The rest of my trip was both fun and relaxing. Here’s the highlights.
Saturday morning I woke up fairly early, so I puttered about the hotel room for a while, writing the previous entry about the trip for LJ and catching up on e-mail and such. Eventually, I got myself into gear and headed over to meet up with cadhla and porpentine, and we set out for brunch and the rest of the day’s adventures. As we drove around, cadhla took turns pretending the magic talking box was creepy and berating it for its inability to properly pronounce Caldecott Tunnel.
thanksgiving dinner lunch at Sweet Tomatoes that couldn’t be beat, we headed down the highway to San Leandro for a poke around Gray Wolf Books. Grey Wolf is from the old school of used bookstores, a converted warehouse with packed shelves full of books on every subject imaginable, with narrow winding aisles and books grouped roughly by category, but otherwise in no special order. Even the category placement seemed a bit haphazard, but that’s part of what gives stores like this their charm. The place only needed a couple of cats prowling the stacks to make it the quintessential used bookshop. Sadly, the main reason for making sure to stop there is that they are going out of business. I was glad to see it before it was gone, though. I still think with great fondness of Atlanta’s own long-lost Oxford Too, which I always considered the Amber of secondhand bookshops; this was a close shadow.
After we left, we headed down to Fremont to the much more modern Half Price Books, where I did finally break down and buy some things — some for myself (An Evening with Kevin Smith, and The Secrets of Judas) and a present for kitanzi (Season 1 of Jeeves and Wooster). While wandering the aisles, we were very amused to get into a conversation with a couple of ordinary looking women who were interested in cadhla‘s ambitions to wipe out 92% of the earth with a virulent pandemic.
Lady #1: I could give you a list of people to start with.
Me: Actually, we’ve been making lists of people to keep, instead.
Lady #2: Oh, that makes sense.
cadhla: It’s a much easier list.
Me: Saves on paper, too. We’re planning a green apocalypse.
They wished us luck on our endeavors, though they did not request to subscribe to our newsletter.
Once done with book shopping, we finished our trek down the bay at the home of Jeff (mysticfig) and Maya Bohnhoff, who are two of my favourite people in the world (and our Guests of Honour at the upcoming Gafilk!) We all hung out in the back yard and chatted about various things while Jeff ran the grill, making a delicious batch of tandoori chicken, and later some scrambled fish. (Don’t ask.) Eventually, it_aint_easy and artbeco arrived with their boys in tow, so we sent them off to play with the youngest Bohnhoff and had a lovely, long, and wandering conversation about books, and writing, and television, and music, and who catches your eye at a visceral level, and What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever been bitten by. I love these kinds of conversations; they make life worth living.
Before we knew it, it was after midnight, and time to head home. cadhla had fallen asleep in her chair, but we coaxed her from the table by informing her that the pandemic was in the car, and made the drive back up to Concord.
Sunday morning, we met up again and headed over to Whole Foods for lunch. I had some indifferent barbecued ribs, but a giant box of really good fruit made up for the lackluster main course. The plan for the rest of the day was to go and see the beach. I grew up in northeastern North Carolina, less than a hundred miles from the Atlantic Ocean, but I had never seen the Pacific; when we were in California for Consonance, our time outside of the convention was spent up in the mountains visiting kitanzi‘s dad, so we didn’t get a chance to go say hi to the water. I’ve always had an affinity for large bodies of water, though, so we decided that it was only fitting to make that the day’s project.
Since the Bay Bridge was closed, we headed north instead towards Bodega Bay and up the coastal highway to Sonoma Coast State Park in search of a place to get our feet wet. We got bogged down in a large amount of traffic en route, due to some sort of accident tying up the road, but cadhla had a novel about a plague outbreak to entertain her, while porpentine and I merrily geeked about World of Warcraft. Eventually, we found ourself driving along US1 with the glistening waters of the Pacific to our left. There was nowhere to park near the sandy part of the beach, so we went a bit north to find a place we could park and get access to the water below. We made our way carefully down a narrow switchback that someone had halfheartedly put stairs on, though they apparently lost interest somewhere before the bottom.
I walked around for a bit on the shore with my shoes off, but my feet were not happy about the overall texture of the ground. Rather than sand, the actual beach was made up of tiny pebbles, and they hurt. I admit I don’t spend as much time running around out of doors and barefoot as I used to. So I put my shoes back on, and continued to walk up and down the waterline while cadhla hunted for shells and interesting rocks. I hadn’t brought my camera with me on the trip, since I never have recovered the small Canon that I left at vila_resthal‘s house back in May, and the Minolta is just too bulky to be a good travel camera, but I did take a few photos with my cellphone camera. We climbed back up the pathway to the parking area, located the general direction of Japan and waved happily to bedlamhouse and ladyat (did you hear us calling “Hi Bill and Brenda!!”? Did ya?), and then got in the car and began the long journey south again, stopping at a Fuddruckers for dinner. I must check and see if the Fuddrucker’s outside California are offering the various exotic meat choices, or if that’s a regional thing.
We arrived back at the house and settled in to watch some TV in the form of cadhla‘s prized Masters of Horror DVD collection. The episode in question was an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s “Dreams in the Witch-House”, directed by Stuart Gordan of Re-Animator fame. The adaptation was, I thought, quite well done and suitably creepy without (mostly) tripping into the sorts of visuals that normally send me into a cowering ball on the floor, so I was able to enjoy it. Once the show was over, we were all getting pretty tired, so I made my way back to the hotel. I stayed up for a bit and chatted on IM with hejira2006 and on the phone for a short while with aiela, and then drifted off to sleep.
I slept a little later Monday than normal, plus I had to gather all my things together into my luggage and check out of the motel, so it was nearly 11 by the time I got over to cadhla‘s house. We went off to Baja Fresh for lunch, and then headed over to what cadhla happily refers to as the best comic book store in the universe. While I have not myself done an exhaustive study of the comic book stores in North America, let alone the universe, I can certainly see why this shop would be a contender. It was bright and spacious, with the merchandise sensibly arranged so that you could find things, and the staff was both knowledgeable and fun to talk to.
We popped over to a nearby K-mart to see if they’d gotten any Halloween merchendise of interest out yet (they had not). While waiting to get drinks and popcorn, I took a the opportunity of a moment alone with cadhla to ask her a question I’d been wanting to ask her for some time. (She said yes!) And then we were off to Starbucks for cold drinks and air conditioning and watching cadhla do incredibly elaborate-looking inking on one of her comic strips. I took some time to call danea and serenejournal, both of whom I’d hoped to meet up with over the weekend but didn’t manage to, and then, lacking any elaborate agenda, decided to just drive randomly around for a while, confident that in the worst case scenario the magic talking box would bring us back home.
Unfortunately, all good things must eventually come to an end, and after a quick stop at Trader Joe's for dinner supplies, I collected my last hugs and headed off to the airport, returning as I came, by way of the San Mateo Bridge. Ironically, as I was driving up the 101 to the airport, I passed an electronic sign that said “Bay Bridge Now Open!”, presumably meant to mock me for having taken the detour. (Every electronic traffic sign in a 200 mile radius was set to let you know the status of the Bay Bridge. We had fun making fun of them. “Oh, btw…..” “Yeah?” “The Bay Bridge is closed. Did you know?” “Really??”). I turned in the rental car, made my way to Terminal 1, and passed security without any real difficulty. Being at very lose ends, I had a leisurely dinner at the restaurant nearest my gate, then set up my laptop and shelled out for a T-mobile day pass so I could chat with folks until it was time to board.
The flight home was utterly miserable, unfortunately. It was entirely full, and I found myself jammed into a window seat next to NoConceptOfPersonalSpace Man. I had hoped to get some sleep on the flight back, but between being pressed into a smaller seat than even I’m normally used to, and the injury from my recent fall flaring up on me making it impossible to sit comfortably, I failed pretty miserably. We landed in Atlanta right at 6:00 AM, and I quickly went through the terminal, stopping only to get some cash from the ATM, then hopped the train back to North Springs and took a taxi home. I called into work during the train ride and took the day off, pleading exhaustion.
Arriving home at 7:30am, just in time to collect hugs and kisses from kitanzi before she went to work, I stopped only long enough to send cadhla an e-mail to let her know I arrived home safely before falling into bed for a long nap.
All told, I had an utterly fantastic time on my trip. Thanks to everyone who extended open invitations to get together, and I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to take many of you up on them. Thanks to Jeff and Maya for having me into their home and for the delightful company. Thanks to porpentine for all the driving on Sunday, and most of all, thanks to my darling Seanan just for being so very you.
Sounds like a great trip.
BTW, the two Fuddrucker’s in Dayton offers buffalo/bison and ostrich burgers, if I remember correctly.
So, um…what were the most interesting things people had been bitten by? Do I want to know?
I believe that
was the ultimate winner with “komodo dragon”.
(As an aside, it’s interesting to see what things in a post that long people just latch onto…)
*laugh* Am I a long person, then? 😉
Wow, I’ve heard that komodo dragon bites are really nasty!
I’m curious as to what question you’d been wanting to ask her for some time.
People have told me--not without justification--that Powell’s City of Books is the El Dorado of used bookstores. I certainly did love it, yes I did, but I guess Oxford Too was my role model because it still seems to have a better atmosphere, a je ne sais quoi. (And it wasn’t just the Gutenberg replica.) Many’s the day I opened and closed that store, with only a lunch break. Start at A. Pick up next week.
There’s a promising little store over in Woodstock that might go places with the right management. Keep an eye on it. 😉
I did love Powell’s when I went, but it was more like being in the Costco of Books than in a yummy little used bookstore. Hard for me to choose my fave in the latter category, but certainly Bluestocking Books in San Diego would be on the list (a whole section of lesbian pulp! bookbinding classes! owners who will call you at home when something comes in that they think you’ll like!) We also like Pegasus in Berkeley, which is where we do most of our book shopping because it’s convenient, but their staff lately tends to be of the point-you-to-the-proper-section type, rather than seeming to know and care about the titles and stuff.
I have a great desire to see
‘s new (a year or so old?) shop, Burlingham Books, but it’ll be a while before I’m in western New York.
Never been to Oxford Too, alas! Powell’s in Portland is excellent. Better than the original Barnes and Noble in NYC back before it became a chain.
Next time you come out you’ll have to allocate some time for a visit to Grand Central Starport. Wednesdays are best.
Sadly, Oxford Books decided its mission in life was to show how to mismanage a successful business until it crashed and burned, and the entire operation shutdown over 10 years ago.
I’ve never been to Powell’s, though I’ve obviously heard of it. If you check the book and DVD links above, you’ll notice that I’m using their website for reference. (I used to use Amazon, because they were convenient, but a friend who was an independent bookstore owner chided me for that practice, so I’ve started using Powell’s instead.)
We’ll have to see what kind of time I can carve up next time I come visit. One of the things I find interesting at this stage of my life is that I seem to have become a somewhat popular person that people want to see. When I was younger, this wasn’t the case and I had little trouble making plans, but now many people want my time, and there’s still only one of me!!
One of the things I find interesting at this stage of my life is that I seem to have become a somewhat popular person that people want to see. When I was younger, this wasn’t the case and I had little trouble making plans, but now many people want my time, and there’s still only one of me!!
Yep. Yep yep yep. I know exactly what you mean.
Glad your trip was good; sorry the flight home was ouchy.
Grey Wolf isn’t closed yet?
The last three times I’ve been in the SanFran area, I’ve not stopped by because I was told it was already closed! Waaaah!
When is the final closing date, do you know?
i’ve been all and all disapointed with grey wolf bookstore. it’s stock seems to be heavily weighted towards christian fundamentalism for some reason. between that and it’s inconvenient hours…
I suppose it depends on what you look for in a used bookstore. Some shops are great because they have a great SF section, or a great alternative lifestyles section, or a bunch of odd cookbooks. Others just have a sort of primal ambiance that i can’t really define, where books that have fallen into wormholes over the decades settle in layers.
That’s a cool thing, even if it’s not always immediately useful as a bookstore to find specific texts.