Category Archives: CCC’s San Francisco Favorites

The CCC’s San Francisco Favorites #7: Chilly Summer Days

Recently, I was complaining to my friend, Brian Yee, about the (always) unseasonably cold San Francisco summers. Brian, my wise and kind friend of almost 30 years, replied, “you do realize that rest of the country is in the middle of a horrible heat wave. I mean the entire country is sweltering.”

“So, I should stop complaining about my breezy, 60-degree days?”

“Yes.”

Since pity parties really aren’t the CCC’s style, I put on my current favorite cashmere sweater, grabbed the Nikon, and headed out to embrace the wind and fog.

SF Chilly Summer Perk #1: Cashmere is always appropriate.

6 Sutro Cliffs

There’s no better place to experience the SF summer chill than Ocean Beach. It’s always 5-10 degrees cooler than the rest of the city and the sun is generally occluded by the champagne air a.k.a the fog (champagne always makes everything better). On this day, I decided to explore the ruins of Sutro Baths and Land’s End, the western most part of the city.

But first, breakfast.

1 Louis'
SF Chilly Summer Perk #2: Hot Chocolate.

I like Louis’. Get there early and grab a seat the counter. Order Bill’s Special (scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon on an English muffin) and a cup of hot chocolate and whipped cream*. The breakfast of champions.

*Even for the CCC, 9am is too early for a cocktail.

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The ruins of Sutro Baths.

Adolph Sutro, one of SF’s original entrepreneurs, believed he could build a better salt water swimming experience than the ocean itself. In 1896, Sutro Baths opened for all to enjoy. The entrance fee was kept purposely low so that folks of all income levels could enjoy the 7 pools, ice skating rink, museum, and amphitheater.  Everyone wore the same itchy wool bathing suits so there would be no distinction between wealthy and less well-off guests (a man after my own lefty heart!). People would spend entire days at the baths swimming, relaxing, eating, and enjoying each other’s company. Eventually, and several owners later, the baths closed in 1966 – too expensive to maintain.  During the baths’ demolition a “mysterious” (read: arson) fire burned the last of this magnificent structure to the ground.

Now, the baths’ ruins are a perfect way to spend a day, climbing around, hiking up the cliffs, taking in the view.

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The ruins are a perfect place for an amature photographer to get artsy.

To see a wonderful slide show of what the baths looked like in their heyday visit: The Cliff House Project.

5 Sutro Cave
There’s even a spooky tunnel to explore.
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On Sutro Cliffs.  SF Chilly Summer Perk #3 – No unnecessary sun exposure.
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The Land’s End Trail.  Perfect isolation.

Land’s End is a wonderful place to go when you want to be by yourself but don’t want to be alone. Pairs and groups of friends, families, and tourists keep you company along the way. It’s heartening to hear the snippets of others’ conversations as I walk.

“I told her not to call him back.”

“I think I am going to train for a sprint triathlon.” “That’s great!”

“Let’s take a selfie! Let’s take a selfie!”

Human beings enjoying a beautiful place together. Lovely.

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Little boy with Labyrinth. Could there be a more quintessentially SF moment?
9 Land's End Trail View
I love the view from Land’s End. All at once, I feel connected with the universe’s past, present, and future.

The Golden Gate is one of the most seismically active areas in the world. Formed over the course of 200 million years, the rugged coastline is the result of the North American and Pacific Plates rubbing against each other pushing the serpentine and sandstone rocks from deep within the sea floor to the ocean’s surface. These two plates, part of the San Andreas Fault Zone, are always active moving approximately 1 inch per year (earthquakes anyone?).

Land’s End is a fantastic place to appreciate the geologic drama of the Golden Gate.

(To learn more, check out this great paper and guided tour.)

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I LOVE Cypress Trees!  Some day I will take a photo that expresses what these trees mean to me.  Until then, you will have to suffer through my drafts.

What a wonderful day!  Who needs sun and 80 degree temperatures, when you can have champagne air and hot chocolate?

The CCC’s San Francisco Favorites #6: The Winter Weather

Or, should I say the lack of it.  In February, when much of the nation is entrenched is sub-zero temperatures, ice-covered side walks, and multiple layers of foul-weather gear, SF-Bay Area folks head to the beach.  One of our favorites is Pescadero State Beach in Half Moon Bay. Thirty miles south of SF, Half Moon Bay is the quintessential sleepy NorCal coastal town.  A lovely drive down Route 1 with the grand Pacific beside you, Half Moon Bay is a perfect day trip for locals, tourists, and of course, our furry friends.

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Miles the Dog on his way to Half Moon Bay.  A dog is never happier than when his head is hanging out a car window.
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A walk along the wild (flower) side.  Thanks to El Nino, the wildflowers are gorgeous this year. These are evening primrose growing like crazy in a field of brussle sprouts.
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The cliffs at Pescadero are made from sandstone that is more than 20 million years old.
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Waves crashing. At low tide, you can explore the many tide pools.
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The CCC in her rightful place: enjoying a picnic and Prosecco.  We had the most delicious goat cheese covered in truffles: Il Caprino del Piemonte. Turns any trip to the beach into a special occasion.
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Not my best cocktail photo but this Nino Franco prosecco merits attention.  Lots of green apple and honey while still being crisp and dry.
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A happy pup. Dogs must be on a lease at all times at Pescadero.
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The view from the bluff.  Another delightful winter day in the SF-Bay!

The CCC’s San Francisco Favorites #5: Hog Island Oyster Farm with Sandy and Jim

Numerically speaking, this San Francisco Favorite is #5 but really the Hog Island Oyster Farm in Marshall, CA is the CCC’s Number One San Francisco Favorite.   Located 50 miles north of SF in beautiful Marin County, the Hog Island Oyster Farm is most special to me.  In my two decades of living in San Francisco, no place holds so many joyful, delicious, and occassionally silly memories. (Ask my husband, Brian, about the time I offended a lady over the oysters she ate in Las Vegas. I didn’t mean to be snooty.)  There is no better place than Hog Island for savioring freshly shucked oysters while you sip a glass of champagne and soak in the sun (I’m not meaning to be snooty. 🙂 ). Truthfully, there is nothing snooty about Hog Island Oyster Farm: rustic picnic tables overlooking Tomales Bay with the hills of Tomales Bay State Park in the background.  It’s an idyllic locale perfect for appreciating the good things in life with your friends and loved ones. If you are a tourist, Hog Island is a great place to observe us local folks engaged in our Northern California lifestyle, that is, eating oysters and drinking champagne (we don’t mean to be snooty).

Recently, I was thrilled to bring my wonderful friends, Sandy and Jim, to Hog Island. They are no strangers to the NorCal lifestyle or the good things in life. (And, they are absolutely NOT snooty!)

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Sandy, a fellow nurse practitioner, world traveler, and good friend for over 20 years, looking glamorous and ready to enjoy some of Hog Island’s very best. I don’t know how Hog Island is able to raise an oyster that is both briney and buttery. Fabulous.
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The secret to a great Hog Island day is to bring a picnic. You are allowed to bring anything you want, except the oysters which you must buy from the Farm. You can purchase them shucked or shuck them yourself (much cheaper).
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Sandy and Jim looking relaxed and happy. How could they not be?
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BBQ Oysters anyone? These little treats are not to be missed. Perfectly grilled and dressed in a chipotle butter sauce. YUM!
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The Boat. This is where you order and pay for your oysters. They also serve decent (but overpriced) wine, cheese, and charcuterie. Experienced Hog Island devotees supply their own provisions.
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The Hog Island picnic grounds. The inner tables are first come, first served. Get there 15-20 minutes before they open to avoid a wait. The outer tables are reservation only. The tables book up 4 months in advance. No, I am not joking.
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Jim and me soaking up the sun.
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Sandy and me. Best buds.

Thank you Sandy and Jim for coming to visit and creating another happy Hog Island Oyster Farm memory for me. Here’s to the good things in life: friends like you.

The CCC’s San Francisco Favorites #4: The de Young and BFFs

Recently, I had the good fortune of three wonderful visits to the de Young Museum. These visits were particularly special because I had some of my best BFFs (Best. Friends. Forever.) join me.  As the CCC, I never mind doing things alone but any activity is always so much more fun with a buddy or two.

We went see the de Young’s current show, Keith Haring – The Political Line.  For you SF-Bay Area locals, this show is a must-see.  For those of you planning a visit to SF, the de Young is a must-go. Orginally founded in 1894 as the Fine Arts Building, the de Young is now one of the preeminent museums in the western United States with its extensive American, African, and Oceanic art collections.  Its special exhibitions have included works by Dale Chihuly, Ruth Asawa, Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier, and now Keith Haring. (The show is on view through February 16, 2015.)

1 DeYoung Entrance 2
The Keith Haring show was one of my favorites. My memories of his work were from when I was a teenager. I think I had a Keith Haring Swatch Watch! This show highlights what a signficant and profound artist Haring was (and still is). His work continues to resonate with our current political and social landscapes.
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In 2000 the de Young underwent a five-year renovation by the Swiss Architecture firm, Herzog & de Meuron. The design was controversial with many residents feeling it was ugly and didn’t fit with the overall sensibility of Golden Gate Park where it is located. Yes, change is always hard! Now the modern exterior is loved by all. Also in this photo are a 19th century sculpture of the history of wine making and a sphinx from the early days of the de Young.
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950,000 pounds of copper and 300,000 pounds of glass were used to create the building’s facade. The copper, over time, will develop a green patina reflecting the verdant setting in which the de Young is nestled. I love the varied circular themes and textures of this building!
4 De Young Garden
The de Young has a fabulous outdoor garden that must be enjoyed. It’s a perfect place to let your little ones run around and “get the wiggles out” as my mother used to say. I am not sure of the artist who created these strange, rather creepy, sculptures. Maybe they were put in the garden to make sure the kiddies don’t misbehave too much!
5 Cafe Lunches montage pdf
Of course, no trip to the de Young is complete without relaxing in the Cafe. The food is tasty and you can sit inside or out, weather depending. I LOVE the Les Charmes Sancere they have on offer! It has all my favorite qualities in a wine: minerality, cripsness, and just enough fruit (melon, I think). A perfect compliment to good conversation with good friends. (The food from left to right: chicken stew, butter lettuce and beet salad, chocolate chip cookie, cheesy quiche with greens.)

But enough about the de Young, the garden, the Cafe…the real stars of this post are my BFFs!

5 Kiki
Visit 1 with Kiki. Friends for over 20 years, Kiki is one of my life’s treasures. Who else could wear a shirt with leather ruffles for sleeves?
6 EM Carol necklace retouched
Enjoying lunch with Kiki. The beautiful necklace I am wearing was given to me by Kiki’s mother, Carol. Carol has known me since I was a twenty-something twerp.
7 Meera and Crystal
Visit 2 with Meera and Crystal. I met Meera in my first week of PhD school. We’ve been friends ever since. How lucky am I to have a friend like Meera? VERY! Crystal is Meera’s charming daughter. It’s easy to see where Crystal gets her good looks!
8 Lee, Bev, and EM
My sister, Lee, and my mom, Bev, also joined for Visit 2. A happy person is one who can count her family as her friends. Yes, I am a happy person!
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Visit 3 with my sister, Annie. Selfies are always better with a bestie!

After enjoying the Cafe and each other, we were ready to spend time in the galleries with Keith Haring, who is the REAL star! Keith Haring was born in 1958 and died of AIDS at the age of 32.  His work is colorful, playful, vibrant, and completely radical. Through his art, Keith Haring took on racism, capitalism, power, and repression.  He cared deeply about people and his work was an expression of that caring. To me, Haring was the Universe’s muse. The world and its most human concerns spoke through him. Perhaps this is why Haring never did sketches or any preparation for his work.  He just started painting, inspired by the human and cosmic energies around him.

10 Keith Haring Combo
These paintings were done on large, commercial use tarps. Here you can see Haring’s playful and dynamic spirit at work while taking on repressive power, religious freedom, and a human’s right to be who he wants to be.
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Annie enjoying the show and the accompanying excellent audio tour. The cartoon human and the barking dogs were prominent themes in Haring’s work. The dogs were frequent symbols of oppressive and violent power.
12 Keith Haring Outdoor Sculpture
One of the many sculptures Haring created during his short life. I hope this one stays even after the show closes. Haring was one of those people who makes you ask yourself, “how can I be a more positive force in the world?” For me, it starts with being ever grateful for the wonderful friends and family in my life! Thank you for the reminder, Keith Haring. And thank you dearest friends and family!

The CCC’s San Francisco Favorites #3: Sutro Heights Park and The Cliff House

San Francisco is always on the edge of Right Now.  Despite its laid-back approach to life, SF, and its cousin to the south, Silicon Valley, are home to technological innovations that have changed how how we experience the world and each other. Think: Apple, Google, Salesforce, Facebook. While I love living in a city that is one step ahead of much of the nation, sometimes all this “Right Now-ness” leaves me feeling disconnected and adrift (despite all my connectivity and GPS apps!).

To reconnect and re-anchor myself to myself and the world around me, I like to visit to Sutro Heights Park. Sutro Heights is the former home of Adolph Sutro, the 24th Mayor of San Francisco and innovator of his time. Born in Germany, 1830, Adolph came to SF in 1851.  He made his fortune in 1859 with the Comstock Load (the discovery of silver ore in Nevada) by developing the Sutro Tunnel – a way draining water from deep underground so that the silver could be mined. How fitting that one of San Francisco’s forefathers would be an entrepreneurial pioneer!

Alfred Sutro
Adolph Sutro. Mutton chops the envy of hipsters everywhere. Here he is on the grounds of Sutro Heights. To learn more about Adolph Sutro, click here.

In 1881, Sutro purchased a 22-acre parcel of land in the northwest corner of the city over looking the Pacific.  He developed a large Victorian-style garden complete with elaborate flower beds. It required 15 gardners to maintain the grounds. In 1883 he opened the grounds for the public to enjoy.

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One of two mighty lions to greet you at the entrance to the park.
Lion Head
Such a handsome fellow deserves a close-up.
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Palm Avenue. The ornate flower beds are gone but it is still a pleasing  (and flat) stroll.
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Diana, goddess of the hunt, the moon, and birthing (who knew?). During Sutro’s life the grounds were decorated with replicas of Roman and Greek statues. Diana is one of the few remaining today.
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The view of Ocean Beach from Sutro Heights. One never grows tired of it.
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One of the few remaining outbuildings on the property. Sutro died in 1898. His daughter, Emma, lived in the house until her death in 1938. The property became too expensive for the family to maintain and they donated it to the City of San Francisco in 1939.
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The CCC (and her really bad hair) were here.
Cliff House
The Cliff House’s proximity to Sutro Heights Park makes it an ideal spot for a post-park libation. Adolph Sutro built the second version of the Cliff House in 1896. It survived the 1906 earthquake only to be destroyed in a fire a year later. Today’s building is a renovation of its third iteration built in 1909.
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The Cliff House makes a mean Blood Mary. The garnish were tiny pepperoncinis. Delish!
Camera Obscura
The Camera Obscura located behind the restaurant. It’s never open when I come to the Cliff House but it is a popular attraction (or so I’ve heard!).
Cliff House View
A view of Seal Rocks from the Cliff House. Feeling more connected and anchored by the minute with such a scene before me!

 

The CCC’s San Francisco’s Favorites #2: Ocean Beach

When I need a mini-vacation, there’s no better escape than to Ocean Beach. At the western edge of San Francisco, Ocean Beach is where the sand crunches beneath my feet and the Pacific’s waves crash beside me – possibly two of the most calming sounds ever! Recently, my mom, Bev, and I took a walk along the 3.5 mile beach to enjoy the sounds and sights of the beach, one of San Francisco’s treasures.

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With the ever changing waves before you, Ocean Beach is a perfect place for contemplation and relaxation.
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A surfer warming up and surveying the waves. Many surfers choose to live in the nearby neighborhoods, the Outer Sunset and the Outer Richmond, to be close to the beach.
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Walkers and runners alike love Ocean Beach. San Franciscans have been enjoying the beach even more this fall with all the sunny, warm weather. Normally, Ocean Beach is known for its foggy, cool days.
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The Ocean Beach Fisherman, a species of urban fisherman. Not quite sure what they catch but these guys are here every day.
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Of course, our furry friends love the beach too!
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There a quite a few interesting shore birds to see along the beach. These, I believe, are called Heermann’s Gulls with a distinctive black-tipped bill. They peck at the ground for food at the water’s edge.
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When the wave crashes into the shore, the gulls fly away, landing a few moments later when the water is calmer.
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More gulls in flight.
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A view of the beach with Seal Rocks (on the left) and the Cliff House restaurant on the right. From 1926 to 1972, Ocean Beach was home to the amusement park, Playland. At its height, thousands of visitors came to Playland every day to enjoy the beachside park and it’s delicious food. In fact, Playland was where SF’s Famous “It’s It” ice cream sandwich was born! Now there are condos where Playland used to be but you can still visit the Cliff House and take in the dramatic views imagining what the area might have been like almost a century ago. (To see some fun old photos of Ocean Beach click here!)
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Bev taking a break from our walk.
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Of course, no CCC excursion is complete without some sort of gustatory experience! After our walk, my mom and I visited the restaurant, Outerlands. Recently remodeled, Outerlands is a lovely and warm boite located a few blocks from Ocean Beach. Like most new restaurants in SF, Outerlands serves sustainable and tasty fare.
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Waiting for a table at Outerlands. Once inside, we enjoyed the tomato panzarella salad, an open-faced beef brisket sandwich and cafe au lait. A perfect post-beach lunch.
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Thank you Ocean Beach for giving SF denizens so much beauty and respite. (And of course, tourists are always welcome!)

 

 

The CCC’s San Francisco Favorites #1: Stow Lake

Although my cocktail camping lifestyle allows me to travel to fun and interesting places both in California and beyond, some of my most favorite adventures are in my adopted home town of San Francisco. I do love living in San Francisco! It’s an easy and gentle place with friendly people, instant access to natural beauty, and an urbane sensibility which means that a delicious cocktail or yummy snack is never far away. For all these reasons, San Francisco is a top tourist destination. As the CCC, I want to do my part to encourage visitors to come appreciate this wonderful place by sharing my favorite spots with you!

For many years, I have taken solace in the beauty of Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park.  Developed in 1893, this man-made lake was created as an escape for for city-dwellers.  During Stow Lake’s early days, the 3.5 mile path also served as a promenade for horse-driven carriages.  It is a special place with verdant landscaping, romantic stone bridges, a 114-foot water fall, and a Chinese Pagoda. There are even rumors that the lake is haunted by the White Lady, a young mother who drown in the lake while searching for her missing baby.  Perhaps most enjoyable is that the path around the lake is completely flat – a rarity in hilly SF.

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A beautiful stone bridge built in 1894. It connects the main path to the lake’s inner island, Strawberry Hill.  Strawberry Hill is Golden Gate Park’s highest point at 400 feet.
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The Golden Gate Pavilion given to San Francisco by its sister city, Taipei, in 1976. It is a perfect place to contemplate one’s deep and not-so-deep thoughts.
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A closer view of the pagoda.
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Every aspect of the pagoda is finely detailed.
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Crossing the bridge to the pagoda takes one to a far away place. No tickets or passport required.
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The man-made waterfall. Located on Strawberry Hill, it’s a short walk from the Pagoda.
row boat and paddle boat
Another favorite Stow Lake activity is renting paddle or row boats and tooling around the lake. A completely different vantage point for enjoying the lake or taking a selfie! (Note the young lady in the row boat.)
boat house cafe
Need a break from your paddling, rowing, or strolling? Never fear, the Stow Lake Boathouse Cafe is always near. On a chilly day, their hot chocolate hits the spot! (The Boathouse is also where you rent paddle and row boats.)
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My last visit was on an unusually hot, sunny day. Definitely not hot chocolate weather. An It’s It, the other San Francisco treat, called my name.  Truly one of my favorite ice cream goodies. Now, if they could only make that in a cocktail (wink)!
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It’s selfie time! The CCC happy, relaxed, and lucky to live in SF – the home of Stow Lake and the It’s It.
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A parting view of Stow Lake, until my next visit.

If you are planning a visit to SF, there are many great resources to consult, and I am happy to be another!  Feel free to contact me for ideas about your visit to San Francisco.