So, we've been back a week now, and the worst effects of jetlag seem to have receded.
Back from what? Well, what started as a kind invitation from c.i. to see him in California turned into quite a marathon, and for us something of a trip-of-a-lifetime.
Fiona, my wife, also previously had an ambition to drive across the whole country. I think I talked her out of that, but we factored in a lot of driving too.
Bernie, and Lola, late of NY, NY, had moved to Portland, Oregon and had also extended an invitation to see them: and georgeob expressed a hospitable wish to meet up in San Francisco.
We wanted to see as much of the West as we reasonably could, particularly the national parks.
Put it all together, and what have you got?
Well, we started to put out some queries for hotels etc and being quite late in the day, the availability of accommodation dictated the itinerary somewhat.
Changing planes in Newark, NJ, we got to SFO after about 23 hours travelling, all told. We were met by our genial host, and taken to meet his family in Sunnyvale. True to his chosen nickname, he is a great host and guide and he made sure we saw as much as we could in the time we were there....the city with its many fine buildings, the trolley cars, the Golden Gate, the Sausalito side, Fisherman's Wharf and the Ferry Port buildings, now a trendy upmarket area....fine sunny weather,too. Marvellous.
Who could forget the evening spent in the company of George O'B in the yacht club? Good company, good food, lively surroundings, good craic, arm-wrestling, views over the Bay and later, cocktails at the Top of the Mark on Nob Hill. A memorable occasion? I should say so.
Monterey (Cannery Row country, ocean aquarium, Carmel for a nice lunch in Clint Eastwood's pub) Sacramento to see a brilliant railway museum in the old twwn and than a visit to the capitol (to cap it all, and passing by the office of the Governor I was happy I had not worn a souvenir t-shirt "The Governator say NO to girlie men") because the trooper on guard was wearing a gun. Ci's brother, in the administration there, kindly gave us a copy of the Constitution of the United States bound together with the Constitution of the State of California). A nice gesture, much appreciated.
Jally Belly Candy Factory? It's famous, and we've been there too.. Other things, to nomerous to mention. San Jose. The Winchester House. Plenty of good eats, international. Ci filled the days to bursting with his suggestions, and his energy.
Flying to Portland, Bernie eventually found his car (impressive European machinery) in the airport carpark, and took us to Lola in their new jewel of a house. We saw plenty of Portland with Bernie, poor Lola having to work meanwhile, including Powells unique book store. Bernie kissed a pig. Portland was most interesting, lifting bridges, free public transport, excellent riverside walks.
With them we also went to the coast, at Cannon Beach, a local beauty spot with folks at play beside the Pacific.
More big eats. I liked that cafe bar.
Flying next to Las Vegas (principally to pick up the car there, but also to see the place for once) we stayed two nights at the Luxor. Las Vegas, it's mad, or maybe I wasn't in the mood, but what a crazy place., And, temperature in the 90s. I started developing a heavy cold. We liked the fountains at the Bellagio. We visited "Old LV" at Fremont Street, that was interesting.
Two days later, we drove out into the desert on I15. What a contrast. We were headed for the north rim of the Grand Canyon, and holed up at Jacob's Lake.
The canyon was so impressive there that folks were talking in hushed voices, as if in a cathedral. It was stupendous. They say that the north rim is better, being les touristy and is also about 800 ft higher than the south rim.
Next stop Zion, after that Bryce, then Yosemite. All different, all magnificent.
Lots of desert driving in between. Did you see Simon Sharma on TV this week? It's like that. Cactus, sagebrush, salt pans, mountains. Ry Cooder.
You're probably thinking, okay, yady yada, where's the photos? Not all photos are sorted yet, but I'll follow up with some, with more later.
Stay tuned, we'll be right back.