Apparently fried pizza is a thing. They take a pizza and bake it in the traditional method and then take it from the oven and fry it. When I heard of the concept of fried pizza, I was imagining a stromboli type situation. Something dropped in a deep fryer. But no, they bake it until the crust and toppings are cooked, and the cheese is sufficiently gooey, and then put it on an oversized skillet. The bottom of the crust has the crispy consistency of a thin-crust pizza, but the rest of it is fluffy and doughy like a regular crust. The idea behind it, was that it was the best of both worlds. It was an interesting novelty, the Taco Bell double-decker taco of the pizza world: crunchy and soft simultaneously.
Salads and wines were paired with their proper pizzas through the menu. The cooks and management had long since gotten together and decided which wines went with which pizzas. So you didn’t go in and order your pizza, your salad, and your drink. You basically ordered the equivalent to a fast-food value meal--but instead of a burger, fries, and a shake, it was a mushroom and truffle oil pizza, with a pine nut and arugula salad, and a sauvignon blanc, or a hearty sicilian sausage pizza, with a bermuda salad and a malbec. The food wasn’t bad, but the whole thing did seem a little snobby.
Santa Cruz had been exciting but we were still feeling energetic and we weren’t ready to go back to our hotel yet--though, checking into the hotel had been a hilarious adventure.
When I travel, I never leave my board strapped to the roof of my car. Never. People have their boards stolen all the time. So far on our trip, we’d stayed in traditional travel-style motels. That is to say, the front doors opened into the parking lot. I’d take my board off the car, walk it right into our room, and--done, son. But now we were in a big city hotel with elevators and a lobby, and in a room whose front door opened, not into the parking lot, but to a corridor on the 6th floor.
At first we tried to put it in the elevator at a diagonal angle, and even then, it didn’t fit. We ended up holding up the elevator for a few minutes as we tried every which way to get the board in without dinging it. Needless to say, we were not very popular that night.
The people at the front desk said I could stash it in the back and retrieve it upon checkout. I did a reflexive scan of every conceivable disaster that could result from that scenario and immediately decided the risk wasn’t worth the reward. So in the end, it took the two of us, “steering” the board like a giant hook-and-ladder through the streets of New York, to walk it up six flights of winding stairs in a cramped stairwell. The looks on the faces of people in the hallway when we burst out of the stairwell were priceless. A woman stepped out of a doorway holding two small children by the hands. She stopped when she saw us, and flattened her and her children up against the wall as we swung past.
I grinned sheepishly and looked away when I said, “Excuse us.”
We got to our room without incident and stood the board up in the corner. I was pretty sure Brianna was ready to kill me. All she said was, “We’re going to have to do that again the day after tomorrow.”
So after our pizza and wine dinner, we headed out for a night on the town. You see, gay bars are virtually everywhere these days. In fact, we’d crashed one back in Lompoc. But, we didn’t really fit in. The problem is, most gay bars are dedicated almost exclusively to the gay male demographic. They don’t go out of their way to actively discriminate against lesbians, but they don’t really have much to offer us either. They all cater to either bearish leather daddies or boyish twinks.
For reasons unknown, lesbian bars are vanishing all across the country. Back home there’s Girlbar at the Chapel--which is supposed to be the lesbian version of the Abbey--but it really isn’t. Lesbian events are still fewer and farther between. A friend of ours runs an all-inclusive bar--that is, it’s not a gay or lesbian bar, nor is not those things either; just a general bar--and she has designated Thursday nights as “Gay Ladies’ Nite,” but a true lesbian bar doesn’t exist even in L.A.
But we found one in San Francisco--Wildside something-or-other-- and we thought it was going to be great. Oh. My. God!! It was a horrific experience. We walk in, and go up to the bar to order drinks and the bartender starts flirting with Brianna right in front of me. Even after I explained we were married and on our honeymoon! I was irate! But Brianna brushed it off and told me not to let it ruin our night.
But then the bartender rings a bell. No shit. There was a little dinner bell hanging above the bar. She actually rang it and yelled out “fresh meat!” What was this? Prison?
Next thing we knew, a gaggle of gay girls descended upon us asking all sorts of questions, and when we said we were on our honeymoon and just passing through, some of them were offended.
“Oh, so you’re just slumming it in the big bad city so you can go back to your little town and say you were a real lesbian once?”
I explained we were not from some little town, but rather from the gayest neighborhood Los Angeles had to offer. They treated us like we were poseurs or “newbies” or bi girls playing lesbian for the night. I don’t know. They were very clannish and did not like outsiders. I’d never encountered anything like it before.
We finished our drinks and got the hell out of there.
We awoke the next morning in the bright sunshine. It was our first glimpse of San Francisco in daylight. San Francisco is very different from L.A. While Los Angeles has spread out across a massive basin, and adopted a suburban feel, San Francisco is much more dense and urban, squeezed into a narrow peninsula between the Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Outside of downtown L.A., the city becomes low rise buildings and residential neighborhoods filled with small houses with lawns and trees. In San Francisco, the tall buildings seem to rise like mountain ranges all around you, making the city streets feel like canyons. Towers of glass and steel block out the sunlight. San Francisco feels more like an East Coast city to me--Boston, or New York.
Our first stop was Golden Gate Park and the California Academy of Sciences--specifically Steinhart Aquarium. But this was our third aquarium on this trip, and even I was a little burnt out. Plus, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a tough act to follow. We spent a few hours between the different museums and and the Japanese tea garden, and then headed back downtown to the waterfront to see what the “embarcadero” had to offer.
We had initially wanted to do Alcatraz, but apparently you need to book months in advance. I wanted to plan the trip down to its minute details and run it with military precision; Brianna thought it would be fun to just “wing it.” I fought the urge to say I told you so.
The Embarcadero had a lot of stuff to offer, even in the middle of a work week: bars, gift shops, museums, restaurants, great views of the bay and Oakland across the way. We just kind of walked around eating ice cream--which I shouldn’t have done--and checking things out until it was time for dinner. We ate seafood right on the water--literally; we were on a pier--while seabirds swooped around us and harbor seals splashed and barked happily from below.
We went back to our hotel, and found a movie to watch. And, because of course this is how life works, it was Lords of Dogtown. I had accepted the fact that Santa Cruz was probably my last surf spot on the trip. Because, everything I knew was going to happen, happened: Brianna insisted I bring my board. So I did. She encouraged me to use it. So I did. Then she got annoyed every time I wanted to get in the water.
Bitches. Am I right?
But after seeing Lords of Dogtown, I was all keyed up and was up at 5:00am ready to hit Ocean Beach, or--perhaps the choicest surf spot in the Bay Area--Fort Point where the waves break right beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. How epic would that have been? But, I was already pushing it and I knew it.
So we loaded up the car and pushed on, Brianna behind the wheel this time, for a trip across the Golden Gate Bridge and all the way to Redwood country!
Interesting to note, San Francisco was the one place we visited where I didn't say, "this place is beautiful; I want to live here."
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