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My trip to San Francisco

March 28, 2024

Hello All,

We recently traveled to San Francisco, California to visit Dawn's older son Zach. Zach moved out to SF right after graduating from Emory University in 2013 to work for a start up. He lived in a 440 sq ft studio for 8 years until last January when after selling his start up bought a 1100 sq ft condo on Lombard that actually had a designated bedroom and a famous past owner- Joe Montana! You can imagine his enthusiasm. Betty (my 89 year old mother in law) wanted to visit Zach and his new place so for the past year Betty worked with a physical therapist on her strength to be able to make this journey. Betty is armed with a positive can do attitude and Mora-her terrific care giver. Together the four of us headed to San Francisco for an adventure.

If you haven't flown to California before, it is about a 5 hour flight with a 3 hour time difference. We arrived at our hotel late in the evening where Zach's fiance Cindy had arranged to have a cheese platter, wine, fruit and flower arrangement waiting for us in our rooms. As you would imagine, I had read multiple guide books and formulated our daily itinerary long before our departure. When Dawn and I woke up our first day we headed to the Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park and Museum while Betty and Mora (her caregiver) slept in. Rosie the Riveter refers to a time in the US during World War II in the early 40's when the men who were the largest part of our labor force were mostly away fighting in the war. At the time, wives and mothers were expected to stay at home and women had few employment choices. Working class women worked poorly paid jobs such as domestic service, textile manufacturing and agriculture. Middle and upper middle class women had access to professions such as teaching, nursing or secretarial work. 

This all changed when there were not enough men in America to work. Out of necessity women were encouraged to fill these jobs as part of their patriotic duty. Opportunities for the first time ever for women to be paid the same wage as men working in factories which was 3 times the rate of minimum wage was the new reality. This was a complete game changer for women. Dawn and I had the privilege of hearing two of these Rosie the Riveters in their late 90's speak to our group.  One worked in the Kaiser Shipyard Factory building ships. Women often worked the jobs that men were physically too large to work. One of the Rosie's had been enrolled in a drafting certification program at the University of California Berkeley to learn to read and create ship blueprints. Mr. Kaiser realized that he would need to have doctors and medical clinics to tend to his workers and partnered with a doctor to create what is now known as Kaiser Permanente. 

We headed to John Muir's house in Martinez on our way back to San Francisco. Born in Scotland, John lived in a 17-room wood frame Victorian period mansion for the last 24 years of his life. John worked with President Teddy Roosevelt and was responsible for setting property aside for our national parks including Muir Woods and Yosemite National Park. He founded the Sierra Club and was perhaps this country's most famous and influential naturalist. John was also involved in the creation of the Grand Canyon and Mt. Rainier National Park. Dawn, Zach and I had the pleasure of hiking and experiencing the glorious redwood trees in Muir Woods. The tallest coastal redwood at Muir Woods is about 258 feet tall. Most of the redwoods are between 600 to 800 years old, with the oldest being at least 1,200 years old. Walking through a grove of trees is a wonderful way to relax. Trees emit phytoncides, a natural oil that the tree releases to fight disease and insects. When walking in a forest, phytoncides helps us to relax. In Japan it is referred to as forest bathing and helps to lower our cortisol level and promote peace.   

There is a restaurant not too far from Muir Woods that we visit every time-Sol's Puerto Rican. The food is so delicious-meat with pink beans, olives and rice, fried plantains and a Pique sauce. The sauce is so delicious that we order four bottles every year. It is both flavorful and spicy on our rotisserie chicken from Costco and anything else that needs a little added flavor. On our last day in San Francisco we went to visit the home of Nobel Peace Prize and Pulitzer Prize recipient Eugene O'Neil. He was born in a hotel room, lived mostly in hotel rooms and died in a hotel room.  Eugene was sent to private Catholic boarding schools and to Princeton University for his education. His father was best known for his part in the melodrama The Count of Monte Cristo. Eugene was shocked to discover in high school that his mother had been addicted to morphine his entire life after a doctor prescribed it for her painful recovery from Eugene's birth since his father refused to pay for a doctor to deliver Eugene. This reality proved too great for the young man to endure and led to a suicide attempt at an early age and a lifetime of depression and helps to explain his subject matter in his writing.

Eugene did not want any neighbors distracting him while he was writing. His gated home- The Tao House sat on a hilltop in Danville on 158 acres isolated from the world. Within the walls of his home, O'Neil wrote his final and most memorable plays including The Iceman Cometh, Long Day's Journey Into Night, and A Moon for the Misbegotten.  Long Days Journey Into Night was autobiographical and published by Carlotta his wife shortly after his death. The Tao House had some interesting details. In Eugene's bedroom there was a full length black mirror. There was only one guest bedroom and it was downstairs far away from his office as they did not like to have visitors stay for very long. Neither Eugene or Carlotta maintained relationships with their children so their beloved dog was their child. One of his most quoted writings was of the obituary he wrote for his dog Blemie. Another surprise was finding out that Carlotta had a collection of 16 Louis Vuitton suitcases.   

This trip had everything we were hoping for- family, new experiences, forest bathing, interesting places and great food. I hope you all are enjoying some interesting travel as well. I love hearing about your travel experiences. As always, thank you for being my valued client. I appreciate you.

Best,

Charles

Zach, Dawn and I at Muir Woods.

A few of the Rosie the Riveters.

Black mirror at Tao house -Eugene O'Neil's house.

Eugene O'Neil's office.

Tao House.


Autonomous vehicle.

Dinner at House of Prime.

Mora (Betty's caregiver) on Zach's balcony.

Dawn, Betty and Zach in Zach's living room. 

View from Zach's balcony.

In front of Tao House.

John Muir's house.

Jeanne Gibson -One of the few "Rosie's" still alive.

Famous obituary of Blemie-Eugene and Carlotta's beloved dog.

Carlotta's Louis Vuitton collection 

Coit Tower viewed from Zach's rooftop.