Trevor 3Searching for karma in San Fran.

By Trevor C. Hale 

We have an extra ticket to the Grateful Dead and we want to “miracle” some lucky soul. A “miracle” in Dead parlance means to give someone a free ticket.

When I saw them (with Jerry) 25 years ago in Birmingham and Atlanta, there were scores of hippy chicks floating around the parking lot—along with savory scents of grilled cheeses, patchouli, and other sweet smells—holding signs and fingers up, saying, “Looking for a miracle.” Our plan is for my son Spence to find a worthy seeker in the parking lot and miracle them. This is the last of five Dead shows, ever, and the last chance to earn the cosmic good karma of giving a miracle ticket.

Work brought me to San Francisco for a week, and my wife and son have joined me for an extra week of San Fran shenanigans. Ramadan and summer in Dubai is a great time to be…anywhere but there. It’s the first time in San Fran for Spence and Michelle (my wife), so we start very touristy by walking to Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square. And when in the square, I explained, one must have an Irish coffee at The Buena Vista. Legend has it that the proprietor and a travel writer worked feverishly in the 1950s to replicate the best Irish coffee in the world from Shannon Airport in Ireland.

After a toddy or two, we met friends for a Peruvian dinner in the Mission District at Cholo Soy. Magnificent margaritas, tasty tapas, and succulent ceviche. San Francisco is a culinary treasure and home to no less than 21 Michelin Star restaurants. Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse and considered to be the mother of organic, slow cooking and California cuisine, has influenced cuisine in San Francisco and beyond. Birmingham’s own Frank Stitt worked there and was heavily influenced by the farm-to-table philosophy of fresh ingredients and slow food.

Wandering through China Town, we found a wonderful Dim Sum restaurant called Hunan Home. The Xiao Long Bao—pork dumplings filled with pork fat soup—are the best we’ve had outside of China. It’s hard to find good Chinese food in Dubai, much less savory Xiao Long Bao. We ate lunch there most days during our stay. Eating each morsel of goodness, held in a spoon, begins with a tiny bite so the hot soup can be noisily sucked out. Another dip in soy sauce and you’re ready to give yourself over.

To work off the Dim Sum, we rented bikes and headed for the Golden Gate Bridge. Riding across that majestic bridge, through a blanket of fog, seeing Alcatraz Island and descending into Sausalito, has to be one of the coolest rides on the planet. Gorgeous views. Chilly and windy, yet sunny, as San Fran goes.

TrevorWe decided to go to Napa for a few days and tour some wineries—as one does. On the way, we stopped in Muir Woods to see the majestic thousand-year-old redwood trees. Walking into the park is like entering Tolkien’s Rivendale. The old growth oxygen and lush canopy are instantly calming. My son, the conspiracy theorist, tells me about the Bohemian Grove, a New World Order-like club for heads of state and industry that is apparently nearby. The 100-year-old group is comprised of the 1 percent, has a giant, eerie owl as its mascot, and since the days of Rockefeller has held court in the woods.

Thoughts of conspiracies fade as we enter wine country and begin touring some of the estates. Two standouts are the Sherwin Family Estates and Krupp Brothers/Stagecoach Vineyard, both offering sublime Cabernet Sauvignons. My paltry palate and pen can’t do them justice here. Well worth the visit.

Spence never found anyone to miracle at the Dead show. We thought to ourselves, “Miracles don’t happen every day.” And you can’t buy karma. Besides, our karma must be just fine if we are able to enjoy the sumptuous offerings of San Fran with family.

As the sun set and the Dead opened with “Truckin,” a double rainbow appeared over the stadium, prompting many to say Jerry was there. And that’s miracle enough.

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