Friday, June 27, 2008

Back from the Golden State

Yes, it was golden - golden grass waving in the wind; Golden Gate, the famous bridge; gold in the streets (huh?), and definitely gold in their gas tanks - $4.87 a gallon!

Here, in the photo below, we are trying to save some of that gas by cycling across the Golden Gate bridge. C and S were on the tandem - it worked well! (for her, ha ha....)

A tall ship in the harbour - I think at sunset - we were up so early it's hard to know if that was sunrise or sunset!!

Here is a brief synopsis of our trip, and I'll include links with all S's photos on Picasa listed by day. If you click on the images in Picasa, a larger image should come forth or you could just watch the slideshow.

Day one was Monday, June 16. We flew on the McKee jet from Chattanooga, via Pueblo, CO to Santa Rosa CA, arriving around 10:00am local time (1pm EDT). After getting our rental car, we drove down to San Francisco - sunny all the way until we came to the fog near the Golden Gate bridge and covering the town and surrounding area. We went west at the bridge to the Marin headlands and the Point Bonita lighthouse etc. COLD, gray and blustery, whew!

Mid afternoon we drove into San Francisco itself and drove around looking at the sights and driving down the famous Lombard street etc, etc. We checked into the Fort Mason Hostel (yes, not Hotel), around 3pm then took a short walk around the local area
which included the harbour/wharf. The photos will tell you more.

Tuesday morning we were up bright and EARLY. It was windy and chilly but sunny and bright - when the sun eventually came up, ha ha! We got some good photos. We also got on the cable car (at 6:50am mind you)and drove up and down some impressively steep hills, stopping way downtown for breakfast and more walking around - see Grace cathedral photos and others. During that long day we also rented bikes and cycled across the bridge and back (10 plus miles total). After returning the bikes, we walked to the wharf for lunch on pier 39 overlooking some noisy sea-lions. We got to see a lot but the feet were quite weary at day's end.

Wednesday morning C and I were up around 4am and watched 4 very cute baby skunks waddling and playing around the back/ocean facing lawn near a lamp pole. Later we saw their mother waddle up the hill into the gum trees and that was that. The little ones bedded down for the day in a huge blackberry bramble. We also watched and listened to many other animals such as gulls and sea-lions - who didn't seem to ever be totally quiet. We had a lovely view of the ocean from our windows. We took an early morning walk down to the harbour and back, and to some community gardens much like the Victory gardens we worked in in Boston. After breakfast, we packed up, drove around a little more, then headed north up the coast travelling on the scenic Highway 1.

This is a most picturesque route with gorgeous vistas at every turn. We meandered up the coast, stopping here and there, arriving at our destination, Albion Field Station, at mid-afternoon. C was most thrilled to find there were 2 other little girls to play with there ages 6 and 8. Later another 7 yr old girl joined them - wow!! Almost too much to bear!

On Thursday morning after breakfast, the little girls headed for the low-tide river where they searched for crabs and eels, finding plenty. After playing at that, the hapless creatures were thrown back in - to be re-found and re-caught the next day....if they hadn't learned their lesson the day before!

Mid-morning we headed over to Mendocino to look in the tide pools there. Too glorious to describe - the photos will do much better at that. We also played on the Mendocino beach, building things in the sand with tons of driftwood.

The next several days were spent tide-pooling (at Mer Kerricher and Mendocino tide-pools)at low tide, walking around Mendocino, playing at Big River beach and other beaches, playing and skating at Albion, going to the pygmy forest, the glass beach, Cabrillo Lighthouse, Mendocino headlands, canoeing up the river and back, seeing harbour seals up-river a ways and a man building his house in the middle of the river, volunteering with the kitchen and landscaping crews, and very fortunately, sitting in on the "critiques" (at 7pm) of paintings done during every day at the 2 week art class being held while we were there! We just had a whale of a time - can't begin to describe everything properly...wish it hadn't come to an end. It was also "nice" being cut off from the rest of the world - no cell phone coverage, and spotty internet. (It was nice having a husband around again, ha ha).

Day 6.
Day 7.
Day 8.

One big event that occurred of note - on Friday evening and Sabbath morning, we had thunderstorms - almost unheard of, of course, in the Mediterranean climate there, which sparked over 800 fires in the area! Some were quite close but seemed to blow eastward and we were spared the brunt of the smoke and fires.

As we drove east on Tuesday, June 24, we drove into thick blue/gray smoke which just got thicker and thicker as the day wore on. That day we drove up to PUC, walked around there and got a good feel for the campus, then back down into the Napa valley to visit Elmshaven - the beautiful last residence of Ellen White - very peaceful, serene and lovely. (Inside, taking the tour were the Lauritzens - probably West for their son's wedding). By this time the smoke was causing me a headache...., and the drive over the mountains from the Napa valley into Santa Rosa made C a little car-sick! We both recovered, I think.

Day 10.

Next morning before 9am, the plane departed for Chattanooga - via Wisconsin this time to pick up 8 people, - and we were home (at CHA airport) by 5:30pm local time. Of course, as we ascended, we rose above the smoke but I was amazed at how far the smoke had blown east - there was still a blue haze even over the plain states. I haven't even mentioned the great topography we saw from the plane, going west and east. Just a few of the landmarks we saw from the plane (either going West or East) were: the Mississippi and other rivers and lakes, the round and square plots of irrigated land, the Rockies, Sierras and other ranges, two planes re-fueling in mid-air, a Fed-Ex plane passing less than 1000 ft below us, Mono Lake, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite Nat'l park, Napa valley, the raw canyons of Utah and Nevada, the flooded rivers in the mid-west. We also flew directly over Mt Rushmore and the Crazy Horse. And I've left out many other things, too numerous to mention. It was fun to look at the map in reality - the scale was awesome!!

Take care til next time....