What a fantastic trip to California, something that I needed so desperately, yet had no idea.
I last left off with the Turrah! to Oregon, after camping at the base of some fantastic sand dunes. The drive through Northern California was fantastic. If any one decides to take a trip to Cali, going up/down the 101 is the way to go.
We paused only to take pictures of the fantastic trees, and of course, to say a quick hello to Paul Bunion and Blue Babe (Who for some reason had a sex-change into Blue Bull Babe.
It was wet the whole way down. The rain poured as if it were introducing itself for the first time and trying to assert it’s authority. My friend fretted about her breaks in the wet with the steep hills, and I just breathed in the scent of the trees. There is no better smell to me than the smell of trees – which is stronger after or during a rain.
It took us ten hours of driving to make it from where we were in Oregon to Windsor, our final destination for the day. It was there that my friend had a condo booked, a three-bedroom pent house, near the pool and most importantly – the hot tubs as well. To exhausted to do anything, we all ate our dinner and retired fairly early.
The plan for the following day was to take us to San Francisco, and to check out the Aquarium of the Bay. Both of my sisters live in San Francisco, so I attempted to meet up with one of them before she had to dash off to work. It was just a quick visit, since the drive took us longer than anticipated. My friend and her kids hung out in Alamo Park while I visited with my sister just a block away. It didn’t take too long for the morning to turn cool, and after my sister departed for work, we made our way down to the Warf for food and Aquarium time.
Unfortunately, for some reason my phone decided that we wanted to go to the lock-your-doors ghetto part of San Francisco opposed to the piers, but after a forty minute learning experience, we found our way, and parked fairly easily at pier 1. It was a little bit of a walk to pier 39, but we didn’t mind. The exercise would be good for all of us.
Famous Last Words.
It began to rain. Not just rain like it was on the way down, but a full on torrential down pour, soaking us all. At this point we were far enough from the car and close enough to our destination that it wasn’t worth going back. But with the kids beginning to cry because of the wind picking up and the rain seeping through everything, it made the walk double in length.
But the pier remained, and the number of footsteps remained, and we reached pier 39, and quickly dipped into a fish and chip shop for some food to warm us up.
I had a delicious crab and shrimp bread bowl (I don’t know what it is, but they are always so delightful in that you can eat the bowl as well!) and we marveled at the cheek of a pigeon that thought it was appropriate that it sit on one of the tables inside. What’s more, the staff didn’t seem to mind at all. We took it as a lesson as to why we never eat food that’s fallen on the table.
At last we made it to the Aquarium. It wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was partially underwater, with those tubes you can walk through and have fish swimming all around you. It was the first time I had experienced anything of t he sort, and was thrilled. I wanted to take more pictures, but my phone was running tragically low on battery.
The rain began again on our way back. It seemed as though Washington was determined to remind us of where we are fun. But even so, rain is never as bad when you’re watching palm trees and saturated in the energy that is San Francisco.
The next day, we were to meet my other sister in Golden Gate park. Of course, I have been before, though I had mostly been in the handle of it, near Haight. I love that it is just swathed in eucalyptus trees, and that they scent the air on a warm day. I love watching the groups of hula-hoopers, the parents taking their children for a stroll, the students deciding this is their home work spot, and those just cutting through to get to their destination. I simply love it there.
We went to the Academy of Science. We parked wherever we could, as parking was few and far between, and made our way. I dashed off to find myself a restroom, and with all of us still wearing our soaked shoes from the previous day, the group was fairly slow moving.
I had run on a head of them, and was fairly certain they hadn’t caught up yet, so I ducked into a little grove of trees, sitting along the low growth branches.
I was not alone.
I heard the pitter before the patter. I spied him fairly quickly though, this curious and uncertain little squirrel. He twitched his tail nervously at me, would dash closer to me before running away, would run up a near by tree to see if I’d take the bate to chase him before scrambling down again and to a closer branch. I could hear his little claws scratching up the bark. I smiled, not moving otherwise, to show him that I was not after him. I remembered the plain almonds in my backpack, and decided I would much rather enjoy my snack making a friend.
I tossed him a few almonds, and watched him nibble on them, and eye the next one lest it grow legs and run away.
I spent longer in the grove than intended, and my friends beat me to the Academy of Science.
Thursday was out last day in California, and had decided it would be a relaxing day for us at the condo. My friend has an autoimmune disability which causes her to exhaust easily, so she needed the chill time. My sister, on the other hand, decided to take a day off from work and come up with my brother-in-law and hang out.
They took me wine tasting, which was quite appropriate as we were in Wine Country. I had never been wine tasting before at a vineyard, and I was thrilled. I truly enjoyed it. They were all so beautiful, and while we only went to two, it was enough for me to know I wanted to see many more.
Wine has always been an interest of mine, even though it took me a while to develop a taste for it. I still don’t have an educated pallet, but I certainly want to change that. I’ve always wanted to go wine tasting with my sisters, especially since my oldest one is an expert. I envied the gentlemen that hosted the wine tasting, knowing that their job was to know, see, taste and talk about wine to a great many people, to go to conventions about grapes, to understand the elements of soils, and in some cases, getting to look out over the spectacular views over which the winery perched. A romantic job, in so many ways!
The drive home was long – we left at noon on Friday and arrived at 4:30 in the morning. I was exhausted, but so grateful for the amazing experience.
I live to travel. I have always loved traveling and getting away from the every day of everything. I need to be able to get away, experience something that is not the norm. This is why I make myself get on planes, even though they terrify me, this is why I got credit cards, even though I really should not be allowed to look at them. I think traveling helps a person to grow, allows a person to gain insight to the world that those that stick close to home lose out on. I think it closes the gap of separation between nations, states and cities, and is important in teaching compassion, in an odd, roundabout sort of way.
Nothing is as spectacular in pictures as it is in real life. You can learn about the redwood forests, you can know about the grand canyon, you can hear about the clear waters of Mexico, or the speckled hills of the UK, but you never truly understand why it is so amazing until you are there to witness it for yourself.