Posted by: facetothewind | June 9, 2014

Shoving off

The round-the-world the slow way trip has begun. First by rail. Here I am trying to muster some enthusiasm. The Amtrak ride from Arizona to California on the Sunset Ltd. was pretty gross. It smelled like sewage and they were nearly out of food in the diner car. The white trash scene at the station was unbelievable and of course the Amtrak service was deplorably surly. The train felt like the rolling asylum. They’ve discontinued all the fun perks like champagne and flowers. Seeing that we were an hour late, one doesn’t ride Amtrak for its punctuality. You ride it for fun and for those little perks. So I think that was my last trip on Amtrak.


The view from the Coast Starlight was spectacular as always, though I slept through half of it b/c I was so exhausted from a short night of sleep as the train bumped its lazy way through the night.


The Golden State ain’t because there’s much gold left in them hills.


And this is about the first thing we see in Los Angeles. This poor guy was completely decked out in trash bags. Trash chic? Even his feet were wrapped in plastic. And it wasn’t raining. Hmmm.


Here’s John in our favorite (only) downtown breakfast place with sawdust on the floor. It’s called Phillipe’s and has been there since god knows when.


Oh and here’s a pic I shot of John on the train…


I spent the week in the East Bay working on videos with Jen & Ben and Jeanne. And this is one of the things I like about California — the old timer cars made for cruising in elegance…


And speaking of old, seems the only wacky people in SF anymore are the old timers…


This is the NEW San Francisco. Let’s see now, is this the Apple Store or a café? I went to the genius bar and ordered my tea. Or did I go to the barista and talk about getting a new battery for my iPhone?


And THIS is the new San Francisco. This choice little plate (hand shown for scale – not to admire my wrinkly-ass knuckles) of buckwheat pasta was $17. And it was literally 3 forkfuls. So let’s see that was $5.66 per fork (not including tax and tip). We had a salad for $9 which had about 9 leaves in it. I couldn’t help counting how many dollars worth of food each bite cost AND Danny and I left hungry after a $90 meal. So we went to the corner store and got Ben & Jerry’s.


This is a line for hipsters who want ice cream at that special place by Dolores Park. The line went all the way around the corner and then continued on another 20 feet. I didn’t stop to see what the cost of a scoop of this ice cream worth waiting an hour for was. Perhaps the line is a social event in itself…it’s about the journey, not the destination.


I met up with Bill Fultz, my neighbor from Hawaii. Always great to see him. We tried really hard to find a place that wasn’t painfully trendy on Valencia…


And I saw my old friend Richard for a few hours. I’ve been staying at Jennifer’s beautiful house in Mission Bay and have been admiring this room as a possible photoshoot location. Finally got to use it…

David Gilmore photography

Click to enlarge

Then I went to see Lawrence perform in his band the Real Numbers at concert that was webcast. I had fun capturing Lawrence as if one day he will be in Rolling Stone. And one day he just might. He has a magnificent tenor voice, is a great songwriter and sings in perfect harmony with his band members. Click here and give them a listen.

Lawrence Grodeska

Click to enlarge.

They were wonderfully harmonic and I walked out singing the songs.


On the way home I passed this garbage on the street and thought DAMN, if I lived here, this would become my daypack and my laptop caddy…


But I’m headed to the Queen Mary with 46.5 pounds of luggage, a clarinet, laptop and dinner jacket. My load would break that little Hello Kitty’s back. When I lived in SF, much of my furnishings came from the trash people chucked onto the street. In fact I still use some of it today in Tucson. And if you who live in SF are ever in need of a new TV, just wait until Christmas. The streets will be full of last year’s models cast out. Get ’em before it rains. Oh right. It doesn’t rain anymore in the West because of climate change.

NEXT STOP: New York City



  1. Bon voyage!! Keep the blog rolling David. You always give me a serious chuckle. I love traveling vicariously with you from your POV.

  2. S.F. ain’t what it used to be!! What happened to the little Mexican and other ethnic hole-in-the-wall places on the Mission? Your $17 pasta was robbery! And the internet cafe with everyone glued to their laptops–oy! I hope the rest of your trip goes better than the first train from AZ to CA. I’m sure it will go better!!! XXXOOO, Dianna

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