Wombathon Part III: The Ferry and Sausalito

Once we were on the ferry, everything was pretty much perfect.  It wasn’t crowded, so we had an unobstructed view off the bow and both sides of the ferry.  We all had drinks: a Bud Light for Judi (don’t they call it the ‘champagne of beers?’); some sort of microbrew each for Dave and Lisa; and a glass of Chardonnay for me.  You know it’s good wine when you can taste and smell all the various flavors/aromas out of a plastic cup.

The wind picked up and I was glad I’d brought a warm woolen shawl, but I spent a lot of time holding shawl and dress skirt down to avoid flashing my neighbors.  Judi, Lisa, and Dave were wearing pants; this was not an issue for them.  Everyone’s hair was whipping all over the place: Lisa, Judi and I looked like three happy Medusas.

If you live in the Bay Area or are visiting, I strongly encourage you to take the ferry at least once because words really can’t describe how much fun it is or how gorgeous the scenery from the ferry deck.  I would also recommend a weekday to avoid the crowds of tourist and their rented bikes, unless you are very, very patient.  When we reached the Sausalito ferry landing, the crowd waiting to board and head back to the City was scary.  The line was longer and more convoluted than that for a popular ride at Disneyland during summer break.

John had told us the Sausalito Yacht Club was literally right next to the landing and he wasn’t exaggerating.  A quick right turn after disembarking and there was the club and there was John, standing at the front door to greet us.  He led us into the club to a private room at the back which overlooked the water.  Fellow Wombats Ken (and his lovely wife Judy) and Brenda were already there and so was a bottle of chilled champagne and another of Chardonnay.  Flutes were filled for a champagne toast.  The Sausalito Wombathon had officially begun!

The alcohol flowed freely (thank you, John!) and things got silly very fast.  To see HOW silly, go here to Judi’s webpage and blog for her impressions of the evening and incriminating video evidence!  Our Queen entertained us with a German drinking song, yours truly gave an impromptu rendition of Wombat Love, Dave coined the term ‘wombat fancier’ for himself and Ken’s wife Judy, a chorus of Junior Birdmen (complete with ‘goggles) was sung, and…well, it was just plain fun getting to know people in person whom I’d only met onine.  It was also amusing looking up now and again and see people STILL boarding our ferry an hour after we’d disembarked.

We stayed at the Yacht Club for an hour and a half befoe moving on to the Spinnaker restaurant, a five minute walk from the club.  Dave ran into a group of Gaelic speaking Irishmen whom he’d met on the ferry and we paused to let him indulge in one of his favorite pasttimes: speaking Gaelic.  It’s just what he does, y’see.

Our table at the Spinnaker was the best in the house.  The restaurant itself is on the waterfront and our table was in the far end of the restaurant which went out over the water itself.  The view was amazing and we waved at many a passing boat and its crew and passengers.  The food was outstanding and the wine (Flowers Pinot Noir for us red wine drinkers) was perfect.  There was also champagne, beer and Riesling for those not into the red.  We talked writing (no big surprise considering everyone at the table is a writer, with the exception of Wombat Fancier Judy, who is a artist), with a celebratory toast for Judi Fennel’s recent three book deal (Yay, Judi!).  We drank more wine, ordered dessert, and had more wine.  Lots of wine.  Too much wine for some of us who had gotten sunburned and not much sleep the night before.  I’d like to say I didn’t put my head down on the table (NOT in my plate) and take a brief snooze, but I’d be lying.  At least I didn’t snore.  Right, Wombats?  RIGHT?!!!!

I vaguely remember the walk out to the tax queue.   I also have a slight recollection of Judi taking a fall in her gorgeous pink heels and taking Brenda down with her.  But mostly I remember crawling into the back of the taxi, snuggling up against Dave and sleeping most of the drive from Sausalito to home.

I woke up feeling amazingly perky the next morning and with a very clear recollection of what a wonderful time I’d had with my fellow Wombats (and Fanciers) and what a superlative and considerate host John had been for our special night.

Thank you, John, and may this be the first of many Wombathons!

Wombathon Part II: Retrieving Judy or How Many Clowns can you Fit on a Ferry?

Picking up Judi on Saturday was much less of a Three Stooges routine. For one thing, it was daytime and much easier to distinguish faces without the glare of headlines coming up behind and next to me. Second, Judi had checked baggage so she had to go out on the Arrivals level – no chance for misunderstanding or misdirection from SFO’s bad signage. She called as soon as her plane landed and Lisa and immediately took off to go retrieve the next Wombat ‘package.’

The Queen and I had already been for a nice long walk up to West Portal and it was an unusually warm and sunny day for summer in San Francisco. We were pretty much ready for the Wombathon and now just had to make sure we got Judi checked into her hotel and then all of us down to the ferry in time for the 4;45 departure.

We didn’t see Judi when we reached Frontier’s Arrivals, so Lisa went to go look for her in the baggage claim area and I cruised around the terminals a couple of times. Traffic was light and so was representation by law enforcement officials. My third loop around, Lisa and Judi were waiting curbside, Judi looking exactly like she does in her icon. She greeted me with a big smile and while these might not have been her VERY first words when she got in the car, they were close: “I am ready for that glass of champagne!” My kind of woman. Judi was remarkably fresh and bubbly in appearance and spirits for someone who’d been on a plane as long as she had. I meant to ask for her secret, but got distracted by the need to pay attention to traffic.

We stopped at the Ocean Park Motel, a cute little retro motel four blocks from my house and also the oldest hotel in San Francisco (according to Lisa, who’s stayed there before). If you’re ever vacationing in the City and want a cute, inexpensive place to stay that’s near the beach, the zoo and a Muni line that’ll connect you to any possible public transportation you might need to get around SF, this is a good one.

Okay, promo for neighborhood hotel over.

Judi checked in while Lisa and I waited, studying Judi’s shoes in fascination. Pink suede with what had to have been 4 inch brown heels and a rounded toe, they were the perfect Barbie shoes. I told Judi this and she said, “What do you think one of my nicknames is?” And yes, fellow Wombats, Judi walked in ‘em like a pro. None of the ungainly, weight tipped slightly forward stride for her. She had heels and knew how to use ‘em. Lisa and I both favor flats or lower heels (I’ll go as high as 3 inch heels on very special occasions) watching Judi’s ability to navigate the terrain was akin to a non-dancer watching professional choreography. This was, of course, before the champagne…

(insert ominous music)

We stopped at my house to retrieve Dave and made it to the Ferry Building with 40 minutes to spare, bought our tickets at the kiosk out back by the docks and roamed around the shops inside to kill time. Well, I waited in line for the bathroom for 10 minutes while Lisa, Judi and Dave went exploring. I tracked them down at Book Passage, a more or less ‘literary’ bookstore which did not have a romance section. Judi was understandably not impressed.

We went out to get in line for the ferry. A long line snaked around the grounds and we eyed it in dismay. I went up to the last person in line and asked if this was the line for Sausalito. Happily, it was the line for Larkspur. The line for our ferry was over to the left and had about 15 people in it. We wondered aloud why so many people were going to Larkspur and why not Sausalito. A cute girl with short blonde hair streaked in front with shocking pink explained Larkspur was the hub for most of the ferry lines and all the tourists tooling around the city on rented bikes were now headed back to their cars.

Our ferry, scheduled to leave at 4:45, was late. We weren’t exactly on a deadline, but we knew John and the rest of the ‘bats would be at the Sausalito Yacht Club drinking without us. We also knew we could get beer and wine on the ferry and we were anxious to catch up with the rest of the gang. Judi’s feet hurt, no surprise. Mine hurt too and I was wearing flats. We wanted to sit down and have a drink, dagnabbit!

The ferry finally pulled up around 5:00. People with bikes began dismembarking. Then more. And more…and more…

“I think there’s a black hole i there” said Lisa. “Bicycles are being sucked through from another dimension.”

I swear, it was like a clown car. How many bicycles can fit on a ferry? This went on for 20 minutes. In the meantime, our line grew louder and the crowd more unruly. A group of older Southern women, Sex in the City’d out for the day, were the most vocal. “They’d better give us all free beers after this bullshit,” growled the Kim Cattrell wannabe.

“I think they’re just cycling people around the back for another round,” said Lisa.

Our blonde friend turned out to be a regular fount of knowledge about all things ferry related and entertained us during our wait. Then the topic of tornadoes and their attraction to trailer parks came up; she said it was because they were flat and there wasn’t as much resistance and something else to do with wind and mathematics. I dubbed her ‘Wiki’ for her great store of trivia and facts.

More people with bikes came down the ramp. A young couple looked to be the last ones and everyone cheered as they cleared the walkway. Then another bicycle appeared from the back doorway and everyone groaned. But that was the last and finally we were allowed to board.

The four of us made straight for the bow and scored five prime seats (four for us, one for our new friend Wiki). Dave and Lisa took drink orders and headed to the bar while Judi and I relaxed and took in the gorgeous view of San Francisco Bay. Within five minutes the ferry left the dock and we were on our way to Sausalito and the Wombathon.

(I was going to make my Wombathon story a two-parter, but I’m being called by an outline that needs finishing, so…ONE more day!).