San Francisco weekend

Another great weekend in California. Sometimes I forget that I live in Nevada, and that I have a job here, but I’m having so much fun on these weekends in California, that I sort of want to forget.

I went to the Friday Night Waltz in Palo Alto for the first time, and quite enjoyed it. It is about 1/3 waltz and the rest a variety of other social dances, a few of which I know how to do or can fake, and several I just watched. The dancers are a group of young high school / college age who know each other, and middle aged dancers, a few of whom are also contra dancers. I wouldn’t go to the bay area for just this dance, but I’d certainly go again if I happened to be in the bay area on a Friday night.

Saturday morning I met my friend Barbara at a coffee shop and we had a nice long conversation about everything. Barbara and I recently reconnected after having more or less lost touch for at least six years. We met doing outdoor education at WOLF School a long time ago.

Saturday afternoon I went to see Next to Normal at the Curran Theatre. I really enjoyed the play. Danita introduced me to it, and said it is her favorite, so far. I’m glad that I had listened to the sound track several times beforehand, because the lead actor’s (Diana – Alice Ripley) voice was not clear.

dancing dragon at Chinese New Years Parade

The Chinese New Years Parade was happening after the play, so I went off to see it, standing on a lightpost along Powell Street opposite Union Square. I stayed long enough to see one of the long dancing dragons, which was the highlight of the parade. The route was so crowded that it took almost 30 minutes just to get off Powell Street and head up Geary. By the time the dragon came, it was too dark for my iPhone, but the photo sort of captures the feeling.

Saturday evening I went to the contra dance at St Paul’s in San Francisco. The dance is a shadow of it’s former self, but it was still fun and I had some nice dances. One woman was wearing a skirt that I just fell in love with.

Sunday morning I rode out to the Legion of Honor to see an exhibition called Pulp Fashion, of the artwork of Isabelle de Borchgrave. She fabricates and hand paints dresses made of paper, which are reproductions of historical dresses from paintings. It was fascinating, amazing to see dresses in a physical form which only existed on the canvas before. Paper dresses sounds ironic, but they are beautiful. After the museum, I rode around Lands End and down to Ocean Beach, and then took the N Judah back to the hostel.

Sunday afternoon I went to Danita’s feis (pronounced fesh), an Irish dance competition, in San Francisco. I had never seen her perform competitively, and this was the last chance since she is retiring from Irish dance competition to focus on other things. Was was pleased that I could be there to see her culmination and passage on to other things. I wish I had a photo of Danita dancing, but again, my iPhone was not up to the challenge, and I was told I wasn’t supposed to be taking photos anyway.

Sunday after the feis I went out to dinner with Danita’s parents, Darla and Chris, a friend a Danita’s, and two friends of her’s. We at Thai at a restaurant at the intersection of Grant and Vallejo in North Beach. I haven’t done anything with the whole family in quite a while, and I really enjoyed it.

frock coat and silk vest

On my way back through Sacramento, I finally found the store open I’d wanted to look at for Victorian clothing, called Sacramento City Dry Goods. I bought what I can’t really afford but couldn’t resist, a frock coat and silk vest. I’ll be using these this coming weekend at the Gaskell Ball. I’m in Sacramento pretty often, but almost always too early or too late in the day for the store to be open.

And that was the weekend!

Getting to California was a comedy of errors. CalTrans had on chain restrictions from Myers to Placerville, but the road was almost completely free of snow, and even dry in some places, so I shredded my cable chains and had to just throw them away. I missed my Amtrak train by a few minutes, and the next train two hours later was delayed for two hours by some “gas leak” concerns. They bused us around to Martinez, where the jam packed third train sat for an hour. When I got to Richmond for transfer to BART, BART across the bay was shut down, and it took two hours to open up again, after miscommunication about alternatives. Once BART ran again, there was a two hour accumulation of people, and there were about 500 people squeezed into every car. I of course missed the Caltrain to Palo Alto, so rented a ZipCar, but the car didn’t have a parking pass to get out of the garage, so I had to call ZipCars and get another one. I got to the Friday Night Waltz well after the lesson, but only missed a little of the dance. On Saturday evening, I took the N Judah line out to St Paul’s in the Sunset, but that line got shut down. After waiting well over an hour for a shuttle bus, it made ever stop possible heading west, and I got to the dance an hour late. The rest of the weekend, transportation went without major glitches.

The part of transportation system that worked best is my bicycle. I LOVE having a folding bicycle. It was fun, if not always easy, riding up and down over the hills of San Francisco. Jumping on my bike to get to the next destination, or to start and complete trips that include public transit, allowed me to cram more activities into the weekend than otherwise would have been possible.

About Dan Allison

Dan Allison is a Safe Routes to School Coordinator in the Sacramento area. Dan dances and backpacks, as much as possible.
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