Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Monday 10th November

Number Guy had to work, so we set up camp in a hotel in Mountain View. Different Hotel - same crappy breakfast...


I had more than breakfast on my mind - C, fellow British native and Rowanette- had kindly offered to take me out both Mondays that I was in Mountain View. I think we were both a bit nervous, to tell the truth. We had never actually met in person and it's a long day if you don't hit it off. Happily (for both of us) we got along like a house on fire. Now that I think about it, that isn't such a good choice of words. California has a 'fire season' and homes and lives were in danger. Thankfully, C and her family were all safe, but my thoughts definitely go out to those affected.


We had a relaxing day (well, it was for me since I was neither driver nor tour guide!) visiting beaches, forests, coastal viewing points.


And of course, no visit with a local would be the same without a visit to an LYS. C warned me as we drove up - 'It doesn't look much, if you didn't know what was inside you wouldn't bother.' She was right - it looked like like a petrochemical nightmare. But step into Purlescence and you will find a knitting/spinning heaven. I was very restrained and only purchased two skeins of Socks that Rock and one skein of alpaca laceweight.


On that happy note, C dropped me at the hotel to await my prince...


Once said prince arrived, we headed off to Palo Alto for something to eat. We happened across Sprout and had a couple of amazing salads.So good, in fact, that we ate there twice. Good food, if you knew where to look, was definitely outweighing the bad

Monday, 24 November 2008

is it jet lag or am I just being lazy?

Slept like a log from 8.30pm until 4.00pm. Awake until about 6.00am, had to drag my ass out of bed at 10. I'm not convinced that this is a result of the travel, since I do have episodes like this from time to time. Not complaining though - I didn't have to go to work today...


So, where was I? Ah - THAT trip on Highway 1.


The weather on our first Saturday was a bit gloomy. We headed north and then roughly west through Muir Woods . By the time we got there the fog was coming in, so we couldn't see the wood for the trees, or the trees for the wood...you get the idea. Patches of sunlight kept breaking through, so we drove onwards to meet up with
Highway 1. All of the advice given in the website is well given. It would have been a bit hair-raising at the best of times, but add horizontal rain, fog and nightfall it turned out to be a it of a nightmare. In the UK there are barriers along the edge of dangerous roads. Not on HWY 1. At some points the road can only be inches from the edge. The driving conditions just kept getting worse. I'm sure the view would have been spectacular, had we been able to see it. I'm not planning on doing it again any time soon to check it out, though.


At one point in the afternoon we stopped for some food - it was awful, so I left it. Number Guy needed the fuel, so he was forced to eat his. I wasn't downhearted, though - we were headed back to Sebastapol where I knew I could get something good at the East West Cafe (that lamb salad again, yum!).


We got back to the hotel, fed, watered and weary at about 8.00pm. The day had turned out to literally be a washout, but I knew that there was indeed breathtaking scenery when the weather finally decided to let up.


Sunday saw us driving to Mountain View via Carmel along HWY 1.The road at this point was much better, so I was able to enjoy the coastline. It was stunning. No other way to describe it. We stopped for lunch at a somewhat dubious-looking roadside cafe which turned out to serve great food, so by now the good food experiences were outweighing the bad.

Carmel is very picturesque and the beach is stunning. Unfortunately the infection that had been following me around for 4 weeks decided to lodge in my sinuses, so I was feeling really crappy. We cut the visit short and headed to
Monterey. As luck would have it we stumbled upon a clinic on our way to Fisherman's Wharf so I was at least armed with a prescription.


Again, can't remember the name of the restaurant, but we had another great meal. Mine was a bit like risotto, but with very small pasta instead of rice. It had crab and lots of garlic - I wish I could have bottled it and brought it home.


Got to Mountain View about 9.00pm, a great time had been had by all.


ETA - forgot to say that we were sat by a window while we had our meal. Turns out is it a favourite site for brown pelicans , which are actually grey. Some were intent on sleeping, others were coming and going. They don;t seem to be the most agile of birds but we managed to avoid any pelican-through-window incedents :0)

Sunday, 23 November 2008

First full day.

Number Guy and I decide we have a mission - find some good food. So far all we had seen was fast food outlets, in even greater number than the UK. Things were not looking good. In a somewhat reflective (and Hobbity mood) Number Guy asked, in a plaintive voice ' Do you think they've heard of second breakfast?'.


We headed south west into the
Russian River Valley ,in search of lunch, to Sebastopol . We struck gold first try, in the form of the East West Cafe. I can't remember what Number Guy had, but I devoured one of the best lamb salads ever. There's only one word to describe my state after this - replete.


Feeling all warm and fuzzy, we headed into a bookshop close to the cafe. A few
essential books were purchased before heading west to Bodaga Bay for a stroll along the beach. We then headed inland towards
Healdsburg with only a brief stop for
salt water taffy which is ridiculously moreish. Some people might say that I had more than my fair share. I'll plead the 5th ;0)


The road to Healdsburg passes many vineyards, which were looking a little bereft without their leaves. We saw many houses built within the woods - I guess this makes it cooler, but too gloomy for my taste. I need lots of light and these houses looked darker than a bad day in Glasgow.


The small part of Healdsburg that we saw was very pretty - the fact that they had a great fabric shop may have influenced my feelings somewhat..... We stopped so that I could do the obligatory wine tasting and asked for a recommendation for dinner. Can't remember the name of the place, just that it was on the main square (no, not due to wine consumption!). Dinner wasn't quite as good as lunch, but it was still delicious. We struck up conversation with a lovely couple who were delighted by the election result - in fact, during our holiday many people seemed eager to tell us how great this was.

We got back to the hotel about 9ish, still suffering from the effects of jet lag. This meant that the completely inane and pointless canned music in the hallway failed to keep us awake. Really, what is the point of that? It's bad enough in lifts!


Our plan for the next day was to drive along Highway 1, the coast road. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake, but more of that tomorrow.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

back

Back in Z├╝rich. From sunshine in California to snow here. Just a little bit of a shock, as you can imagine.


Jet lag has not been as bad as I was expecting - I think it was worse going than coming for me, which is the opposite to Number Guy.


I wish I could put some amazing photos here, but my camera was out of action....


So how was the trip? I would give it 8/10. I had a great time overall, but it didn't start out that way.


First impression after flying for 12 hours from Amsterdam to San Francisco? Grilled meat. Yep, you read that correctly. The airport has a continual meaty smell. Thus far, my stereotypical views of the US were confirmed. (yeh, I know, I was only in the country 5 minutes....).


After collecting our 'small' rental car, we drove north over the Golden Gate Bridge towards Sanoma County. I was all ready to be stunned by the Golden Gate...but I was....underwhelmed. It may have the edge on colour, but
The Forth Road Bridge which joins Fife to South Queensferry (near Edinburgh) far outstrips it. Oh well, onwards north through California. Again, nothing but disappointment. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this wasn't it. Scrubby countryside peppered with ugly housing and industrial areas.


By this time I had been awake for well over 24 hours, so I guess I wasn't best placed to be positive about what I saw. Add to this the crappiest road signage I have ever seen, I was completely failing to see what is so great about California.


Eventually we reached our hotel in
Windsor and collapsed into bed about 8.30pm. A (very short) twelve hours later we emerged into the dining room for the worst breakfast I have ever seen.
Biscuits and Gravy. Lordy, what IS that about? Apparently it is a traditional Southern dish. Why didn't they just keep it there.....?


To sum up, just in case you didn't notice, at this point I am jet lagged and completely unimpressed by the experience thus far. However, some small portion of my brain is working, and I remind myself that just because something is different doesn't automatically make it bad (except Biscuits and Gravy. That is Just Plain Bad.) If I wanted it to be like Switzerland or Scotland, I should have stayed where I was.


Having given myself this foot up the backside we venture out to see just what California has to offer.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Go, America!

I am sitting at my laptop in tears of joy this morning. The US has just elected its first black President.

God Bless America!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Grrr

My iPod Shuffle is not old.


Why has it died???????????????

What's the best kind of mosquito?

A dead one.

It only took a year...

....to work out how to get the World Service and Radio 4 on my TV.