Monday, January 26, 2009

Visiting San Francisco

72 hours is not enough time in San Francisco, particularly if you have to work for 24 of your waking hours during that span. We stayed at the Hilton in Union Square, which turned out to be a fine location and the quietest hotel room I’ve ever had in a city (or maybe anywhere). The public transit routes are numerous, and the 3-day pass for $18 encouraged us to take full advantage. We didn’t get to go to the Cable Car Museum, but as Lisa pointed out, the range of old cable cars and streetcars in use make the city feel like a living transit museum. Fisherman’s Wharf and the sea lions at Pier 39 were a single cable car ride away, plus a few blocks walking on either end, and we had a couple of excellent simple seafood dinners at Pier Market on Pier 39. We rode around the city a lot just to look around, and Lisa made it to the beach at the end of Golden Gate Park one sunny day to dip her toes in the Pacific.

Photo by Lisa

Photo by Lisa

The highlight for us was the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturday morning. Right at the water (because it is at a ferry terminal), with dozens of great booths to look through and taste through. A raw foods vegetable “burrito” for Lisa, smoked white salmon and peach conserves for me, local honey, great baked goods, and a huge range of all sorts of produce. There were plenty of options for a hot meal as well, and we spent a blissful hour there shortly after they opened. Lisa went back later on Saturday after the huge crowds arrived.

The conference itself was almost as much fun, which surprised me. We were displaying a lot of fun items along with our books, and most people left our booth grinning. Our room was in Tower 2 very near the elevator, as was the hotel ballroom I was working in, so the commute was about 50 steps (plus an elevator ride). Not a whole lot longer than the commute when working at home, though we have no elevator at home. I saw a lot of old friends, talked to a lot of customers, authors, and folks at other presses, and received a number of unprompted and much-appreciated compliments about how we run our business. I wish all conferences were like that, and I wish that more of them were in San Francisco! I’m sure that coming to a fun and warm place in January contributed to everyone’s general good mood.

We left San Francisco on Sunday to spend a couple of days at Jed’s, which was some great downtime and an opportunity to learn Wii Tennis. Jed took us on a tour of Google (flying cars, jetpacks, and 9-foot-tall children), but we signed an NDA so we can’t talk about the Big Secrets (laser rifles, smell-0-vision, and cylons) we definitely did not see there (dinosaur, hoverboots, and zombies). Cool place to work, though! (And there really is a cylon dinosaur.)

Photo by Jed of Google dinosaur and the hand that feeds it

Jed’s guest room is comfortable and far better appointed than ours, but we had a plan we were following, so on Tuesday morning we got up early, took a bunch of ripe lemons from his lemon tree, and stole his car to head down the coast.

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