Category Archives: Quirkventures

Living every day in a place that people travel the globe to see doesn’t mean we never get around. Wallowing in breathtaking views also means we wallow in a lot of visitors at times, and mostly enjoy that, too. Once in a while we tear ourselves away from the fascinating, delicious gorgeousness and pile into the dusty pick-up in search of … fascinating delicious gorgeousness in OTHER places. When we get home and get our boots off and get a glass of wine, we’ll share seeing the world through Quirk-colored glasses.

Wall-eyed in Barcelona

This jaunty senorita graced an ancient door in an alleyway near our apartment in the L’Eixample district (pronounced “eshampla”) Photo by Heather Granahan

This jaunty senorita graced an ancient door in an alleyway near our apartment in the L’Eixample district (pronounced “eshampla”) Photo by Heather Granahan

Recently we ventured out of the local quirkzone and got an apartment in a Spanish city that made us feel so at home, we nearly emigrated: Barcelona. Barc is the heart of Catalunya (Catalonia),an autonomous community of Spain – officially a nationality and one famous for independent spirit. Catalunya holds the four provinces of Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. As I write, Catalunya is roaring for financial independence from the rest of Spain. (Now, can’t we do that here in ‘topia?) Kind of made up of a lot of villages moshed together, Barc is constructed of art and stone, beaches and protests, cava (Spanish champagne, or what I fondly call Girl Beer) and cathedrals, Gaudi and gambas (grilled shrimp), Dali and dallying.

Arteries of scooters and motos pulse by metal café tables full of Manchego cheese-nibbling, Estrella beer-sipping locals.  We’ll share the trove as we dig through it.  Your first taste: a few treasures from the walls. And doors.

The bigger context. While doors are often embellished, walls rarely are. Photo by Heather Granahan

The bigger context. While doors are often embellished, walls rarely are. Photo by Heather Granahan

When they DO paint a wall, they don’t mess around. This squat in L’Exaimple is alive with art very reminiscent of the ofen-imitated animator Blu’s work. See the original: www.blublu.org . Photo by Heather Granahan

When they DO paint a wall, they don’t mess around. This squat in L’Exaimple is alive with art very reminiscent of the often-imitated animator Blu’s work. See the original: http://www.blublu.org .                            Photo by Heather Granahan

Door to her soul; deep in the Barrio Gotico neighborhood this noia (girl, in Catalan, the language of Barcelona) peers from a doorway. She’s in Barcelona's Placa de George Orwell, the Brit who wrote Homage to Catalonia. It’s also known as La Plaça Tripi – the acid “trippy”square – referring to its bohemian reputation. Photo by Heather Granahan

Door to her soul; deep in the Barrio Gotico neighborhood this noia (girl, in Catalan, the language of Barcelona) peers from a doorway. She’s in Barcelona’s Placa de George Orwell, the Brit who wrote ‘Homage to Catalonia’. It’s also known as La Plaça Tripi – the acid “trippy”square – referring to its bohemian reputation. Photo by Heather Granahan

Was this an ancient remodel nightmare (“My liege, you said not which window thou preferred – I ordered one of each!”) – or a recycled material project gone wild? A window sales center? In the middle of a maze of narrow mediaeval streets is this tower of mixed windows, flanking the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia. The church is active and the plaza full of book and craft fairs, children’s theater and the usual ring of café tables. Photo by Heather Granahan

Was this an ancient remodel nightmare (“My liege, you said not which window thou preferred – I ordered one of each!”) – or a recycled material project gone wild? A window sales center? In the middle of a maze of narrow medieval streets is this tower of mixed windows, flanking the active plaza around the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia . Photo by Heather Granahan

Bob is everywhere! A street Picasso indeed. A bus stop in L’Eixample. Photo by Heather Granahan

Bob is everywhere! A street Picasso indeed. A bus stop in L’Eixample. Photo by Heather Granahan

A wall that invites you to sit on it. Gaudi built Park Guell for Barc in 1900-14 and made good use of local tiles. The wall snakes around a bluff that looks out over the city of ancient, modern, and stuff like Gaudi’s; 100 yrs old and still fresh. Photo by Heather Granahan

A wall that invites you to sit on it. Gaudi built Park Guell for Barc in 1900-14 and made good use of local tiles.  Photo by Heather Granahan

Photo by Heather Granahan

The wall snakes around a bluff that looks out over the city of ancient, modern, and stuff like Gaudi’s; 100 yrs old and still fresh.                     Photo by Heather Granahan

Pretty...mysterious.A lovely old frieze, off by a lonely back door behind a cathedral. Photo by Heather Granahan

Pretty…mysterious. And no, I don’t want to know, I’d rather imagine a meaning. A lovely old frieze, off by a lonely back door behind a cathedral. Photo by Heather Granahan

On the wall near Universitat, honoring the ever-alive spirit of independence in Barcelona. Photo by Heather Granahan

Made us miss the Mission in San Francisco: On the wall near Universitat, honoring the ever-alive spirit of independence in Barcelona. Photo by Heather Granahan

Were the ancient Catalonians really tall? Are doors the windows to a house’s soul? This visitor reaches for the knob to no avail. Senorita, there’s a small door right in front of you.    Photo by Heather Granahan

Were the ancient Catalonians really tall? Are doors the windows to a house’s soul? This visitor reaches for the knob to no avail. Senorita, there’s a small door right in front of you. Photo by Heather Granahan

One of Dali's egg-doors to his garden patio,,we"ll be out back having some cava. Back with you in a while. Photo by Heather Granahan

One of Dali’s egg-doors to his garden patio,,we”ll be out back having some cava. Back with you in a while. Photo by Heather Granahan

 

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Feed Stop #1 : Rollerville Cafe

The Rollerville Café’s name has nothing to do with skating.
Read on to find out what it really means.                (Photo by Heather Granahan)

The Quirkutopian coast is a motorcyclist’s paradise. Moto enthusiasts enjoy the curving roads with astounding scenery; the fresh scents of the sea, forests and occasional medical cannabis planting.  Small villages offer excellent feed-and-watering stops along the way and the gorgeous riding weather most of the year – especially in the “Secret Summer” that peaks in October.

A recent moto camping weekend had these Quirks searching out breakfast just north of Point Arena. A local sent us to Rollerville Café, perched on the corner where Lighthouse Rd. turns off Highway One towards the famous Point Arena Lighthouse and Museum.

While you wait for your table-cracking load of delicious breakfast at the Rollerville Cafe, have a big ol glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice delivered by this friendly and quick young San Francisco Giants fan. (Photo by Heather Granahan)

Turns out the Rollerville also makes a damn fine lunch (prawn tacos! BLTs and burgers!) and on Friday and Saturdays extend service into dinner and sometimes do a prime rib . Makes us wish we could stay right there – but no go since the spiffy-looking set of cabins on the property run are a private time share. No matter, there is a lovely state campground and even a KOA up the road at Manchester where we slept just fine, thank you.

Popular for huge portions of from-scratch corn-beef hash, biscuits and gravy and the famous Monkey Omelet made with chicken sausage. No, I don’t want to know why it’s named that.                    (Photo by Heather Granahan)

Rollerville has nothing to do with rollerskates; in fact there is nothing close to a skate-able surface for miles around. Rollerville was the name of a small enclave built around a sort of roller-coaster  system for getting milled logs from the mills just inland out to the waiting ships tossing just off the rocky coast.

The flumes. With a rush of water, logs were delivered to a loading platform offshore where the ships picked up the wood. (photo from Mendocino Rail History)

Logs were steadily advanced on barbed rollers from the mill to Rollerville. There they were transferred to a long downhill water ride through wooden chutes – to Flumeville, another loggers station.

A log flume at Brennan Creek in Mendocino County. Some early quirks would ride the flumes for “inspection” and thrills. (photo from Mendocino Rail History)

Thirst Parlor #2 Rocky Flats Lounge

 Rocky Flats Lounge

In the stony reaches at the foot of the Colorado Flatirons, midway between Boulder and Golden, there is a cluster of shacks that house one the quirkier places to quench and dine in the state. We watched for the creaking metal sign and parked the motorcycle near the leaning back gate where the regulars enter.

Watch for the creaky metal sign
Photo by Heather Granahan

Once a place to get payed, now a place to play.
Photo by Heather Granahan

 

Rocky Flats Lounge is a watering hole on the site of a long closed-and-cleaned nuclear weapons plant. It was transformed in 1978 from the former payroll office. Their signature T-shirts urge you to “Get Nuclear Wasted”.

Finery from the Lounge

Another excellent wardrobe choice

The original owner was from Wisconsin and made the place a mecca for all who bleed green and gold; ex-pat cheese-head Packer fans lost in Colorado. He also started importing walleye and perch for still popular Friday night fish fries.

Some die-hard fans of Wisconsin fish dig in on Fish Fry Friday night at Rocky Flats Lounge, watched over by the cheesehead/motorcycle helmet. That about covers the bases.
Photo by Heather Granahan

Yeah, it’s open at night for fun and (Packer) games. But you”ll  miss the view.

The gritty pleasure of the place is in the outdoor facilities: the metal shack of a porch outside where the regulars hang and can watch games on an old TV.

C’mon in the back way, drop your helmets and grab a beer. Dawgs welcome.
Photo by Heather Granahan

Out back, you can gaze across the rocky flowered fields at the Flatirons, prop your feet on an old wire spool and drink a brew or throw a horseshoe.

Doesn’t get much more relaxed. Pull up a chair.
Photo by Heather Granahan

We’ve got your entry for Best Bar View – right here.
Photo by Heather Granahan

Camping happens, and there are a couple RVs that appear pretty ensconced, tucked between some midcentury transportation. Whatever your mode, 2 or 4 wheel, roll on out to Rocky Flats Lounge when you’re in the neighborhood, and get some real bang for your buck.

Camp for a day or two. Play some horseshoes.
Photo by Heather Granahan

Or stay a little longer.
No. Not THAT long.
Photo by Heather Granahan

Pretty sure the Studebaker starts, if you need a ride out. But why leave.
Photo by Heather Granahan

 

Captain Mom

Aye Aye, Ma’am! Captain Maggie and her crew received the 2012 American Red Cross Life Saving Organization Award for successfully saving lives on two different occasions on San Francisco Bay.

Some people think of Maggie McDonogh as a quirk in a male-dominated job. Some of us just plain admire her. Her nickname is Captain Mom because she is the fourth generation in her family to earn a living on the waters of San Francisco Bay. Captain Mom owns and runs a fleet of ferries out of Tiburon. She does the scheduled runs to Angel Island, and offers an evening picnic sail around the bay. She also runs a moonlight champagne cruise on the three full moons of summer. She offers whale watching trips and great white shark adventures with cages off the Farallone Islands. “Sharks don’t have can openers,” the strawberry blonde, divorced mother of two quips.

Life too ho-hum? Do what some quirks do and be the creature in a cage for a change. Captain Mom can take you to the Farallone Islands to try (to not lose your) hand at this

Great Grandpa left railroading to haul water freight and run a chowder house. Grandpa Sam rented out his fishing skiff for 25 cents a day back in the days when Tiburon was on the wrong side of the tracks. “He didn’t know how to swim and he once fell in with his pockets full of quarters. No way was he going to let that cash go, it was the Depression. Lucky for him, someone hauled him back in,” Maggie laughs.

Maggie’s Dad Milton hauled munitions at night in blackout conditions through World War II and he started the ferry business.

Mom at work.Tough but tender-hearted, she also provides a home for many unwanted roosters. She wakes up early enough the crowing doesn’t bother her.

Maggie now runs three boats: the Angel Island, the Tamalpais and the Bonita. She has been greening the business, systematically replacing the engines with low emission ones. It’s a costly process, but she is dedicated.

Capt. Mom can haul you and yours for some unspoiled camping smack in the middle of the SF Bay at Angel Island, with views of the city and Marin County

She manages her 10 employees while also caring for her kids, Becky and Sam, and her aging father. She feels her crew is her extended family. She also provides a home for many unwanted roosters.

She was raised on boats, and she is raising her children the same way. “Becky is natural mermaid, sings and dances. Sam is more analytical and he’s a dedicated fisherman,” she explained.

Her job is not always a picnic on the bay. In 1995 she had just had a C-section and the coast was slammed by a hurricane strength storm. “That storm was chewing up the dock and my boat would be smashed on the rocks if I didn’t do something. The Coast Guard didn’t have anything big enough to help us. We were on our own I shoved the baby into my neighbor’s arms. Me and Dad, and some deckhands launched a skiff.”

She boarded the vessel and eventually brought it into the protected harbor on Angel Island despite her stiches tearing. The storm left every boat in Tiburon damaged, but she managed to save their biggest boat and the business continued.

May 27th 2012: Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge with Captain Mom’s Fireworks Cruise Cruise on the Angel Island Tiburon Ferry. http://www.captainmom.com for more info.

You have to take life as it comes,” she said. “My Dad taught me to know what I could fix and not worry about what I can’t. You have to accept you can’t win everything. But hey look,” she gestured at the view from the bridge of the Tamalpais. “I’ve got no complaints. The good Lord changes the art work in this office every day. How good can life get?”