Not the most interesting title, but then I’m trying to talk myself into actually writing this post. I’ll post some pictures, and make a few comments, because a picture is worth a thousand words, anyway, right? I guess the reason for this trip was family togetherness, though not the way you might think. Ted was taking a business trip and didn’t want to be there alone. He persuaded Beth to go along, and Serena wasn’t about to stay home while Mom and Dad were gallivanting around in California! As it turns out, she wouldn’t have been alone, for Lydia was there during her month off between SPEAC school and the start of freshman year at OSU. Lydia most conveniently house-sat and tended all the various life forms in our absence.
Our first stop was Irvine (near Los Angeles) where Ted joined us after several days of training in San Francisco. We spent the weekend with Stephen’s family (Ted’s brother). Our time there included a nice evening out in Laguna Beach, with dinner at a very classy Mexican restaurant. Here’s everyone but me taking in the scenery.
That’s Riley and Stephen on the other side of Serena. I, of course, was taking the picture! Lucy, you’ll be interested to hear that we came across some folks lawn bowling, or playing bocci ball. There was a large area just for this activity — smooth lawn bordered by small concrete gutter. It was very interesting to watch.
Saturday, we spent the morning at the local farmer’s market, finding lots of luscious S. Cal. produce. We were buying for our evening cookout. Serena managed to find some jewelry there, too. Back at the house, we had a hilarious time preparing food in Stephen’s small kitchen. I had vegetables to cut up for grilling, Riley had volunteered to make a gourmet salad, and Serena needed to process peaches for pies. Stephen got the meat marinating, then tried to satisfy all our different requests for knives, containers, food processors, etc. I took my veggies out on the patio to slice to escape the madness!
That mission accomplished, we headed for Corona del Rey to spend an hour or so at the beach. Riley and Serena investigated tide pools while the 3 grownups sat around in beach chairs in the sun and wind. After church in the evening, we came back to our collaborative cookout, at which we were joined by Stephen’s oldest son, Beckham. The meal was scrumptious!
We went to church on Sat., because we got up early Sunday morning to drive up to San Francisco via the Pacific Coast Highway. I felt like I was in a different country, the scenery was so different from what I was used to on the east coast. Here are 2 of the best pictures. I was continually frustrated at the lack of a good digital SLR camera!
We arrived in San Francisco at our hotel in the evening after a very scenic day. Ted then drove back out to the airport to turn in our rental car. By the time he took public transportation back to the hotel, his back was really bothering him. This finally cleared up about Tuesday after some mega doses of pain reliever.
So much for family togetherness. For the next 4 days, Ted went off each morning to the VMworld conference, while Serena and I went off sight-seeing. Here’s a very short synopsis of where we went:
Monday — Van tour to Yosemite National Park. Yes, I know, we were supposed to be seeing San Francisco, but I had never seen Yosemite, and didn’t want to miss the chance. The van picked us up shortly after 6:30 in the morn, and returned us there about 8pm. With us in the van was a couple from Portugal, a couple from Australia, a couple from Wisconsin and one from Rhode Island, two girls from London, and a single guy from Minnesota. Our driver, Curt, was very informative, and helped us all feel like a chummy group! We hit the high spots. Here is El Capitan (large cliff face at left), with Half dome very hazy in the center.
At lunch time, this little feller was so sure I had food for him, that he jumped up on the bench right beside me. Not shy, this one!
Our last stop was near one of the groves of giant sequoias in the park. We had to hike a mile down to see them, and consequently a mile back up afterwards! I had my cane with the fold-down seat, so stopped several times on the way back up to rest. Here’s Serena in front of one of the giants.
Tuesday — Alcatraz Island and the waterfront area. I had booked a tour to Alcatraz Island for educational purposes. After all, school is in session! Serena had seen the movie, “Escape from Alcatraz,” so was interested in touring the prison. It is an interesting place, with an excellent audio tour included in the tour price. The only thing I hadn’t planned on was the effect of it also being a bird sanctuary: it stank, and there were thousands of flies!! After we took the ferry back to SF, we had lunch. I had promised the gal who cuts my hair that I would eat some clam chowder in the famous sourdough bread bowl for her. Here’s proof that I did!
After lunch, we strolled past Fisherman’s wharf on the way to Ghirardeli Square. We managed to resist the lure of the Wax Museum and Ripley’s Believe it or Not, but Serena was captured by a jewelry store farther in the same block. Sarah, this picture is for you. It was like a Claire’s multiplied by 6! This whole side of the store, as far as you can see back, was all earrings.
I was so pooped from all the walking, that I didn’t go with Ted to the evening social time, so we didn’t see him until late in the day. Serena and I hung out in our small room, from whose window you could look down and see the entrance to Chinatown. We both read in bed!
Wed. — de Young Art Museum, Japanese Tea Garden. Tuesday we figured out the streetcars. Today we ventured on the metro to go to Golden Gate Park. Why it’s called that, I don’t know, because it’s not on the waterfront near the bridge, but in the middle of the city. It is a large park, with many features. We only went to the two listed. After wandering around in the art museum, we were ready for a tea and snack break in the Japanese Tea Garden. This garden is really well done, with so many circuitous paths that you feel secluded even with many other people in the garden. Perhaps its most intriguing feature was the Japanese drum bridge.
Serena did persuade me to climb up there, too — practically like climbing a ladder. Getting up was easier that getting back down! While we drank green tea at the little Japanese cafe, we were visited by a host of hopeful birds. One was crafty enough to steal cookies from the window of the cafe hut when the servers were busy elsewhere!
When we returned, I took a shower to perk me up, for Wed. night was the big entertainment staged by VMware for the conference attendees. This was the real reason Ted wanted me to come — so he didn’t have to go to this alone! “This” was a “San Francisco Street Party” held on an island out in the bay on the grounds of an old naval base. A huge hangar was set up like a street with different cultural/ethnic areas off to either side, each with food and entertainment. Inside was crowded and loud, with competing entertainment sounds. Outside included bleachers and a stage with live entertainment. It was also crowded and loud, plus something like a carnival midway, with carnival food and lots of tents to try to win cheesy stuffed animals by throwing things in, or knocking things down. We came home with a lime green squid (perhaps the Kraken from “Pirates II”, for it had a pirate hat and eye patch). Notice I didn’t say one of us actually WON it. I did see a few people win things fair and square, but like most carnival games, these were very difficult to get 2 out of three, or knock every single piece down. So they started giving some away to those who got very close, or to children just because they were kids. I got ours in a putt-putt situation by getting very close twice! So there you have it.
While Ted and I were partying, Serena was out on the town with cousin Emilie, who attends college in SF. They had a lively evening eating out (Italian?), then later gorging on this banana split at a diner.
We also had a short visit with Emilie in the hotel room after everybody got back from their various entertainments.
Thursday — final day! Serena and I finished packing up everything, and took it down to the front desk, where we were able to store it after we checked out, until Emilie picked us up late afternoon. In the meantime, this was our day to do Chinatown! We had already been amazed at the number of … shall we say, emporiums…you know, import stores, near our hotel. We had already spent some time drooling in these stores as we walked to or from our other activities. Perhaps most amazing were the intricate ivory or bone carvings — one a huge sailing ship! Here is a small piece, but intricate. Note the chain of the bridle.
Anyway, we’re supposed to be in Chinatown. Serena and I were too busy looking, buying, and carrying packages to bother with pictures this day. It was a great place to pick up some Christmas presents. You had your typical rather cheapo store, a zillion jewelry stores, and also some very fine stores with imports from not only China, but Japan, Mongolia, and environs. It was interesting to to see the contrast between something like a “dollar” store, and on the other hand fine antique stores. We lunched in Chinatown while we were there. My philosophy was, “look on the way up the street, and buy on the way back” (to minimize the distance we had to carry packages). The challenge was to remember what we wanted to buy in which store on the way back, and to find it again! We did manage it, then also had to manage to find a place for our purchases in our luggage when we returned to the hotel.
Emilie picked us up at the hotel in the late afternoon for a short driving tour of a few places we hadn’t managed to see yet. She took us up telegraph hill to see the view from the memorial tower up there, and also rode us down the famous very curvy street whose name I can’t remember (Lombard?)! Serena’s mission was to find again the jewelry store in the picture, above, where she wanted to buy a ring that she had seen earlier. She wasn’t sure before that she would have enough money after Chinatown, but she did. Mission was accomplished. We picked up Ted at the end of his conference and proceeded to one of Emily’s favorite restaurants. Serena and I waited there about 30 minutes for a table to be ready back on the patio, and for Emilie and Ted to return from parking the car. Thankfully, both occurred at about the same time.
After a pleasant meal and visit, Emilie delivered us to the SF airport. Getting to the departure gate was somewhat of an ordeal, since Ted had to declare the gun in his suitcase (fill out a form, wait, be escorted with said gun in said suitcase to security checkpoint for screening, return with escort to airline counter to finally check suitcase to go on plane). The other ordeal was Ted getting through his extreme annoyance at finding that he had forgotten and left his pocket knife in his pocket! This resulted in a quick trip backwards to find the entrepreneurs who ship forbidden objects home for forgetful people. We did make it onto our flight in plenty of time, getting minuscule amounts of uncomfortable sleep on two different planes overnight on the way back, and losing three hours of perfectly good time somewhere between CA and KY. I haven’t found it since!