Carolyn and I have been fortunate to journey across the United States and around the world. Last Sunday, a “mundane” trip close to home provided a great deal of fun. 

A sunny autumn day at hand, we left the car home and took public transit to Oakland for lunch with our friends Tamar and Ken. 

Muni often gets trashed, but the 38-Rapid Geary bus sped us downtown. At Market and Third, we walked a few hundred feet to the Montgomery Street BART station. Carolyn downloaded a Clipper card to Apple Pay. Use of BART paper tickets ends officially on November 30. We waited 12 minutes for our train, the station fairly empty and quiet. BART whisked us under San Francisco Bay to Oakland’s 12th Street/City Center.

A two-block walk took us to the Golden Lotus, a vegan Chinese restaurant. Being early, we took a short stroll, then sat on a sunny bench and called our niece Heidi to wish her happy birthday. We sang. Carolyn carries our tunes.

After another brief walk—we encountered few people—we sat inside the restaurant. Tamar and Ken joined us a few minutes later. They don’t eat meat, and we do. No problem. The menu looked great. We ordered lots of dishes. They were fabulous. The conversation was as tasty and nourishing as the meal.

Carolyn and I headed home via BART. We exited at the Embarcadero station, the first San Francisco stop after crossing under the Bay. We had three goals in mind. 

First, we wanted to get Carolyn a senior Clipper card (I have one) to enjoy discount Muni and BART fares. We can afford the regular fares, but why not? 

Second, on the way to getting the card, we wanted to observe the pro-Palestinian/anti-APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Conference) demonstration. FYI, we are staunch supporters of Israel and also pro-two states with Israel’s security guaranteed.

To meet the first goal, we skirted the edge of the protest. It was loud but peaceful. Inside the Ferry Building, we found Bay Crossings, which sells ferry tickets and Clipper cards along with gifts. Carolyn filled out a brief information sheet and showed her driver’s license. Then we continued strolling by the dozens of specialty food shops. The setting, a gem, was busy. 

We accomplished goal three by walking through the commercial corridor of the four-building Embarcadero Center. Sadly, most venues were shut down, and we encountered few people.

Downtown San Francisco has taken a big hit, but attractions like the Ferry Building still draw crowds. Hopefully, APEC provided a boost to some of San Francisco’s dining and retail scene.

The 1-California bus brought us home, Carolyn saved 25 cents over the senior cash fare of $1.50. A short detour took us to Sutter Street before we returned to Sacramento Street, where the 1 runs west until Steiner. APEC security limited access to the top of Nob Hill, dominated by the Fairmont Hotel and Grace Cathedral, probably polar opposites in the APEC debate.

Was the trip as exciting as our recent journey to Niagara Falls and Manhattan? A stay in London or Bangkok? It’s not always about glamor. Our own backyard offered a wonderful few hours. 

Echoing the title of E.F. Schumacher’s popular 1973 economics book, small can be beautiful.

Feel free to pass this post on.

The post will take next Friday off and return on December 1. Happy Thanksgiving!

Order The Short (Pun Intended) Redemptive Life of Little Ned in softcover or e-book from Amazonbarnesandnoble.com or iuniverse.com. Or your favorite bookstore.


  1. T Mahru on November 17, 2023 at 10:55 am

    What a lovely day you had! I love that we played a minor role in that, and your piece awakened a push for us to enjoy our backyard, too.

    • David Perlstein on November 17, 2023 at 1:49 pm

      A major role, Tamar.

  2. David Sperber on November 17, 2023 at 12:00 pm

    I really enjoyed living your journey

    • David Perlstein on November 17, 2023 at 1:47 pm

      Glad you “came with us” David.

  3. RONALD EATON on November 17, 2023 at 12:37 pm

    David, I share your love of the local and walking.
    One of the joys of walking in San Francisco is that I get to see and experiences things which I would not while on Muni, BART, or in a car or taxi. I make a point of greeting strangers on the street with a “Good morning” or “Good afternoon.” The reactions are varied: a very few people ignore me; some look rather stunned and mumble something in response; many give me a big smile and wish me well in return; young men often call me “Sir”; some older Black men address me as “Boss”; small children occasionally smile and wave; short conversations sometimes ensue; and everyone’s day seems a little happier—I know mine is.
    I also get to stop and look at the interesting architecture of San Francisco. I can consider the wonderful ornamentation, color, and style pastiches of some of our Victorian Painted Ladies. And sometimes, much to my surprise and against my prejudices, I discover an extremely modern building which delights me.
    And that’s to say nothing of the flowers—and the weeds—growing at the sidewalk’s edge and in our tiny front yards. What I don’t recognize or can’t name, my phone usually will. In short, San Francisco’s few square miles are a vast world in themselves. For those who walk and look.

    • David Perlstein on November 17, 2023 at 1:46 pm

      Totally agree, Ron.

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