Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Winding Down

The fall 2007 portion of the university tour wrapped up with visits to San Jose State and UC-Santa Cruz. Dr. Gonzaga da Gama was our gregarious host at San Jose, and we soon found ourselves speaking and showing slides in a bunch of different classes, including a graduate seminar and an eco-tourism class. Santa Cruz was a slightly different story- a wetter, lonelier story. The tour ended huddled under the Kelty wing outside the rec center as a december storm blew through Santa Cruz.
To celebrate, we retired to the lovely village of Carmel-by-the -Sea and called on Haines friend Thad Stewart. Thad and his wife Martha own and run Mosey's, a fantastic southwestern restaurant up in Alaska. They had just made a chile run to New Mexico to procur the 1.5 tons needed for the next summer season and afterward Thad had returned to his childhood home, a beautiful old hacienda overlooking the sea between Carmel and Big Sur. Our host was his father, W.K. Stewart, Esq., a nonagenarian practicing lawyer, anti-war activist, WWII vet and general bon vivant. We had a great time sitting by the fire in the library hearing stories from Bill's half-century in Carmel, with cameos from Ansel Adams, Henry Miller, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan, as well as several unsuccessful Japanese kamikaze pilots. Thad took us to Big Creek, a 5,000 acre swath of land in the heart of Big Sur, once owned by Bill and some associates. They donated the entire parcel to UCSC in the seventies, but all the families retain access for a couple generations, and each have a small cabin on the land, surely some of the most incredible real estate on the west coast. We hiked to a beautiful little cabin nestled in the redwoods, built in the style of the Haida natives from our neck of the woods. Later, working our way to the top of the ridge, we came to Bill and Thad's place, a beautiful little post and beam cabin with lots of glass that looks out on sweeping views of hills and sea. Someday a wildfire will claim it and it won't be rebuilt. For now, it's a great little weekend getaway spot for the family and lucky friends.
We woke up early on Sunday and drove back to San Francisco for the 11 o'clock mass at Glide Memorial Church. On the way in, Matt ran into two folks from our little Alaskan town, coming out of the early mass. After the memorable service we walked around the Mission District in search of a cabeza-sized burrito, and, stuffed, stumbled upon the Radio Havana Social Club. A hole-in-the wall plastered in Cuban and American kitsch, it was spilling over with percussionists, two elderly salsa dancers and a handful of appreciative audience members. Another beautiful find on the roads of America.
At Vladimir's in Inverness a couple weeks before, a dining couple had brazenly offered their houseboat in Sausalito. Perhaps they pitied us sleeping cramped in the back of the Piper, perhaps it was the wine, but in any case we do not pass up such offers. Their beautiful floating home proved to be a great spot to launch a paddle trip under the GG bridge and for entertaining Chicken Dave and his friend Jen. We grilled fresh Monterey sardines, sang songs and carried on late into the night, until the carriage became a pumpkin, or a Piper, once again.............

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