Turkey Day in Cal-i-for-ni-a...A Little Cruise Ship Skepticism Not a Bad Thing
ON MY WAY TO SAN FRANCISCO - Boy, 4 a.m. comes REAL early.
I wanted to get out to San Francisco with my family to see my Dad and my sister and aunt and uncle and my favourite niece for American Thanksgiving, but the only flight we could get on our Aeroplan points was at 7 a.m., via United. So that's what we're doing. Which means being at Pearson at 5:30 a.m. Which means leaving the house at 5. Which means getting up at 4 so we're not rushed. And 4 is not a pleasant time to wake up, even when you're (relatively) old like me.
But with any luck I'll sleep a bit on the plane. I don't think they'll have the same entertainment options as Air Canada, with the big choice of TV shows and movies in the seatback system and all. But sleep wouldn't be bad.
Thanksgiving in the U.S. is a wonderful, wonderful thing; bigger than Christmas, really. Lots of families make the trip, and it really is an all-day feast.
I'll probably nosh most of the day and my Dad will almost certainly tease me because within the first couple hours of my arriving at his house in suburban San Leandro I'll have to stop at Casper's for THE BEST HOT DOGS in the world. They're simple, steamed dogs; but they have a nice flavour and are always perfectly cooked with a slightly crunchy skin. Even the onions taste better at Casper's, but only the Casper's with a "C" in front because they're sliced onions. There's also a bunch of Kasper's in the East Bay area with a "K" in front, the result of a family feud way back when. They chop their onions at Kasper's and it's a well-known fact that you lose too much of the flavour when you chop the onions, (what, you think I'm kidding?) so I try to stick to the Casper's with a C in Hayward.
My grandfather used to take me to the Kasper's on Shattuck Avenue in north Oakland, near Berkeley. And my family has been going there for probably, oh, 60 years. I had my first one, I'm sure, round about 1957. I probably dripped mustard down my shirt even then, like I always seemed to do in high school just I was getting up my nerve to ask some cute girl out on a date.
Anyway, the point isn't frankfurters and condiments but turkey. My Dad has been cooking our family bird on his Weber kettle in the backyard for years now. You don't get that wonderful smell in the kitchen, but it smells damned good out in his backyard, which overlooks Oakland and the bay and, off in the distance, the skyline of San Francisco. Sometimes you can see part of the Golden Gate Bridge, and he's got a nice view of Mt. Tamalpais in Marin and a lovely yard with the best Meyer lemons you've ever tasted and the wonderful smell of cedars and fragrant eucalyptus trees, which were brought over from Australia and now litter the hillsides of northern California. It's a lovely home and a great place to entertain and relax.
There will be food. And football. Lots of football. We had season tickets to the Oakland Raiders for years when I was a kid, back when they used to lose all the time in the AFL or AFC Championship. It broke my heart; year after year after year of failure. They finally won the Super Bowl when I was living in LA and we all went and had a great time as they ousted the Minnesota Vikings. Thirty years or so later, the Raiders are a complete joke and the Vikings are back on top. The Raiders, I think, will be on TV against the Dallas Cowboys. And the Detroit Lions always play on Thanksgiving, which makes for a double serving of turkey (Bah-da-boom).
I'll let you know how it all turns out.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN OASIS GETS A MIXED REVIEW
There are tons of great gewgaws and ziplines and gardens and funky stuff, but a blog posting at Frommers' is asking some tough questions about the new behemoth boat Oasis of the Seas.
There have been concerns expressed about the lack of space around the pools. And there's worry about crowds at the restaurants if the full complement of nearly 6,000 people start showing up on the ship.
Click here for the full report on Frommer's site. Interesting stuff.