardly anything on the menu I would eat. Fortunately they were willing to make pancakes (for Dad) and french toast (for me) as a special order, but they were pretty ordinary compared to the more elaborate forms they used to have. I don’t know what they’re thinking, how can it be brunch without at least pancakes? I guess they’re trying to go more upscale? But they’re likely to lose me as a patron if this is the way it’s going to be. Pity.
Sunday evening we drove to the east bay to have dinner with my cousins, both of whom live out here, but neither of whom I’ve seen much of. Cousin L and her husband have a very nice house, and cousin K came from the city to meet with us. We had a good few hours visiting with them, and perhaps when their parents come out to visit next we’ll have a chance to meet them, too.
Monday we had a pretty quiet day, mostly driving around the south bay. Tuesday was a little more ambitious: We dropped Blackjack off at the vet about his eye, then went for breakfast, and finally up to San Francisco. We went to SF MOMA, which sure enough is an art museum. (I’m not really into art museums.) Then off to Ghirardelli Square for ice cream sundaes, and finally to Golden Gate Park. Strybing Arboretum – formerly one of my favorite place to wander around in the park – is now charging non-residents for admission. If nothing else that will eliminate any motivation I might have for donating to them.
Along the way we also watched some episodes of classic Doctor Who that I’d bought on DVD (used, to avoid the ridiculous prices the BBC charges for them): “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”, “Pyramids of Mars” and “Logopolis”. “Talons” was better than I’d remembered, while the other two were not as good (though still enjoyable). In particular “Pyramids” seemed to suffer from the limited (though very good) cast.
Wednesday it was a morning drive to drop Dad off at the airport, followed by meeting Debbi at her workplace for coffee, and then an afternoon of chores around the house. As always, it was a nice visit with Dad – and the cats enjoyed his company, too!