Reminiscences of San Francisco

Recently I headed to the West Coast and spent a week in San Francisco. I’ve visited San Francisco quite a few times, and while I’ve never exactly left my heart there, there is something about the city that beckons me back.

San Francisco's goodwill ambassadors, the sea lions hanging out at Fisherman's Wharf.
San Francisco's goodwill ambassadors: the sea lions call Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf home.

When I revisit a place, I like to mix cherished old experiences–in this case, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghiradelli Square, and yes, the requisite ride on the cable cars–with fun, offbeat new ones.

Part of my “new” on this trip was a pit-stop to The Buena Vista, a pub on the cusp of Fisherman’s Wharf credited with bringing the Irish coffee to America. Their Irish coffee packs a punch worthy of the Emerald Isle, and bonus, if you drink it while it’s still hot, the whipped cream won’t melt before you’ve finished. The Buena Vista serves upwards of 2,000 Irish coffees a day and if you try one, you’ll see why.

Fountain at Ghiradelli Square.
Mermaid fountain at Ghiradelli Square.

Another delightful new experience was a customized tour of wine country courtesy of Joe, owner of San Francisco Private Tours. I pretty much have a three winery limit, so at my request we stayed within Sonoma rather than press on to Napa. In the course of six lovely hours, I visited (and tasted at) three very different wineries: the long-established Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, the newly opened Anaba Winery, and Moon Mountain Vineyard. The latter boasts gorgeous vistas from the nearly 2,000 foot elevation of Mt. Vedeer, so it wasn’t only the vino making me dizzy! And bonus, in his “other life” Joe is an A-class crooner of standards, so I could drink California wine and be serenaded with Sinatra.

Hidden treasure. This angel carved from a felled tree found at foot of private drive near Twin Peaks.
Not so hidden treasure. I found this angel carved from a felled tree at the foot of a private driveway near Twin Peaks.

Of course the best part of any vacation is the wonderful appreciation for home that travel brings. When my plane touched down at JKF Airport, I felt the vibe of New York all but bubbling up from the tarmac. Waiting in the cab queue a short time later, I felt like I was home. Actually, I knew it.

Vive le voyage!


Back from San Francisco

Hi Everyone,

I’m jet-lagged but grinning big time after wrapping up yet another fabulous Romance Writers of America Conference. This year’s setting was San Francisco, one of my favorite US cities, second only to–you guessed it–New York. As always the conference was a fabulous forum for mixing business with yes, pure fun.

Determined to log in a little sightseeing, I got into San Francisco on Tuesday and hooked up with my posse of conference buds, including the lovely and prolific Kathryn Caskie, for a fortifying seafood dinner at Scoma’s in Fisherman’s Wharf. Set back from the main drag on Pier 47, Scoma’s bills itself as offering San Francisco’s freshest seafood. The cracked Dungeoness Crab was to die for as was the Lobster Thermidor and Lobster Newburg. I know because I had them all!

The conference officially kicked off on Wednesday night with the annual charity literacy autographing. Hundreds of romance authors from Nora Roberts to Julia Quinn to yes, Yours Truly packed the SF Marriott’s grand ballroom to sign our latest releases and chat with readers and the press.

The Harlequin Party on Friday was held at the ever elegant Four Seasons Hotel. In between fortifying forays to the food stations for an array of Asian dumplings, succulent cheeses, and completely calorie-free desserts (yeah, right)–hey, a girl’s gotta keep up her strength–I shook my booty and ground my groove thing to the 80’s tunes rocking the house.

On Saturday romantic suspense author, Terri Ridgell and I gave our workshop on Tracking Trends, Fording the Future. To the strappy souls who turned out for us despite the 4:30-5:30 time slot, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

All that talking turned out to be thirsty work. After whetting my whistle with some lovely champagne at an awards pre-party, it was time to settle down to the Awards Ceremony emceed this year by best-selling author, Suzanne Brockman. In addition to doing a bang-up job keeping we attendees rolling in the aisles with laughter–and the program rolling along right on schedule–Suzanne is well, a pretty cool chick. You’ve got to hand it to a woman who accessorizes a floor-length ballgown with…cowboy boots.

Sunday morning was time to pack in the razzle dazzle and come back to home and yes, “reality.” Now that I’m back, my first official action item (okay, second) is to announce my July contest winners, so please check back tomorrow (Tuesday) for details on the latest three lucky ladies (or gentlemen, as the case may be). The grand prize includes a title from bestseller Monica McCarty’s Highlander series.

Finally, to all my shutterbug buddies who also attended the conference–and yes,I know not only who you are but where to find you–this stands as my official shout out. All those group photos you made me mug for, and which I valiantly worked not to ruin by blinking, send ’em on. I’ll be posting the images as they trickle–make that rush–in. In the meantime…

Happy Monday,