Saturday, October 17, 2015

45th Annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival

     Judging from the early crowds at Saturday's HMB Art & Pumpkin Festival, I think the word is out that Half Moon Bay has the best annual festival in the Bay Area. And no wonder. From the moment you see those first pumpkin patches peeking out from the trees on the drive to Half Moon Bay, the experience is like stepping into an enchanted story where all your autumn dreams come true. There are over 200 vendors, many of which sell pumpkin-themed items (don't forget to grab a famous blown-glass pumpkin!). And you can enjoy pumpkin-flavored everything (the ice cream is delish!), watch Farmer Mike carving elaborate pumpkin masterpieces, watch street performances, set your kids loose in the family and kids area, and pick out pumpkins afterwards at one of the many pumpkin patches.
     You can read my previous post on the pumpkin festival here, which includes tips on how best to experience the festival, but here's a recap of this year's visit. In the five years I've enjoyed the pumpkin festival, I think this year was the busiest. In my previous post I advised festival goers to start out early to beat the traffic, but even early birds experienced traffic this year. I arrived in Half Moon Bay at 7:20 and had to wait in line to get a parking spot. Groups of people were already walking down main to the heart of the festival, which didn't start until 9 a.m. By 10:30 a.m., the walkways beside the vendors were so packed it was hard to move around. By the time I left at around noon, most parking lots were full. So getting there early, painful as it might be, is a must if you want a pumpkin hangover and not a traffic migraine.
     I also advised in my previous post to park on the lot on Highway 92 closest to Main Street for a quick getaway. However, this year I parked on Main street a longer walk away. This saved me about $10 in parking, and it was still an easy getaway. The highway is a parking lot later in the day with people trying to get into the festival, so keep this in mind when choosing parking. I wouldn't choose a lot that would require you to pass through incoming traffic to leave.
     I also provided photos of all the delicious pumpkin things you can drink and eat at the festival in my previous post, but this year I tried a couple new things. The pumpkin harvest ale I chose had a smooth finish, but I wasn't too fond of the flavor. The pumpkin chili, however, far exceeded my expectations. I definitely could have enjoyed another bowl.
     One exciting new feature of the festival that I didn't mention in my previous post is the activities a charming shop called Oddyssea offers in their Oddyssea Outside space. Last year, my sister made a mason jar terrarium in this carnival-type area that provides a nice break from the flow of the crowd. This year, people could make steam punkins, pearl necklaces, sand art, and mine for treasure. To participate you just buy doubloons from a stand and trade them to do your activity of choice.
     This year my sister and I also enjoyed a street performance by Orion Griffiths, who starred in Pippin. Griffiths' personality and humor drew us in, but his physical prowess and acrobatic performance amazed us. While balancing on multiple levels of boards, cups, and a tube, Griffiths juggled three pins and performed a handstand. You can follow Griffiths on Twitter (@Orion_Griffiths), and there's also a few videos on Youtube that show his amazing skill (like this one of him performing at Pier 39 in SF).
     I've posted photos from this year's event so you can get a sense of the fun. If you love pumpkins, fall, Halloween, or festivals, Half Moon Bay combines all of them into my favorite Bay Area event. Treat yourself to this Bay Area Miss-Me-Not.

Start your day right with the Pancake Breakfast (7 a.m. to 11 a.m.). Great way to kill time after arriving early and make your tummy happy.

Pumpkin pancakes from the Pumpkin Breakfast. YUM.

Don't forget the freebies! This bag was handed out at the Safeway booth.

Oddyssea Outside
Should we make steam punkins or sand art?!

That sand art is lookin' mighty fine.
Mason jar terrarium from last year.

Official gear? Check!

Pumpkin Harvest Ale

Pumpkin Chili

Orion Griffiths drawing a crowd.

Baby chicks from one of the local feed stores. Don't forget the extra shopping the charming little businesses on Main offer!

Giant bubbles, small bubbles...Half Moon Bay's got 'em.

And now...the pumpkins.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Park Street's 22nd Annual Classic Car Show

     This year's classic car show in Alameda did not disappoint, and I actually enjoyed it more (if that's possible) because the early morning was overcast and wonderfully cool so I could actually see the cars and not just sun glare, and I didn't have to go running for shade every so often. As I said in my first post on this show, which you can check out here, this is one of the best car shows I've seen (and I've been to a lot with a car-enthusiast father). Not only is the selection of cars great in terms of models and years, but the cozy atmosphere of the Park Street and downtown Alameda area can't be beat.
     Since I already gave tips on how best to enjoy this show in my first post, I'm just going to describe my experience at this year's celebration of real cars and real craftsmanship. The show tends to be heavy on the Mustang side, which is perfectly fine for me because Mustangs are my all time favorite. At this year's show, I saw my favorite 1965 Mustang as well as a variety of '66, '67, and '68 Mustangs. There were fastbacks and convertibles and beefed up racers. One had cream-colored leather seats with embossed mustangs galloping across. Green, red, black, blue, and even one with racing stripes. Sigh.
     I also hoped to find at least one Chevy Nova (my second favorite classic car), and I found two! For the Chevy lover, there was a large variety of Chevelles, Malibus, Camaros, and even a Corvair I took pictures of for my dad. There were a couple trucks, a couple ancients, a couple new, and even a VW van. I was also impressed by a Plymouth Roadrunner, which I believe was a 1968.
     Many of the owners are happy to chat with anyone interested in their cars, and a couple cars were for sale. I had my eye on a black Mustang with a cobra head gear shift. Dreamers will dream. I also enjoyed watching all the people wander up to a car in silent awe, glassy eyed. I've posted several photos below for your enjoyment. If you couldn't make it to this year's classic car show, worry not. It happens every October, it's always a good show, and it's FREE. Mark those calendars because this is definitely a Bay Area Miss-Me-Not.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

SF Fleet Week and Alameda's Classic Car Show

     This weekend is a great time to be in the Bay Area. On Saturday and Sunday, October 10th and 11th, San Francisco's Fleet Week culminates in its popular air shows featuring the Blue Angels. The shows take place over San Francisco Bay from 12:30 to 3 p.m., and you can get great views from anywhere along the Embarcadero in San Francisco. You can also get a bite to eat and tour ships at the Fleet Fest at Pier 80 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For pictures from last year's shows and tips on enjoying the event, check out my post here. And for more information on this year's event, visit the Fleet Week website:

     If you don't want to fight your way into San Francisco, there's also a wonderful event happening in Alameda on Park Street, the 22nd Annual Classic Car Show. This is one of my favorite Bay Area events. There are more than 400 cars to check out, including a huge selection of Mustangs. The car show takes place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To see photos from previous shows and get tips, read my post on the event here. And for more information on this year's event, visit the Downtown Alameda Business Association's website: