RWA National in San Francisco – July 30

The San Francisco Marriott is buzzing with the sound of women’s voices. Conference Registration opened at 7:00 this morning and by 8 o’clock the lines were long. RWA is here and in full Conference mode!

Today I attended the First Annual Historical Conference, a conference within a conference, sponsored by The Beau Monde and Hearts Through History Chapters. We started the morning with a continental breakfast after which Jo Ann Fergusen (aka Jocelyn Kelley) gave an emotion-filled keynote speech on The Quest for the Holy Sale. She punctuated her talk with the lines from the movie Galaxy Quest – “Never give up. Never surrender.”

After Jo Ann’s speech we broke for workshops. The many sessions offered throughout the day included Women’s Property Rights in England (1770-1900), Arms & Armor, Selling that Historical (Hilary Sares and Michelle Buonfiglio), and special sessions on historical foods and on costuming in Medieval, Georgian, and Regency time periods, among others.

The historical conference featured both a lunch and an afternoon tea (complete with tea and cucumber sandwiches!) and a silent auction. During mealtimes we talked with old friends, and met new ones. Tonight there will be a Evening Soiree with a dance master.

Other RWA events occurring Wednesday included Librarian’s Day, the Chapter Leadership Seminar, and a first timer’s Orientation. A few other chapters were also scheduled to hold mini-conferences.

This evening, RWA’s annual Literacy Book Signing was held in the Yerba Buena Ballroom. Over 500 authors signed books donated by publishers with proceeds going to various charities. During the book signing, chapter-donated baskets, books, and gift cards were raffled to raise additional money for Literacy.

Despite the wonderful workshops and events today, during the break times I found myself wandering again and again toward the hotel’s front door. The weather was cool with blue skies and sunshine again today…unbelievably beautiful!  Guess I must still be in vacation mode. Either that or I’ve fallen in love with San Francisco’s fair weather along with the relaxed atmosphere of this City on the Bay. Not a hard thing to do.

Thanks to all who continue to read and send comments, public or private. Please check back again tomorrow for more.

Now, I’m off to a Soiree.

San Francisco – July 29

On Tuesday, I woke early and headed down to Starbucks for some needed caffeine, and to post July 28th’s blog. On the way, I met Tina Murray from Naples, Florida. Tina is a member of Southwest Florida Romance Writers. We started talking and I quickly learned that ArcheBooks Publishing has just released Tina’s first book, A CHANCE TO SAY YES. In fact, minutes earlier she’d had a telephone interview with a Naples radio station and was now in need of coffee. We had a delightful talk. Please click on Tina’s name to visit her blog. Congratulations, Tina!

During the next hour as I posted my blog several other RWA members wandered in. Shelley Freydont (aka Gemma Bruce) and Pearl Wolfe sat next to me to have a bite before they left on their Kiss of Death Pre-Conference Tour to the San Francisco Airport U.S. Customs. Other Kiss of Death members began lining up for coffee and a morning muffin. Soon after, Madeline Hunter came in. And the lobby came to life.

A short while later, my husband and I headed west across San Francisco on Bus 38, on our way to the Legion of Honor museum. The museum is set on a hill in Lincoln Park with a spectacular view of the ocean.

Ever since we’d arrived, we had been seeing ads for the Woman Impressionists Special Exhibit at the Legion of Honor Museum. This exhibit featured four women’s work – Berthe Morisot, Eva Gonzales, Marie Bracquemond, and my favorite, Mary Cassatt. We thoroughly enjoyed it all. In addition to the special exhibit, the museum also features several Renoirs, nearly 100 Rodins (including The Kiss), and many, many other notable works of art. World class, and well worth a visit!

After visiting the museum, we bussed back down Geary Street, heading toward Chinatown. As we studied the map, a local businessman assisted us with the proper transfer. We had a pleasant chat.

What can I say about San Francisco’s Chinatown? Well, while there in a Chinese gift shop, I received a phone call from my dear aunt in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. It was a surreal moment. Just a year ago she and I were together in a gift shop in New York City. So, I went outside and on the bustling sidewalk we talked for a few minutes. I wished she was with me. Ah, but what of Chinatown? It’s late and time is short so I offer a picture, and a link to help show you, just a little. Beyond that, I hope you all have the opportunity to visit. One word…it is hilly so wear your most comfortable walking shoes.

This evening we went up to the View, a lounge on the 39th floor of the Marriott for drinks and superb appetizers. It is another place I hope everyone at the Conference has a chance to visit.

No wireless in the hotel rooms, only on first floor, so my husband and I are now sitting in a lounge just off the lobby catching up on our emails and listening to the loud buzz of women’s voices fill air.

RWA is here!

Wednesday promises to be a busy day. Please check back early Thursday morning for my next post.

San Francisco – July 28

Monday was housekeeping day. Early morning I visited the laundromat, followed by repacking. We left our son’s apartment and taxied up to the San Francisco Marriott. Regular check-in is at 4 pm but our room was ready so we were able to get in and unpacked by 1 pm. Friendly staff and a smooth check-in.

We walked over to Mel’s Drive-In, a retro restaurant on Mission Street, less than a block from the Marriott. Burgers, vanilla shake, and a cherry coke. Mel’s was crowded. There is a government union conference going on at the Hilton and at the Moscone Conference Center – thousands of union members.

Shopping abounds around the hotel. I discovered The Container Store, two-stories of every type of container you can imagine. It’s a fun store to browse and is just across the street from the Marriott.

Old Navy also sits across the street, corner of Market and 4th. Walk a few hundred feet more and you’ll find the Westfield San Francisco Shopping Centre, home to Nordstroms and many other fine stores. Walgreen’s and Rite Aid are also nearby, both within a block, a less expensive source for conference necessities.

The Westfield San Francisco Shopping Centre also has an upscale food court on the lower level. Our son joined us for a simple dinner there Monday night. The San Francisco Soup Company offered hearty bowls of soup. Dessert was at The Melt for mouth-watering gelato.

At the hotel, the RWA Board has had two days of meetings. The hotel is becoming lively as other excited RWA members check in.

On Tuesday, Kiss of Death tours U.S. Customs. Meanwhile my husband and I bus to the Legion of Honor Museum for a Woman Impressionist exhibit then back to Chinatown in the afternoon.

Thanks to all for your comments, both posted and private. I’m glad you are enjoying this.

Check back tomorrow!

San Francisco – July 27

From now until the RWA National Conference ends August 3, I’m posting daily about events here in San Francisco. If the mood strikes, please take a minute to comment. To other writers attending, please share a link to your own blog posts about RWA National.

Years from now, long after senility sets in, I will still recall Sunday in San Francisco and the feel of the whipping wind as we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge.

It started peacefully. Early afternoon, after a savory brunch at The Crepe House, we boarded an open-top double-decker bus for a sightseeing tour of the city. Sunday’s weather was cloudy and in the low 50s. Sitting in seats atop the red bus, cool air brushed our faces. Up and down the hilly streets we rode, passing the Seven Sisters at Alamo Square, skirting Golden Gate Park. We traveled through the Presidio, listening to a recorded guide tell us of its history. And on we rode, to the Golden Gate Bridge.

The driver pulled into a parking lot and offered us the opportunity to walk the 1.2 miles across the bridge. I declined. My husband offered me the opportunity to go to the seats below. “It will be windy up here,” he said. Remembering our breathtaking sail the night before, again I declined. Walking might be out, but I could surely ride in the open air. We pulled out of the parking lot and into a settling mist.

We were only a few hundred feet onto the bridge before I felt the rushing cold. The bridge pillars and supports stood shrouded in fog. Down on the Bay, daring sailboats skimmed over the water. We watched wide-eyed as one boat tilted, and tilted. With sails nearly touching the water, the valiant on board, ant-like from our height, scrambled to keep her upright. On we went.

On the walkways, brave walkers, bundled in hoods and jackets, moved quickly. The bridge is no place for a leisurely stroll. I tucked my hands into my pockets, and fervently wished for gloves.

Suddenly we reached Vista Point North. We sat for a while, passing around cameras, taking pictures of the view and each other, watching waves of fog roll down the mountainside, talking about our lives. (One of the other tourists on board, a Suzanne Brockman groupie, is coming to RWA’s Literacy signing on Wednesday!) Finally we turned and headed south, on the west side of the bridge, the ocean side where the cold wind originates.

We stepped off at Fisherman’s Wharf and dined at Alioto’s, where we had an upstairs window seat with a perfect view of moored fishing boats (see photo). Rockfish and salmon, scalloped potatoes, wine, all delicious. Prolonging our meal, we ordered coffee and dessert, and sat some more.

We hopped back on the bus and rode by the Wells Fargo Museum, the Cafe Zoetrope, Chinatown, around Union Square, the hotel district, the Asian Art Museum, and on.

The entire bus loop takes 90 minutes but most of the varying lines are hop on, hop off so it can easily become an all day adventure. The bus we rode runs from 9 am to 5 pm, but we saw mention evening tours. The trips are not cheap, but they offer a great way to view the city as a whole.

Check back tomorrow for more!

San Francisco – July 26

From now until the RWA National Conference ends August 3, I plan to post daily about events here in San Francisco. If the mood strikes, please take a minute or two to comment. To other writers attending, please share a link to your own blog posts about RWA National.

I had mentioned to my son that we wanted to walk along the Pacific.On Saturday the four of us drove to Santa Cruz.An hour and a half drive down Highway 280 took us along the San Andreas fault line, a pretty drive through winding mountain roads.

We arrived at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk around 10 am. The ocean called and our feet sunk into the soft sand.We dipped our toes into the frigid water.Waves rolled in and we breathed in the gentle salt air.Not many people actually swim in the Pacific; it’s too cold.But as the day progressed, the beach filled and some brave souls waded in. (Photo by Urso Chappell.)

We took a long walk out on the pier to visit shops and the sea lions.The large animals rest on the supports beneath the pier and their barking echoed through the air.We left the pier and the Boardwalk and drove into downtown Santa Cruz for lunch at the Saturn Café, a delightfully funky vegetarian restaurant, then visited a few shops before driving back to San Francisco.

We made it to the City in time to change into warmer clothing then race for the trolley.It took us down Market Street to Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39.There we boarded a catamaran for our sunset cruise of the San Francisco Bay.

The Captain took us out into Bay, around Alcatraz Island, then on toward the Golden Gate Bridge.Despite the cold, our jackets, cups of hot chocolate, and the sheer exhilaration of the cruise kept us feeling warm.

If you are attending this year’s RWA Conference, try to work in a Bay Cruise on the Adventure Cat. Truly memorable. You will need to make advance reservations at their site.

Hot soup in sourdough bread bowls at Boudin’s and a stroll through Pier 39’s shops wound up our day.

Weather remains in the 60’s and sunny. Here’s the updated ten-day forecast.

Oh, just received a link from Blogging National. In it, Jude lists other posts discussing RWA’s Conference. Looks like LOTS of helpful info for conference attendees!

Please check back here tomorrow.

San Francisco – July 25

From now until the RWA National Conference ends August 3, I plan to post daily about events here in San Francisco. If the mood strikes, please take a minute or two to comment. To other writers attending – please share a link to your own blog posts about RWA National.

Friday morning we visited the award-winning Stack’s Restaurant where, against the backdrop of red impatiens and beneath blue skies, we savored our eggs, orange juice, and steaming coffee. Going out for breakfast has always been a pleasant date. Doing so outside in the cool, sun-drenched San Francisco air turned mere pleasant into memorable.

After breakfast, we took the bus to the Golden Gate Park. Built on a rectangular site on the city’s west side, the 1,017 acre park is larger than New York City’s Central Park.

The DeYoung art museum is located just inside the park. The closest entrance to the museum is at Fulton and 8th Streets. We bought our tickets and immediately took the elevator to the 9th floor viewing tower. Here is a view as seen from the tower. Off to the right you can see the top of the Golden Gate Bridge. (Again, click pictures twice & wait for larger view.)

Inside the museum were a wealth paintings, sculpture, furniture, and glassware. I especially enjoyed the 19th century Impressionists. The cafe had both inside and outside dining next to a lawn filled with sculptures. Tourists and locals sat soaking up the peace and sunshine. Moms played with their little ones on the lawn.

The Shakespeare Garden is said to contain every flower and herb mentioned in Shakespeare’s work. It’s not large but the setting is serene (or will be again once the construction is complete on the Academy of Sciences building.) Yesterday when I visited, a wedding rehearsal was taking place. Imagine, being married in Shakespeare’s garden!

The Japanese Tea Garden sits next to the DeYoung. Admission is $4, well worth the price. Inside, along its winding paths and gardens, another bride and groom were posing for formal pictures. San Francisco truly defines romance!

Last night we dined on Sushi in JapanTown then found a shop that sold Dreyer’s Ice Cream and other yummy sweets.

The weather remains sunny and cool – and perfect!

Today, we’re off to Santa Cruz. Hope you stop back tomorrow for more updates.