Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sans Snow In San Francisco

The Last Few Days In Snow City

Every December, Flagstaff transforms into a vast white winter wonderland, perfect for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts to take to the snow bowl for some powder action. Fully aware that we were not well-equipped for a day on the icy slopes sans ski suits and waterproof gloves, we settled for a more relaxed afternoon at one of the designated snow parks just minutes from the city.

Unfortunately, we got off to a late start that day. It certainly didn't help that while queuing for what was intended to be a snappy lunch at the KFC next door to our motel, somebody decided to upgrade his 2-piece combo into a full blown chicken buffet. I don't blame him. That's just how American fast food chains sink their claws into you. US$5.95 for 2 body parts with 2 choices of sides which we don't particularly fancy (coleslaw - ugh; whip - ugh; corn on cob - gets stuck in teeth; biscuit - ugh; fries - coming outta my ears already). US$7.95 for all-you-can-eat-chicken.

Frolicking in snow vs eating unlimited fried chicken in a nice warm restaurant. It was obvious what the one-man Kentucky Fan Club wanted. Plus, even the heartless Tin Man from Oz wouldn't have been able to turn down those pitiful pleas of, "Please, please, baby, can I have the buffet? Please?"

The late afternoon buffet, coupled with a 4.30pm sunset literally looming on the horizon, meant that we wouldn't make it to the snow park before it closed for the day.

We improvised by swinging into the open field down the road from our motel and turning it into our playground. The snow was fresh, thick (knee-deep in some parts!), soft and untouched. Well, no longer!

We made snow angels...

Guess who made the incredibly neat angel, and whose angel has a dead plant crawling up its skirt.

You know how kids in those Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbes cartoon strips build snowmen by trundling a snowball around the snow field until its as big as a person? Well cartoons lie!

We tried piling the snow up and shaping it into a ball to form our snowman's body. We couldn't get the snow to stick and stay in place. The powdery slopes just kept crumbling. Needless to say, we didn't even get round to creating a head for our snowman. The snow soaked through our woolen gloves, jeans and sneakers and numbed us from inside out. I was on the fast track to turning into a snowman instead of building one.

It's funny how frozen fingers can be stone-numb and yet feel unbelievably painful. In the end, we gave up and simply tossed handfuls of snow into Dan's buttoned-up jacket. We managed to get some semblance of a lumpy crooked torso.

The snow clung to us, creating a frozen layer over our clothes, which slowly melted and soaked us in cold water.

Project Snowman 2 wasn't much of a success. In fact, our snowman just looked like a bigger less-cute version of our baby snowhutt in Project Snowman 1, which we did last April in Yosemite.

Dan refused to acknowledge the two snow-things we created were the same. According to the man, our snowman-building skills have improved because now, we've added snow-aliens to our repertoire. Talk about skills upgrading.

(Note: I just learnt the secret of snowman-building from a friend a few days ago. You need to have a flask of hot water on hand and sprinkle the water over the snow as you shape it, to melt the icy crystals and set them in place. As Dan suggested, hot pee should work too, if you don't mind having yellow snow-chinaman.)

Blue Peter is up for grabs for the next Alien vs Predator movie.

The sun set not long after, turning fields of snow into fields of gold.

Bye bye snowy place

Fleeing Flagstaff...

And from the fields of gold, we headed back to Phoenix for our flight to the Golden State.

Enough of savouring the Golden State from a Tetra-Pak. We're off to California!


It was our second time in San Francisco on this trip. We loved it when we first arrived in the city in April. We found a new reason to love it more this time round - it doesn't snow here. We stayed at the Travelodge on Market Street again. At about US$30 per night for AA members, it was once again the best deal out there. Some of the rooms were under renovation in April last year and we were pleased to be assigned a newly refurbished room. We giggled when we saw the same crusty old man at the reception who roared my name out with gusto on our last visit, "Tan YYYYYEEEEEE Lin!" We snickered into our hands like before when he thundered, "Tan YYYYYEEEEEE Lin!" for the whole of America to hear when we checked in. He was alot nicer to us this time, alot less crusty. Which was nice.

We love the motel's location on Market Street. The F-line streetcar which trundles down Market Street all the way to Fisherman's Wharf stops right outside the motel. It's also within walking distance to the shops on Market and the Orpheum Theatre. Which was absolutely fabulous because...

All happy and smug that the snow didn't follow him from Flagstaff to Frisco

...we were in town to catch a musical at the theatre - WICKED!

All exited to be finally watching Broadway's Biggest Blockbust...

The star character whom the show was named after

I've been wanting to watch Wicked since 2008, when I was in Melbourne on a work trip and chanced upon a theatre that was showing it. My CEO mentioned that it was a really good musical but I didn't get a chance to watch it then. Another chance passed us by in New York City in May - the tickets on Broadway were sold out for weeks.

I was pretty thrilled when I found a used copy of the book for US$3 at a bookstore in the Florida Keys a few weeks later, and made a mental note then to return to San Francisco to catch the song-and-dance version of the story before we flew home.

People were all dressed up for the theatre. Well, we wore the best we had.

Following the not-so-yellow carpeted road to the Land of Oz

Our verdict of the musical: Definitely worth catching. Funny, witty and an interesting narrative of how the Wicked Witch of the West got her title. The show doesn't follow the written version completely, which may be a good thing, given the traditional story's unhappy (unhappy for the witch, but not for Dorothy and her friends) ending. Unfortunately, the songs were immensely forgettable. I can only remember one key tune from the song "Defying Gravity" and that's only because the song title is printed on the back of Dan's souvenir t-shirt.

Sitting on the plush blood-red theatre seats, it was hard to believe that just a week before, we were roughing it out on a volcano in Central America and traipsing down the spine of the Andes a few months ago. And now there we were, treating ourselves to a Broadway musical.

I don't think I will ever stop counting our blessings.


Tracy Su said...

Unlimited Fried Chicken - like
Snow Angels - like
Powdery snow pics (so I don't hafta touch the stuff) - like
Hot Pee - Eeeew Dan, that is...EEEEW...you might turn into a cold pee slushy when everything melts on you...

Btw, I LIKE the Segway thingies in the next post too! They look like fun :)

Yi Lin said...

Well, no snow for awhile now that we're back, so no chance for Dan to try the pee snowman theory (thank goodness.) Segway city tour was super fun! Will be telling everyone heading to SF to give it a go.

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