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New Mission/Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

New Mission TheatreI have seen this theater being built over a year ago and was interested in seeing what a new theater in San Francisco might be like. I got the chance to experience it when my company held a night out there to see of all things, Back To The Future which came out before most of the employees were born.

It’s a lot different from other movie theaters where you walk up to a ticket booth and buy your ticket then give the ticket to someone standing at the door. You can actually walk in and the ticket seller is off in the back past the stairs up to the theaters. This seemed very odd to me at first because you could easily walk into a theater to watch a movie without paying.

As it turns out this theater is a theater where watching a movie is second place to the experience. When I first walked in there were several retro video games and a record store which going with the retro theme only sold vinyl. There was a bar in the very back and when I got up to the theater we had rented Each seat had a table with a menu. You can write your own ticket up for food or drink you’d like to order and a server will sneak by and grab your ticket and deliver your order. Kind of a cool idea since theater food wasn’t always known to be the best.

Because we were a private affair they offered up popcorn which had truffle butter [don’t worry, it’s not a link to the Niki Minaj song], garlic parmesan or kimchee coatings] as well as draft beer and champagne. After walking around a bit I noticed that they had tables set up in between the rows filled with pizza and sliders. Being an old school native these were not the classic theater foods I expected. I have to say the chicken sliders were pretty tasty and the pizza was of the thin crust California style with lots of veggies and I assume the pepperoni came from pigs who were masturbated and washed daily. In short, I wish I hadn’t eaten lunch that day because the food was really good. The popcorn was pretty addictive even though the the whole truffle thing is lost on me as I am one of those 30% of the population where truffles taste like dirt.

The New Mission is owned by Alamo Drafthouse Cinema which is a chain of all things that started in Austin, TX. Austin is a lot like San Francisco with a bit of a drawl so it fits with our culture here. The idea of getting real food and having a seriously well stocked bar on site actually made this an even better evening. I kind of felt like I was sitting at home watching a movie on my own big screen TV, but didn’t have to worry about cleaning up after my drunk friends when home. While the prices seemed a t0uch high to this old guy they aren’t really that bad compared to other places in San Francisco. Hell for today’s working class it’s down right affordable. Definitely check it out and make sure you walk all over the place to get the full experience. Stop by the bar at the end for a cocktail before you leave and don’t worry about anyone checking your ticket.

How to Practice Your Camping Skills in San Francisco

You have to love the Presidio. When it was used by the military it must have been great for training exercises because of all the dense growth of trees and brush and the sheer size makes it a great place to take a walk around and explore.

One of the few hidden secrets is that it has the only location within San Francisco where you can legally camp. Yep, you read that right, camping in San Francisco. It’s called the Rob Hill Campground and I and a few friends used the place before it was remodeled last year. It now has four campgrounds up from two when we used it and the price has increased a little bit to $100/site. Each site can hold up to 30 campers so if you’ve got a group then the price is more reasonable.

It’s a wonderful place to go and camp and you get to fall asleep to the roar of the Ocean nearby and because of all the trees when the wind picks up in the afternoon it’s not as bad as it could be. When the sun sets is when the fun begins. We were all sitting by the campfire when we started to hear noises. We started to see raccoons, skunks and one coyote sniffing around for scraps. You’ll usually here them rifling through the garbage cans at night so any food you have with you that you haven’t used you might want to pack up in your car or a very secure ice chest. Raccoons and coyotes are notorious for getting into places you wouldn’t expect them to.

A nice addition to the campground is the real bathrooms. When my wife and I went to inspect the place prior to our get together they had the bathrooms locked down and a large badly needed to be cleaned porta-potty. A quick email off to the local city officials and parks department suddenly had not just that bathroom, but every bathroom in the Presidio and Golden Gate Park scrubbed down and refurbished. You can thank me for that.

The only downside, if you can call it a downside is that the Presidio Trust runs the CAP [Camping at the Presidio] program for kids that gets priority over anyone else. That could be a bad thing, but for most kids in San Francisco camping isn’t something you get to do very often without having to drive for about an hour. Here’s what the Presidio Trust has to say about the new campground:

Rob Hill Campground is a hidden Presidio gem and is the only camping facility in San Francisco. The site is a fantastic venue for outdoor learning and fun. To provide children and youth who traditionally have not visited national parks with overnight camping experiences, the Crissy Field Center (operated by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the National Park Service), the Presidio Trust, and Bay Area Wilderness Training have developed the Camping at the Presidio (CAP) program.

Designed for community organizations and schools, CAP provides a dynamic and affordable way to enrich the lives of young people. CAP trains group leaders with the skills and resources they need to plan and lead a youth camping trip. After program leaders complete an Outdoor Leadership Training program they can begin to prepare for their camping trip to the park. Eligible community and school groups can reserve the campground between March and October.

[mappress mapid=”27″]I have to say that the redo is nice work. The bathrooms are nicer, but don’t have showers still. They’ve developed hiking trails that last time I was there had what looked like some construction work and piles of logs in a muddy area. Now it really looks like a real camping spot. New picnic tables and grills have been installed. We can thank the Haas family for the donations that made this possible. Plus the big bonus is that you have regular park patrols to keep the homeless campers in Golden Gate Park from moving to a new zip code. Check it out some day even if you’re not going to camp. It’s a fun place to hike around. Plus if you do decide to camp you’re not too far away from any needed amenities you forgot to bring with you at the last minute.

Other Avenues, Health Food for the New Millennium

Other Avenues is the store that served as the foundation for the redevelopment of the “outside lands” at the foot of Judah. Yes, there’s Java Beach at the very end which is another part of the community out there, but it all started with the new millenium when Other Avenues gave itself a make over. My wife and I used to live near here so it was a short walk to see what they had. Before the make over it was an ok place, not great, the produce was a little on the sad side, but after the redo you can see it’s really a bit of a community center piece.

I stopped in today because my daughter has a cold and we found their “Old Indian Wild Cherry Bark Syrup” does the trick and it’s all natural. I started to have a walk around because I hadn’t been there in awhile. I’ll have to say I forgot about what a treasure this place is. It started as a co-op, but has now become a worker owned democratically run business.

Someone or several of the owners took a hard look at what they were selling and how they were selling it and made some great changes to the shop. Most of their products are locally produced and all of their products are aimed at the health conscious, no fillers, no preservatives crowd. You find a “dirty hippie” walking around or working here they’re all average people who want good food and maybe there’s a bit of a lean towards the alternative side with some of the people, but still they have good products. They have fresh cheeses, bulk products of flour, nuts, Dr. Bronner’s soaps that are cheaper because you bring in your own packaging and fill them up. Freshly made peanut butter is a standard here and it’s made in the shop too.

Don’t expect to find any meat here unless you consider tofu or seitan a meat product. They are wholly focused on vegetarian sustainable foods and they’re going a good job of it. I remember being in their one day and they had someone offering samples of seitan. I was really surprised, it does tastes and has the texture of chicken. It’s also the only place where I’ve found REAL wasabi. It is the ground up root of the japanese horseradish, not a mixture of horseradish and mustard that mainstream stores sell as wasabi. I’ll have to pick some up next time and surprise my wife [who never looks at this site so I can say that without worries.]

[mappress mapid=”26″]For all you home brewed DIY type people they have a wide selection of herbs and tinctures for you herbal medicine needs. They also have a large selection of organic chocolates and candies as well as some surprisingly tasty vegan brownies and cookies. If you like the idea of eating health, organic, sustainable foods you should definitely visit this place.