Murderers and Fortune Cookies

Thinking it would be fun, Satchel and I took a day trip to San Francisco’s Chinatown, Ghirardelli Square, and Pier 39, and made it there and back, though barely.

Satchel Aug 5, 2013

Satchel, Aug 5, 2013, Larkspur Ferry

Going, we missed the Larkspur Ferry by ten minutes, so waited for the next one. Finally boarding, we sat on the windy upper outside deck so we could see the view. San Quentin and Alcatraz are fascinating to a ten-year-old boy who wants to know if you know anyone who got murdered and how it happened, and whether you actually know any real murderers, and who had they killed. Luckily my Italian brother-in-law’s brother was at one time in San Quentin for murder. We also have an ancestor, Valentine Hoy, who in 1898 was killed by Harry Tracy, the most infamous criminal of that day. My grandson was thrilled to hear the stories.

We made it to the City and were dropped of at the Ferry building. So far, so good. ThenChinatown San Francisco we found our way to Chinatown after asking a number of random strangers where to find the cable car. We grabbed an outside seat and hung on tight, hugging our legs close to prevent amputation from the passing cars, and actually got off on the right corner. I knew it because all the signs were in Chinese and the cable car driver winked at me, promising he’d tell us where to disembark.

The two of us wandered around Chinatown poking our heads in all the stores, ate dim sum at the Great Eastern Restaurant on Jackson, then bought a sack of dried mushrooms, some wonderfully weird fruit, and a bag of fortune cookies. Gary Ruiz suggested that while we were there, I see his Chinese doctor about my not-quite-healed kidney stone pain. We found the pharmacy as it was just up the street. In the back room, the doctor tested my pulse, looked at my tongue, and wrote a prescription in Chinese characters for five bags of tea to the tune of $37. It was only $12 for the tongue and pulse advice; the translator told me the doctor said my back still hurts because there’s sand in there from the stone, 935884_393160450783695_588688812_nand the tea would cure me. Our arms loaded with weird fruit, dried mushrooms, fortune cookies and five bags of tea–we’re talking five lunch bags, not tea bags–we head to Ghirardelli Square where the day starts to head downhill. We caught the bus going the opposite direction. We got off twenty minutes later when we finally figured it out, then waited a half hour for the right bus to come along. As we boarded, we realized it was the same damn bus we’d gotten off a half hour earlier, with the same driver that I now wanted to seriously whack upside the head. We asked him the first time around if his bus would take us to the Square and he said yes, but failed to tell us not until he’d completed the route in the opposite direction. I put Satchel in charge of making the bus driver tell us exactly when and where to disembark. The driver does, but by this time I don’t trust him. He knew that’s where we wanted to go in the first place and didn’t bother to point out to us that we couldn’t get there from here.

He tells us where to get off, which is so what I wanted to do to him; we thought we were lost again as we’re looking for a large brick building that is the entrance to Ghirardelli Square, which we happened to be standing right in front of. By this time, we are fading, so to sustain us, we head for the Western cures of a lemon sorbet and a chocolate sundae. As I wasn’t about to get on another wrong bus, we walked to Pier 39 where we finally found the magic store, then we walked back to the Ferry Building, hauling our substantial evidence of a Chinatown visit. We made the ferry by the hair of our chinny-chin chins. We found places to sit on the lower inside deck: not only was it packed, it was now freezing out, so I sat with my head down and eyes closed for the half-hour ride. (I get seasick.) Then we walked the mile to the car. The lot was full in the morning when we got there, which is why we missed the ferry in the first place. In case you’re not clear, Satchel and I are not what you’d refer to as “walkers.”

Spent, we made it home to Sonoma at 7:30 to have dinner at Brooke’s sister’s house, which of course I couldn’t find. I called my son, Matt, confirmed we were in front of the right house, laid my phone on the trunk of a car in the driveway to put on my coat, then joined the party. Matt left the party at 9:00, got home, and called Brooke to tell her my phone is stuck on the trunk of his car. I got this this sticky rectangle thing at a real estate conference; you peel off one side and attach to the back of your phone, and the other side is also sticky so when you leave it on the trunk of someone’s car like some special kind of stupid, it holds it there and doesn’t fall off and get run over by fifty cars while traveling a couple miles away at 40 mph.

By ten I dropped into my bed, happy. I got my phone back. The dim sum was everything we hoped it would be. Chinatown was exotic, the fortune cookie factory was fascinating though not terribly sanitary looking, and Satchel was fine that we never made it to the arcade. I’m not sure about the Chinese doctor; if in five days I’m still alive and the pain in my back is gone, I’ll be overjoyed.

Temple Satchel Aug 2 2013

Temple and Satchel, Aug 2, 2013

It will be a while before we take another trip. I have to tell you, five-year-old girls and the local park are much easier on me; I can find my way around the park, and it’s not that far.

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  1. Susan Dalberg says:

    So, you would have failed to make the Louis and Clark group. Reminds me of your genealogy trip! LOL Great adventure with your grandkid, however. Thanks for the chuckle and the adventure, Catherine!

  2. You could hang your phone and your pen on a necklace around your neck and be the next fashionista.

  3. Quite an adventure. I’m happy you are willing to get lost to take a grandchild on a grand expidition to Chinatown.

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