Monday, October 27, 2008

0055--Gary and Andy's Wedding

Gary and Andy's wedding, held at their home on their fifth anniversary, was the whole reason for our trip. They had a great day for the event--weather sunny and in the 80s most of the day--and a crowd of 60 or 70 guests. Delicious Ethiopian food was served (a nod to the cuisine they fell in love with on one of their first dates). Gary and Andy wore kilts they had custom-made in Scottland, on their pre-wedding honeymoon last month. They're just a wonderful couple and it was great to share in the celebration of their marriage.

0054--Muir Beach Overlook

Leaving San Francisco, we headed across the Golden Gate Bridge and down Highway 1, a narrow road that winds tightly through the hills to the coast and along the Pacific. We stopped at Muir Beach Overlook as the sun was setting. The view was breathtaking, extending from the lights of San Francisco on the left to tall, craggy cliffs and outcroppings on the right. A narrow walkway extended out onto a rock promontory, providing another view of the incredible landscape. Once it was too dark to see, we traveled on to Stinson Beach, a small, picturesque beach town where we stopped for a good dinner. Armed with Gary and Andy's GPS, we decided to take a "scenic" route home along a road that was unmarked on our paper maps. It turned out to be an insane, one-lane, snake with one hairpin turn after another. It wound through the hills with no guardrails and incredible drops to every side. Massive coastal redwoods lined the road, which stretched on for 17 miles (at about 20mph). We drove the whole way without ever seeing another car or any sigh of human activity. Ron nicknamed it "Yeti Boulevard," since he was convinced a Big Foot was going to jump out of the shadows (which did seem like a possibility).

0053--Fisherman's Wharf

Headed down to the Fisherman's Wharf, lured by the promise of seeing some seals and sea lions--which were definitely in abundance. It was incredible watching them interact atop the floats where they come to safely harbor and sunbathe. The Fisherman's Wharf area is basically a huge array of shops and restaurants strung out along pier 39 in the San Francisco Bay (and in the adjacent waterfront areas. It's touristy, but we still had a good time walking around.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

0052--Haight and Ashbury

Took us remarkably little time to find street parking in this busy neighborhood--the fates were smiling--and set out walking about, checking out all the shops in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. Naturally, Ron was able to sniff out the nearest accordions and test-drove a really fancy (but insanely overpriced) one. I picked up a few little things at a couple of shops, then we stopped for lunch at a place called the Pork Store Cafe. Didn't get the scoop on the name, but there was lots of great non-pork food to be had. Walked around some more, then went to the Victorian Punch Room, a nifty, old bar that serves three kinds of signature punches in addition to the regular bar standards. Very cool place.

0051--Golden Gate Bridge

A shot from the Golden Gate Bridge overlook. Not the best time of day to photograph it (sun was in our eyes), but impressive to see nonetheless.

Friday, October 24, 2008

0050--Arriving in San Francisco

Arrived in San Francisco via the Bay Bridge and headed right across town, skirting the bay-- checking out the piers and just taking in the whole spectacle.

0049--Scenic Route to San Francisco

Headed out early this morning for San Francisco, taking a scenic byway that wound through acres of pear and nut orchards, vineyards, and small towns.
Gary and Andy, whose wedding we are her for in the first place, were kind enough to loan us their GPS unit, which was actually pretty cool--even for a confirmed, old-school fan of big paper maps. Navigating the quick turns--and the expressways, once we got into urban territories--was amazingly easy.

0048--Angels Camp, CA

We drove through Angels Camp, CA, on our way to Big Tree and thought it looked so cool we should stop for a visit on our way back through. Our first stop was a great Italian-style bistro, where we had lunch. Then, it was on to the music store a few doors down. Spent quite a while chatting with the owner there--really nice lady. Then we checked out a world-market shop that had an ice cream parlor in the back. Again, the people were really friendly. The woman at the counter offered total self-awareness for a quarter, but we opted for waffle cones. Angels Camp has a big frog-jumping contest every year, and the street is marked with "walk of fame" inlays, commemorating the winners back to the 1930s. It's a old mining town with great covered sidewalks and tons of odd little shops. Nice stop.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

0047--A Bird

0046--Ravenous Cone Eaters

These tiny squirrels--about the size of chipmunks--were all over the redwoods, eating and burying the pinecones.

0045--Calaveras Big Tree State Park

Calaveras Big Tree State Park is about 4000 feet above sea level (lots of ear-popping on the drive) and home to some amazing, enormous trees. They can be up to 3000 years old and 300 feet tall. The largest one in this grove survives only as a stump (it was felled in 1832)--but what a stump: over 30 feet in diameter! Some of the names carved into it from early visitors are dated in the mid-1800s. Really incredible.

0044--Unique Opportunities

Unique spiritual and home-defense opportunities abound in sunny California.

0043--Driving in Northern California

Arrived in California last night after a long but uneventful flight. The balmy 70-degree weather at midnight was a nice incentive to keep moving from airport, to rental car, to hotel--even though it was about 3:00am our time. Tracking down something--anything--to eat made it about 4:30am (again, our time) before we finally made it to bed.
Had a great night's sleep, though, and decided to head out toward Calaveras Big Tree State Park, about two hours away.
The drive took us through some wonderful countryside. Lots of goats, llamas, vineyards, and vast acres of open land. (Oh--and nuclear reactors.)