Fish soup

I always order Fish Soup if it is on the menu.
There are many varieties. In France you get a brown sludge of ground up fish heads and bones decorated with croutons and roux. Spain however you get fish broth with some onions, garlic, maybe saffron with big chunks of real fish. Around Marseille you can in fact get a real fish soup that they call Bouillabaisse. With this appellation they can charge you $50 a plate. The place to go for fish soup is Mexico er which is where I am.
Sopa de Mariscos – spicy fish broth with shrimp, scallops, clams, lumps of different fish and lots of fresh limes. $3.00.
I also get Filetes Vera Cruz, which is fried fish fillets in a tomato, onion, garlic sauce, because I am greedy. $3.00
It is lunch, it is not Irving.

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Oh no, Seagulls

They are the birdwatching equivalent of a difficult report
that you really do not want to write. You push it aside and hope it
will go away. Neither reports nor seagulls do so. Seagulls look
much the same, differ in minutiae, but worse still have terrible
teenage years during which they wear the most ridiculously ugly
clothes and look nothing like their parents. The beach on Bahia de
Kino is loaded with seagulls- I have the time, I have no excuse so
let’s get to work. What you are trying to see is of course the
Yellow Footed Gull. This one looks almost identical to the
ubiquitous Herring Gull but has, yep, yellow feet. It only seagulls
on the shores of the Sea of Cortez. There are loads of them and
Ringed Billed Gulls and Heerman’s Gulls but not much else. This is
a blessing as all these species are really easy to identify. As I
wander along the classic beach garnished by fishing boats and real
fishermen mending I think real nets, a lady comes out with a
wheelbarrow and dumps a cubic metre of fish guts on the
beach.Bedlam! A squillion gulls hit the guts: but the real
operators are the Pelicans who have the perfect equipment for
scooping up large volumes of fish guts. I had never really thought
about this before, but they go in like low loaders. Three minutes
it is all gone.

Some captions,these could be in the wrong order so
look upon this a a quiz.

Ring Billed Gull.

Brown Pelican eats fish

Brown Pelican swallows fish guts

Sulky Teenage Heerman’s gulls wearing black

Yellow Footed Gull

Sulky teenage Yellow Footed Gull. Notice pink legs.

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The Long But Not Winding Road

Did you know that the Beatles’ ” Long and Winding Road” was inspired by Paul McCartney’s drives down Kintyre to get to his farm.?
You have to love the names of places in the South West. I start in Buckeye, stopping off in the Buckeye Nature Preserve but frightened off by heavy gunfire, then through Gila Bend, next to Why, through the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to cross the border at Lukeville. I am in Mexico.
I listen to a novel “The Tree of Smoke” that I do not understand and look at the truly amazing scenery. It is all so wide, deep, high,large. I stop to get gas and take photos of birds but apart from that it is the highway throughout the cacti. I get to Hermosillo and switch off the engine in front of the San Martin Motel – $30.
I am doing all this from my IPad. The WordPress App does not allow captions to photos or more likely I have not worked out how to do it.
Long Tailed Grackle
Very bad photo of a Phainopepla, but it is rare so er um.
Red Tailed Hawk – note dark lines on leading edge of wings.

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Xmas on the Road

I have guilt about being in a car on Xmas day. But things being as they are, US based family has gone to the Philippines and Europe based family is well, in Europe.
Should I hang around in SF and take up kind offers of spending Xmas with friends or hit the road?
The road has always been irresistible and Xmas day sees me leaving Geologist Cabin at dawn to head down to Mexico. I work my way down the track towards the paved road in Death Valley. All goes well except I have little gas and worry about making it to Shoshone, the next gas station . Also worry whether a gas station in a bunch of shacks will be open on Xmas morning. These concerns pale when I hit a river that has washed the road away. There have been record rains in Southern California and I have seen evidence throughout Death Valley- mudslides, lakes on the road- but this is a river from nowhere running straight down the middle of the valley. I have few options, not enough gas to turn back, could take days for the flood to go down. On the other hand stuck in the middle of a river in the middle of nowhere on Xmas morning is not cool.The drop into the river is deep, the water comes right up over the bonnet. This is not going to work! But the car keeps going; we hit another trough half way over but the car keeps going. We get to the far bank but will she be able to climb out? We slither and slide in the deep mud but hey we are back on dry land. God bless you Range Rover!
Of course the gas station in Shoshone is open at 9:00 on Xmas morning. My troubles are over. Now it is the wide open American West: down to I 15, head South on Highway 95 before Vegas, East on I 40 and then South again on Highway 95 along the Colorado River until I hit I 10. Drive East until the junction with highway 85 just West of Phoenix. Hole up in the Westward Motel- $38- in Buckeye Arizona. I love to drive!
Happy Xmas every one

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Cabin Fever

Geologist Cabin is an exceptional place to spend a couple of days.It is a first come first served deal, if nobody is there then it is all yours. It is very clean and touchingly people have left behind everything you need, well in a back country sense. There is no electricity, no running water, no bathroom no beds but there is a spring, boxes of matches, spare gas lamp mantles, a broom, some tins of food, some books, some tools,a table and chairs. There is a strong feeling of solidarity, people you have never seen and will never meet, know your needs and you know theirs.
Outside is desert and mountains and complete silence. Other than wild donkeys, birds and mice I see no other living creatures during my stay.
I go for a long tramp around the hills behind the cabin and get the answer to the question that has been bothering me. “What on earth is this cabin doing here?” Invisible at first, the hills are ratholed by mines. Someone at some time was out here looking for something. I suppose it was gold. There are signs of mining, now heavily decayed all across the hillside; half filled in entrances to mine shafts, odd pieces of equipment, walls in dried up gulches. How did they get here? How did they get the machinery here? How did they work in the hottest place in the world? Who were they?
How did they, at the end of the 1900’s, deal with sun burn, athlete’s foot, cuts and grazes, eczema, piles, toothache, and all the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to?
Well I suppose the lucky ones got to live in the cabin whilst the rest of them roamed the wilderness like John the Baptist.

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Dutch Oven

The Geologist Cabin is as about as far away from anywhere that you can get. First go to Death Valley, then drive 40 miles up some bad news 4 wheel drive trail and you will see it on the right up on the hill. It is a one room stone built cabin with bits of furniture, an open fire place and a view that correspond completely to this Scottish boy’s view of the West. I have with me a 3 pound tri tip, some leeks, some mushrooms, some carrots and a bottle of red wine. Most of all I have my Dutch oven – the greatest cooking device ever invented. I start up a fire in the cabin’s fireplace and braise the meat in butter. I add the leeks, the carrots and the mushrooms and a couple of glasses of wine. I close down the oven and wander around trying to take photos of the star infested sky.
The fire is small- I do not have much wood and Death Valley has been remarkably lashed by rain. An hour later I serve, Daube de Boeuf aux Champignons, Poireaux et Carottes. It is incredible. God bless you Dutch Oven. Forget the great restaurants of the world. A meal like this, cooked over an open fire in the middle of nowhere, with the simplest of ingredients is what this pilgrim wants.

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The ride back from Irving to the house takes me through Golden Gate Park. It is a great ride past trees, meadows and loads of statues. I have always meant to stop and check who they are and so today I did.

The first is the Prayer Book Cross. Erected in 1894, it celebrates the first christian service on the west coast of America. This apparently was held by Francis Flitcher, Chaplain of Drake’s Golden Hinde when she anchored in, er, Drake’s Bay just North of San Francisco. Read all about it in the 1894 New York Times article:

It is big

Next comes a war memorial mysteriously dedicated to ‘The Members of the San Francisco Parlors,  Native Sons of the Golden West….’ Is this some kind of secret society? Have been unable to track down any info.

Native Son of the Golden West

Cruise down the road until on the right a Pioneer Mother appears.

Thanks Mum

The statue was cast in 1915. The inscription on the pedestal was written by president Benjamin Ide Wheeler, of the University of California: “Over rude paths beset with hunger and risk she pressed onward toward the vision of a better country. To an assemblage of men busied with the perishable rewards of the day she brought the three-fold leaven of enduring society – Faith, Gentleness, and the Nuture of Children.”

Just in front of the De Young is a cider press statue apparently cast in 1894 as part of the San Francisco Midwinter Exposition

The kid has the right idea

Some Keats:

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; 15
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook; 20
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Next up is a very worried looking Ulysses Grant. Perhaps guilty conscience.

United States Grant

Another soldier- General Pershing Commander of US Armies in World War One. Also on December 9, 1890, Pershing and the 6th Cavalry arrived at Sioux City, Iowa, where Pershing played a role in suppressing the last uprisings of the Lakota (Sioux)Indians. He participated as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Wounded Knee Massacre. Not so glorious.

Rocket Man

John McLaren was the Superintendent of Golden Gate Park for over 50 years. Where was he born? The glorious town of Bannockburn where in 1314 Robert the Bruce destroyed  proud Edward’s army. This is his pre match talk.

Scots wha’ hae’

Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed
Or to victorie!

Now’s the day, and now’s the hour:
See the front o’ battle lour,
See approach proud Edward’s power
Chains and slaverie!
Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward’s grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn, and fleel
Wha for Scotland’s King and Law
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa’,
Let him follow me!
By Oppression’s woes and pains,
By your sons in servile chains,
We will drain our dearest veins
But they shall be free!

John McLaren. Invented the Golden Gate Park

So we are now getting close to the end of the park and the start of the Panhandle where I live. One more statue. This is a baseball player by a Douglas Tilden, who was a famous sculptor in his day. Read more:

Go Giants

Interesting to note that the sculpture was cast in Paris by someone called Cruet.

All roads lead to Golden Gate Park

There a plenty more statues in the park but these are those that line my well ridden road to Irving St. Nice to know what and who they are.

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Panic on Irving

I am beginning to panic. My time in San Francisco is rapidly coming to an end, yet I have so many restaurants still to eat in.  There is only one thing to do – eat hard. Let’s go to the Brother Seafood Restaurant 1830 Irving, the Street of Boundless Bliss.


The restaurant boasts fresh Hong Kong style Dim Sum and that’s what I go for. Crispy Lobster Turnover with Salad Sauce, Satay Squid with Pork Rind, Chicken Siu Mai, Beef Ball with Bamboo Shoots. I have eaten a lot of Dim Sum since I got to San Francisco but I do not understand it. I order blindly and have no idea of what or how much is going to arrive. I actually like this, it is similar to unexpected parcels arriving in the post – what is inside? It is a noisy place, loud Chinese voices. The waitress has the volume pumped up to eleven. This is the first restaurant where I have not had instantaneous service. I wait at least 3 minutes for my menu – scandalous!

Deep fried hot lobster bombs

Lobster comes first – 4 packages of deep fried lobster, very simple and completely delicious. Beef Balls are flavored with ginger, and coriander with little chunks of crisp  bamboo shoot.

Beef Balls

The squid is weird processed balls that put me off a bit. I was expecting the real thing. The pork rind resembles bubble wrap and has little in the way of taste. However spicy, er, asian sauce makes up for the other weaknesses.

Bubble wrap and round white ball

Chicken Siu Mai seems to be a mixture of chicken, shrimp, mushroom  –  delicious.


Wash it all down with hot Jasmin Tea.

Each dish has a different taste and texture. Everything freshly cooked and frankly it is a banquet for $11. 50. Yum Dim Sum Tum. I love Chinese food.

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X marks the spot

In 1967 a drug bust at 42 Belvedere Street in the Haight turns up mink-clad Margot Fonteyn and dancing partner Rudolf Nureyev hiding on the roof; they are charged with possession of “12 joints, marijuana, two tablets of an unknown substance and two rolls of pornographic film.”  Really?

They will be released from jail a few hours later and will dance at the Opera House the same night. Difficult to imagine being drug crazed hippies in the afternoon and performing world class ballet in the evening.

42 Belvedere is the lemon colored building - good place for a Freak Out

Jimi Hendrix lived on Haight for some months after the 1967 Monterey Festival. The Jimi Hendrix Experience played a free concert in the Panhandle Park that I could have watched from my front door, had I been here at the time.

Jimi Hendrix lived here, 1524 Haight

Where Hendrix played - view from the front window.

Patty Hearst, granddaughter of squillionaire William Randolph Hearst was kidnapped by and later kinda joined the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974. She then helped to rob a bank close by in the Sunset. She hid out  at 1235 Masonic but was eventually arrested there in 1975.

Where Patty Hearst kept her head down

Hearst was convicted of bank robbery on March 20, 1976. She was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, but her sentence was later commuted to seven years. Her prison term was also eventually commuted by President Jimmy Carter,[1] and Hearst was released from prison on February 1, 1979, having served 22 months. She was granted a full pardon by President Bill Clinton on January 20, 2001. All right for some.

635 Ashbury home of Country Joe and the Fish. 'So put down your books and pick up a gun, we're gonna have a whole lotta fun.'

Country Joe and the Fish lived just up the street on 635 Ashbury. Here is their ‘Fixin to Die Rag.’  I remember it well.

Well, come on all of you, big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He’s got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Vietnam
So put down your books and pick up a gun,
We’re gonna have a whole lotta fun.

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it’s five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.

Come on Wall Street, don’t be slow,
Why man, this is war au-go-go
There’s plenty good money to be made
By supplying the Army with the tools of its trade,
But just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,
They drop it on the Viet Cong.

Well, come on generals, let’s move fast;
Your big chance has come at last.
Now you can go out and get those reds
‘Cause the only good commie is the one that’s dead
And you know that peace can only be won
When we’ve blown ’em all to kingdom come.

Come on mothers throughout the land,
Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
Come on fathers, and don’t hesitate
To send your sons off before it’s too late.
And you can be the first ones in your block
To have your boy come home in a box.

And it’s one, two, three
What are we fighting for ?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam.
And it’s five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.

Why don’t young people write songs like this now?

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Pho King and Country

Krista is from Victoria so we go to the Pho Hyunh Hiep or more prosaically Kevin’s Noodle House. It is the next stop on the Street of Fruitful Burgeoning and it is  a swinging hot spot, completely packed with Pho folks.

Let's not quibble! I'm the pho of moderation, the champion of excess.

The crouching man is the Pho Wizard who brings Pho a nanosecond after you ordered it

Krista gets Number 23,  which is chicken broth with shrimp, chicken, fish cake, ground pork and flat noodles. I get Number 3, which is beef stock with brisket, steak, tendon, tripe and clear noodles. Lots of fresh coriander, basil, lime, bean sprouts, chilies to chuck in.  Both are $5.25 – ridiculously cheap! We drink Mango and Lychee Vietnamese shakes with round gelatinous balls of sago stuff and green tea of course.  Having ordered we look around the room for a couple of seconds and shazzzam –  the food is on the table.

It is hot, fresh, nutritious, muy delicioso, low carb; cures acne,  bile, and mucus based complaints — all for $5.25!

It is the first time I have had a Vietnamese shake. The taste is delicious, yes, but it is the sensation of drinking through the straw that makes it a stand-out experience. The straw is about .45 calibre.  The magazine of  gelatinous sludge bullets is at the bottom of the tumbler. You suck hard to get an automatic burst of  slime balls blasting out of the straw straight down the gullet.


Fully loaded

Great place and best value yet.

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