David and Ginna Zoellner love to travel. We live in Nice, France, half the year; the other half we live near Chicago, Illinois. We do 'home-exchanges' to explore other areas as well as taking normal trips. We'd like to share some of our experiences with you.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Colorado and San Francisco, July 2006

We arrived at Denver airport on Tuesday, July 18, and were in our car and on our way to Carbondale by noon. We had a beautiful drive out Route 70, stopping in Georgetown for lunch at a funky little place with pretty good sandwiches. We got to C'dale around 4:30 and found the home of our friends, Gayle and DickWells and their friendly dog, Willy. They live in the high desert, with spectacular views of the snow-covered twin peaks of Mt. Sopris (12,953'), about15 miles away. Sitting on their deck with the many hummingbirds feeding nearby is delightful. We spent the afternoon and evening catching up on mutual friends, our own activities in the several years since we have seen each other, and the state of the US. Gayle fed us delicious fish tacos. Although Gayle and Dick think they are having a heat wave, the temperatures seemed pretty nice to us as the rest of the country suffers under an extreme heat wave.Wednesday Gayle and Dick took us on a tour of the area. The town of Carbondale is small but nice, with interesting shops. Then we went on to Redstone, the"Ruby of the Rockies", founded around 1900 by JohnCleveland Osgood, a millionaire coal miner. He builthousing for his workers - a large rooming house for the single fellows and cottages for the married men, many of which (the cottages, not the men) are still there, now galleries and shops. The rooming house is a lovely hotel where we had lunch on the terrace. We also visited the church which has stunning stainedglass windows of aspen trees (in the birch family). In the evening we headed over to Aspen, that famous jet-set town. A Saudi prince's place there is for sale right now for $135,000,000 (not a typo) - a new national record for a house price. It's over 56 thousand square feet! We had a great dinner at Explore - a book store housed in an old Victorianhouse with a vegetarian restaurant in a glass-in area upstairs. It felt like we were eating in a tree house. Thursday we headed back to Denver, passing throughIndependence Pass, spectacular views all along the way, on narrow winding roads (speed limits as low as15 mph). The Continental Divide passes through Independence Pass: water falling to the west runs tothe Pacific; water falling to the east runs to the Atlantic. We passed through Leadville, a charming oldWestern town and the highest incorporated town in theUSA, and had a wonderful lunch at the Butterhorn Cafeand Bakery in Frisco and afterwards enjoyed their charming museum. We spent three days in Denver (temps in the upper 80'sand 90's) with my son Pete. We spent time with his friends, the guys played tennis which Pete has just taken up (David says he will be good), and we shopped for a few things for his apartment. One night we met Boulder cousins for dinner, another we had a terrific Chinese meal at Little Ollie's. The Peking duck was out of this world. On Sunday Pete took us to Colorado Springs to see the Gardens of the Gods (pictured), ancient rock formations,displaying 300 million years of history. The scenery is breathtaking. We watched climbers scaling the shear rocks, not something we'd be eager to try! Nearby is Pike's Peak, named for Zebulon MontgomeryPike, who tried to scale the mountain in 1806 while exploring the Louisiana Purchase at the direction of President Jefferson.

Monday we flew to San Francisco and Andrea drove us to our exchange on Nob Hill. Even SF is hot, in the upper 80's! The exchange is delightful - a great neighborhood (about 6 blocks from Andrea's cafe onMarket), a wonderful old (we figure around 1925) SF building with a very pleasant garden area, and a 4-room apartment, furnished with interesting souvenirs from all over the world. Andrea and her partner Julie cooked us a great steak dinner that night. It was great to see what they've done with their house and the garden! Wednesday nights Andrea has live music at her cafe/bar which we enjoy. Angela Lum played her guitar and sang- what a great voice and a very funny lady. TuffyEldridge, a good friend of Andrea's whom I've known for years, and her band (used to be called a "girls'band" but I suggested a "broad band") also played and had the whole place rockin'.
We visited the newly reopened De Young Museum of Fine Art. The permanent collections are great with a lot of the Hudson River School and a nice display of decorative arts in glass, silver, and furniture. But my favorite was a special show of the Gee's Bend(Alabama) quilts. The quilters are former slaves and their daughters and granddaughters and the quilts are beautiful. Many are made from old work clothes so the colors are muted and the fabrics are soft. No fancy stitching here - these are utilitarian quilts, muchused.
We had a great dinner at Citizen Cake, owned byElizabeth Falkner, Andrea's boss, who appears often onThe Iron Chef and other TV shows. Of course we arealways treated like royalty, with many dishes in addition to what we order. Everything was delicious, especially the desserts.
There was a special show of Monet in Normandy at the Legion of Honor. We went with our dear friends, the Braznells - Bill was David's pledge father over 50 years ago! The show was wonderful and included several of Monet's earlier works, before impressionism. We particularly enjoyed the pieces which showed places we had visited such as Honfleurand Etretat. Afterwards we had a nice lunch at the Beach Chalet, built around 1925. The main floor walls are covered with WPA frescoes which are magnificent.(WPA works, started by the Roosevelt Administration, were part of the recovery from the Great Depression).
Thursday night we joined Andrea, Julie, and the gang on the Embarcadero for their weekly volleyball game. This time we even joined in! I was terrible, helping my team to a 0-7 defeat, but David was quite good. We made our annual pilgrimage to the BV (the BuenaVista), the place that introduced Irish Coffee to SF; and we had our usual stop at the Wild Side West (a bar started by Janis Joplin and her partner) in Bernal Heights; and of course the yearly stop for pork taco sat La Taqueria on Mission at 25th, arguably the best tacos in the world. We also tried a new (to us) place, Burma Super Star where we had the tea leaf salad, a very different taste with peanuts, fried garlic, sesame seeds, and fermented tea leaves on lettuce.
Thankfully, after a couple of days, SF cooled down toits normal summer temperatures in the 70's. We didn't want to leave. But on Monday, the 31st, we headedback to Chicago; we arrived at 6 PM and the temps were still around 90! En route from the airport we met an interesting neighbor who stopped by for a drink. She's a research doctor, working on HIV. We were excited to see our place since we had the new bathroom and our bedroom painted while we were gone. Everything looks great and it's great to be back home. I will be heading back to SF in a couple of weeks as Andrea has to have a small operation done and I will go out to help them with the house, the dogs (2 English bulldogs: LaVerne and Daisy), and so on for a week.


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