Wednesday, September 13, 2006

North Coast Travelogue: 9/10-9/13

Had to go down to UCSF again on Sunday. This time we had to stay two nights, so I was hating it.

We left Sunday about 11am and wouldn't you know it, the first car to go speeding past me was a Subaru. This was down past Garberville. I couldn't help but laugh but was disappointed the gal didn't have a Kerry For President bumpersticker on the back of her car.

In fact, after that, I made a point of looking out for Subarus and saw quite a few, but no Kerry stickers. Even stranger, after I started really paying attention, I didn't see any campaign stickers on any cars the whole trip down there, with the one exception being an old Kerry sticker on the back of a mini- van. Campaign stickers must be going out of style.
I keep telling myself to keep some band aids in my truck, if for no other reason than sometimes I cut myself when I'm at work. Just by chance, about a week earlier I'd put four band aids in the bag I carry around with me. Good thing I did.

As we're coming up to Novato, I decided to pull off the freeway for a final break before heading into the city. We pulled off the same place we turn to go to Day's Inn, and drive a quarter mile or so south on the road to the hotel. Found a perfect place to pull over.

I get out to take a leak but, before I go to the bushes, I reached for a book behind the passenger seat that had the instructions to where we were going written down. I had trouble getting the book out and brushed my hand on the truck as I pulled it out. Didn't feel a thing.

So I go relieve myself and as I'm zipping up my pants, there's blood all over my right hand. Apparently I'd cut myself while getting the book out but was unaware of it until I looked at my hand. What a mess. It was really bleeding.

So I ask the wife to look in the glove box where I thought the bandaids were. She can't find them. Then I remembered I might have put them in my bag. By the time I get the band aids, there's blood all over the place and I was wiping it up with some dirty napkins. I only had four band aids and had three cuts- one each on three fingers.

To make things worse, even after I wiped the blood up my hands were all sticky from the blood so it made it hard to get the band aids to stick. In fact, the first one got blood all over it and was rendered worthless. I finally managed to get the cuts taped, cleaned up a bit, and was on my way.

Lesson learned: Keep a box of band aids in the glove box, along with a good supply of napkins or paper towels.
Normally we stay at the Day's Inn in Novato on Sunday night, then drive to UCSF early next morning, take care of business, then be out of there before noon and home before dark. This time, not only did we have to stay over two nights, some relatives of the wife had given us the heads up on a place we could stay in Frisco on the cheap. It was supposed to be close to UCSF, too.

The Native Daughters of the Golden West has a big house in San Francisco. It serves as both a place for members to stay, and their state office. If you're a member, and they have the space, you can stay at that house for much less than a hotel would cost. It costs $20 a night per member, $30 for the member's guest.

To be a member you pay $25 a year and have to be a native born Californian gal. Connie's parents paid the $25 and Connie had to send them her birth certificate. Then, they had a meeting of the local "parlor" (out in Samoa this time) to approve the membership application.

Easy enough, but I was a bit leery of it. First of all, I simply don't like staying in San Francisco. Second, I was under the impression, from what Connie said of the meeting she went to, it was mostly older women and, from some reference to religion I saw on their web page, I wondered if this group, or at least the members, might be big on religion.

I didn't want to have insult added to injury and have to stay in San Francisco and spend the night where everyone was involved in some prayer meeting, or some such. That is NOT my idea of a good time, but this was not to be.

The NDGW house is on the corner of Fulton and Baker in the city. Looking at the map I made some rough plans to get there, knowing roughly the area where it was. What Connie picked up on, and I totally missed, is that Fulton is a cross street of 19th Avenue, which is the street we use to go to UCSF anyway. Once Connie brought that to my attention, I figured that should be easy enough.

So, we end up heading East on Fulton. One of my worries about this thing is parking, as NDGW didn't have any dedicated parking space I was aware of. The trip down Fulton didn't make me feel any better as cars where parked bumper to bumper along both sides of the road.

We finally come to the corner of Baker and Fulton. I thought, using the map at, that the house would be on the southeast corner. It wasn't. So we look at the numbers and realize it was the one on the other side of the street. We couldn't see anything from the street to identify it as such, though. Looked just like any other house.

I needed to find parking now and, surprised as I was, just as we realized what house it was there's an open parking space just to my right. The allow parking nose- in on this street.

So, I park the car and we walk forty or fifty feet to the house and can see the NDGW seal above the entrance to the place. The trees along the street blocked us from seeing it.

We open the silly security gate so many San Francisco houses have and press on the intercom. Some gal says she'll be right there. She comes to the door after a minute or so. Connie says who she is and we're allowed in. She proceeds to take us on a tour of the place without even verifying our identity(?).

This place is pretty impressive. Four floors with, I think she said, twenty plus rooms in all. It has one of those old style elevators where you can see the floors pass by as you go up or down. The rooms are all nice, some big, some small. I thought it weird that all the doors to the rooms were open, too, so you could see inside all of them.

Nothing but single beds in the whole place, from what I could see, but the room we ended up in had two singles. Most rooms had a small television, but no cable tv, just broadcast channels. No phones in the rooms, either, but they had a phone you could use on the second floor.

The second floor had a good sized dining room and a VERY well equipped kitchen: Any cooking utensils you might need, microwaves, toasters, commercial refrigerator/ freezer...everything. And we had full use of it. Anything we needed to use, was ours to use, so long as we cleaned up after ourselves. Next to the kitchen was a large dining room (meant for meetings and such), where we could eat. They just asked that we be sure and use the placemats they provided to avoid stains on the tablecloth.

They also had a history room, a parlor (living room) and a TV room, with cable. Never made it to the TV room.

After the tour, she handed us our key and a form to fill out which she told us to just drop off in a birdhouse looking thing in the kitchen when we left. Amazing. Didn't even make us pay first, or ask for a credit card number, or some such.

She gave us a room on the fourth floor. Normally I wouldn't like that but, with the elevator so close, not too big a deal.

We went out to get our stuff from the truck and when we get to the street, there's two open parking places right in front of the door. I tell Connie to stay right there and I'll put our truck in one of the spaces. I run to the truck, get in, grind gears trying to hurry.

In just the 30 seconds it took me to do that, the two spaces were taken.

I back up real fast, to get the space I just gave up. In just the 15 seconds it took me to back into the street, someone took my old space. DAMN! Just what I expected, except I actually had a place to start with.

So, I drive up to the driveways to the NDGW house. Figure I can't park there but I can unload. We unload and I start driving around looking for a parking space. I drive around two blocks probably three times and there's not a space to be found. It's getting dark and I'm wondering if maybe I should just go to UCSF, park in the parking garage and take a cab back to NDGW.

Just as I'm making maybe my fourth pass, and approaching the corner near the front of NDGW, a car pulls out of a space just in front of me. A small car and not much room there. A driveway on one side and a car just to the rear. I'm not sure if there's enough room for my truck. There was. I just made it, with about and inch between the back of my truck and the car behind me and just enough room for people to use the driveway.

Problem solved. As we were preparing dinner later on, I was telling the house manager of the ordeal. She says, "You know you can park in our driveways? Just stay off the sidewalk and put one of these signs on your dashboard so we know you're a guest...". NOW she tells me. Oh well. l actually went out and moved my truck back to the front of the house, worrying about a replay of my earlier misadventure.

One thing I was worried about with NDGW was internet access. If there were a bunch of people sitting around talking about religion, or other dull matters, I'd go nuts if I didn't have the internet to entertain me. Turned out not to be much of a problem.

While we were being given the tour, the manager, whose name escapes me now, mentioned that while they don't provide internet access, you can receive wireless from the cafe across the street. Oh really, says I. She said it works. Just to make sure I confirmed the phone line on the second floor as I figured if wireless didn't pan out I could always hook up to the phone jack.

Turned out the phone jack wouldn't work as the phone was spliced into the wall connection, rather than having the clip in plugs that are nearly universal nowadays.

I tried connecting to the wireless across the street from our room, once we were settled in. There were three networks showing. Two of them appeared to be secure and I couldn't connect to what seemed to be the open one.

I tried relocating to the Parlor, as it was at least lower, thus closer to the source. I connected, check my e-mail and then went back upstairs. I tried it again in the room and this time I connected right away and never had a problem connecting again.

In fact, that signal seemed faster than the hotspot at Novato Days Inn. The Days Inn connection says I'm connected at something like 11mps. NDGW's bootleg connection showed me at 55mps(!). I didn't know it could go that fast, but I'll admit I'm kind of a dummy about such things. For all I know 55 might be slower than 11, but some sites I frequent did seem to load faster at NDGW than they did at Day's Inn.

Anyway, all in all it wasn't bad. No prayer meetings, but that might of been cause we were the only guests that night. I didn't see anyone else the whole time but the managers, who were quite friendly. Good thing about NDGW is they don't really have a mandatory check out time, either, so if you had a few hours between appointments somewhere you could always come back and hang out there for a while if you wanted.

One downside, not so much about the NDGW house, but the neighborhood there: I've never seen so much trash on sidewalks before in my life as they had around there. All kinds of trash, lots of it, and no one seemed inclined to pick any of it up.

NDGW is a nice option to have. Quite honestly, I like the freedom of a regular hotel room, as at the Day's Inn, but you know what they say: Beggars can't be choosy.
Didn't get out of S.F. until four 4:30ish Monday. Luckily, Connie only made a reservation for Sunday night at NDGW. I wanted to get out of town, to the Day's Inn. Connie suggested it might not be a good idea to drive this part of the drive during the rush hour but, if we stayed in Frisco another night, we'd probably end up leaving during the morning rush hour, so what difference did it make, was my thought.

We had a reservation at Novato Day's Inn. A good thing, too: Just as we approached the off ramp for Day's Inn, you could see a big traffic jam starting, not a quarter mile north of where we were getting off. Cool. Dodged that bullet.

Turned out to be real cool. A fire just south of Petaluma had just about closed 101. Smoke was in the air, as we could see from Day's Inn. Traffic was still almost at a standstill hours later. We lucked out.
Day's Inn was almost a bit different this time around. We ended up in an upstairs room for the first time. This, despite having made a reservation. Then again, I made the reservation only a day early so I should cut them some slack. Funny thing was, the air conditioner in that room seemed to work better than the ones in the rooms on ground level. You'd think with heat rising, the higher rooms would be warmer.

Once again, we enter the room to find no fridge or microwave. We called the desk and mentioned it. They said they'd see if they could find one and called a few minutes later apologizing and saying they didn't have a fridge or microwave available, but if we needed a fridge we were welcome to use the one in the Breakfast Room.

Turned out, we didn't have anything for the fridge. I assumed Connie had brought food for two nights. She hadn't. We ended up having to eat at the Garden Court restaurant which is part of Day's Inn.

I'd gotten an internet survey from Day's Inn a couple months ago, wanting to know how we felt about the Inn their service. I gave them fairly high grades but mentioned in the comments section that their breakfast room needed work, citing no decaf coffee, uncooked hardboiled eggs and such.

Others must have mentioned it as well. Last time around I pointed out the airpot labeled "decaf" to Connie, although it was empty that time. This time it was full and everthing was fully stocked. Their maintenance guy was manning the room refilling everything as supplies went short. Looks like they took their Breakfast Room critiques pretty seriously.
That was pretty much it for a long trip, at least long by my standards. Made it back in good time. We'll have to go back again within a few weeks. Not real enthused about staying at NDGW again, despite how nice it was there. The wife really likes it, though.

We ran into another Eureka couple at UCSF, as we often do. We told them about NDGW. They, in turn, told us about something they found: A place they often stay for free. We'll be checking that one out soon.
Speaking of Travelogues, as Erik Kirk noted on his blog a while back, Ed Denson has a blog up now that deals mostly with his travels. A fun read, for me anyway.


At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a genuine character Fred.

At 1:56 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

"...uncooked hardboiled eggs and such."
Fred, What's an "uncooked" hardboiled egg?

At 2:26 PM, Blogger Fred said...

One where the outside one quarter to one third inch of the egg is cooked but the rest of the inside is uncooked. I guess they didn't boil them long enough.

Aside from not looking all that great, makes a real mess when you try and peel them.

At 5:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred, delete 5:13

At 8:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if one of the "free" places you stay sometime will be that big house that holds a vampire cult. Yes Fred, they do drink blood and they are not gothy.

At 6:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think fred could hold his own against a vampire. After all, he stands up to Eric and Hank doesn't he?

At 8:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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