City

I headed to San Francisco for the first time in a decade.

It was a beautiful drive through wine country. It’s beautiful any time of year, but it was lovely to see the little lambs frolicking in the green fields, the vines leafing out, and the drifts of wildflowers everywhere.

I was lucky with traffic, and it wasn’t long until the dreaming spires of San Francisco appeared:

Onto the Bridge:

And past the City and County of San Francisco sign:

I don’t know why, but I have always loved that sign. When I lived there, it always made me happy to see it.

I do not like the new and unimproved tunnel entrance to San Francisco:

It’s ugly, and it cuts off the view. Fortunately, it’s relatively short, so it wasn’t long until I emerged into the traffic on Lombard Street, heading for my usual modest motel, just around the corner from my fabulously expensive former abode. I was taken aback by the new building that had replaced the vacant lot on Van Ness and Union, and also by the red bus lane now running down the middle of Van Ness.

A lot can happen in a decade.

A YEAR AGO: A mystery. This Miss Marple was on the case.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A delightful family dinner.

TEN YEARS AGO: Setting off for San Francisco. Little did I knwo it would be another 10 years before I returned!

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: My beautiful Rita. I still miss her.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Sometimes my job included a trip to Symphony Hall.

Hotel

It was time for a little adventure, so I headed to the beautiful south coast. I decided to stay at a hotel right on the ocean. It was beautiful, and I loved the room:

The floors had radiant heat, so it was quite lovely to walk on them. Also, my house tends to be chilly, which is great in the summer, but less than fabulous the rest of the year. It was nice not to be bundled up.

There was also a fireplace, but no log. The only thing missing from the lovely bathroom was soap:

There was a rainfall shower head, and also a handheld shower. I have often wished for both of those things.

When I went down to the office to notify them of these absences, they asked if anything else was missing. Like it was normal for things to be missing. At least I had the log so I could enjoy a fire later, which I did. There was a balcony overlooking the ocean, where I enjoyed the sunset, along with a glass or two of sparkling wine.

The light through the window as the sun set was really beautiful:

Another small pleasure was realizing that I had forgotten to bring a couple of things, and I could walk to the store next door to get them! It made me feel like I was in a city again, even though all I could hear was the roar of the ocean. The closest store to my house is more than 6 miles away, not exactly walking distance. So it was a super fun novelty. You’re probably laughing about how exciting I found this right about now. I can’t help it. I’m a hick!

In the morning, I had coffee overlooking the ocean, enjoying every moment before hitting the road for an adventure.

Up next: giraffes and zebras!

FIVE YEARS AGO: I was at church. Yes. Really.

TEN YEARS AGO: A surprise wedding. Not mine, I hasten to add.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A good year.

Flamingo

It appears that the only reason I ever leave the County is to have expensive and painful dental procedures. The last time I ventured to Santa Rosa was for a root canal, and it’s debatable which was worse: the procedure or the shocking cost of the procedure, which I am still slowly and painfully paying off.

This time, it was to have my lower wisdom* teeth removed. The one on the right has been causing me all kinds of hell lately, and though I am very grateful for my sister’s ability to magically produce antibiotics and pain meds in the middle of the night, living on them is not a sustainable lifestyle, though I have certainly given it a serious try.

I refused to even contemplate such a horrifying procedure while conscious, so I had to go to an oral surgeon, and the closest one was in Santa Rosa. All the knock out appointments are in the morning, so I drove down the night before. If you have to worry about dental problems, why not do it in style? So off I went to the Flamingo, with its glamorous lobby:

It’s quite magical at night:

My room was lovely:

Here’s the seating area:

And the lovely bathroom:

I got Indian food delivered and watched a hockey game before going to sleep. I slept surprisingly well, considering the impending doom. All that glamor definitely helped.

*They should really be named Trouble Teeth or something that is more descriptive and more accurate. They should also hurry up and evolve into non-existence.

A YEAR AGO: File under miscellaneous.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Of rain, cats, and dogs.

TEN YEARS AGO: Rob finally got his permanent disability.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A good deed. And a very good dog.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: My wonderful in-laws were visiting us in San Francisco. It was a great time.

Flamingo


The Glamorous Flamingo Resort

It didn’t take long to drive from the “Birds” schoolhouse to the thriving metropolis of Santa Rosa. A sleepy small town when the Maestro filmed “Shadow of a Doubt” there in the 1940s, it is now a bustling city of about 180,000 people, and probably best known as the home of the late “Peanuts” cartoonist, Charles Schulz.

I was there on non-cartoon and non-Hitchcock related business, however. For many years, at least since I lived in San Francisco, I have wanted to stay at the fabulous Flamingo Resort. Originally built in the mid-1950s, it is quite striking:

It was recently renovated, with a glamorous new lobby:

In the (g)olden days, it hosted luminaries like Jayne Mansfield and Frankie Avalon. It’s hard to imagine anything more glamorous than Jayne at the Flamingo:

The room was small, but charmingly furnished:

I am now longing for a platform bed with a bench at its foot and built in bedside tables and lamps. I love the mint green phone and the floor lamp:

I enjoyed ordering Indian food, something not available in Hooterville or its immediate environs, and having that for dinner. I did not enjoy the piercing voices of the kids in the room across the hall. Either the remodel did not pay sufficient attention to sound-proofing, or the kids’ voices were unstoppable. Not for the first time, I considered the unreasonableness of the three day waiting period to buy a gun and how wise I was to not reproduce. Also how unused I was to having strangers’ conversations inflicted on me.

It’s probably not surprising that I didn’t sleep well. The bed was harder than I’m used to – I like my bed to feel like I’m sleeping on a cloud – and I am no longer used to ambient city noise, even when armed with earplugs and my pillow with its silk pillowcase. I was saddened to discover that there was only instant coffee – organic, but still instant – and only a teeny sachet, which I knew would be like drinking a brown crayon dipped in hot water. This is one time I was sorry to be proven right. Just when I really needed the caffeine!

I stopped by the iconic pool, quiet in the early morning, on my way out:

I then went to the Asian market to pick up things not readily obtainable in the country, including fresh lychees and dark soy sauce, and then went to get dim sum from the Santa Rosa outpost of Hang Ah:

I used to go to the original Hang Ah when I lived in San Francisco, and it is the oldest dim sum restaurant not only in San Francisco, but in the country. Their dim sum is fabulous. The har gao is my favorite.

Suitably armed with delicacies, I made my way to the freeway, which was somewhat daunting after years of driving the two lane blacktop of Highway One. I have truly become a bumpkin, my friends, unable to cope with crowds of humans or cars.

I was glad to get back home to the kitties, and the peace and quiet of my country life.

A YEAR AGO: Admiring Rob’s amazing art.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A delightful visit to the botanical gardens with Star and Stella. It was a great day. We miss you, Star!

TEN YEARS AGO: Erica and Jessica were getting ready to move. Sigh. I miss them, too.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Rita and I were feeling naughty. In keeping with today’s theme, I will add that I still miss the Lovely Rita, too.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Sweetness in the City.

Bodega

I took a couple of days off and decided to leave the County for the first time in four years. I am no longer the jet-setter I once was, when I used to fly to Europe at least once, and often twice a year, venturing as far afield as Russia. Now, I can’t remember the last time I went to San Francisco. This formerly urban girl has become a total bumpkin. This only became more clear to me as the trip went on.

The first stop was Bodega Bay, in neighboring Sonoma County. We used to go there for Christmas when Dad came for Christmas. He and Margaret would rent a house there, since it was partway between San Francisco (where I lived then) and Mendocino (where my brother and sister lived then and now), and we could wake up together on Christmas morning.

The last time I was there was in 1999, the last time Dad spent Christmas and New Year with us. But I used to drive north from San Francisco, almost as glamorous as Tippi Hedren in my 1966 silver-blue Mustang convertible. This was the first time I had driven south to Bodega Bay, along the scenic, though sometimes alarming Highway One. The highway runs along the ocean, and climbs precipitously, descends steeply, and winds like a snake while doing it. For extra fun, long stretches of this narrow two-lane blacktop have no guard rails on the ocean side, allowing one’s imagination to run wild with what could happen if a girl was insufficiently careful.

Fortunately, my worries were for naught, even though I would play for America if worrying were an Olympic sport (and why isn’t it? Everything else is), and I made it to Bodega in one rather relieved piece. Perhaps not surprisingly, there were many more houses than there were the last time I was there, though I did recognize many landmarks. The view was unchanged:

I was a little surprised by how emotional it was, being there. My intent was really to visit the few remaining landmarks from “The Birds” rather than to reminisce over the past, but it was impossible not to think about Dad and all those long-ago holidays. I’m glad we had that time together as adults. Also that I made a point of visiting him at least once as year. It amazes me that he has been gone for 20 years. And that I survived that loss. At least on the outside.

I headed inland toward the even smaller town of Bodega, putting the past behind me. In a short time, I arrived at the schoolhouse that featured in the movie:

It is now a private residence, and it must be quite tiresome for the residents to have people like me showing up and taking pictures of their home. It was built in 1883 and was a schoolhouse for many years:

It is unchanged from the movie, as far as I can tell, and you can see a little peek at the church which also had a bit part in the movie just to the side of the house.

After that, I headed further to east to Santa Rosa, which was also the place I went the last time I left the County, four years ago. But this time, I was staying overnight, and in a splendid resort, too.

A YEAR AGO: Not a tech fan.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Power was out at work, and the fabulous Predicta made its first appearance in our lives. We are overdue for a Predicta evening!

TEN YEARS AGO: Home improvement. Considerable improvement!

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Who needs Dear Abby when you have Dear Suzy?

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Whistler’s secret?

Firenze

In 1984, my father was invited to work for a few months at the University of Siena. He brought my mother and sister (who was 13 at the time) with him. I convinced him to take me along (I was 22), due to heartbreak and drama in my life. It was a good decision, not only because the outrageous admiration I received from Italian men was extremely therapeutic, but because living in Italy, even temporarily, was an amazing experience.

April 1, 1984

Two trips to Florence and one to Pisa.


Bus ticket to Florence

We visited the Uffizi gallery and the Raphael exhibit at the Pitti Palace. The rest of the palazzo was shut off because of the exhibit, but the rooms which housed the exhibit were as remarkable as the exhibit itself. I especially liked the first room where the actual paintings were set up, it was like Wedgwood, very textured, white and palest pink. There were no more than 20 paintings, but they were all very beautiful. In the following rooms, there were x-rays and ultra violet photographs of the paintings, examining the paints used, and drawings with the final paintings beside them.

The courtyard of the Uffizi was covered in graffiti, almost shockingly so. Inside the gallery, there was almost too much to take in, but the unforgettables for me were the unbelievable Botticelli “Spring” and “Birth of Venus”, which were breathtaking and almost made me weep for their beauty. The wonderful 5th century BC [actually 1st century] Venus in the Tribuna looked so alive and so beautiful you could fall in love with her. There were two portraits in the Tribuna of women who glowed out of their frames. There were also two wonderful self portraits by Rembrandt, painted 30 years apart. In the older portrait, he looked very dissipated indeed! He must have had a lot of fun in those 30 years.

Florence is a small (600,000 people) city and all the historical buildings and art galleries are quite close together, so just walking around is an experience and gives you a feel for the city and the people. We also explored the market in the Piazza San Marco, which was a great deal of fun and full of lovely things – lace, shoes, scarves, jewelry, gloves, all jumbled together.

It was a long drive to Pisa, but it was a radiant day, and since it was mostly new places en route, I wasn’t bored. When you leave a town in Italy, they have its name on a sign crossed out! We drove through the Chianti wine country, through groves of trees and up and down hills. You seem to climb imperceptibly in Tuscany and then you look down on a splendid view of the country beneath, farms, vineyards, houses. I still cannot get over the way everyone lives in medieval structures. Sometimes, you see an ancient, crumbling building that no one could possibly live in, but then you see the inevitable line of laundry hanging from the window.

Some delightful details en route: two carved wooden dragons over a doorway, a forsythia tree at the base of a palm tree. One English word the Italians seem to have taken to is “jolly”. There are Jolly hotels, cafes, restaurants, even garages!

In Pisa, the only thing to see is the tower, which was much smaller and prettier than I imagined.60% of Pisa was destroyed during WWII, so most of the town is new and not very interesting. The tower is white and grey, and Dad, Meg, and I climbed it – Meg even went up the part you needed a ladder to reach. You get a token and go through a turnstile like the subway.

After that, we drove to the sea. It was the first time Mom had seen the Mediterranean [I spent the summer of 1979 on the French Riviera, where I was shocked by the warmth of the Mediterranean’s waters. Among other things.]! Meg found some beach glass and a little tile worn to a perfect triangle. The sea was as blue as it is in France. It is very beautiful, exciting, yet hypnotic. We drove home past Volterra, a village famous for alabaster and Etruscan ruin

Amsterdam


Alice and me at her home in Amsterdam, 1991

I recently came across a box full of my travel diaries, including one with an account of a visit to my best friend, Alice, at her home in Amsterdam in 1991. It is shocking to think that this was 30 years ago. On the other hand, it’s delightful to know that we are still best friends and email each other pretty much every day. In fact, an email notification from her just flashed across my screen as I typed this.

So hop in the time machine and let’s go to Amsterdam, circa 1991!

March 22, 1991

I arrived at Gatwick at 11:10 and thought that I would have a lot of time to kill until the 12:15 boarding time [those were the days!], but by the time I had lined up for a boarding pass, passport control, and security, I had about 10 minutes to wait.

It was worthwhile getting a window seat, because I got to see a lot of England as we flew over – an impossible green divided by roads, hedges, and rivers – the Channel, and some of the Dutch coast and brilliantly blooming tulip fields. Met by Alice at the airport and we were so happy to see each other that we held hands all the way to the train station.

Alice and Claudie’s house is close to the central station in the old (that’s what the “O.Z.” stands for in their address) part of Amsterdam. It is also in the heart of the famous Red Light District, so I got a good view of the girls sitting in the windows.

The house’s foundation is from 1490, but the part where Alice and Claudie live is only from the 18th century. There are heavy wooden beams and many windows. Because of the height of the houses and the narrowness of the staircases, each house has a tall, wide window in front with a hook for a pulley, to lift furniture in and out of the house.

Alice and I went to the famous flower market and bought 40 beautiful tulips for about $9, lipstick pink at the ends and white near the stem. We went for dinner at a local bar and then drank and walked our way through downtown, a real walk on the wild side. We stayed up talking until 2 am. We are so very glad to see each other again!

March 23, 1991

Alice and I spent the day shopping and window shopping. We bought dinner ingredients and for the first time in our long friendship, we made dinner together. Alice was always so unapologetically undomestic when we were younger that it was odd to see her cook. [Now we are constantly exchanging recipes and she is an amazing cook and one of the top restaurant reviewers on London’s Zomato.] We made pasta with pesto and Thai beef salad.

Amsterdam is like a toy town, with narrow streets, sidewalks that are mere suggestions, tall, narrow buildings leaning at odd angles due to extreme age, canals everywhere.

March 24, 1991

Time to head back to London. At about 6:30, Alice suggested we check to see if my flight was on time. It was; I wasn’t. I was convinced for some reason that my flight was at 8:45 pm when it was actually at 7:45 pm. Panic!

We rushed to Central Station and caught the train for Schiphol [The name of the airport; it means “ship’s hold”. The airport is below sea level, at about the level of a sailing ship’s hold.]. Thankful for Dutch efficiency; imagine being in that situation in Italy!

So I did make my plane. I went through the “nothing to declare” line at Gatwick and was stopped. This guy looked through everything. He looked inside each blossom of my light up tulips, shredded a tampon, and noticed that my coat lining had been resewn (by Margaret [my stepmother], mending a tear in my coat before I left), asked where I stayed, how I met Alice, and examined my ticket. It was a really embarrassing experience and I actually felt guilty.

Margaret and Dad think it was because I was coming alone with just a carry on back from a weekend in the drug capital of Europe, but it was hard not to take it personally. I guess it’s all part of the experience.

A YEAR AGO: Weekend cooking.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Jessica became a teenager. It happens to the best of us. Still can’t believe she is now 18!

TEN YEARS AGO: An update on the kitties.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A little culinary showing off.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Sunday morning coffee on the roof deck of my building in San Francisco, overlooking the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Ancient

A final entry in Jonathan’s epic road trip diary. I hope you have enjoyed his adventures as much as I do.

Dateline: Near Angel’s Peak, NM, coordinates 36.546576 / 107.863026, elevation 6,591′.

After our refreshing stay in a hotel we were ready to get back on the road. We stopped for fuel and groceries and then headed towards Chaco Canyon. I have heard so much about it that I hoped it would not disappoint.

The first bit of of a drive was quite easy, but as we got closer the road went to dirt. Not long afterwards it started in with washboard, the kind that will rattle the fillings out of your teeth and shake your vehicle to death. When confronted with washboard like that you have two choices: You can either crawl along very slowly or you can go faster and float over the top. I think you can guess which option I chose. The reason is that the average speed of a vehicle on the road determines how far apart the washboards are. If you go faster than average you go from the top of one washboard to the top of the next, skipping the trough. If you go slower you give your suspension a chance to react. But if you travel the average speed you will be visiting the dentist to get your fillings replaced.

Sadly, the visitors’ center was closed. Luckily, they had maps outside so Rio didn’t have to suffer from map deprivation. We scoped out the map and decided a plan of action to see as much as we could while we were there. We headed out for our first hike, which was close to the visitors center. A short walk and there were ruins right in front of us. I paused as I was about to duck through the doorway. There was something special and humbling to be the next in a long line of people to have passed through that doorway. I could imagine the pride and satisfaction with which the builder of this doorway must have felt when they went through it for the first time. I could image how grateful people felt going through that doorway when the weather was bad, so happy to be sheltered. And then how ordinary it became to do so over the centuries that followed.

The Anasazi who built these vast ruins did so over about 300 years, from 850 AD to around 1250 AD. At that time they inexplicably abandoned this center of spirituality, government and commerce. No-one knows why they disappeared or where they went or what happened to them. It must have been something they didn’t anticipate as you don’t build such a remarkable city with the intention of abandoning it.

As we continued to explore the ruins my respect and awe continued to build. The elaborate buildings built with such skill and engineering are a testament to the people that built them. They have far outlasted the modern construction of Fort Bowie which was built with modern tools and methods. The natives here knew how to use the materials around them to build something that would stand the test of time.

While we could have spent more time here it was getting late and we needed to find a place to land for the night. Here I have to give credit to an app called iOverlander. It showed a place not too far called Angel Peak. So we decided to go and give it a look. We found it easily and it was a short drive out a good gravel road. We found a nice little spot and parked Moby and went for a walk to see where we were.

In these reports I feel like I am running out of superlatives. Outstanding, beautiful, awesome, amazing, breath-taking, I feel like I have over used all of them in these reports. I can’t help it though as we are going through some very special places. As we walked up towards a little point I looked over at Angel Peak and was once again stunned and literally stopped in my tracks, struck dumb by the view before me. Off in the distance slightly above us was Angel Peak and about 1,500 feet below us were the most amazing badlands. Angel Peak actually looks more like a medieval fortress to me. It has towers and walls, what looks like a pyramid on one end and a set of stairs that a giant could have used. The badlands are impossible to describe, rough, tortured ground with some many bands of color and hills and washes that you really do just have to see them.

Until we meet again,

Jonathan

Rocks


Dramatic vistas

Dateline: Indian Bread Rocks, coordinates 32.239136 / 109.50086, elevation 4,108

While we were happy to be on the road again, it was hard to leave the Kofa Wildlife refuge. Like the Mojave Preserve we have unfinished business there. We drove to Yuma to get groceries, water and fuel and got drive through at In and Out for the first time in well over a year! Fridge, gas tank and tummies filled, we headed out towards some petroglyphs called the Painted Rocks.

On the road out to the petroglyphs, there was a solar power plant with trough mirrors that super heat molten, liquid salts and them use them to make steam to run a turbine. They do it this way because they can put the molten salts in an insulated container to use when the sun is no longer shining. It is like a battery in a way with the energy stored as heat.

The petroglyphs were simply astounding:

By far the most I have seen in one place, the rocks here are covered in them. The rocks seem to have a fairly thin dark layer on the outside and are much lighter in color underneath this layer. This is why the ancients chose these rocks to put their art and messages on because if you chip or scratch through the dark layer you expose the lighter layer and the contrast makes the design easy to see. You cannot help but wonder what was going through their minds and what they meant the designs to mean. While it was a long time ago, people then were the same as they are now, so what were these intelligent artisans trying to say?

As it got dark and I was setting up the antenna there was a light sprinkle of rain. A funny thing about a light rain in the desert is that you can stay out in it and never get wet! The air is so dry that the wind is like a blow dryer. You can feel the rain evaporating as it hits you. We had dinner and then it began to rain a little more. A half inch or so must have fallen during the night and yet everything was still pretty much dry in the morning, the parched desert drinking it up as fast as it fell.

In the morning we packed up and moved out. We had decided to go check out the Saguaro National Park. It has the most varied and lush vegetation I have ever seen in the desert. Ironwood trees, palo verde, more types of cholla than I knew existed and of course and absolute forest of saguaro. Usually in the desert plants are placed pretty far apart as there just isn’t enough water and nutrients to support more. This is obviously not the case in this very special place as the vegetation is almost as dense as a forest.

Speaking of cholla cactus, holy cow are there a bunch of different types here, some of which we had never met before. There is the stag horn cholla, which does indeed resemble the horns of a stag. There is the chain fruit cholla which is kind of bumpy and apparently has little mini grape like fruits after it flowers. Then we saw the pencil cholla which as the name implies has very thin, pencil like growth. While their outward appearance is very different you can tell they are all cholla and the one thing they all have in common is their viscous stickers!

Going on a tip from a friend we decided to go to Indian Bread Rocks. This is just south of the town of Bowie, AZ. It is the kind of obscure place that only the true desert dogs tend to find. It is BLM land so dispersed camping is fine. When we arrived, we found that there were a few other people here. They are all desert dogs. As we were making dinner (delicious frittata) Rio suddenly cocked her ear and said that she thought she heard a cow! Indeed she had and a small herd of cows began wandering through. They were all around a trailer a little ways down the road so we walked down to check them out and in the process met another very nice couple and had a laugh over the cow invasion. We stayed and chatted for a few minutes about boondocking subjects, like trailer VS vans, 4WD vs AWD and agreed it is all about compromises with pros and cons to each.

This morning when we woke up and started coffee we heard a very soft clattering on the roof. We went outside for a moment and there was snow coming down! Very strange as it was sunny and about 45 degrees out, not very cold at all. Of course the snow was melting and evaporating instantly when it hit the ground. It is peculiar how any kind of moisture just disappears in the desert.

When we were climbing Teutonia Peak, I saw a hawk diving down at incredible speed, without a doubt going in to make some hapless critter dinner. How they don’t slam into the ground I just don’t know, they are incredible acrobatic fliers. We were at a gas station and there were some tropical sounding birds making all sorts of noises and calls, up in the palm trees. And just last night as dusk was giving way to night the small birds in the trees near us got very chatty with each other, twittering and calling and making silly noises. I think it is their way of saying goodnight to each other as they only kept it up for 15 minutes or so.

Today the plan is to head over to the Chiricahua monument because the rock formations there are so crazy and unique. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode!

Jonathan

A YEAR AGO: The sudden and tragic loss of my former brother-in-law Mike, one of the kindest men who ever lived. He was a good man a great father and grandfather. He will always be missed.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Some Saturday errands.

TEN YEARS AGO: A glorious spring day.

FIFTEEN YERAS AGO: A visit to Venice in 1984.

Desert


Desert Views

Jonathan and Rio’s adventures continue. For those of you who don’t know my brother, he is an avid ham radio operator, which comes into play in this installment.

Dateline: Mojave National Preserve, near Teutonia Peak, coordinates 35.315201 / 115.550104, elevation 4,928′.

After we packed up this morning we headed to a little place called Kelso. It is what is left of a train depot. During the steam train days locomotives pulling long trains couldn’t make it up the grade by themselves. So at Kelso they had “helper trains”, extra locomotives that helped the trains get to the top, then disconnected and went back down to Kelso to help the next train. Once powerful diesel locomotives were invented there was no reason for Kelso to exist and so it was mostly abandoned. There was also the remains of the Kelso jail, which at this point is just a cage. It used to have a tin roof and walls to keep the sun off the prisoners which is now gone.

This morning when I was checking into the Recreational Vehicle Service Net…

Wait a minute, maybe I should explain about nets. Radio nets are a meeting on the air of ham radio operators. So this morning, when I checked into the RV service net and was listening to the other stations I heard there was another ham camping just a few miles from us! What are the odds? So, I made contact with him and he and I had a great conversation on the radio. Turns out he has been here many times and had much information about what roads are good, which are bad, interesting places to go, where you can get water and so on.

So, following some of his advice we headed up Cima Valley road. There we found a forest of Joshua trees, just as good as at Joshua Tree National Park but with way less people. And as you know, way less people is my jam. We were looking for an old gold mine that our new ham friend was telling us of. We haven’t found that yet but did see on the map a place called Teutonia Peak. It showed a trail to the top. Challenge accepted! We decided to drive up there and check it out. On the way we were greeted by a very, very sad sight. The amazing Joshua tree forest had been burned over last year. So sad, thousands of acres of burned and probably dead Joshua trees. Bummer.

When we were close to Teutonia Peak we saw a sign for some sort of World War I memorial and so we stopped to check it out. It has an interesting history and perhaps I will tell you about it some time. While we were checking it out we found a nice little camp spot. The area is a small island that didn’t burn and so as I type this I can see beautiful Joshua trees, cholla cactus, creosote bushes, all sorts of green vegetation.

So we decided to camp there and hike to the Teutonia Peak trail head, which wasn’t far away. As we started up the trail we could see the burn up close. Every single plant had been burned. In many cases all that was left was just a sooty spot on the ground. It is hard to believe that the fire was so intense that it burned every single thing. Plants and trees in the desert are pretty far apart and yet the fire managed to get them all. There are a few green tips here and there that hint that some might survive. If they get some rain and it sure doesn’t look there has been much if any this year so far.

We started the climb up Teutonia peak. From the scorched remains we could see that types of plants change as you go up. The Joshua trees become smaller and fewer and the juniper trees get larger and appear more often. The cholla cactus gives way to this flat, roundish cactus that I don’t know the name of. As we climbed the wind got stronger and stronger and as we reached the ridge that leads to the peak I had to tie my hat on or it was going to blow away! And there was no way in that terrain that I would have gotten it back. So, hat tied tightly we made our way along the ridge to the top.

The view from the top was spectacular! As is usually the case in the desert the view went on forever. So many interesting mountains and rock formations to look at. The top itself was a neat little place with a little rock alcove that had a natural seat and would have been a perfect place to hide from a rain storm. You could see some islands that didn’t get burned and it made us realize just how green this part of the desert used to be. I look forward to coming back in a few years to see how it is coming back. We also have much left to explore here.

After getting back to Moby, we made some dinner. The wind continued to blow so we cooked outside but ate inside. It was getting chilly, especially with the wind still blowing. We watched a movie and then went to bed with wind making the antenna sing us a bedtime song.

Until the next chapter,

Jonathan

A YEAR AGO: A night in town.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Remembering Dad.

TEN YEARS AGO: The invisible super moon.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Getting declined all over the place.

Volcanic


Vanlife

Jonathan and Rio are off on an adventure, camping in their van. They started out in the desert, and I thought you might enjoy hearing about their adventures, which he somehow emails to us via radio. That, and things like getting the Predicta working, are above my pay grade and intellectual capacities. I will just say that I am happy to hear from them on the road and am also enjoying the pictures.

Dateline: Mojave National Preserve, 3/8/21, coordinates 35.168996 / 115.821258

After a too short but lovely visit with the L.A. crew we headed out on the road trip proper. We got off the highway at Baker, CA, and immediately were on a road less traveled. Our objective was to find the cinder cones we had seen on the map. After about 20 miles or so we saw them and began to look for a spot to camp. We found a great little spot and got Moby[their camping van, seen above] parked. Naturally we wanted to go investigate the cinder cones in the distance so off we went. (with the coordinates above you can find the very cinder cone we climbed!)

Cinder cones are what is left from where the molten core of the earth spewed molten lava. They are the simplest type of volcano where there is just a single vent for the lava to follow. The ones here are just a few hundred feet tall. As we started hiking towards the cinder cone we saw that all the rocks here are the volcanic type. When you look at them you can see they were once liquid and that as they dried gas was escaping. They are blob-like and have many little holes from the escaping gases. We will bring you some to see. Holding these rocks you can just imagine the ancient past: The cinder cones spewing forth red hot lava, thick smoke everywhere. Liquid rock raining down, hardening as it falls. Dinosaurs rampaging and stalking around, fiercely roaring. Primitive man, dressed in leopard skin loincloths, armed only with spears, desperately hunting the T-Rex hoping to avoid becoming dinner while getting some for themselves

Oh wait. Man and dinosaurs were never on the earth at the same time. And probably there were no T-Rex around here either. Still, it makes a great image to think about as you contemplate the volcanic rocks. We continued to hike and got to the base of the cinder cone. There is the remains of a road going up the cone, left over from some sort of mining operation in the past. It isn’t easy to climb as the small volcanic rocks make a sort of large sand and are pretty slippery. We worked our way up until we had a nice view of Moby off in the distance. We headed back down, got to Moby and began to settle in for the night. We got the antenna up, the tables and chairs out and made dinner. Which was chicken cacciatore, chicken thighs browned and then simmered in our garden sauce, served over rice. Yum!

This morning, delightfully, we don’t really know where we will end up later. Somewhere within the Mojave preserve, we shall just have to see what we see. Until then,

Jonathan

A YEAR AGO: My traveling companions

FIVE YEARS AGO: A delightful event at Monica’s delightful store.

TEN YEARS AGO: The horror of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A slight improvement.

Break

It was dark and stormy last week. We got about 10 inches of rain in a week, 6 of it over the course of two or three days. I later learned that this unenjoyable weather is called an “atmospheric river”. I think this is the California version of the polar vortex that afflicts the east coast in the winter. Also that the Groundhog had no idea what he was talking about.

The ocean was brown from the churned up rivers emptying into it, the road to Civilization was under 14 feet of water, and there was widespread flooding in the inland parts of the county. Even the schools were closed. It seemed like a good time to spend the night in town and check out an inn that recently opened overlooking the harbor.

I was disheartened to receive an LED lantern upon check in, since this meant that they either had no generator or only had one to power their office, as I experienced a few years ago when I stayed in town on a stormy night, only to be kept awake by a generator blasting all night that did not do anything for me. I could have had that experience at home for free, since it was back in the days when Mark was still here and started up his generator the second the power went out, possibly before calling PG&E to notify them of the outage.

Even though it was raining sideways, I dared to hope that the power wouldn’t go out. The room was quite lovely:

overlooking the busy harbor, where I could watch the boats go in and out and hear the characteristic sounds of sea lions and fog horns, which always remind me of San Francisco.

There was a sitting area overlooking the little balcony and harbor, complete with a gas fireplace:

And a giant tub with the same view:

It was thoughtfully provided with a hand shower, the thickest towels I have ever seen, and a comfortable, warm robe with a towel lining.

The inn has a restaurant on site, and I thought it would be a good idea to have dinner there and just walk back to my room. It turned out that this was not the best idea I ever had, and not (just) because I walked there and back in the driving rain and was soaked (though that didn’t help, either).

The restaurant is very pretty, and I later learned that a friend of mine had collaborated with the architect to create the restaurant and bar area. My table overlooked the river, and I could see there was outside seating for when the atmospheric river wasn’t soaking everything in sight. It would be a nice view.

Despite the fact that there were maybe four other people in the restaurant, it took 20 minutes before the pretty hostess took pity on me and asked if I’d like to order a drink. I ordered some wine, which arrived quickly, and then I waited some more. Finally the server arrived and asked if I was ready to order. I asked her what the specials were, which may be a first in restaurant history. I placed the order and had yet another long wait.

When it eventually arrived, the sole Meunière looked very nice:

But there was no sign of the crab it allegedly contained, not to mention the Meyer lemon reduction. It was bland, disappointing, and very expensive. A friend later pointed out that hotel food is often this way, and I will keep that in mind going forward.

On the (literally) brighter side, the power stayed on, and I was able to enjoy some wine by the fire, watching the harbor lights and listening to music. In the morning, I headed to the ever-awesome Eggheads for eggs Benedict, starring the world’s best Champagne Hollandaise sauce. Since it was a winter Wednesday, there was no line and a booth was available. The server was just a delight, and though much younger than the server at the hotel restaurant, she could have taught her a thing or two about good service. And the food was as wonderful as always. On the whole, it was a nice break.

A YEAR AGO: A look at Rob’s amazing artwork.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Angelika worked her magic. I am due to see her this coming weekend, too!

Heading Home

It’s 4:30 am and I am drinking bad in room coffee and waiting for daylight. I’m sorry to say that the cold or whatever it is has not improved and I felt too miserable to sleep. It is going to be a long way home. Well, it would be anyway!

Jarrett picked me up yesterday and took me on a tour of Eureka, where he has lived for several years. Like Fort Bragg, it began with logging and fishing, and all that entails, like robber barons and brothels. But Eureka, a much bigger city still, boasted an opera house (the building still stands) and a Chinatown, populated with the people who built roads, did the logging camps’ cooking and laundry and basically kept to themselves until they were all deported to San Francisco in 1885.

1885 is also when this breathtaking mansion was built for lumber baron William Carson:

It is utterly magnificent and may be the finest Victorian home I have ever seen, even after living in San Francisco for so many years. It is now a private club, which is whispered about among locals, much as the Bohemian Club is in San Francisco. Though we peasants cannot enter its splendid interior, you can revel in its elegant excess here.

Right across the street is the fantastic pink house which William Carson built for his son:

Love the color and the stained glass.

We walked around the historic downtown, and I really liked the combination of old and new. The town feels vital and young, not precious like the Village at home. I really enjoyed our look around. We also stopped in at the local history museum, which has a great collection of Native artifacts and pioneer quilts. Needless to say the native people, like the Chinese, were also driven out by Europeans, just as they were in Fort Bragg. The age old story, I’m afraid.

We headed out to dinner with Jarrett’s beautiful girlfriend Kalli at one of their favorite spots. It was so wonderful to catch up on their news and spend some time together. I love those kids. I’d have to say: despite the cold or whatever it is and the long drive ahead of me, I’m glad I came.

Update: Left in the rainy darkness about 6:45 am. Stopped at the gas station and then headed straight for home. No traffic that early, though I did have to drive around two large, shaggy elk on Highway One. Arrived home a little after 10 am. Whew!

Eureka


Home away from home

Hi! I’m coming to you from Eureka! Eureka is what I said when I finally got here, too.

I thought I was mentally prepared for the long and winding road that is Highway One, but as usual, I was wrong about that. By the time I had reached Westport, I felt like admitting defeat, turning around, and going back home to the kitties. But I pressed on, and when I finally emerged from the horrors of Highway One and its bipolar ups and downs and curves so crazy they are signposted at 15 miles an hour, I was crushed to discover that I had another 90 miles to go.

Sigh.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, though. All signs had pointed toward Things Going Wrong. Megan woke up sick the day before we were slated to go, so instead of her capably driving while I was the passenger, the way Nature intended, I was demoted to driver, with no company and an increasing paranoia about the ever present engine light and lack of cell service.

My friend Janice’s son-in-law had unexpected surgery, so her daughter Julie could not join us at dinner, and once again I was demoted to chauffeur in a strange land. As I headed out in the near zero visibility night time fog, it soon became clear that I too was sick, or getting there. Why not? I tried not to look at the kitties’ lovely parting gift to me as a bad omen:

I did my best to ignore my body’s rebellion and thoroughly enjoyed a European length dinner with my dear friend Janice at one of her favorite local restaurants over a bottle of local wine. We had a lot to catch up on. She had a very challenging year, though she met one disaster after another with grace and strength and her head held high (and of course, her hair and make-up done). It was wonderful to just be with her, listening to her deep, lilting Southern accent, her vivacious laugh, and her astonishing anecdotes. Her friendship is a wonderful gift.

As for today, I am pleased to announce that I am not driving. Jarrett is going to play tour guide today and show me around his town, and tonight we are having dinner with his girlfriend, the beautiful Kalli, at their favorite local restaurant. And I will think about the drive home tomorrow…tomorrow.

A YEAR AGO: A post Christmas celebration.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A winter wonderland.

Aftermath

While the rest of you were celebrating your Christmas, I was cleaning up after ours.

Every year I tell myself not to bother cleaning up before hand, and every year, I ignore my own well-meant advice and am annoyed/horrified by having to re-clean everything I had cleaned the day before. This year, of course, was no exception, and by the time I had emptied out the somewhat disgraceful recycling, washed the heirlooms and put them carefully away (nothing broke!), re-vacuumed, and done a couple of loads of laundry, it was afternoon, and I was thankful that I had at least had the sense to take the day after Christmas off from work, both domestic and unpaid.

Arriving at work today, I discovered a plague of ants had taken up residence in my absence. I wiped them to a rapid and sanitary death with the atomic wipes they use in Medical, but the super ants were not deterred or their friends did not get the message that Doom awaited them in my office. Facilities Guy provided me with a gooey ant trap, which I have set on my windowsill for the unwary ants and which he assures me are more effective than the germicidal wipes of doom.

I was planning to work tomorrow, but Megan got sick last night and is unable to drive to Eureka with me tomorrow. The original plan was that she would pick me up at work in the late afternoon after she woke up from her last night shift of the week, but if I am doing all the driving on the sinuous and scenic Highway 1, I do not want to be doing it in the dark. I conferred with my boss and she decided that I should just take the day off and drive up in the morning, so that is now my new plan. Gotta love a one day work week!

I am going to see my friend Janice, who you may remember visited me a few years back with her lovely daughter Julie, and also our nephew Jarrett and his beautiful girlfriend Kalli. So the next time I check in with you will be from a whole new county! Wish me an uneventful journey.

A YEAR AGO:Cleaning up after a lovely celebration.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A warm and wonderful Christmas. Jessica looks like a baby!

2016

The sadness of losing my much-loved Roscoe at the end of the old year carried into the new year. A year later, I still can’t believe that his remarkable presence has been extinguished and that I will never have the joy of sharing my life with him again. I have yet to wash or dispose of his dish. I just can’t. A little spark of hope deep in my heart will never truly be doused, no matter what Logic decrees. I have never been a fan of Logic.

But there was light as well as shadow this year. I attended a beautiful wedding, some of my friends bought homes, and an unexpected visitor brought a lot of happiness with him on his epic road trip. I made a couple of little road trips myself, one south and one north.

Rainfall for the 2015-16 season was 55 inches. Rain started early for the 2016-17 season, beginning in September with a storm that dropped two inches in four days. Maybe this is a good sign for a wet winter. We can use every drop, a fact I must remind myself of when driving through it, especially in the ubiquitous winter darkness. So far for the 2016-17 season, we have received 23.4 inches, a good start.

Somehow, I managed to read more books than I did last year (103 vs. 85), despite working six days a week for most of it. Standouts included Sweetbitter, Dodgers, The Curse of Beauty, Everybody’s Fool, The Wicked Boy, The Wrong Side of Goodbye, and The Harder They Come.

Power Outages: I think we had three, which seems to be par for the course, but they seemed to occur more in the summer than the winter. What’s up with that?

Other than that, here’s what happened to our heroine this year:

January: I started the year off on a tidy note. It didn’t take long for the first power outage of the year to rear its ugly head. Same goes for Wednesday’s engine light. Some delightful coincidences. And some (mis)adventures in cooking. Trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to get everything done at work.

February: The wonderful woodworking show. A little preview of spring. A delightful day on the South Coast, with ballet and other pleasures. The first theater reading I have ever attended, though hopefully not the last. Our heroine finally leaves the County after a year and a half, heading to beautiful Monterey, where I visited the breathtaking Aquarium. Also beaches and farm stands.

March: A peek at our (eccentric) little corner of the world. And a delightful peek into its past. Not the most enjoyable morning ever. Family dinner to celebrate Dad’s birthday. The boys get the old grandfather clock running. Saturdays past and present.

April: Wednesday’s successful surgery. Road trips for everyone! Beauty inside and out. An early wake up call. Having the internet out for over a week is not the most festive way of celebrating my blogs 15th anniversary. Especially since the technician failed to show up. Our beloved Jessica turns 13! The kidlet is now a teenager. How did that happen?

May: Quilts, books, cats and dogs – just a perfect day in the Village. Rob’s incredible masterpiece. The last family dinner at Suzy Manor before they move to the family estate for the summer. The mystery of the cat in the night. A busy, but delightful, weekend. Out of season power outage. Celebrating Megan’s birthday in style.

June: An uneventful birthday for our heroine. Better than an eventful one! And the baby boy turns six, all by himself. Memorial Day BBQ with a side of bees. The joys of Junapalooza, showcasing the talents of the amazing Erica.

July: The ninth anniversary of Audrey’s reign. Lu and Rik’s beautiful, moving, wonderful wedding. It was such a joy to share that day with them and my family. I will always treasure that memory. A BBQ at the family estate with our extended family. A magical visit to the Botanical Gardens.

August: A bad omen, perhaps? Farewell to Jack, who first appeared in these pages as a dollar bill sized kitten. She was almost 17 and the last of the cats John and I had together. Much like when we lost Schatzi, it felt like Mom was really gone, losing Jack made me feel like our marriage was really over. Told you Logic and I don’t see eye to eye. Celebrating summer’s bounty with jam and a BBQ. Marking the 15th anniversary of losing my father and best friend. I will always love you, Dad. Thank you for always loving me, no matter what. A visit from our dear friend Clayton, garnished with a power outage. The two events were not connected. An obnoxious mountain lion made things a little scary for a while. He has since moved on – permanently, we hope.

September: September kicked off with a surprise visit that turned out to be utterly delightful. We had a great time going to the circus together, and having a BBQ at my brother’s place on his birthday. We sent our visitor on his way after giving his car a quick check up. Here’s to many happy returns! An exhausting visit from the Feds at work was followed by a delightful day at the Fair. As the month drew to an end, so did my jobette, for real-real this time. Lu, Megan, and I enjoyed dinner and a play together.

October: A look around my rather neglected garden, which still looks surprisingly good despite my lack of attention. It was a banner year for real estate for several of my friends. Megan and I enjoyed a cemetery tour in the Village. ‘Tis the season for scariness, but thinking I had lost my beloved Clyde was a little too scary. Fortunately, I was wrong. I love being wrong sometimes. Enjoying the rare gift of a day off. And a road trip north to the Drive Thru Tree and the One Log House. It was short, but sweet.

November: A trip to the magical South Coast for a play and some delicacies. A happy (and terrifying) Halloween. Speaking of terrifying, I hit a dog with the car. For the rest of my life, I will be a dog maimer. At least I wasn’t a dog murderer. My victim is recovering well and due back home from rehab on January 1. Regrets. I’ve had a few. Let the countdown to T-Day begin! Thanksgiving started a little earlier than I would have liked, but it was wonderful.

December: The traditional post-Thanksgiving craft fair. Going from the beach to the redwoods in one day. A candlelight shopping trip. Time to put up the vintage faux tree again! Taking Jessica to the Festival of Lights at the Gardens for the first time, but not the last. Getting ready for the big day. A merry Christmas celebrated on Christmas Eve, followed by a quiet Christmas Day.

A YEAR AGO: Remembering 2015.

Roadside America

Waking up when it’s light outside with cats sleeping peacefully on the bed and not (I’m looking at you, Queen Audrey) demanding to be let out: priceless.

It’s good to be home after my mini road trip north, and it’s a delightful coincidence that I am home on the anniversary of the day I moved to Hooterville, aided and abetted by family, as I am in most things. I’m so glad I moved here seven years ago!

As for the trip home, I concluded my Roadside America adventure with a visit to the One Log House near Piercy. It is, as its name suggests, a huge redwood log which someone had the bright idea of hollowing out to make into a bijou residence back in the 1940s. The tree it came from was over 2,000 years old and the house is 32 feet long. It is adorable inside, comprising a kitchen:

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and a bedroom:

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and a living room:

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Looking back at the front door from the living room:

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It’s pretty cozy, and other than being totally windowless (presumably, the builder was chipped out and couldn’t bear to chip out windows after creating the house), pretty livable. Maybe I’m just used to really small and eccentric houses. Whoever made this was way ahead of the Tiny House movement!

Back on the road, I took 101 (relatively) straight to Willits, where traffic slowed down dramatically. I picked up a delicious dinner at El Mexicano, completing the take-out/delivery theme on my roadside America trip. I turned onto 20, and drove through the sun-dappled redwoods to the summit with its spectacular view . As usual when driving this road, I marveled that it was the original covered wagon route to the coast. How did they do it?

Arriving home, I found kitties who missed me as much as I missed them. It’s good to be home.

Postcard

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Hello from the redwoods!

You’re right, there are redwoods in Hooterville, too. But it’s just one of those California things that you can drive for hours and still be in your own county (or just over the county line) and still be in the same area code.

As usual, my travel plans did not exactly go as planned*, so I didn’t end up in either the tropical Trinidad or the California one. I did make it to the drive thru tree:

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but I couldn’t drive thru it. It soon became clear that Wednesday would not fit through it. I guess cars were smaller when the tree was hollowed out in the 1920s. So I drove around, not thru, and was more disappointed than this warranted. I noticed that mine was the smallest car in the lot, so I asked a merry Asian family who were busily taking photos of each other if they had driven through the tree. Yes, they had, they said. They had folded up their side mirrors to make their car flapper era slim.

Filled with hope, I checked Wednesday’s ears and then the manual, only to learn that she was not equipped with this convenience. I got a postcard to commemorate the occasion and hit the road again, feeling sad out of all proportion. I was not too dejected to stop for lunch at the Peg House, since you never don’t stop at the Peg House. They even have an actual phone booth:

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‘Memba them?

They also have a nice, sunny patio where I had a sandwich and freshly squeezed lemonade and considered whether I really wanted to drive all the way to Trinidad, and decided I didn’t. So I looked for somewhere to stop and found a quite nice motel room somewhere north of the drive thru (or drive around) tree:

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I am pleased to say that there is a bathtub for wallowing in and that I am equipped with a bottle of wine and a Chinese restaurant delivery menu.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s road trip home adventures!

*For someone who worked at a visitors’ center for years, you’d think I’d be better at this.

A YEAR AGO:Vertigo reared its ugly head, but I worked through it.

Home Again

My culinary errands were not 100% successful. I found myself unable to face the line at Swan’s. Even at 10:30 am, the line was a block long and my patience wasn’t. I also struck out at Bob’s Doughnuts, where they were sold out of old fashioneds, so I settled for two cinnamon cake doughnuts. Of course Victor’s never lets me down, and I bought a surprise pizza for Megan and Rob to thank them for their cat sitting while I was away.

It was a bright, sunny day as I left the city, the Bridge gleaming International Orange in the sun, the white sails of boats dotting the blue Bay and the pastel houses tumbling down the hills. The hills closer to home were the deep green of winter, but starred with California poppies, daffodils, and calla lilies. The vineyards slept, but around them trees were hazed with green leaves and clouds of pink and white blossoms. Weeping willows dipped their long fronds into rivers that are rivers again instead of trickles.

Through the tall, dark, and handsome redwoods and out to the ocean, which was showing off for me. For the first time in three years, I missed my brother’s Polar Plunge, where he jumps in the freezing water to benefit Special Olympics, usually after singing a song while in costume. This year, it was “Under the Sea” from “The Little Mermaid”, and Megan was there to cheer him on and send me this photo of our merman after the jump:

JD

I am so proud of him!

Arriving home, I was greeted by Luna and Lupe, wagging their tails and jumping for joy as I petted them, and Megan, who happened to arrive home at the same time. Megan was much more helpful at unloading the car than the dogs were. Pets, I have noticed, never feel that they need to lend a paw with the housework.

Megan’s delight at the unexpected pizza delighted me. And it was nice to have unloading help. As we worked, we caught up on what had happened during my short absence.

Clyde came running to me, meowing his distinctive ClydeSound(TM), and I picked him up and cuddled him while he purred and pressed his head against me. Audrey, of course, does not permit such indignities as Being Picked Up, and she kept swatting me every time I passed her. I’m not sure if she was asking for attention or letting me know how annoyed she was at my absence, but hey – it’s Audrey. She also chased Lupe and Luna away with her tail all puffed up and giant.

My house seems amazingly quiet after Monterey and San Francisco, with their traffic and sirens and people yelling and honking. All I can hear are frogs peeping and cats purring. I’m really glad that I listened to Megan’s advice and came home on Saturday, so I have all of Sunday to relax and get ready to jump back on the hamster wheel on Monday.

Farewell Monterey

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The dreaming spires of Monterey

I’m coming to you from San Francisco, where the foghorns are singing their sad song and the wild parrots are crying out harshly as their green and red wings clatter overhead. And there will be Lemongrass (delivered) for dinner!

Before I left the balmy shores of Monterey, I stopped by Del Monte Beach. I was charmed by the dunes dotted with wildflowers:

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and the fact that there was actual sand. I’m used to the rocky shores of Mendocino and San Francisco, so it was delightful to walk along the shore with my feet sinking deep into the soft sand:

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Murres and oystercatchers rode the waves, and they were joined by a fellow surfer:

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As I drove away from the beach, I noticed several people either changing into or out of their wetsuits, so it must be a popular surfing location.

My route to San Francisco took me through farmland, dotted with what my friend Janice calls “contented California cows”, but also thick groves of spiky artichokes. I stopped at a farmstand, where they were working the fields right behind. I loved the cut outs by the highway:

farmstand

I came away with some early strawberries and of course artichokes.

Traffic was kinder to me leaving Monterey than it was getting there, and tomorrow I will head home after running some important culinary errands: Swan Oyster Depot, Bob’s Doughnuts, and Victor’s Pizza, not necessarily in that order.