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California Dreamin’

Yes, we did. We rented a convertible. Fire engine red. It’s fun to be in your ’60s.

One of the many many fun things we did in California these past two weeks. And it really was a fun time. Family weddings are always a blast – and my family really does know how to have a good time. No angst, so drama, just lots of laughter. And alcohol. And food. And fun.

We took an early flight out of PHL and arrived in SFO at 9:30am. A full day to play after a long flight. And play, we did. First stop, Ocean Beach.

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I grew up two blocks from here. I really do miss it – even the damp. cold fog. It’s a local thing. We headed down to Pacifica with my brother and took a hike along the ocean there – and then drove through the new Devils Slide tunnels and stopped at the old highway that is now a hiking path. More great ocean views.

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But we weren’t out here to see the ocean, we were here for a wedding. It was off to Clear Lake.

Clear Lake is a couple of hours north of San Francisco. Lots of roads with 15mph hairpin turns. Great in a Mustang.

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I hadn’t been up to the lake in years but my sister has been going up there with her husband’s family forever. They just bought a house on the lake a couple of years ago. It’s also where Maggie is from and where Sean and she met. It’s stunningly beautiful.

Their house is great. It looks like a Tuscan Villa out of Architectural Digest, but it’s a cozy, comfortable place built for relaxing and having fun.

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Modern kitchen with all the amenities…

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A dining table to die for…

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Little details…

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And an a backyard to end all backyards…

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A really fun thing about the house is the Guest House – a cabin that was brought down from the Sierras.

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It’s rumored to have been built with wood from one of the Donner party cabins, but there’s no official documentation. It doesn’t matter. It’s really cool.

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And with all the modern conveniences…

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Plenty of room to cook…

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And roomy enough for two… We stayed in the main house but I could move in here in a heartbeat!

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There are other really cool things on the property, including a little Hobbit Tree. There had been a fire in the base many years ago and a previous owner decided something whimsical was needed.

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And then there’s the lake.

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The views constantly change, the colors constantly change. The only thing that doesn’t change is the comfort.

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Looking straight out the back at dusk.

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That’s Mount Konocti. It’s a volcano that hasn’t erupted in a few thousand years and is a part of the Clear Lake Volcanic Fields. It could happen.

But while I could wax poetically about Clear Lake for hours, the reason we were there was for a wedding. Little baby Sean – now 30 years of age – got married to one of the sweetest girls on the planet.

Maggie is from Middletown which is on Cobb Mountain – the largest of the two local peaks. The area has been devastated by fires – an arsonist was finally caught after setting at least 17 different fires and causing millions upon millions of dollars in damage. This is just outside of Middletown.

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And this is on the main street of the town of Lower Lake – not far from my sister’s home. This was an auto repair shop. It’s a miracle – and a testament to the people who fought these fires – that the entire town wasn’t devastated. My brother-in-law and nephews were up here fighting the fires.

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But this wasn’t about fires, it was about love – and the wedding was perfect.

My bother-in-law, Mike – the father of the groom – officiated. Here’s Mike with the groom, Sean, and big brother and Best Man, Michael.

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Maggie and her dad… a totally stunning bride!

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And Sean with his mom – my sister, Eileen.

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The reception was a blast and went on until 10pm – and then it was back to the Twin Pine Casino for more outrageous fun. We all stayed at Twin Pine because it’s the only hotel in the area large enough to handle all of us.

One fun tradition in our family is no one is officially married until YMCA is played. This wedding was no exception. I could post lots of blurry dancing pictures or just post the video of YMCA. And here it is:

 

 

That pretty much is my family in a nutshell.

And here’s a flyover video of the wedding!

We spent the next few days on the lake – and some of it, literally.

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Mike took us out and we completely circumnavigated the lake. It’s the largest natural lake in California and geologists think it may be the oldest lake in North America – more than 480,000 years old.

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Much of the shoreline is built up. Boat docks everywhere. But then there’s just water for as far as the eyes can see.

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It truly is beautiful. Mike got the boat up to 65 mph at one point. We were flying across that water! It was insanely fun

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At some point, all good things must come to an end. Back to San Francisco and the ridiculous traffic.

Traffic. OMFG Traffic. It was bad 15 years ago when we left. It’s gotten a thousand times worse. I wrote this on a San Francisco board I frequent – Western Neighborhoods Project:

Just got back from The City By The Bay…

We flew in September 20th, picked up our 2016 bright red Mustang Convertible, and headed right over to my brother’s on 31st & Santiago.

We had landed by 9:30am and at 10 were on the road. 380 /280 /Brotherhood/ Lake Merced Blvd /Sunset. The traffic was horrendous.

Stayed local until Friday when we headed up to Clear Lake for the wedding. Traffic. Freakin’ ridiculous.

Stayed with one of my sister’s in Clearlake. They have a nice little lakeside place. Came back down Wednesday. Flippin’ gawd-awful traffic.

Wednesday evening went down to The Old Clam House for dinner. Another sister works there as bartender. Traffic everywhere.

Thursday, headed over to Oakland to see an old friend. Ridiculous traffic.

Friday morning, headed to the airport. Flippin’ cars everywhere.

In every traffic scenario, almost every car was a single driver. Ludicrous traffic.

Bumper-to-flippin’-bumper-traffic everywhere we went. The avenues, Sunset, in the Park. Bumper-to-flippin’-bumper-traffic.

Looking at the monstrosities being built on Brotherhood, counting no less than 20 tower cranes downtown, and hearing about plans to redevelop some retail parcels with shopping on the bottom and multi-story housing on top left me dumbfounded. The streets can no longer handle the traffic that is there right this minute. Adding thousands of more units of housing and millions of square feet of office space is only exacerbating the situation.

This trip finally cured me of missing San Francisco. The city of my youth no longer exists and I finally had to admit to myself that nostalgia is great – but longing for what once was is a losing proposition.

Of course, the irony of being a part of the traffic mess was not lost on us. We definitely would have taken MUNI/BART to Oakland,for instance, but we wanted to stop on Treasure Island on the way home to take pictures. There’s no way to get to Treasure Island from Oakland. If we lived there, we’d do things differently, but with limited time, it was out into the foray.

Fortunately, I was able to keep my humor, take my time, and act like a civilized human being behind the wheel – being in a cop-magnet car helped.

But geeze, louise – traffic is bad.

But for every bad traffic day, we had great food days! I was seriously remiss in food-photography. In fact, the only picture I took was in a small restaurant called Mary’s Place in Novato on the way to the lake.

It was a California Crepe – Bacon, Avocado, Green Onions, Scrambled Eggs, and Jack Cheese. I ate a lot of avocados while I was home.

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The whole trip was wonderful – traffic, aside. The downside was not being able to see any friends or family other than the immediate ones. We get our Facebook time and get to keep up with what’s going on, but damn, I’d love to be able to sit down and really have some fun talks over dinner.

I keep saying “next time” and really hope next time becomes a reality.

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This is a poster by cartoonist Bill Bates who died in 2009. I’d love to have a copy – so keep your eyes out! This copy is at The Parkside Tavern.

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