Saturday, June 30, 2007


When it comes to record stores, there is one that stands above all others in my experience. This is that store. The Amoeba Records on Haight in San Francisco is the largest, best stocked, most impressive record and CD store I've ever seen. Bananas in St. Pete has more records, and I've spent more money at Hyde & Zeke's in Gainesville over the years, but for sheer shock & awe value, nothing beats Amoeba. I spent only twenty minutes in the store this time, and was somehow able to keep myself from buying anything (I was serious when I said I was on a budget!). If you look close at the sign above, you'll see where it says 'bowling', that's because this place used to be a bowling alley. It's that big! It's only rival is another Amoeba in Berkeley, which I walked by and didn't enter. It's right next to another megastore, Rasputin, that's just as big. SF is truly a mecca for the record and CD buying connoisseur.


Ah, a small piece of home in downtown San Francisco.

The Parrots Of Near Lombard Street

One of the fairly common sights here in Florida is wild parrots. Imagine my surprise when I found wild parrots in San Francisco. Some later research turned up the fact that they are fairly common, and there is even a movie about them. Neither Florida nor California has native parrots. Both colonies started from escaped or released pets, but they are able to survive because the weather is mild and close enough to that of their native home. I was lucky enough to spot these guys just off of Lombard Street, the twisty section you see on all the postcards. I came over a rise and was unable to see the ground ahead of me as the Jeep started heading downhill. So I stopped and walked around a bit to see what I could see. I heard these guys in a tree, but had to do some triangulation before I actually found them. The acrobat above was hanging upside down from a telephone line for whatever reason, while the pair below were munching on some kind of seeds in a tree. They didn't seem to mind me shooting them one bit.

Crash, Boom, Bang

Maybe I should have just stayed in California. Less than 48 hours after my return, I get into a wreck. Someone stopped short in front of me, I wasn't paying enough attention, and BANG! Now I've got this little problem to deal with. The other driver could have driven away and you'd never have known she was in an accident, but my car is a mess. And just to make matters worse, there were four people in the other car, and they all wanted to be taken to the hospital after complaining of neck pain. Like I said, I should have stayed in Cali... I haven't been in accident in more than ten years. I can't even remember the last time.

The Force Was With Me, Part 2

Here are a couple more interesting shots from the lobby of the Lucasfilm offices in the Presidio. On the map, this place was called Letterman something, after the old base hospital. You have to be in the know to find it. I don't think I saw a single sign on the outside indicating what was inside. The security guard behind the desk and under the sign above told me I was welcome to look around the lobby and take pictures, but I couldn't go any further into the complex. Fine with me!

The shelves above and below were on either side of the life-size statues I showed you earlier. The bookcases were filled with small models of various Star Wars characters, some run-of-the-mill, some unique. The books themselves were an odd collection of technical books, art books and other what-nots.

Two of my favorite nick-knacks on the shelves were the 2003 MTV Movie Award above, and a seemingly related R2-D2 & C3-PO, each decked out with a little bucket of popcorn. Cool!

The Force Was With Me, Part 1

Here's another place I visited in San Francisco that was a little off the beaten path. Not everyone knows that George Lucas has a production facility in The Presidio, but I was tipped off from a tourist book that was provided by my gracious hosts. I had to ask a Presidio park ranger for exact directions, but then it was easy to find. My main goal was the Yoda fountain, which you can see above and below. While I was standing there taking pictures, a kind employee tells me I should go in the lobby and shoot some pictures there.

Once in the lobby, I was not disappointed. I got full size statues of Darth Vader and Boba Fett to shoot. There was plenty more, but you'll have to wait for my second post...

Friday, June 29, 2007

Funny Shaped Fish

I guess I never really thought about it. San Francisco Bay is not that far north of Monterey Bay, which is renowned for it's sea creatures. While walking along the seawall at the base of the southern approach to the Golden Gate Bridge, near Fort Point, I spotted something on one of the rocks. Looking through the telephoto lens, it turned out to be a starfish. And he wasn't alone. The rocks were covered in starfish. Dozens and dozens of them. You see starfish here in Florida, but infrequently. I was amazed at the number of these guys, and the colors were pretty impressive, too. I had to shoot between the waves, though. Each incoming wave soaked these guys down, which I guess was the point. I'm sure they would have been completely underwater at high tide.

The Can

So, what color do you think the Port-O-John's are on the Golden Gate Bridge? Why, International Orange, of course, same as everything else.


I know it's not really funny but I got a big chuckle out of this sign in SF. I found it on the beach at the Pacific end of Golden Gate Park. In case of earthquake, run like the dickens!

Up In The Air

One of the things I wanted to see in California was wildlife, but I really didn't hold out much hope for getting anything too spectacular. But guess what? I got real lucky one afternoon near The Cliff House and the ruins of the old Sutro Baths. I heard a familiar cry, and spotted a red-shouldered hawk soaring above me. Not that big of a deal in Florida, but being in a different spot, I paid attention. He was riding the constant wind off the Pacific, spinning in circles searching for prey. And he was often less than ten feet from the ground. This grabbed my attention quickly! I was also surprised when I spotted two more hawks doing the same thing. I must have shot a thousand pictures of these guys doing their aerobatics, but the one above is perhaps the most impressive. Two of them, I'm assuming it was a mating pair, started cutting up in mid-air, flying into each other, just goofing around. It was incredible to watch. I promise to post more pictures of these beautiful animals, but I wanted to get this one up before I forgot how spectacular it was to watch these animals in action. It was so awesome to watch them that I called my hosts on the phone and begged off from dinner. I couldn't tear myself away!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Everywhere You Look

I may as well go ahead and post a couple of things while I'm flipping through these pictures. I want to get as many up as I can for you guys. One of the things on my list was to return to the spot where you get the great view of the Financial District of San Francisco over the top of these ornate Victorian houses known as The Painted Ladies. I knew that this view was from Alamo Park, and I drove to it one afternoon, only to discover I couldn't see anything remotely like this shot. Turns out that I had misread a street sign, and I was in a completely different park. I later discovered my mistake, drove another mile down the road, and there I was. I knew I was in the exact spot when I saw the graffiti on the sidewalk.


Well, I finally made it back from the West Coast. Eight days is a long time for me to spend anywhere other than home, so it's good to be back. I took a lot of pictures during my trip, almost 5400 I think, and I hope to spend the next couple of weeks sharing them with you. But tonight I am busy just getting the pictures copied over to my hard drive, getting unpacked, and then sleeping some more to try and get back on to East Coast time. Thanks to my hosts in Berkeley for putting up with me that long, and for all the free plums!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Not In Londontown

Today was the first truly foggy day I've had in San Francisco since I arrived. Which is good for me, since I got to take lots of great pictures, but when you come to SF, you expect to see some fog. And here it is. That's Fort Point on the left, which was spared from destruction thanks to some forward thinking people back in the day. They actually built the Golden Gate Bridge right around it, which is why there is a big arch on one end of the bridge, but not the other. Tomorrow is my last day in the Bay Area, so this will probably be my last post until I get home. See you then!

Monday, June 25, 2007

The End Of June

Here's another post I prepped for you before I left Florida for California. (You'd never know it if I didn't tell you, though.) This is the calendar page for the week, and it has a very special red-letter day in it. Yep, that's my birthday. Last year I was in Las Vegas on my birthday, and this year I'm in California. Odd how that happened. I didn't plan it that way, really. Anyhow, this is a great picture of my local neighborhood bald eagle pair and their massive nest. You have to look close for the second eagle, as he's hiding behind a tree limb, but he's there.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


After four days in the Bay area, I finally made it to see the Golden Gate Bridge today. Beautiful, isn't it?