We've been in San Francisco for two nights now. We are staying at the famous Fairmont Hotel at the top of Nob Hill. I hear the views are spectacular, but I haven't been outside in daylight yet.
The hotel itself is a study in opulent elegance and I'm really glad to be here with someone else picking up the tab. Every president since Taft has stayed here and it is easy to understand why.
The drive up from L.A. was pleasant. We stopped in Santa Barbara for a quick visit to The Territory Ahead to see what was on sale. Len bought a fully-lined leather coat for his trip to New York next month and I got a sweater and a shirt.
When we got back into the car, the news from New York about the amazing plane landing on the Hudson river. I immediately called my brother Tom who flies on US Air to North Carolina a lot on business. I got his voice mail, but we got in touch later during our drive. Tom, it turned out, was in San Francisco! Unfortunately, he would be getting on a plane home about the time we got to the Bay Area. We waved as we drove past the airport around 9 p.m. If I had known that I could have seen Tom (I last saw him two years ago), I would have insisted on leaving Los Angeles earlier.
It is an almost vertical climb up California Street to the Fairmont--it looks like a 60 degree climb, which is probably not possible. It was a little scary in the dark. We ran into Joe and Gay Haldeman in the lobby--Joe's a favorite writer of mine who teaches at MIT in the autumn and lives in Florida the rest of the year. Then Len and I went off to a restaurant near the hotel for a late supper. It was called the Nob Hill Cafe. Convenient, close and not bad.
After all day in a meeting Friday, we did dinner with Joe and Gay and half a dozen others in Chinatown. We had Peking duck, great spareribs, and spicy salt crab, among the other terrific dishes in the menu. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the place or the street on which it was located.
I was pretty much brain-dead after 9 hours of meetings, so I wanted to go to sleep early. Len, unfortunately, woke up with indigestion, exacerbated by panic, about 3 a.m. He's better now, but I was close to finding out if there was a doctor in the house.