Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fishing for fun

It took Mr. Hall a little while and considerable help from the GPS to find his brother's home in Browns Valley, but when they finally managed to pull into the driveway they were welcomed by Brian and his wife Trina, with open arms. After talking long into the night, they awoke with renewed vigor to face the road ahead. Brian and Trina were delightful hosts and not only acquainted them with some of the local culture, set them on the right track to San Francisco with a handful of tasty recommendations.
The fog was hanging low over the Golden Gate bridge as they crossed that afternoon, but by the time they had parked the sun had burned off enough for a glorious view of the bay and its charming marina. A dancing crab accompanied by some improvised bongo street music welcomed visitors to Fisherman's Wharf and it set the proper festive tone for the crowd. Trinket sales seemed to be brisk; there was even a shop selling magnetized bagels, donuts and hot dogs. "Now I've heard these were notorious for sticking to your hips, but I had no idea they could stick to your refrigerator that way as well," remarked Mr. Hall. Crabs appeared to be a liet-motif; outside of taking every chance to feature them in ever more inventive menus, the locals had taken to manufacturing crab themed articles of clothing as well. Mrs. Hall was momentarily swayed by a chapeau at the Boudin Bakery store, but Mr. Hall, seeing her in it (and fighting off the image of that popping up at their next picnic) offered to buy her some world famous sourdough instead. The trade was a no-brainer; Mrs. Hall was a huge fan of their bread so there was no need to offer twice.
Walking along the boardwalk and enjoying a crusty boule, they finally arrived at Ghirardelli Square. They had just finished off the last of the chewy crust when a representative from the chocolate factory offered them both a fresh sample. "It would have been rude to decline," Mrs. Hall said thickly, between bites.
They had a motive for walking all the way up to the square and back; Brian Pierce had recommended a wonderful fish house somewhere along that strip and the Halls were determined to find it. Weaving up and down the avenues provided an opportunity to see more of the shops but it wasn't until they ran across an obscure ad in another bar that finally gave them the tip they required to find the restaurant. Back behind several shops, well off the beaten path and cuddled right up against the bay, was Scomas, Brian's suggestion for dinner. While hidden from the casual visitor, it was clearly a favorite with some groups. Seeing the tables mostly filled, the Halls opted to dine on the bar menu. Though it offered mostly lighter fare, it was fresh and delicious. Summoning a generous nature that did not come easily given that Mrs. Hall had just been presented with a huge platter of fresh fried calamari, she offered a crispy tentacle to Mr. Hall, who managed to decline with only a thinly veiled look of disgust. He was indulging himself on shrimp cocktail. "More for me, then-" she said smugly.
The air was redolentt of dark chocolate and coffee as they walked back to the main street, and a frothy sort of giddy goodwill permeated the crowd. Locating the little rental and bidding good bye to the boardwalk and the cable cars, they continued southward back into the fog, to Gilroy CA- home of the Gilroy Garlic festival- and their digs for the night.
Next episode: Cannery Row and a brief encounter. Stay tuned!

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