Sat 24 Nov 2007
In the grand tradition of losing things while on vacation (my fleece, our cell phone charger, my brush) I left the memory card for my camera at my friend Jennifer’s in LA.
That’s no big deal, I can buy another, but unfortunately the card had pictures of Carmel, Big Sur and our trip to LA.
Once I get those pictures from Jennifer (she has graciously agreed to upload them to the internet so I can access them) I’ll post some here.
I’m going to try and restrain myself and not post a million more pictures of the coast, which will be hard as Big Sur was overwhelmingly gorgeous, but I know you guys have limits. Enough beautiful shoreline is enough. I get it.
Sat 24 Nov 2007
Having breakfast with Ann and Will in Oakland and checking out their new house.
Driving in and out of the all-encompassing fog on our way south.
The educational program on Golden Eagles at the Monterey Aquarium.
Walking up and down Cannery Row and trying to decide where John Steinbeck would choose to drink if he were alive today.
A late night dinner of great wine and pasta at the bar of a chic restaurant in Carmel.
Taking an early morning run on the beach with all the surfers and the many people walking their dogs off-leash who, to my amazement, followed their owners without fail, never drifting off to plant kisses on perfect strangers or thump their wet tails against some random, passing set of legs, and thinking, “Yes, this is what Cesar is talking about…”
Wed 21 Nov 2007
After reading the guidebook from the passenger seat to me, while driving down the 101:
“I don’t feel good.”
“Really? How do you feel?”
“Hmm. What do you think it is? A sudden stomach flu?”
“I don’t know, it’s probably because I’m hot or something.”
“Maybe. Or DO YOU MAYBE THINK YOU’RE CARSICK BECAUSE YOU’RE READING AND A LOT OF PEOPLE GET CARSICK WHEN THEY READ IN THE CAR?”
“I don’t get carsick. It’s probably just because I’m chewing gum.”
“Yeah. It’s probably the gum.”
Tue 20 Nov 2007
J and I are pausing at a coffee shop this morning in San Luis Obispo (where the forecast is sunny and 70 degrees for the next seven days) so I can update my blog since I’ve been too interested in hanging out with my friends and lounging around for the past few days to do a decent job of it.
After leaving the Redwood National Park Wednesday, J and I continued heading south, getting ready for a weekend of city life in San Francisco which would be our next major stop. It was dark by the time we got in the car, a bummer, because while we had gotten to catch the enormous trees before the sun went down, we hadn’t made it to Elk Prairie, an area the park ranger had pointed out to us on the map, saying, “you will definitely see some elk here,” at which point J’s eyes really lit up because, damnit, he wanted to see an elk.
As we headed down the 101, J was driving, and I was consoling him on the elk issue while rummaging in our food bag in the backseat, looking for a granola bar when I heard him exclaim, “holy shit,” and I turned back around to see an enormous - and I mean seriously enormous - elk standing just by the side of the road, with his huge antlers and bearded chest. It was totally dark by then so J flicked on the high beams so we could get a better look and make sure we didn’t hit him, but unlike the deer we see regularly on the east coast, this guy was by no means scared of us, worried about our approach. He just stood there, munching on his grass, like, “What? What are you gonna do?”
I don’t have any pictures because it all happened so fast, and you west coasters who see these guys all the time, yeah, I know it’s not that rare or anything, but to us it was a major deal. So with the Redwoods and the elk, our first day in California was off to a roaring start.
That night we got off 101 and started heading down 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway) because we wanted to drive along the coast the next day. Because it was nighttime, driving that route was pretty pointless, so we didn’t go too many miles before stopping in Fort Bragg, getting a room in the first inexpensive motel we could find and falling fast asleep.
And when we woke up and went for a walk outside.
I don’t know, you’d think maybe after days of this - days and days of spectacular ocean views you’d get jaded, and I suppose after a long while, after living here, people do, but I can’t get enough. I definitely can’t stop taking pictures, which is going to ensure torture when I go through the thousands I’ve taken on this trip once we’re home in an effort to choose just a few to print and put in a photo album, but whatever.
Our agenda, after taking in the ocean air, was to drive down to Napa and visit a couple wineries before arriving in San Francisco. I’d been to Napa as a child but obviously didn’t do the whole wine thing, so I was pretty excited.
Our route took us through Sonoma first.
Nothing sounds better to me than spending days in both Sonoma and Napa, visiting spas, tasting a variety of wines and eating amazing food, but since we only had the afternoon J and I decided to narrow down the field, head to Napa and visit a place we’d heard of called V. Sattui.
Just kidding about that last picture, but I do see how you can get pretty sauced visiting those wineries. We only stopped at two that afternoon, and at the second, a winery I do not recall the name of although we did buy two bottles of wine there (see? see what happens?) the guy pouring us the samples took a liking to us or something and started giving us tons of stuff that wasn’t on the list at no charge. Needless to say, we felt pretty good about Napa.
Later that night we made it to San Francisco where we met up with our friends Alex and Natalia and some of Natalia’s wonderful family in the city.
I met Natalia and Alex when I was a freshman in college and all three of us were living in Loretto Hall, a housing complex located on the campus of Emmanuel College, a small, women’s college, that BU started using when they didn’t have enough housing of their own. Because our dorm was so far away from everything else, and because that city is so cold, we all spent a lot of time in Loretto, and consequentially, with each other, and got to be great friends.
That’s a picture of me and Natalia outside the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. She’s cute, huh?
Alex and Natalia live just outside the city so staying with them was perfect for us. And J and I were lucky, because they were the most amazing hosts. Every night they pulled out the sofa bed and made us a comfortable, cozy place to sleep. They made us delicious breakfast (including Natalia’s Columbian hot chocolate one morning) and dinner and acted us tour guides, driving us all around the city.
I can’t even go into detail about all of it because we did so much and had so much fun. But just so you know, we visited Berkeley, learned about science in the Exploratorium, we went to see Beach Blanket Babylon, drank locally brewed beer, ate Italian food in North Beach, got all Zen at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge which was ensconced in San Francisco’s legendary fog and visited the lovely town of Sausalito and Natalia, Alex and I recounted tons of Boston memories.
Yup. All that.
Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the trip.
Here’s how foggy it was on the bridge:
Here’s J teaching Natalia some guitar skills so she can be the next Shakira:
And when she does become a total rockstar we’ll be back to see her make her debut in some hot club because, no doubt, we’ll be visiting San Francisco, beautiful San Francisco, again.
Mon 19 Nov 2007
I was going to take some time this morning and write a nice, long update of our most recent travels but J and I are anxious to get out of the Monterey/Carmel area, where we stayed last night so we’ll have enough time to explore Big Sur and hopefully tour the Hearst Castle today.
So, for the time being, I’ll leave you with the above picture we took yesterday in Pacific Grove when we parked the car for a few minutes and walked down to the shore.
I’ve got tons of pictures and stories to post from our time in San Francisco, of course, and I’ve promised myself some down time tonight to write about all that. It’s hard, because we know we could spend countless days in all these places, but the nature of seeing the entire country is that we can only spend a little time in each place, and that means I sometimes have to hurry and can’t linger over coffee and blog writing.
But it’s all relative, kind of like how we were just debating how much time we really need to spend driving down the coast today since all we’ve done for the past week or so is drive down roads featuring seriously breathtaking views, stopping from time to time to get a better look, relax, take a picture, and we can’t be heartbroken if we don’t get to do that for, like, 12 million hours today. I mean, we’re three thousand miles from home and there’s still a lot of country out there to see.
Sat 17 Nov 2007
…hanging out in San Francisco, a city we love, with our friends Alex and Natalia, who are being the most wonderful hosts. Right now I’m still in my pajamas and we’re about to have breakfast so I’ll save the serious reporting on the past few days for tomorrow, I think. But don’t worry, I’ll be back with stories, including tales of spotting our first elk and honing our wine tasting skills in Napa. That’s right, we do it all.
Fri 16 Nov 2007
“What’s that over there? A bird?”
“Yup, I think so.”
“Anything interesting? Or just an LBJ?”
“LBJ. Little Brown Job.”
“Excuse me? Is that a real term?”
“Yeah. A birding term.”
“Where did you learn that?”
“Well, books. I read a lot of birding books.”
“Oh my God.”
“You’re not allowed to put that -”
“On the blog? Oh, yes I am. You can’t stop me. You have no right.”
Fri 16 Nov 2007
At Redwood National Park in Crescent City, CA
Thu 15 Nov 2007
We’ve done a lot in the last few days and I’m sitting here in a motel room just off California 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway) near Mendocino trying to post everything I meant to post on this blog, all at once.
Last time I left you in the real time version of this blog we were sitting in a Starbucks trying to figure out what to do after leaving Portland. After checking the weather forecast and making a couple calls we realized the worst of the bad storm that had hit the Oregon coast was over and we could head down that way after all.
This was great news because we’d really been looking forward to the Oregon coast, even though the Oregon coast, kind of like northern Idaho, was a place I knew absolutely nothing about until reading guide books and talking to people.
Over the course of a couple days, starting in Astoria, we drove down the entire thing on 101, stopping for the night in Cannon Beach the first night and Yachats the second (the movie “Goonies” was filmed in both Astoria - where it took place - and Cannon Beach, and you might recognize the huge rock featured in the pictures below).
I was in love with these towns the minute I saw them, especially Astoria with its Victorian houses set high on a hillside and have already begun planning our retirement there even though J says he “wants to stay on the east coast.”
We took our time, stopping as often as we wanted to check out the amazing views. Oregon is known for it’s rocky shoreline - huge rocks jut up out of the ocean at random intervals. Most famous is Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach.
When I walked over to the beach and saw that site in the morning (we’d gotten in after dark the night before), I’m telling you, it took my breath away. The sky was so blue, the air so clear and I just felt so good in the presence of it all.
The feeling pretty much overrode the other feeling I was having, which was a slight headache because, you see, the other notable thing we did on the Oregon Coast was go into a local brewpub the night before with the idea of having one local beer, but instead we met these two girls who lived in Cannon Beach (both our age) at the bar and we ended up having, you know, sort of more than one local beer.
This experience lacks scenic photographs but did include a lot of from-the-heart (and very loud) talks about true love, travel and what life in their little town is like (”Everybody knows EVERYTHING about EVERYONE here!”).
Thu 15 Nov 2007
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