" /> Wandering Aimlessly: August 2005 Archives

« July 2005 | Main | September 2005 »

August 20, 2005

AIDS Walk Los Angeles

  • As of June, 2004 in Los Angeles County alone, there are 54,000 people living with HIV/AIDS.
  • There have been 246 cases of pediatric AIDS in Los Angeles County. Only 42 are still living.
  • In the United States, there are approximately 950,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, with 40,000 new infections annually.
  • 5 million people were newly infected with HIV worldwide in 2003, and 3 million people died that year from AIDS.

On October 16th, I will be walking in AIDS Walk Los Angeles, and I need your help. I set a fundraising goal of $500, but I would love to surpass that. Any little bit you can spare will be greatly appreciated. You can donate by credit card at my donation page (minimum donation there is $25... their rule, not mine), or by check or PayPal if your donation is less than that (or if credit card doesn't work for you).

Just think, with the money spent stopping at Starbucks in the morning or buying that new CD or DVD that just came out, you could help save the life of someone living with HIV/AIDS. You could contribute to research and programs to enrich the quality of life of someone with HIV/AIDS, to educate, and to prevent the spread of HIV.

Any amount is welcome and appreciated. Email me for contact info if you'd like to send a check or use PayPal, or click below to donate by check. THANK YOU for your help!!

Click ---> <--- Click

August 17, 2005

A San Francisco Family Vacation

When I originally started this post, it began with, “I just got home from a delightful little trip up North. My parents arrived in the San Francisco area about a week and a half ago, and on Thursday, Jess and I both flew out to meet them.” Well, I only made it halfway through detailing my vacation before I somehow got sidetracked, saved the post as a draft, and failed to come back and finish it. Until now, that is. You will probably be able to tell exactly where I stopped upon the first writing of this, as the details get a lot fuzzier through the second half. *laugh*

But, almost a month ago now, I got home from a delightful little trip up North. With my family…

Thursday, July 21st
I flew out of Burbank Airport which, let me say for the record, is the easiest, most enjoyable little airport I've flown out of. Teeny-tiny! We boarded the plane from the ground by climbing up stairs built into the doorway of the plane, and the size of the aircraft may be imagined by the fact we had to move four people from the front half to behind the exit row, for weight and balance purposes. The flight itself was less than an hour, which added to the ease of travel.

Mom and Dad met me in San Francisco and we dined in the lovely food court of the International Terminal. Woo! Jessica's plane got in about two hours later, and we headed to the hotel together.

Friday, July 22nd
We were up and out earlyish, starting the day with a drive down Lombard Street, and went for a quick breakfast of pastries at Boudin's before pointing the rental car toward the Golden Gate Bridge. We crossed the bridge and stopped on the other side for some photo ops. It was one of the clearest, most beautiful days the San Francisco Bay had seen in a long time.

We were on our way again rather quickly, as we had a tour scheduled for noon at out first Sonoma winery, Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves. We enjoyed a glass of wine on the balcony overlooking the vinyard, and it was gorgeous. Pictures to follow. If I remember correctly, I tried the Blanc de Blancs. They were all sparkling wines, and the tour did a thorough job of informing us about how sparkling wines are made.

After the tour, we headed back out, this time to Viansa. Viansa was set up like an Italian village, with gorgeous grounds and a little marketplace. We had lunch there overlooking their vinyards, took a few more pictures, and tasted a few Viansa wines. I bought one (Imbianco).

It was on to Benziger next, with a tour of the grounds. The tour was wonderfully put together, and we learned a ton about how the winemaking process works. Very cool. We ended with yet another tasting, and I bought a bottle there, too.

Last stop was Chateau St. Jean, which, again, had beautiful grounds. They were setting up for a wedding or similar. We walked around the grounds for a bit, took a few more pictures, and passed on a tasting. We had had enough wine. It was back to the Bay for us, with another drive across the Bridge before heading back to the hotel. We had dinner at a little Mexican restaurant at the Cannery and finished off the evening by stopping over at Ghiradelli Square for a sample of chocolate. Hee.

Saturday, July 23rd
We got up early once again, this time to head towards The Rock. The Rock! The thing I’d been wanting to do each of the other two times in the past year I’d been to San Francisco, and had never been able to talk anyone else into doing with me. We stopped for breakfast at Starbucks before getting on the ferry that would take us from Pier 41 to Alcatraz.

The tour was really quite a highlight of the trip. We started out listening to a talk done by a ranger as we walked up the 130-foot hill. He detailed the history of Alcatraz, from its accidental naming, to starting out as a Fort, to obtaining a few low-security prisoners, to becoming one of the most secure high-profile prisons in the world, to the Native American overtaking, and finally sharing a few of the escape attempts. Once we got to the top, we collected our audio tours and started off to see the actual prison. The audio tour was actually really wonderful. It included interviews with real prisoners, soundtrack of background “prison life” noise, and a lot of fascinating information. It truly guided you through the prison in an interesting and engaging way. Very impressive!

We caught a ferry back to the mainland and grabbed lunch at a restaurant on Pier 39. Jess had gotten really drowsy from the Dramamine, so she and Dad went back to the hotel to nap while Mom and I took our time. We stopped and saw a bunch of street theatre, and then browsed sidewalk vendors. I ended up buying a really cute necklace from a woman, hand-made. Like it a lot. *g* We stopped by Boudin’s again, but this time took the “museum tour” and sampled some breads. They have a really nice restaurant there, so we made reservations for dinner, went back to the hotel to collect the other half of the family, and reconvened for a really tasty steak meal. Yum! On the way back to the hotel we wandered through an art gallery, and they were having a Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) exhibit. VERY cool. The only disappointment of the trip came when Ghirardelli’s was out of waffle cones. FOR SHAME!!

Sunday, July 24th
We were able to sleep in a bit more on Sunday, as we really didn’t have much in the way of solid plans. We wandered down past Ghirardelli Square to where the cable car has a stop. The line took about a half-hour (at that hour on a Sunday morning!), but we were entertained by an ex-hippie and his guitar (and microphone and amps and… well, he had the whole set-up). He was very good, and sang a rousing rendition of “Piano Man” at Mom’s request.

We finally got a spot on a Real San Francisco Cable Car and rode it up-up-up and over the hills to Chinatown. It took some wandering the streets, stopping in little shops and at vendor stands, before we found the City Lights Bookstore. It was nice, browsing walls and walls of books, and between the books and the shops of Chinatown, we managed to pass a couple of hours. Back to the cable car we went, and back to Ghirardelli Square to see if the ice cream shop had gotten more waffle cones. They hadn’t, but while we were hemming and hawing about what to do for lunch, they miraculously restocked. Problem solved!

Ice cream consumed, we headed out in the rental over the Golden Gate Bridge and towards Muir Woods. The Woods were quite crowded, and we almost didn’t find a place to park. I’m glad we did… the redwoods were breathtaking. With as many people as there were, I was amazed that everyone was respectful and quiet. The trees looked like a scene out of the Ewoks movie. Heh. We managed to make it a little further down the path than most, crossed a bridge, climbed a hill, and found ourselves on a much more deserted section of pathway. It was nice to feel like we were alone in the forest as a family, just talking and walking and taking in the beauty of nature.

Sunday night found us in a second hotel, much closer to the airport. We had, as I recall, an fairly uneventful evening. We may have gotten dinner somewhere… this is why I shouldn’t have waited almost a month to write this post! On Monday, we had to head to the airport early-ish. I got to spend a bit of the time with the Family before their plane boarded, and then I made my way (my long, long, long way) to the terminal for my departure. Funny enough, I ended up having to take a shuttle from that gate aaaaaaaaaalllll the way across the runway to a tiny, free-standing building where, apparently, they board the small planes. Ha!

The plane ride was also uneventful (thankfully), and… that is the end of that! A really great, if not all-too-short, family vacation. Yay!