Ichiro san and Tomomi san invite me to dinner. They prepare an amazing meal that we eat in Ichiro sans studio surrounded by fabulous art. Editorial note–I have a new keyboard, the previous one died of mold when I was away. I cannot figure out how to find the apostrophe. Sorry.
We also had a delicious octopus salad and cake but forgot to take photos. We drank way too much!
Next morning, feeling like death, we set off at 6;00 to try to find the elusive Okinawa Rail.
Ichiro san is probably the best rail guide in the world.
Eli has been arranging astonishingly cheap Business Class flights for me over the last few years. When I left gainful employ, I thought I would never fly Business again – too expensive. It has not worked out like that.
This time Eli has excelled himself. I get ANA First Class over to Tokyo and only Business Class returning to San Francisco in a couple of months. Fare is only a few hundred bucks more than a normal Economy flight on one of the quality airlines.
A long First Class flight on ANA is about as close as my feeble brain can get to envisaging heaven.
I am the only passenger in First Class.
Two wonderful attendants, Toma san and Yuma san, have only me to look after and by golly they work hard. I have 2 rooms, one for eating and hanging out, the other is my bedroom!
A reminder that this is a diary. Nothing much happens in this post but it will be fun for me to read in 10 years time.
I take a Lyft down to the Consulate General of Japan to discuss art exhibitions with the charming Mariko san. As soon as the car drives off, I realize I have left my phone on the back seat. A stark reminder of how much I rely on my phone. I cannot get the office number I am supposed to show up at. I cannot contact Lyft. I cannot find bus routes to get home. I do not know where I am.
After meeting on 21st floor of huge building in the financial district, I ask the concierge guy if he could call me a cab. “Sure buddy.” he beams. “Haven’t done that for weeks!”
After much messing around on web sites, I manage to inform Lyft of my predicament and give James’ cell as a contact number. My luck is still strong, the driver contacts James and brings the phone over to the apartment that evening. Thank you Lyft!
The rest of this is just reminders of how nice it is living in San Francisco.
There is a Farmer’s Market on Sunday at the bottom of the Panhandle – 5 mins walk – fruit, vegetables, fish, hot food stalls, all kinds of stuff.
It is a surprisingly hot sunny day. The weather has been foggy and chilly whilst the rest of the State roasts. I like it. I wear woolen sweaters.
The house is still being renovated, which means we only pay 50% rent – hooray!
James has bought a dehydrator. Lots of fun as you can make your own jerky, dried fruit, dried vegetables, etc.
We go up to Clement, which is like a trip to Beijing.
We find a perfect place near a tiny town called French Gulch.
We hammer north through huge areas of burnt forest. So sad, I suppose it will take 50 years to get back to its original state. Probably will not get the chance as huge forest fires seem to happen every year now. They didn’t seem to be a thing when we came to California 20 years ago.
Crater Lake is sublime.
We stay the night at the Crater Lake campsite. First time I have ever reserved a camping spot. Clearly the way of the future I am afraid.
We head South to a hot spring that James knows. By the way, it is very hot, nearly 100F every day. Mind you it seems to be the standard temperature most everywhere in the world.
We set up camp beside a hot spring just beside a lake.
The water is hot but bearable. In fact it is perfect. A pair of Barn Swallows have set up a nest inside the the Onsen shed. I watch them for hours. I have rarely been so clean.
Throughout the day, we soak and then swim in the lake. Paradise.
What an incredible place! Only one other person shows up, also in a Four Wheel Camper, and he keeps himself to himself up in the rocks.
We have to go home. We hammer South, James does all the driving.
After a final soak, we leave camp at 8:00 and head for Susanville. Hw 395 through Modoc County is a wonderful road, real cowboy stuff. High desert, hardly any other trucks.
We finally make it to Susanville and have the biggest breakfast ever at the Lumberjack Diner.
Once again, many thanks to the Taco Truck but above all, thanks to James for excellent company, local knowledge and all the driving.
What a fantastic trip! Oregon and Northern California are hard to beat.
Bebo and I go for brunch in Cole valley. Waiting to see if we could get into Zazie https://www.zaziesf.com to get some of those good old Eggs Benedict, a guy says, “I really enjoyed your talk, fascinating.” I have become very well known in San Francisco since my USF talk. I have my pen ready but he curiously does not ask for an autograph.
This place used to be a comedy club called The Other. Apparently Robin Williams started here. We told a lot of jokes but no agents appeared.
Anyway, Bebo and I agree that Covid has diminished our get up and go er ness. We have been allowed to sit around doing nothing with no guilt for 2 years and the hue of resolution has been sicklied over, so to speak.
In an attempt to regain self respect I set off for the Elkhorn Slough to take photos of otters and birdies.
Not nice. There were about 10 trucks full of Mexican guys, dressed in gangster gear. They were making a lot of noise and drinking. One was repeatedly beating a dog with a stick. Once they felt I had been there long enough, a truck drove over and parked beside me. Nothing was said, the blacked out windows remained up. After 5 minutes the truck eased away back to the core group and another truck took its place. Were they trying to tell me something? Hmmm, maybe not the best place to spend the night. Perhaps they will leave. However at 19:00 more trucks arrive.
It is also cold and bleak as thick fog has rolled in from the ocean. More howls from the poor dog. I drive home again! The drive down and back were great.
Well at least I tried
A holt is the name for an otter’s house. I did not see any but the Otter’s Holt is well known reel that I play on my new carbon fiber flute.
James is off on an adventure in the truck. Street cleaning looms and I have to move his bike to the other side of Fell.
I venture out and fall into conversation with a guy who is sitting on the steps. I feel in my pockets to make sure I have the house keys and close the door.
Alas, the keys in my pocket are not the house keys but are James’s motorbike keys. I have locked myself out! I am in big trouble!
I look up and down the street to see if Jesus is around and could help me.
One of my windows is unlocked but access is tricky. I try but I am too old, fat, generally past it, to hop up onto a rickety fence and slither into the window.
I stand around on the street working out what I can do. I try to borrow a ladder from adjacent gas station. Asian lady with little English is terrified and I let it go.
Not Jesus but a young man called Eggi rescues me.
He, with friends, are hanging around. I explain my predicament and Eggi, like a goat, hops onto the fence by the window and jumps through into my apartment. He strides out of the front door: I am saved!
Whew! Alone on the street. Locked out of my house. In a foreign country. Mass shootings everywhere.
I try to give Eggi lots of money. He refuses. America is not all bad.
In case any of you are planning to break into my place, I have now locked the window.
We have a wonderful day, eating and driving around the city in the truck.
I give a talk at the University of San Francisco on the History of CERN, my part in its downfall. Robert Cailliau (Zoom) and Bebo White (in the flesh) also speak. I could not remember anything and so reread all the Press Releases that I had written for CERN since 1989. Amazing! I was so lucky to have been involved in all that stuff.
After a truly wonderful time in Scotland, I am definitely moving back, I return to San Francisco and am immediately scythed down by Covid. Not so bad as I had son James to generally look after me, go shopping and such. Not surprisingly, after a couple of days, poor James is also scythed down. Sorry James.
We have spent the last 5 or 6 days in lock down in the apartment.
Not so bad as San Francisco has fantastic deliver to your home systems. I use Instacart https://www.instacart.com/store/. They work with a huge range of stores. You go to the store website order whatever you want and an hour later it is delivered to your door by gleeful young Californians.
The problem is neither James nor I have any appetite nor inclination to drink. Anticipated banquets stay in the fridge.
What to do day after day? Buy stuff from Amazon of course.
Amazon is incredible! The most obscure stuff is delivered to your door the next day. Perfect for Covid boredom. Also makes for truly nail biting blog entries.
I feel much better but I am scared of taking another test in case it is positive again. Hmmm, maybe wait until tomorrow. Any suggestions as to what I can buy on Amazon are much appreciated. Maybe some Salt Cod.