Monday, December 05, 2011

We're not in "Kansas" anymore

As I booted the computer this morning to start work on the class I'm writing for EDCO, I noticed the weather.... on the iGoogle dashboard - also out the window. Amazing. Yup. It's clear, sunny and jacket weather. The wind has kept the fog "at bay" and our view seems to have had a window wash. We went to a Meetup Sunday for a new iPhone App - Mobile Adventure Walks - and learned how to create a guided walk using an iPhone with GPS. I can't wait to get our new phones to write a walk for my neighborhood in Kensington. There are no walks yet for the East Bay and I already know some amazing ones with views to rival those in SF. A shout-out to Aaron who lead his Meetup and taught us how to use the App. We sampled the walk Aaron had created for us. Within one mile in North Beach, we saw the Vesuvio Pub, a hanging book sculpture near the City Lights Bookstore, a 3/4 sized model of a chapel from Assisi, Italy, hilltop views of SF Bay, steps down Montgomery St. on Telegraph Hill, a back alley in Chinatown to a fortune cookie factory with yummy, fresh, samples, then back to our starting point for a group photo. The weather may be somewhat unchanging, but the city has all the diversity anyone could ever seek.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Noted events in SF

 The music is everywhere and wonderful. I can't finish the unpacking at home because there's always something else to go listen to. Yesterday we heard John Prine - one of my favorites at the 11th annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate park. There were clearly lots of people who called in sick - all ages, with their dogs, bikes, kids and picnics. The multiple stages had packed audiences but we heard pretty well from an overlooking hill.

On Thursday night we got tickets at the San Francisco Opera House for Lucretia Borgia starring Renee Fleming. We sat somewhere near the roof in the upper balcony in separate locations as there were hardly any tickets left. Fortunately there were large screen TV monitors hanging for the balcony. But we could hear and see the action and she is the diva her reputation claims she is. She was beautiful and passionate and her voice is sweeter than melting chocolate.

 Last Sunday there was a free performance of a simulcast of Puccini's Turandot by the San Francisco Opera at the Giant's AT&T Park. No baseball was played, but the stadium was packed and the opera was displayed on their large monitor. What an amazing setting! The fog and light misty rain cleared and the view over the bay only added to the experience. San Franciscans take their opera very seriously and the turnout really showed this. O.B.T.W., the story is good, too. Turandot, a Chinese princess is angry that she has to marry an unknown prince just because he answers her riddles. After some drama and an amazing aria by the winning prince they work it out and she calms down to her fate. Maybe the Red Sox could use a few arias to add to their operatic drama. But that's another sad story.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Identity Change

The wagon had an identity change today as did it's two drivers. We spent the morning at the DMV. We had to get a SMOG inspection, too. But they took our MA plates and drivers licenses and also registered us to vote. Did you know it's totally illegal to use a cell phone while driving here? Unless ur making an emergency call. I really felt a wrenching of my roots today as we made this huge adjustment.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Lemon crop

These lemons were just picked from the tree in our tiny backyard. A squirrel is busy with the crab apple tree and the hummingbirds love the agapanthus flowers. Can't wait to find my clippers and trowel and do some gardening out there. I don't think they have "end of the season" sales here ... We unpacked and washed 5 dish and glassware crates yesterday. Ugh! I'm thinking I'm now old enough to use these "good" dishes more often. Still missing our favorite Cutco scissor and the rest of the utensils and knives. But they have a wonderful IKEA for replacements.

Friday, September 02, 2011

View from bedroom @ sunset

And beyond the hill to the left is the GG Bridge which is barely visible through the fine film of fog. That's Mt. Tamalpais just in front of the setting sun.

September 1 - moving in day

The truck arrived this morning @ 9:00 AM and unloaded all our stuff to 219 Stanford Ave, Kensington, a tiny village in the Berkeley Hills just north of the UC campus. We are surrounded by boxes but our computer connections are up and operational thanx to Comcast. Mostly all seems to fit into our 3 bedroom house thanx to all the unloading I did on Craigslist prior to this move - Craig is my new hero. The huge moving van blocked our narrow hillside street for a good part of the day but the two tiny guys put every box in the right room and reassembled beds, desks and our dining table. Nothing broken and all accounted for even though we can't get to the refrig. Check out the view at sunset from our bedroom - the next blog pic.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Scene from a Gondola

That's snow on a distant mountain beyond Lake Tahoe. The lake's water level is much higher than last year - I was told as I was sitting in the water on a submerged granite rock. A woman told me the rock was high and dry on the lake's beach last summer. So I'm guessing there was a ton of snow out here last winter. And some is still up there. We took the Gondola up to the Heavenly ski lodge and hiked around the top. We could see into Nevada. Gotta come back and try the powder they talk about.

Emerald Bay

Lake Tahoe's jewel tucked away near Bliss State Park. We drove to Tahoe to spend the days before we can move into our rental house on Sept 1- Thursday. We walked down 1 mile to the water's edge to visit Vikingsholm - a mansion built in this bay in 1929 and designed in the Scandinavian style. It included a tea house on that tiny granite island- the only one in Lake Tahoe.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A California strawberry

We bought the same brand back in Market Basket. They were huge and mostly were tough with big hallow middles. Here the big box costs $2.50 on sale today and, oh boy! They are small and perfectly heart shaped. The leaves look so perfect you'd think them phony and the taste is sweet with a little tart thing going on in the background. No bad ones in the box - not even on the bottom. I saved this one to show you. I won't go on about the lettuce, green beans and the CORN! Let's just say something happens all those hours in the trucks goin East.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hatch Shell alias Stern Grove, SF

We like free, but this is free with a cherry-on-top. We're about to hear an opera hi-lights concert at Stern Grove which is a Tanglewood like setting of Redwoods and eucalyptus trees. We got here @ 12:30 for the 2:00 performance but there are still spots along the stone and grass terraced ledges that create an amphitheater up the slope. As we entered the park the grove of eucalyptus gave off that only-available-in-California smell. I love it. It's a direct "feed" back to my 20's and hiking in Marin. Now I'm getting psych'd for what we're about to hear. The fog is air conditioning the setting and I'm wearing t-shirt, cashmere sweater, quilted jacket with gloves ready in the pockets - jeans, socks and sneakers. ? August in SF. NICE.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Map of the Journey

Last Monday night as we were driving back to Mill Valley, just after finding "our spot" and confirming by phone with the owner, a very wonderful thing happened on the Richmond Bridge. I was on the phone with Dave (son living in SF) asking him to watch for the lease that would be mailed to his address, and handing Bert the $5.00 toll for the bridge. Bert waved away the toll. The lady in the toll booth just told him the driver in the car ahead of us paid our toll. Wow! They had seen our license plate? I'm guessing, "Yes".
I've been thinking about that incident for the past few days. Apart from the fact that everybody we meet is just so sincerely nice and friendly, I think that maybe people don't drive clear across this country with a Thule on their top. The days of covered wagon travel are over - these days people fly and ship their car. So, I decided to map all the daily stops and neat places we visited to see what the journey looks like on a map. If you click the link under the title, you'll be able to access my Google map, too.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Naked Ladies along the highways

They are everywhere. They stick up in little clusters in the driest of highway medians and also in lovely landscaped yards. I finally asked the owner of an apartment we were looking at what they were - she had a beautiful garden and I guessed she might know - and she told me they are a bulb that spreads by seeds and just pops up. There are no visible green leaves, just the tall stalks with intense pink flowers. We looked up on Google, of course, "naked lady" and these are an Amaryllis Belladonna, with every part poisonous. They are from South Africa and seem to like it here. They look like an Amaryllis.

Feeling Good

I can relate today to that little golden buddha that is sitting on the balcony of our temp apartment in Mill Valley - We found our spot yesterday evening! We have yet to sign the lease which was mailed by the owner - he lives in Mendocino - but we think the deal is done. It's one of those little houses in the Berkeley Hills, actually in a village called Kensington. (Sarah, it's very near Solano Ave.) There's a view of the GG Bridge and SF, a tiny back terrace, new baths, kitchen and a master suite big enough for our desks, too. And best of all two additional bedrooms for guests we hope will visit. I'll send a pic and the address as soon as we sign the lease.... I'm superstitious that way. It took us one week of 24-7 house hunting. We were on Craigslist constantly and I even had an iPhone app that sent updates during the day. With the help of technology - the GPS - the iPhone - Craigslist - this was an amazing experience of modern day connectivity. Just had to get that tech-toot in there.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mill Valley

It's been a week since we got to Mill Valley and the temp sub-let apartment. We are using Craigslist and hunting everywhere for our "spot". Last night after another weary day we found this deer pair in our backyard near the BBQ and behind the redwoods. They wandered across the main street awhile later. We think we've found a section of Oakland called Montclair that we like. Lots of cliff-hanging houses with amazing bay views. It's a good thing it doesn't snow here-the streets would be murderous.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Coasting along Big Sur

We left the fog behind and enjoyed the views along Highway 1. Anna Ben and Dave were with us at our picnic in Pfieffer State Park. They go on to Yosemite - Bert and I to Mill Valley.

You Otter Sea Them

Sea Otter in Kelp off Monterey, CA
We rented double sea kayaks yesterday and paddled the shore front along Monterey from the rental beach to the Monterey Aquarium. These are pictures taken from the Kayak site, but we actually were able to get this close to otters, and also to sea lions and seals that were resting on nearby rocks. The golden kelp strands caught in my oar as we crossed the large kelp beds. I had no idea how large an otter really is. They are seal size and yet they can be fully camouflaged in the kelp. The whole coast from San Francisco down past Monterey is a protected wildlife area and a real treasure. 

Friday, August 05, 2011

Finally in SF

And the fog is rolling in over/under the GG Bridge. We found a temp apartment in Mill Valley for the next 10 days - we'll move in on Sunday and start to look for a more permanent apt for a year.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

It happened again...

I walked into a restaurant and as the people looked up I wondered if my license plate was showing on my bum. ???? Seriously it's happened twice now. Stranger in a strange land I guess.

Pebble Beach 17 mile drive

Oh Deer! Are grazing beside the road and on the edge of this world famous golf course.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

They had to kick us out

of the Aquarium. The displays are so captivating and I found an aquarium setting on my Canon PowerShot S90 so the photos are missing that awful hot spot that the flash leaves. We're going back maybe tomorrow. They had about a dozen jellyfish displays.

The Diver is in this tank

And he's feeding the tiger sharks and the sheepshead fish which is pretty dangerous. The diver is talking to us as he feeds the fish. This is called a kelp forest and golden kelp Fronds are growing to the light. I'm blown away at the Monterey Bay Aquarium - click the titles link to find out more about this eciting place.

Harbor seals near Cannery Row

Low tide and the seals get to sunbath on a rock outside the Monterey Aquarium. I finally unearthed my jeans and long sleeved shirts. It's COLD here in the mid 60's and I love it. I too stand in the sun to warm up - fortunately I don't have to wait for the tides. You could want to live here.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The view

Of Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean. One heck of a trip. :-)

From Sea to Shining Sea

We are here. Monterey, CA. Hang on a sec and I'll show you the view.

Palm Trees and Golden Hills

We're on the way to Monterey and a house swap we'll enjoy for a week. I know - we don't have a house to swap. It's a long story, call me and I'll explain- I'd love to chat, too. 781 249-3728.

Back of the Wagon

5 suitcases on wheels. There's one shoved up right behind the back seat. We only get to take one up into the motel each night (Bert's rule!).
In the Thule roof carrier? I mostly forget, but I know the Bogey boards and snorkel gear are up there and the extra vitamins. Also, other stuff we thought we'd need until the moving van comes to our unknown home.
..... In case I forget how we actually did this. The idea forth Thule was last minute and came to me while I was having my last Candy Castle coffee frozen yogurt cone in Lexington Center. I saw a SW drive by with one and realized we needed one, too.

The back seat

The BS in our covered wagon Is critical. Being empty of kids we have full access to this space. There's a red Gott freezer chest that goes back to our camping days and is a perfect size for keeping 3 days worth of salad and fruit supplies and yogurt. There's the red Trader Joes bag with snacks, bug spray, sun screen and a sharp knife. In the laundry basket is the bag of paper goods, a few souvenirs, the gum and a roll of paper towels. The basket helps keep things separate and missed getting packed for the movers. Behind each of our seats in canvas bags is all the computing gear. I'm packing an iPad (retirement gift from lots of Bedford and EDCO checks), a new MacBook Pro laptop a Canon Rebel and a pocket Canon S90 and cables and chargers. At close hand in the Crimson Harvard Lunch bag are the water bottles on ice for the day. The grey bag has a box if Kleenex and the garbage bag hangs from a seat clip. Sue keeps chopstick, emery board, eye drops and wipes along with pens and paper in the arm rest. The Garmin takes up most of the glove compartment. Oh, the blue AAA bag is the library of maps and guides - we are still hooked on a paper map and the AAA guide has led us to many GEMS. The Yelp App feeds us and the Overdrive and Pandora Apps entertain us from our iPhones which we keep charged from a splitter cable plugged into the cigarette lighter - the splitter is shared with the Garmin. Can't praise the Garmin enuf. She goofed only once in Louisiana when we were looking for a new tire and she tried to find a WalMart. She couldn't find it and led us to a dead end street. It's kind of reassuring how she answers the "Are we there yet?" question with the arrival time always visible. I like to just push the speed limit enough to shave off a minute or two. The straw hats sit atop it all. We can reach everything from our seats. When we stop @ a rest stop we take turns and don't leave the car unattended or out of sight at a restaurant. It's all been working for us.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Donner Pass

Our covered wagon has made it! We are actually driving the pass. We were stopped at an inspection gate and had to give up our oranges - they were not California oranges.  The lady read every label. Apparently California is worried about orange bugs infecting their oranges. We bought our latest batch in Utah. The sign on the corner says, "Donner Pass Road" and our covered wagon is approaching it.


We're in California! Approaching the Donner Pass.  Mileage = 5299 miles from our beginning on July 8th - 22 days ago. OMG. Temp has dropped to 85 and the trees have come back.


We just ate lunch here from our red box. It is perhaps the remotest spot in the US where thousands of people and animals died in the mid 1860's. And I'm reading and sending this blog post.

90's and snow

We're in the middle of Nevada - it's 92 degrees middle of the day and I see snow on the mountain tops. And there's a bumper sticker on the stop sign at the rest stop we're at saying "Stop Shark Finning".
?? Trying to make sense of it all. But we may actually get to CA tonight. WOW.

Just thought of something

that happened when we arrived in Elko, Nevada, this afternoon.
Bert was inside the Motel office checking in and a man came up to me and asked, "How long does it take?". I thought for a moment about what he was asking, then said, "We left Massachusetts on July 8th, but we stayed about 4 in Miami, let's say 15 days." He was a truck driver waiting for his truck to get fixed and was looking at our license plate. I asked him where he was going in MA. While he was trying to remember the name of the town, he said, "It's a military family moving to a town outside Boston."
"Bedford!", I said.
"That's it!", he said.
Hey, BHS, new kid coming.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Salt Lake City

Last night we saw the Temple all lit up- the towers appeared to hang in the sky. This morning there are many young people visiting - ? A conference? The flowers and gardens are fresh and bright and provide an interesting comparison to the close hills surrounding the city that are dried and golden brown. I'm sure I saw snow on the peaks in the distance last night.

Mormon Tabernacle Organ

The noon concert is just beginning. The organist just dropped pins without the mic on and in the way back we could hear it perfectly. Now he's playing and the sound is HUGE. Sounds like the way all those canyons looked.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Roll-ing with the best

Some of us don't have a covered wagon.


As far as the eye can see - sign says 31 miles to the distant mts, the Rockies. Still in Utah outside Moab. Utah Rocks! Just bought a fridge magnet for the refridge I don't have. Love this livin on the edge so to speak.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Arches National Park - Moab Utah



More canyons today as we head for Arches National Park in Utah. Tomorrow Canyonlands just down the road on Thursday. We missed these in '08 when we did the OARS trip in Grand Canyon. The desert colors today are making me plan for our place to come. The desert is big on beige and grey and that sage green is still a favorite. Today also starts the last session for the online class. The temp is a pleasant 81.The motels have doubled in price as we go thru tourist territory. Even Priceline can't help.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Black Rock Canyon-Who Knew

Just outside Montrose, CO, Gunnison River made a breath taking canyon. We got there late afternoon as a rain storm was moving off the canyon. As we stepped to the edge - it happened- that surprised surprise. It's why I love to travel - to uncover the next surprise. Today there were many.

Continental Divide

We twisted up through and down the Monarch Pass and passed invisibly over the Continental Divide. It was awesome enough but was enhanced by a thunder storm and downpour. Temp dipped to 54. Bert drives - I camera.

Westcliff CO

Had to pull some tumbleweed from the grill of our covered wagon - no sh....
Somehow I never really believed it could look like this. I think there's snow on the distant Rockies. SNOW! Yesterday it was 108.

We R In Westcliff- the West

Wanna house in this picture perfect Colorado town - much like Sandwich NH- ? $ 200,000 and that's with many acres and views and walk to a lake. 427 neighbors spaced a friendly distance apart.

Sangre De Christo Mts

OMG VIEWS! And buffalo too- actually a whole herd. Ranches with elaborate entry gates - western style - like an arch overhead. Majestic but not purple.

Rocky Mt High

We can just see the edge of the Rockies. The plan is to drive on the roads with the little dots west thru southeastern Colorado towards Grand Junction, CO. Temp is 91and very dry. Couldn't be finer.

Texas rest stop

Texas Panhandle rest stop was designed to reflect nearby canyons. The bricks are canyon soil colors. The cattle were "Standing Like Statures". 105 here in the shade.

Extinct Volcano

The pic in the last post was this volcano.

3 States and 430 miles

What a day. We started in Texas, quickly drove thru a corner of New Mexico and ended in Colorado. The scenery and weather were amazing. The temps went from 101 to 72 then into the 80's. We had hot winds, thunderstorms with lightning and downpours and even a rainbow. At a rest stop we looked at a dead volcano and a recently killed rattlesnake that an attendant had just killed with a shovel. We got the last room in a Super 8 and paid twice what we've been paying. Like I said - Quite a day !