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California/Bay Area visit]


[1] Zachary’s Chicago Pizza, on College Avenue in Oakland,
near the Oakland/Berkeley border. This is a RESTAURANT, not a
pizza parlor, so don’t expect video games, TVs, or pitchers of
cheap beer. Do expect: the best Chicago (stuffed) pizza
in-or-out of Chicago. They have regular customers who drive in
from Silicon Valley (a 50 to 90 minute drive, depending on
traffic) to buy piles of their “half-bakes” Try
spinach-mushroom-pesto – you’ll never forget it! Also, say
"Hi" to J.P., the General Manager, (and my little brother).

[2] Have a picnic, the right way. Go to “Market Hall” on
the corner of College and Shafter in Oakland. [It’s a
compilation of upscale food shops in a European-style setting –
all under one roof. Get some fruit from the produce people,
[they have stuff flown in from all over the world). Next, go to
the “Pasta Shop” and get some cheese, maybe a couple salads, and
try a few of their 20+ varieties of imported olives. Then, go
to Grace Baking, and get a Fresh-Tomato & Garlic baguette. No,
get two, or you’ll regret it. Pick up a dessert while you’re

Now hop in the car and take College ave to Claremont ave. Go
right on Claremont, and stay on it until you pass the Claremont
Hotel. (Trust me, you CAN’T miss it.) Claremont changes names,
(I think), but don’t let that bother you. Just stay on it as it
winds up through a canyon. When you reach the top of the ridge,
you’ll be at Grizzly Peak. Turn left onto Grizzly.

Now you have choices. There are several turnouts along Grizzly
where you can sit on the hood of your car and look at the most
amazing view of San Francisco, the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges,
the Marin Headlands, the Peninsula, Alcatraz, Treasure, and
Angel Islands… Or, you can stay on Grizzly Peak until you
get to Tilden Park, which is a big regional park with multiple
picnic areas, playing fields, a couple lakes, a wonderful 18hole
golf course, an antique Merry-Go-Round, and midget Steam Trains.

My personal advice? Picnic in the park. Be sure to take a
Frizbee. Then watch the sun set from Grizzly Peak. Be careful
who you bring with you though, because once you watch the sun
setting over the Golden Gate from 800 feet up, you will fall in
love with whomever you are with. (:

Other things to do:

[1] Go window shopping on College Avenue near Zachary’s.
The neighborhood is stuffed with antique stores and wine shops.

[2] If it’s warm, to to Stinson Beach, in Marin County.
From San Francisco, take highway 101 across the Golden Gate
Bridge, then follow the signs. Take a map, as the locals have a
habit of moving the signs now and then.

[3] Golden Gate Park: You could spend DAYS here. Paddle
boats on Stowe Lake, check out the buffalo herd, (not kidding),
go to the Japanese Tea Garden, which is near the De Young
Museum, the Aquarium, the Natural History Museum, and the
Planetarium. Watch for free concerts at “The Bandshell”, which
is located in the open space among all these buildings. Check
out the Exploratorium at the Palace of the Legion of Honor.
Check out the Arboretum, which is famous both for its
architecture and its collection of exotic flora.

Just a few ideas off the top of my head.