Will The Real Mt Shasta Please Stand Up!

I am writing this to you all as an assurance that I did indeed experience Mt Shasta and surrounds and return to you all. My good friend, Sheelu, picked me up at my sister’s house and we drove through the 103 F heat to the Casa de Plunge. (Also known as The Lake House, it is the holiday home of my brother, John.  and his wife, Stephanie, on Lake Shasta.) The next morning found us driving up to the mountain that is so famous and well known in certain circles. the high point of ten day for me was the visit to Upper Panther Meadow. This is the site of  a spring that is sacred to the local Winimum Wintu people. It is the place of their origin. The meadow is also the home of a small flowering bush that takes two to four hundred years to grow to a height of four inches.

These flowering bushes are only four inches tall.

Unknowing people have trampled much of this rare vegetation. Twenty- five years ago, there was a ” Harmonic Convergence” in the meadow that destroyed most of these plants in the meadow.  Since then, signage has been erected and, the day we visited, there was a volunteer guide to tell us about the place. Something of interest was the Vole tunnels where they hibernate with separate rooms for their food, sleeping and shitting. In the spring, the rains wash through the evacuated tunnels and mixes the contents into a wonderful fertilizer for the meadow. Very cool.

Vole Tunnels

As we arrived, the guide was just finishing talking with three ladies in white. Just before they moved on, one asked him if there had been any recent ‘ascensions’. We were to find out that in 1930 , a man named David Lloyd, after drinking an elixer of St Germaine ascended body and all up into another dimension  in front of witnesses on Mt Shasta. OK. This only the beginning.
As we were leaving, a man in the parking area told us that Mt Shasta has entrances to the underground where the Lemurians live at the centre of the earth. I didn’t know about this piece of history, but, when Lemuria was destroyed, some of the Lemurians escaped through tunnels to the middle of the earth and the entrances are somewhere around Mt Shasta.  The reason that there are clouds swirling around the top of the mountain is so that you won’t see the UFOs as they fly into the secret entrances on the mountain. (There’s so much that they didn’t teach me about at school!)  This same man sleeps out and communicates telepathically with the UFOs. They reply by blinking their lights.  Maybe they figure that he can only send, not receive.
Now, I know there is a rumor going around that Sheelu and I were abducted by aliens while on Mt Shasta and I want to say that …. Mmmm … Arwagl …mndoobiel… Nngblta …. and that’s what happened. Other than that, we had a very good time on the mountain. I was tempted to either join the Lemurians  or  ascend but being such a Libran, I couldn’t decide, so, I’m still around in this dimension for a while yet.
Having settled those important questions, we moved on, over the next few days, to enjoy some of the vast amount of beauty that the region offers in this dimension. A visit to nearby Castle Lake where we jumped naked in the cold clear waters and hiked up a trail was a very refreshing treat.

Castle Lake

On our last day, we went a distance to Burney Falls where we had a picnic by the lake and, then, walked the loop trail for an experience of something amazing.

Over the stream below the falls.

As I stood captivated by the water roaring in true tumult above me, I reflected on how it just kept pouring and pouring, constantly fresh and new, different water from moment to moment. For thousands of years water has kept moving over these falls. I was reminded of the feeling I used to have as a kid in my bed at night imagining infinity.

Burney Falls

The falls comprise the above ground water that shoots over the top, but, there is also underground water that bursts out of the wall. Here is photo taken amongst the mist.

Sheelu and I eventually tore ourselves away from the falls and made our way to another great miracle. Having dinnern with John and Steph. Below is a photo of us all at the Dogwood Diner in Dunsmuir. A couple chefs moved up from the city to open this little place in this lovely little town just down the road from the mountain. Our laughing waiter brought us wonderful salads followed by extraordinary mains. I had a tart that was bliss melting in my mouth. It was an evening of relaxed story telling and the pleasure of the company of loved ones.

Dogwood Diner


Grand Tour Day One

Stopped in Truckee for lunch. Definitely a meat eater’s menu. But, hey, it is the Donner Pass.

A couple hours later at  a rest stop. (click on photo for enlargement.)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Donner Party (sometimes called the Donner–Reed Party) was a group of American pioneers who set out for California in a wagon train. Delayed by a series of mishaps, they spent the winter of 1846–47 snowbound in the Sierra Nevada. Some of the emigrants resorted to cannibalism to survive, eating those who had succumbed to starvation and sickness.

Eating the Bay 5

The B Star Bar, San Francisco, CA

It was my good fortune that my shakuhachi teacher’s daughter has moved to San Francisco from Japan to attend University. That meant that Kaoru combined a teaching trip to LA with a trip to SF to see his daughter. He was staying with one of his students, Karl Young. I had been invited to have dinner after my lesson.

Karl and his wife Sue live in the Richmond District in a nondescript apartment building; until you enter the lobby. It’s all restored 1940’s architecture. A hidden jewel.  Sue and, then, Karl, then Emi (Kaoru’s daughter) arrived during my lesson. Karl ‘s lesson followed mine.  After lessons, we all sat for a while in a very lively talk about art while sampling an excellent chocolate beer.

Primed and ready to go, we are led by Karl and Sue a few block way to the B Star Bar. A small Burmese restaurant. We’re lucky in that there is one table available for the five of us. Karl and Sue give us advice, starting with the Tea Leaf Salad. We also order various dishes that we share or not. The restaurant stocks a Belgian Chimey Beer. A marvellous complex mixture of flavours. I need to do a beer tour of Belgium some day! The Tea Leaf Salad is mixed at the table. A few bites and I know why they insisted that we order it. Everything is superb. So many flavours mixed perfectly. I am swooning. As we are leaving, I say to the waitress, “I didn’t think food could taste this good.”

Five stars, must go!

PS- Up the street is the original Burmese Superstar that the B Star Bar is spun off from. Same food.


Eating the Bay 4

Hotel San Remo, San Francisco, CA

When I had breakfast at the Venus Cafe, I was on my way with my bags to San Francisco. I had arrived in the Bay Area in the belief that I only needed the two nights couch surfing accommodation that I had arranged. The day of my arrival, I had received information that meant I needed to stay another night. A quick hop on the web and through a Fodor’s recommendation found and booked at the San Remo Hotel in the North Beach neighbourhood of San Francisco. Other budget hotels I had tried were booked out. I’m glad that was so.

The San Remo was built one hundred years ago by the founder of the Bank of America after the 1906 Great Earthquake.  It’s located a few blocks from Fisherman’s Wharf, occupying the second and third stories of the buildingl.  You are buzzed into small foyer on ground level and then ascend a one and a half person wide staircase to the first floor of the hotel. It is beautiful with restored Italianate Victorian fixtures and architecture. You will not find a phone or tv in your room. There is wireless in the main hallways. Some rooms have a sink but the showers and toilets are located separately from the rooms on each floor as in a European pension. Here’s a photo of one view inside of my room.

The View From My Bed, San Remo Hotel

You can see the period furniture and the light from the central air shaft. It was comfortable room. The hotel was very clean, quiet and tidy with a welcoming feel. The staff were a very happy group who obviously enjoyed working in such an establishment. When I think of the concrete bunkers that so often pass as hotels these days, I appreciate the San Remo even more. Sure, the walls are thin and you have to go down the hall for the WC but for at least one night, as a special treat, I would recommend San Remo Hotel to anyone who is looking for a unique experience in San Francisco.

An interesting history page.


2237 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA

Eating the Bay 3

Venus Cafe- Berkeley, CA

The morning after Picasso found me walking down Shattuck looking for a cafe that had been recommended for breakfast. Getting farther and farther from downtown. Slowed down. Did I come too far? A few yards ahead, something different. Somehow inviting. The Venus Cafe. Read the menu in window and entered. Waitress with a bright smile took my order for a cappuccino that came just as I finished perusing the menu. Ordered the Warm Poached Egg Salad. “Two poached eggs on a nest of mushrooms with tomato, goats cheese, mixed greens with tapenade toast.” The cap was in a little bit smaller cup than I had been served at other places. Just a little foam on the top. Dark brown underneath. Full rich flavour. This is what a cappuccino should taste like.

My food arrived just as I finished the cap. The poached eggs had large round balls of yolk containing a deep bright color inside. They sat on top of the mixed greens with the nest of mushrooms under all. A light dressing. I was able to finish the toast this time. After I had cleared my plate, the waitress asked how I liked my meal. I said, “I wish I didn’t have to stop eating.” All other breakfasts will be measured by this one. If you are ever in Berkeley, check it out. They use organic and local ingredients.


Eating the Bay 2

Picasso Delicioso

After my breakfast at the Homemade Cafe, I found my way across Berkeley to the apartment of a man named Marshall. He is an 80 yr old retired uni professor and a friend of my very close friend Jesse who was visiting from Western Australia. Jesse was bunking there and we sat through a monthly Shakespeare gathering. Two years ago, Marshall was part of a university extension class on Shakespeare. At the end of the semester, the university cancelled the class. The members decided to continue on their own. They meet and read a play and discuss it. After two hours of Shakespeare, Jesse and I took our leave and caught the BART under the bay to San Francisco. Then a bus on the way to Golden Gate Park where the De Young Museum is located. We were on our way to the Picasso Exhibition.

“Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris”. I have to say upfront that I knew Picasso more by reputation than by having viewed his work. Sure, I had seen photographs of some of his more famous pieces but that isn’t the same. A few years back, I went to an exhibition that included Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party”. I was familiar with the work through photographs. When I saw the original, I was stunned. It was so alive. After so many years, it still resonated. It was an eyeopener for me. So, I travelled to the Picasso exhibition with this in mind and the fact that as an artist his reputation was/is gigantic.

The exhibition is a selection of 150 works out of almost 3600 pieces in the museum’s collection. Imagine trying to curate that. (If you are a libran, it’s better that you don’t.) It covers the years 1901 – 1973. There are paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints. Sometime there are several drawings showing the evolution of a piece. The exhibition is displayed chronologically in nine interconnected  galleries.

Jesse and I rocked up to the cashier, got our tickets and headed down the stairs. Of course, there was no photography allowed, so, this is a text only email. There were audio guides available but we passed. That was fortunate for two reasons. The first being that you have to follow a set path through the galleries. The second is that it would have been feeding in someone else’s observations before we could have our own experience. I might use the audio if I saw an exhibition more than once.

OK, so, Jesse and I are let loose from the line monitor and as we move to the first piece, to the right through the opening, there is a cluster of people looking. Jesse looks to the left and says, “Let’s start there.” I say, “OK”. When we get to the end of the wall, there is an opening into the next gallery. We decide to do the entire exhibition turning left. This resulted in our seeing between one and three walls of every gallery and then the remaining walls as we move through back to the entrance. Going was still in chronological order and easy to follow but returning it wasn’t a matter of just reversed order, we lost all sense of order. Having gone through many emotions and exclamations we then moved through the centre of the galleries pointing out the pieces that resonated with us the most. “That one and that one and that one…” Jesse’s favourite was The Women Running on the Beach (The Race). I had a big yes to that one as well. But, than, being a Libran…” I also really like The cubist paintings Winter in Paris,  Man with Guitar and Man with a Mandolin …”.

What I discovered in experiencing this exhibition was a full recognition of Picasso’s greatness. His incredible skill was evident again and again but it was how he used that skill to stretch and stretch and, then, break the concept of what is possible to do in these mediums. As an example, take the Cubist painting “The Man with Guitar”. I looked and I thought, “Yeh, I can see the head of the man there and the neck of the guitar down there and the body of the guitar maybe there.” Then, I felt my labelling and searching with my intellect break down as I was overwhelmed by the power of the painting and was taken past my analytic mind to experiencing with all of my being.

I could say more but this is just an account of what went on for me. I don’t know how it would be for you. It would be best if you could go and experience this exhibition for yourself. All I can assure you of is that if you do you will be doing yourself a great favour. Jesse and I were over the moon as we walked back through the park to catch our bus.

At the De Young til 9 October.

Eating the Bay 1

Homemade Cafe, Berkeley

My first morning in Berkeley, my couch-surfing host recommended the local cafe. We were in a residential neighbourhood away from the main commercial areas. I had seen the cafe when I had eaten at the Bread of India Restaurant the night before. It is on the corner; a traditional looking cafe. Big sign in the window “Sunrise Special 7-9 am $4.95”.

I arrived at 8:30 and found a seat at a small table near the kitchen area. Ordered a cappuccino and a Sunrise Special; two eggs (scrambled), fried potatoes with a large dollop of sour cream on top and toast.

The cap was passable, the eggs were light and cooked just right, the potatoes were cubed and fried nicely and plentiful (not too greasy). I couldn’t finish the toast. I was stuffed. The table had a pot of medium hot salsa that I used to help digest it all. For that kind of meal it was good. I enjoyed it. It kept me going until dinner time that evening. It was the kind of food that I can enjoy once in a great while.

What I really liked about the Homemade Cafe was it’s relaxed friendly happy feeling. The staff were joking with each other. There was that atmosphere of customers who came to be amongst each other even if they weren’t talking to each other. People reading the paper or a book. A few talking. An old-fashioned neighbourhood cafe.