Golden Gate Bridge

Something Jane has been saying since we arrived in SF on Thursday is that she’d like to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. To put this in context: Jane hates bridges. But she was determined to do it, just to prove to herself that she could. So today we wandered down to the bridge and did the 1.7 miles walk, and back again.

I say we wandered down, it took us over an hour to walk from Pacific Avenue through The Presidio to the SF-side of the bridge. Like so many historic landmarks in this country, just before you step onto this giant suspension bridge there is an opportunity to purchase one or two ‘tasteful’ mementos; an official outlet of American Heritage, if you like. We side-steped that in favour of making it our first stop on our triumphant return to terra firma.

The walk was easy. For me. Jane held tightly onto my hand as we stepped across the Golden Gate, suspended a couple of hundred feet above the water. At one point I stood next to the handrail and looked over, watching an enormous ship pass beneath laden with containers. Two highway patrol men cycled by and one commented on Jane’s facial expression.
“Do you not want to walk next to the edge?” he called.
“She doesn’t want to walk across at all!” I called back.

Beyond the second tower a couple approached us and asked “Do you mind taking a photograph of us?”, thrusting a camera into my hands. I was tempted to reply, “It’s okay, I’ve got my own camera,” take a photograph of them and walk away.

It took us about an hour to shuffle across the bridge into Marin County and back again. I took umpteen photographs en route, to document this historic occasion. So now Jane has challenged her fear of heights (Space Needle in Seattle), and bridges (Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco), what could be next? Next holiday I’ll challenge some of my fears: being snogged to death by supermodels; and standing at the top of an enormous building and losing my glasses, and then losing my balance, and then losing my life! Perhaps not. Apart from the supermodels bit.

We walked back by another route, along the coast into the Marina area of San Francisco, past the Palace of Fine Arts. On our way Jane pointed out a street sign: Crook Street. It had a One Way sign pointing into the bay towards Alcatraz, which we thought was quite apt.

To say that we walked up Broderick Street from Marina to Pacific Avenue really doesn’t do the steepness of the climb any justice. It’s a bit like saying Neil Armstrong went on a flight and then took a walk. I’m surprised the streets don’t have oxygen masks at each street corner, or climbing ropes and crampons!

In a couple of hours we’re heading out to Nob Hill to take cocktails at The Top of the Mark, a restaurant on the 19th floor of The Mark Hopkins Inter-Continental hotel, near Grace Cathedral. Then we’re meeting a friend of Silver Joinee Kate Arkless Gray for dinner in China Town before returning to pack for our homeward journey tomorrow.

Quiet Day

Today we laid low and lived the life of luxury on Pacific Heights. This was the first day that Jane managed to get the option of a long lie; the extensive building-work in the area however conspired against her and she got up around 09:00. But from then on in we really did nothing much.

I came down to the office to check e-mail (7 pages of spam/virus attachments on my webmail) while Jane watched Spiderman on one of the cable movie channels. I then got on with writing up my memories of Will Reynish (a good friend of mine who died in a climbing accident a couple of years ago) on my Psion 5mx. It was for this reason (writing) that I upgraded from the Series 3mx. Quite a few Americans have commented on what a cool looking machine the Psion is, particularly its usable keyboard. (Are you listening Psion?)

Jane’s parents hiked up Pacific Avenue to join us for lunch. I say ‘join us’, what I really mean is they brought in lunch: a couple of ham sandwiches and three enormous and delicious American chocolate-chip, and peanut butter, cookies. We gave them the tour of the house, cupboards and all.

In the evening I heard Robert and his two kids, Dashiell and Lucinda, playing in the garden so I padded down the steps in my socks to pass on a parcel delivered by FedEx that afternoon. I ended up playing football (soccer) with Dashiell; Robert carrying Lucinda was in goal (between two trees). Jane came down and joined us just before Zack returned from the office needing to print some work for a meeting in L.A. tomorrow. Zack and Robert are currently working on a TV pilot based on Robert’s debut novel Boonville. So we followed Robert and Zack up to Robert’s study, the view from which is phenomenal (I may have already written about it). I returned to the guesthouse briefly to fetch the camera.

Robert then disappeared to get ready for the ballet; Zack took us to explore the basement. The basement is equipped, as I am sure yours is also, with a half-size basketball court, and sauna. Beneath the basement is the garage. We declined to take the lift back up to ground level. (And I’m not kidding!)

This evening Zack drove us over to his sister Jessica’s at Castro for pizza. We had a fun evening. Robert’s brother, Wayne Anderson and family (three lovely kids, Audrey, Julian and Miranda) also turned up, as did Jane’s parents. The topic of conversation over dinner was interesting. It ranged from the cost of public transport in New York, through American history (particularly the Spanish missions in California), to who invented the Caesar Salad!

Sadly such erudite conversation must come to an end, so here I am back in the office at the guesthouse updating my blog. I booted up the Dell PC this time to see if it too was connected to the net — and by jings! it is. I feel so much more comfortable typing on a PC. Folks here are amazed that I really know only one person in the UK who owns a Mac — all my family use Apple here: iMacs, iBooks and Apple PowerPCs.

Tomorrow is sadly our last full day in San Francisco, and yet there is so much still to do. Jane needs to walk over the Golden Gate Bridge, we need to visit Union Square and buy Jane some obnoxiously expensive souveniers (jewellery?) and … well, find out tomorrow what we get up to.

Quiet Day

Today we laid low and lived the life of luxury on Pacific Heights. This was the first day that Jane managed to get the option of a long lie; the extensive building-work in the area however conspired against her and she got up around 09:00. But from then on in we really did nothing much.

I came down to the office to check e-mail (7 pages of spam/virus attachments on my webmail) while Jane watched Spiderman on one of the cable movie channels. I then got on with writing up my memories of Will Reynish (a good friend of mine who died in a climbing accident a couple of years ago) on my Psion 5mx. It was for this reason (writing) that I upgraded from the Series 3mx. Quite a few Americans have commented on what a cool looking machine the Psion is, particularly its usable keyboard. (Are you listening Psion?)

Jane’s parents hiked up Pacific Avenue to join us for lunch. I say ‘join us’, what I really mean is they brought in lunch: a couple of ham sandwiches and three enormous and delicious American chocolate-chip, and peanut butter, cookies. We gave them the tour of the house, cupboards and all.

In the evening I heard Robert and his two kids, Dashiell and Lucinda, playing in the garden so I padded down the steps in my socks to pass on a parcel delivered by FedEx that afternoon. I ended up playing football (soccer) with Dashiell; Robert carrying Lucinda was in goal (between two trees). Jane came down and joined us just before Zack returned from the office needing to print some work for a meeting in L.A. tomorrow. Zack and Robert are currently working on a TV pilot based on Robert’s debut novel Boonville. So we followed Robert and Zack up to Robert’s study, the view from which is phenomenal (I may have already written about it). I returned to the guesthouse briefly to fetch the camera.

Robert then disappeared to get ready for the ballet; Zack took us to explore the basement. The basement is equipped, as I am sure yours is also, with a half-size basketball court, and sauna. Beneath the basement is the garage. We declined to take the lift back up to ground level. (And I’m not kidding!)

This evening Zack drove us over to his sister Jessica’s at Castro for pizza. We had a fun evening. Robert’s brother, Wayne Anderson and family (three lovely kids, Audrey, Julian and Miranda) also turned up, as did Jane’s parents. The topic of conversation over dinner was interesting. It ranged from the cost of public transport in New York, through American history (particularly the Spanish missions in California), to who invented the Caesar Salad!

Sadly such erudite conversation must come to an end, so here I am back in the office at the guesthouse updating my blog. I booted up the Dell PC this time to see if it too was connected to the net — and by jings! it is. I feel so much more comfortable typing on a PC. Folks here are amazed that I really know only one person in the UK who owns a Mac — all my family use Apple here: iMacs, iBooks and Apple PowerPCs.

Tomorrow is sadly our last full day in San Francisco, and yet there is so much still to do. Jane needs to walk over the Golden Gate Bridge, we need to visit Union Square and buy Jane some obnoxiously expensive souveniers (jewellery?) and … well, find out tomorrow what we get up to.

California Coast

Jane and I were up bright and early this morning (unlike the sun) and out the door before Zack was awake. We hiked our way down Broadway Street to the Ferry Building, which took just over an hour, and purchased four tickets to Larkspur Landing. Forty-five minutes later Peter, Dorothy, Jane and myself were sitting on the San Francisco to Larkspur ferry while the waves, wind and rain did their best to upset our journey. My second cousin, once removed, Charlotte had arranged to meet us at the ferry terminal, but heavy traffic (70 miles at 20 mph) meant that she was delayed. But sooner or later (later!) we were back on the road and heading up Highway 101 towards the coast.

Much of the day was spent exploring the Californian countryside and coast, and although the wind and rain conspired against us it didn’t hamper our enjoyment and actually held off for our brief excursions outside the car. First we drove through Bodega Bay, the town where some of Hitchcock’s “The Birds” was filmed, to a vista point where we were able to sit and watch the Pacific Ocean crash against the coast, and seals playfully testing the surf. Many photographs were taken, and the sun even appeared for a moment, and with it a patch of blue sky and a rainbow.

Further up the coast, at Jenner, we looked at the mouth of the Russian River and discovered that nowhere was open for lunch there either.

We eventually stopped at Duncans Mills (I know! where is the apostrophe!?) for something to eat before exploring the Redwood groves at the Armstrong Woods near Geuserville. This was a perfect opportunity to escape the SUV for a while and walk off some of our lunch. On the path we came across a brass sign giving information about the Colonel Armstrong redwood, a massive tree over 1400 years old and 14 feet in diameter; the notice was also translated into braille above the English text. I couldn’t help noticing, however, that the sign was facing the opposite direction to the tree. So that, even if a blind chap was standing reading the braille notice even though he couldn’t see the tree HE WOULDN’T EVEN BE FACING THE RIGHT DIRECTION!

Following our brief jaunt in the forest, we returned east to Highway 101 and to Healdsburg, where we checked out Char’s house (where I had stayed all last week) before visiting Carol for drinks. Our last stop for the night, before we returned to the city, was Fitch Mountain Eddie’s for dinner, where again we disgraced ourselves by eating our own body weight in burgers.

Tomorrow is a free day; a quiet day; a lounging around, reading and writing day. Peter and Dorothy are coming over for lunch, and in the evening we’re heading over to cousin Jessica’s in the Castro for pizza dinner. Bring it on!

California Coast

Jane and I were up bright and early this morning (unlike the sun) and out the door before Zack was awake. We hiked our way down Broadway Street to the Ferry Building, which took just over an hour, and purchased four tickets to Larkspur Landing. Forty-five minutes later Peter, Dorothy, Jane and myself were sitting on the San Francisco to Larkspur ferry while the waves, wind and rain did their best to upset our journey. My second cousin, once removed, Charlotte had arranged to meet us at the ferry terminal, but heavy traffic (70 miles at 20 mph) meant that she was delayed. But sooner or later (later!) we were back on the road and heading up Highway 101 towards the coast.

Much of the day was spent exploring the Californian countryside and coast, and although the wind and rain conspired against us it didn’t hamper our enjoyment and actually held off for our brief excursions outside the car. First we drove through Bodega Bay, the town where some of Hitchcock’s “The Birds” was filmed, to a vista point where we were able to sit and watch the Pacific Ocean crash against the coast, and seals playfully testing the surf. Many photographs were taken, and the sun even appeared for a moment, and with it a patch of blue sky and a rainbow.
Further up the coast, at Jenner, we looked at the mouth of the Russian River and discovered that nowhere was open for lunch there either.
We eventually stopped at Duncans Mills (I know! where is the apostrophe!?) for something to eat before exploring the Redwood groves at the Armstrong Woods near Geuserville. This was a perfect opportunity to escape the SUV for a while and walk off some of our lunch. On the path we came across a brass sign giving information about the Colonel Armstrong redwood, a massive tree over 1400 years old and 14 feet in diameter; the notice was also translated into braille above the English text. I couldn’t help noticing, however, that the sign was facing the opposite direction to the tree. So that, even if a blind chap was standing reading the braille notice even though he couldn’t see the tree HE WOULDN’T EVEN BE FACING THE RIGHT DIRECTION!

Following our brief jaunt in the forest, we returned east to Highway 101 and to Healdsburg, where we checked out Char’s house (where I had stayed all last week) before visiting Carol for drinks. Our last stop for the night, before we returned to the city, was Fitch Mountain Eddie’s for dinner, where again we disgraced ourselves by eating our own body weight in burgers.

Tomorrow is a free day; a quiet day; a lounging around, reading and writing day. Peter and Dorothy are coming over for lunch, and in the evening we’re heading over to cousin Jessica’s in the Castro for pizza dinner. Bring it on!