Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Short vacation in California

Most of you know this by now: Emma won a week-long trip to California some time ago and chose to go now, end of September-beginning of October and asked me to accompany her. It's a really short trip, with lots to do and people to see.
We arrived in San Francisco last Saturday afternoon and got to the Hotel Vertigo just as night was coming. Good thing because all we wanted to do was sleep. That meant we got up very early on Sunday morning and waited patiently until just after 6:30 and set out to find a bank ATM and breakfast. The hotel is on Sutter, Nob Hill, and we found Lori's diner open at Sutter and Powell, where we had breakfast. From there we continued over a block to Post and Union Square, quite deserted at 7:30 on a Sunday morning. Down Post to Market, Financial District. So we took Montgomery and then saw that it was a rather steep climb up Telegraph Hill, so we took Pine up to Grant and walked through a charming, sleeping Chinatown, so different from what you usually see with tourists swarming all over the place. Anyway, we continued on Grant all the way to Fisherman's Wharf and walked around there a bit until we walked back up Powell, with a slight detour at the end, to Sutter and back to the hotel. That was about 5.5 miles (8.7 km.) and it was just after 9!
Emma had a friend pick her up and at elevenish, Psylvia picked me up and took me, first, on a little hike to the beach and then on to her house. We talked and talked, and talked some more. And we walked. It's a beautiful walk, Tennessee Valley! And it was hot! She lives in Fairfax, up on the side of a hill (her vegetable garden looked like it was three flights of stairs below the deck!) on a two-way, one-lane winding road -- beautiful and shady. Although it was really hot out, the house was comfortable. Paula managed to come -- a four-hour drive in from Nevada, where she's been working on a voter-registration campaign! Rachel, unfortunately, was not able to come down from her place as she had hoped to. A baby decided it was time and a midwife can't ask the mother to put it on hold! She did manage to call when we were all together, so that was nice. It was all too short because just after 5, Psyl and Paula drove me over to catch a bus back to the city. Pablo, Psyl's husband sent me off with a supply of books. (Today, I finished the first one and traded it with a British lady at the pool at the hotel, who had just finished the book she was reading...). Pablo was very much like Paul in his patience with all the gabbing going and and took pictures of the three of us high school friends together.
I got back to the hotel just before 7 and Emma got back at about 7:30. She, too, had gone to the Pacific, a bit higher up on the peninsula! They drove through Fairfax on their way back. If only we had known, they could have picked me up! We went to a Thai restaurant, Lers Ros, that Psylvia had recommended and just a couple of blocks from the hotel. And it was well-recommended. There was quite a crowd, so we had to wait a bit for the second seating and it looked like there was going to be a third sitting when we saw the people waiting as we left.
On Monday, yesterday, we got up early again, but we had picked up some bagels, cream cheese and yogurt on our way back from the restaurant, so we had breakfast in the room and headed down to the Embarcadero and then to the rental car agency, where we had to wait forever. We finally got the car and picked up our bags at the hotel (by the way, it's a fine hotel, very comfortable and with a very friendly and helpful staff) and headed off for Monterey. We drove through the park, past the conservatory and I took a picture. This will go with the one I took in 1967! Scenic coastal CA 1 all the way to Monterey. We stopped for a light lunch at a taqueria -- excellent and cheap. I hiked to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which got top scores in the guide book we had. They do great work and you pay for it. There's got to be a better balance between research and entertainment. It costs a fortune to visit. I can't imagine a family visit. Emma hadn't been tempted and went on a walk on her own and found me at the exit of the aquarium. We walked back to the fisherman's wharf, where, you are told, you must try the clam chowder. Well, every restaurant was giving out samples of its clam chowder, so after a few samples, you've had dinner!
Today was the drive from Monterey to San Simeon. It's a beautiful drive. One minute you're along the ocean, the next in a redwood forest or a eucalyptus grove. It's a windy road, so, although, this is not where I would have chosen to stop (there's nothing but the Hearst Castle to visit), it's nice to have the time to relax by the pool, read, and now, do some blogging. We're going to go down to the next town for dinner, soon. I was going to see another high school mate in L.A., but she's not going to be able to meet me after all, so we had a nice chat while I was at the pool. That was good.

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