Save Me, San Francisco: Part Two

(Catch up on part one of my trip here) After I had tasted everything at the Ferry Building, I decided to walk around a bit more before catching the ferry to Sausalito later Friday afternoon. Vesuvio is a famous bar known as the place where the Beat Generation -- Kerouac, Ginsberg, Cassady -- came to drink and write.

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I didn't stop in, but admired the murals adorning the alley between Vesuvio and City Lights, the bookstore across the street. On a rainy day, there's nothing I like more than poking around in an eclectic bookstore, and this one was no exception.

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Its layout is remarkably similar to the UChicago Seminary Co-op bookstore (the one on 57th) in Hyde Park: winding staircases, dim bookcases, bookshelves literally everywhere. Being at City Lights brought back lots of memories, fond and bittersweet, of holing up on a chair in the co-op in between classes, spending hours thumbing through stacks of novels, reading bits and pieces, and ultimately heading down to the street for a cup of coffee and a chocolate croissant at Medici.

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I headed upstairs, the staircase framed by Ginsberg memorabilia, and sat for a while reading Frank O'Hara poems. Reading poetry with nowhere to go, nowhere to be, completely alone made me feel like my 23-year-old self, a self tucked away from years ago. It was nice.

When the rain let up, we took the ferry out to Sausalito, gazing at the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz along the way.

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Sausalito, a city right across the bay, is small, quiet and picturesque. There weren't many people milling around, and the weather still sucked, but the views made up for it. It almost reminded me of Galena, lllinois, minus the topography.

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The pier, full of sailing boats, was lined with tiny shops, and eventually we needed to warm up from the cold. Such an effort necessitated wine, and this little art gallery slash wine shop fit the bill.

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I kept forgetting it was Halloween, even though one of their managers kept handing out candy to people passing by on the street while wearing a witch hat. And yes, the pug pillow in the photo above did find its way back to Des Moines. Whoops. Not sorry.

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Again, the views? Spectacular, especially as the sun set.

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With an hour remaining before the returning ride back, we sipped cocktails at Barrel House Tavern. (Very different from the Barrel House of the Quad Cities, ha!) I had something called a Freddy Kruger: bourbon, vermouth, bitters, and blood orange quince jam. Crazy drink.

The rest of the evening involved walking down to Fisherman's Wharf -- which was as touristy as I expected, the Navy Pier of SF -- and had oysters and fish for dinner.

Then called it a night. I know, it was Friday night, the city was hoppin' AND it was Halloween ... but sometimes you can only take so much exploration. Plus, a day-long Napa trip awaited the next morning.

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NAPA. Wine country was my one "must do if at all possible" item on the trip agenda, and it happened. Even though it rained so much the prior day, the sun shined brightly and a crisp breeze set the tone for the day. All of the views? Gorgeous, naturally, and the company was even more enjoyable. Many thanks to a friend who coordinated the entire day and made sure it was excellent.

An hour-long limo ride later, complete with pops of champagne, we arrived at our first stop: Delectus, a family-owned winery specializing in reds. Our host graciously allowed us a look in their barrel room, where we tried more wine around a large, glass-top table. Different types of soils related to the wine industry lay under the glass; it was not only a beautiful decorative piece, but also informative.

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Next up: Paraduxx, where we (duh) drank more wine and enjoyed lots of wine and cheese. The grounds were massive and elegant, with people gathering around little tables on a covered outdoor patio.

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Finally, we visited Silverado Vineyards, my very, very, very favorite.

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Silverado is basically a castle on a hill, with epic views, delicious wine, and most of all, a private stone patio that we were lucky enough to enjoy. That actually made a big difference, being able to hang out as a group and not feel rushed or in the way, and it served as the perfect way for us to round out the day trip.

Fun fact: the winery was originally purchased and owned by a couple named Diane and Ron Miller. Diane was the only biological child of Walt Disney, and Ron served as the former CEO of The Walt Disney Company. Pretty cool, huh? (I didn't know this at all while we were there, but a friend filled me in earlier this week.)

We headed back, sad to leave but knowing we'd all be back, and picked up pizzas and more wine for the road. Then we hung out at a friend's condo for the rest of the night, talking and laughing, eating more food and drinking more wine (hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time!) and glimpsing the city by the bay from a special view.

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Thanks to so many new friends for their hospitality and warmth. I'm so glad to check this trip off my bucket list, and hope to return someday ... to check out more of wine country, of course!