San Rafael

After work today, I took off around 5:30PM to bicycle around the local mountain.

Here is the route I took.

It was quite windy, which worked in my favor going east, and against me west. Coming in view of San Pablo Bay, I noticed the tide was low and the bay was muddy for many miles out. The opposite shoreline was hazy and many miles away. It wasn't very pretty. Inland was much prettier: China Camp State Park, consisting of hilly hiking and mountain trails, campgrounds, and grassy picnic areas actually wasn't too bad of a park. Since it was the off-season, there weren't many visitors, and there was little traffic until I returned back to the city.

The road later transitions into a four lane road, with a supposed speed limit of 35 and 25/mph in sections. A 25 limit is actually pretty common here, where the road narrows or becomes twisty, but is fairly often ignored. There was a high-end sports car zooming around the place (no license plate, so I assume a test driver) going 50-60 or so. He zoomed past me once, turned around, and zoomed past me again. In places, the shoulder lane disappeared. When there's no shoulder lane, for a four-lane thoroughfare I'm usually compelled to ride in the middle of the right lane. Otherwise, what tends to happen otherwise is I get passed dangerously close on the right. I'm moving 15-25/mph (at my best), and me on my road bike can't be pinned and forced to ride over the cracks, holes, drainages, seams, debris, and gravel at the rightmost margins of the road. I'm not that afraid of getting hit directly, but being knocked out of control then hit.

I heard car honks at a distance. I ignored them, but they continued. It somehow didn't seem like the honking was at another car in anger, it was like the sound of a driver trying to get someone's attention. I stopped and pulled off the road. I noticed my coat pocket was open and my wallet was gone. Oops! it must have fallen out: perhaps the driver noticed it fall out?  I turned around on the sidewalk and headed back to the previous intersection. A fairly large Toyota SUV stopped near the curb. The passenger-side window came down and the driver reached her hand out and handed me my wallet. She had her kids in the back and a pile of mail on her lap. (I recall passing a mailbox, she must have found it nearby and went after me.) I said "Thank you!" and she told me she was relieved she didn't have to chase me down any more…

I had dinner at my favorite San Rafael restaurant. I sat outside and ate beside my bicycle. It was about 65 degrees with gusting wind, but I kept warm under the heat lamp under the awning. I had to finish fairly quickly, as the sun was getting low and I had no headlight. I wanted some ice cream or donuts (which I smelled the oil of coming into downtown) but there was not much time for dessert.

If you examined my bicycle route, my return route ended up in some dead-ends. I had no map. I had a map, but it probably ended up (like my wallet) on the side of the road. I did recall (incorrectly) there was a route around the sides of the hill. And if not a proper road, the mountain itself had a network of mountain bike paths and such, so I thought if I could gain elevation, I could meet I up with one. In the end, there was no such thing I could find, and I had to follow busy roads along highway 101 back.

Back in the hotel, after my shower, I wanted some dessert. Without getting into my car and driving 10 minutes for it, I decided to dessert at the hotel restaurant.

Despite this being my 6th or 7th visit, I still hadn't eaten at "Rings: All American Steakhouse" — the hotel restaurant. It never seemed very busy, which to me is a bad sign. With about 40 tables, and about 2 cooks, 4 wait-staff, 1 manager, there were only about 5 guests present, including me. Still, the staff seemed quite disorganized and busy. (Perhaps there were many room service orders?) It was 9PM, and there was nobody to greet me at the front, so I headed in and tried to find somebody. The first waitress I met (who tried to serve me initially) knew nothing about dessert, and explained it was her second day. A manager-like man took over, he went and fetched a dessert menu from the kitchen. (Why weren't these out?) Then he remembered the dessert tray. I made my choice. I sat down. I got two water glasses.

The dessert I choice I made didn't look too bad: Apple crisp with ice cream! Or so I thought: In reality, it turned out to be less than a crisp, and more like a syrupy stew with hard, undercooked apple slices — and not-so-hard ice cream. A crisp by definition is supposed to be crispy. The contents (fruit) usually meld together in a fairly soft (maybe even runny) fruit-mass that can be spooned out. The ice cream is supposed to be fairly hard, so that by the time it's eaten, it's still ice cream.

It's funny that Hitomi considers me a "food snob" — But I would say, if restaurants could just do a few things right: Use quality ingredients, ensure food is cooked correctly, balanced for texture and flavor, there would be no problem. What often happens is that food is old or was frozen (maybe because their menu contains not in season foods?), cooked too long (or short) or at the wrong temperature, or imbalanced, e.g. too much meat, too oily, food all one texture or taste. For extra points, a restaurant could serve foods that match the season and locale. For inventiveness, bring in ingredients that are unusual or are ethnic. Really, that's it.

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About eliasross

Blogging before the word "blog" was invented.
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