It seems like the month of April flew by... so I wanted to provide a quick recap of some things that have been going on out here on the west coast.
Neil and I celebrated our (translation: my) success in Las Vegas by scheduling a weekend getaway to Russian River, which is about an hour to an hour and a half north of SF and located in the heart of Sonoma county. We stayed at the fabulous West Sonoma Inn, which was a very nice inn and we even had our own jacuzzi on a private deck! It's still the off-season so the rates were cheaper and it wasn't that crowded, but we still managed to have a ton of fun while we were there.
We met some friends that we've actually kept in touch with (they're also from SF) while going out to the Russian River Resort, a fun little bar with a pool and bad karaoke. Even though we're both attracted to the train-wrecks that often perform karaoke, neither one of us has the courage to ever get up and sign on our own. I think Neil should sing Whitney Houston's "I'm Every Woman" and I would probably sing Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" (i.e. "I like big butts and I cannot lie, you other brothers can't deny..."
Anyway, we went wine tasting in Sonoma and walked around Healdsberg, which is this great town with cool shops, huge antique stores, and very nice restaurants. It was off-season so we didn't get to go canoeing down the russian river like we'd hoped but we'll definitely be back. There's even a softball tournament there later in August that we'll definitely have to go to, if we don't go back before then.
So softball has started. Although Neil and I play on different teams, we're sponsored by the same bar so our two teams do a lot of joint fundraisers and even practice together sometimes. We also go to the other team's games to cheer them on after our's is over (or vice versa). Unlike the Boston league, the games are only on Sunday and there is usually only 1 game per week (occasionally 2). After the games, you get invited back to the other team's sponsor (often a bar or restaurant) for a free drink and you invite them to your place for a free beverage. It can be pretty fun but can also be a long day if you're not careful!
Anyway, I like my team a lot. Everyone on the team is genuine and very friendly; definitely not too competitive, which I like. A lot of the players have come up from the lower division but there is a solid mix of players. For me personally, it also helps that I am much healthier and stronger this year so I feel much better while playing. I am hitting better, running pretty well and can even throw much stronger this year compared to the two years since having back surgery. I guess all the strength work I've been doing at the gym for my back is starting to help, although I do still have numbness in my leg. Still, it feels good to be playing softball with a bunch of good guys. Now, if we could just get a first baseman who can scoop my low throws, I'd be all set...
The gyms in San Francisco are definitely a pet peeve of mine. I don't like them. I belong to 24 hour fitness, which despite it's name, are generally not open 24 hours a day. The one closest to us closes at 3 pm on Sunday! That's hardly 24 hours... While the gyms are relatively cheap compared to Boston (it is the ONLY thing which is cheaper here) they are not that clean and often too crowded. Like Boston Sports Club, 24 hour fitness has multiple locations. I prefer to go to the one near work but we're close to the one in the Castro, which is sometimes more crowded than a busy train and is jam-packed with guys wearing clothes too tight for their bodies. Not a good combination.
Most of the gyms do not even offer towel service or have cleaning supplies to wash the machines when you're done (probably why they're relatively cheap). The locker rooms are typically filthy lockers are often broken. I often feel like I'm back at the 100 year old Cambridge YMCA again. Maybe it's just 24 hour fitness in general and I will start shopping around, but it seems to be the most popular gym in the city.
SF Giants game
Neil and I went to our first SF Giants game of the season. On a cold, drizzly Friday night, we actually had the cheapest seats in the house ($11 each) and still had a great time! I can't say enough about AT&T Park other than the fact that it solidifies my belief that they should tear down that old barn they call Fenway Park and build a stadium where someone taller than 5'4" can sit comfortably without a pole in front of them.
A couple of things I love about AT&T park:
1. Every seat is comfortable.
2. Every seat has a great view.
3. All seats have cup holders!
4. So much room to walk around on the concourse, no bottle necks like at Krysten Harris' beer stand at Fenway when thousands of people have to fit through a single door way.
5. Concession stands everywhere, meaning short lines.
6. Nicer weather than in many other parts of the city.
7. They give away little souveniers every game. I got one of those big "We're number 1" fingers! I love those things. I was hitting Neil with it all night so I suspect he doesn't like them as much as I do.
8. New digital scoreboard that is amazing.
9. You cannot walk down the aisle to your seat in the middle of an at-bat. They have ushers there and you have to wait until the at-bat is over! It's like advanced civilization.
10. Ticket prices are affordable.
Things I don't like:
1. They pipe in music and noise to get people to cheer. I don't like being told when to cheer, but Giants fans seem kinda clueless so maybe they need it.
But everything else about this place is great. They even built the Giants' stadium in an area on the bay that actually gets some of the nicest weather in the city, unlike Candlestick Park which always had dozens of hotdog wrappers flying around the field because it was so windy.
Anyway, I don't think the Giants will be very good this year, the average age of the starting lineup is like 35 or 36 years old (not young by MLB standards). In fact, at one point, I looked up and saw a flock of buzzards flying over the stadium apparently waiting for one of the Giants' older players to keel over. It wouldn't have surprised me.
Well I bought tickets to a bunch of other Giants games (I got the Friday night package) so maybe I'll be there when Barry "Balco" Bonds breaks the home run record. Maybe I'll even catch the ball and become a millionaire. I do have tickets to a couple of games at the end of June, so we'll see...
Okay, I have more things to write about like our recent trip to LA, furniture shopping, and this weekend's visit by our good friends Kevin Hourihan and Jon Jones... so there's definitely more to come.