Tag Archives: California

California: the joy of redwoods and friendship

A few years’ ago I went on a fantastic trip to Cuba (I can recommend Intrepid Travel‘s itinerary – it was a scorcher!). From one two week trip I made six really wonderful friends, three who (now) live in Australia, one in Cuba and two in California.

Janet and Carol, my Californian friends, weren’t on the same trip as I was but it was these two fantastic women with whom I shared most late nights, as most of my group tended to go home quite early. I chatted happily with Janet and Carol in between fantastic dances with their tour leader, Roger.

When I went to Burma in December, it was a real kick to meet up with Carol and Janet for lunch in the capital, Yangon – they were on the last day of their trip and we were on the first day of ours.

As soon as I confirmed that I would be visiting California, I got in touch with Carol and Janet. Not for us a quick lunch in San Francisco – no, the plan was for Janet and I to travel up from the Bay Area to Carol’s place in Humboldt County. I was excited to get into the heart of the redwood forests.

I had completely underestimated, though, just how wonderfully remote Carol’s place was. I had the most fantastic few days, in a place of such peace and calm that if I hadn’t been returning to meet my lovely friend from the U.K. and to reunite with the U.S. branch of my family, I think I may have skipped town altogether!

Janet gamely agreed to travel up Route 1 instead of the quicker Route 101, just so that I could get the feel of the coastal road. Wow, it winds and winds and winds! There were stunning views all the time and it was certainly worth feeling dizzy. For some inexplicable reason, I didn’t take a single photo. I’m blaming the jet lag.

Finally we moved inland and Janet pulled over to let me see my first Redwood Grove. It’s amazing to me that such mighty trees are growing right next to the road – sometimes even beginning to encroach upon it.

© Carole Scott 2013
© Carole Scott 2013
© Carole Scott 2013
© Carole Scott 2013
© Carole Scott 2013
© Carole Scott 2013

Humboldt4After a good eight or so hours on the road, we arrived and Janet pulled off the road onto a dusty track. As we wound up the hill, I was enchanted by the views of meadows. It simply wasn’t what I expected.

That evening we caught up, ate, drank and laughed. All the time, the view from Carol’s deck beguiled me and I came back to it time and again during my few days. I loved it best in the morning, when the breeze rustled the beech tree, the wind chimes sang and the crickets (cicadas?) chirrupped noisily but no other sound could be heard. I meditated, I did some yoga, I read. I was calm.

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This short clip doesn’t do justice to it but it helps remind me of the peace…

Carol, Dexter (the dog), me and Janet on the deck:

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Janet left the morning after we arrived (all thanks for her for making the trip when she had to dash back!) and Carol, Dexter and I set off for a lovely long hike through meadows and pine woods over to friends about seven miles away. It was a glorious day – clear blue skies but not blisteringly hot.

I drank wonderful pinot noir made from these grapes
I drank wonderful pinot noir made from these grapes

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Nanny goat looks round for her kids
Nanny goat looks round for her kids
Nanny goat and kids on a neighbour's land
Nanny goat and kids on a neighbour’s land
Jumping for joy on a spring day!
Jumping for joy on a spring day!
Meadow and pine - the views just went on forever.
Meadow and pine – the views just went on forever.

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A banana slug - what a revolting-looking creature!
A banana slug – what a revolting-looking creature!

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One very happy dog, roaming free!
One very happy dog, roaming free!

The next day Carol took me to the ‘Avenue of the Giants’, which delivers what it promises…great big glorious redwoods! Stunning.

It was a wonderful trip and I shall always treasure both the views and the conversations. It has certainly opened my eyes to just how beautiful California is and I will return to see more of it.

Thank you, Carol, for such a lovely visit and to Janet for driving up there!

Next time, back to San Francisco for wine, sight-seeing, family reunions and glorious food!

By Carole Scott

San Francisco: Part one of a great holiday

I’ve had a busy few weeks, so my poor little blog feels rather neglected. I was expecting sun today but as it hasn’t appeared, I’ve finally had a chance to stay in and do a wee bit of editing.

My trip to San Francisco began with the first of many superb brunches at Kate’s Kitchen, just round the corner from my cousin’s apartment. I don’t have photos but I can tell you that if you’re in the area, it’s a must visit. Featured on the front of Jimmy Smith’s ‘Home Cookin’, it’s a great little place with the best scrambled eggs I’ve ever had.

Food related Blue Note cover no. 1
Food related Blue Note cover no. 1 (Photo credit: tristanf)

Fuelled up, we set off for Marina Green to begin a six mile walk up round by the Golden Gate Bridge, round the coastal path to Land’s End.

The walk gave us a chance to catch up on a few years’ of gossip. It doesn’t matter a jot that I’m 19 years older than Andrew; we have heaps to talk about. I did manage to look at view after view of the bridge, though. I’m sure someone has written a great book about the psychology of bridges, investigating why they have such an impact on us? It’s not just the fantastic engineering; there’s something that goes much much deeper than that. Whatever the deep-seated fascination, the Golden Gate really does have a visual pull and I took too many photos. Here’s my gallery:

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Our end goal was Cliff House, the bistro complex on the site of the old Sutro Baths. It’s a stunning location. With spectacular views of the setting sun, we had a hoot of an evening. A friend of Andrew’s works there, so we sat at the bar, noshing on really rather gorgeous food including a scrummy tuna tartare. Entertainment was provided by a very good-looking guy who ‘races powerboats’. I missed a cue early on in the conversation (old age; getting deaf) and thought he meant speedboats, actual boats that people sit in. Nope. We’re talking remote controlled boats; the kind that sad whiskery guys put on park ponds on Sunday mornings. I’m sure it was all BS, as believe me, I had a wee look around the internet and couldn’t find any evidence of him or the well-paid professional circuit he was ‘leading’ in. But it was entertaining stuff, particularly when he said I could ‘take’ his number in case I wanted to hook up later in the week. I didn’t laugh. I played nice.

A fun end to a superb first day of sight-seeting. The hike was the perfect way to start a San Francisco trip – it cleared the jet lag and gave me heaps of views of that international orange bridge.

Join me next time, when I’ll be off to get back to the Land in Humboldt County.

By Carole Scott

 

Top tips for San Francisco

English: Japanese Tea Garden, San Francisco
English: Japanese Tea Garden, San Francisco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been so busy since returning from California on Monday that I’m not geared up for blogging with pics yet.

So I thought I would share my top tips before I forget them, as some are quite small but useful.

Number one recommendation: Go to Glide on Sunday morning.

Glide Memorial SF - Easter Celebration - 19
Glide Memorial SF – Easter Celebration – 19 (Photo credit: chrisheuer)

Inspiring, moving and downright uplifting. I’m an atheist and I can tell you that it didn’t matter one bit. It’s the living example of compassion, tolerance and community I’ve ever seen. Marvellous singing from a choir as diverse as you would expect from San Francisco and some of the best voices singing Gospel I’ve ever heard. My friend Heather and I walked passed the Glide community centre to get to the church and it was sobering; some of the most desperate people you will see all queueing to get a shower and some breakfast. But it was real testament to the superb work this community does. Give generously when the collection comes round – these people deserve it. They podcast each week’s celebration, so here’s the one I went to. 5/19/2013 GLIDE Sunday Celebration

And the rest, in no particular order but just as I remember them:

  • Buy a visitor passport for the Muni, which is the system that runs all the buses and historic cable cars. A week’s pass is $28 and includes unlimited rides on the cable cars, which otherwise cost $6 a pop. You can buy the passports at Walgreens as well as Muni terminals.
  • On that note, don’t attempt to get on the Powell/Mason or Powell/Hyde cars anytime after about 11 a.m. You will queue. For a loooong time. Instead, ride them early OR ride the Van Ness/Market line up and down California. This passes by Grace Cathedral, so comfortably on the tourist routes but nowhere near as busy.
  • Grab a BART transfers booklet when you’re waiting for the BART (the underground system) at San Francisco airport. It has every single bus route in it and was 100% foolproof when planning how to get around. You are unlikely to use the BART itself again but the booklet is brilliant.
  • Enjoy your conversations with strangers. Everywhere we went, people were so open, welcoming and friendly in a way never experienced in Europe. Embrace it, enjoy it.
  • If you’re staying in Nob Hill (Miranda-like snigger permitted at any time), it’s worth going to MyMy for breakfast on California and Larkin. Don’t go after 9.30 on the weekend, as there will be the obligatory queues but weekdays or early it’s the perfect breakfast. Mind you, you don’t have to go far to get a great breakfast in San Francisco!
  • The Jazz Center won’t be in any tourist guides yet, as it opened a couple of months’ ago. Do go, even if you’re not going to a gig, as the bar has great staff, gorgeous wine and lovely food.
  • Don’t try to save dollars by seeing The Legion of Honour and the de Young in one day (you get a discount if you do). These are two fantastic museums, jam-packed with gorgeous stuff (including the biggest collection of Rodin sculptures outside Paris). They need time.
  • The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is spectacular. Even if you have just a couple of days, don’t miss it.
  • Oh, an finally, go visit the bar my cousin works in – 15 Romolo. In the alleyway right next to the Beat Museum, it’s a real find. Unusual cocktails and great bar food.
15 Romolo Menu
15 Romolo Menu (Photo credit: atl10trader)

I’m looking forward to spending Sunday editing photos…when a holiday starts with one’s bartender cousin making the perfect Mai Tai, you know it’s going to be lively!

By Carole Scott

San Francisco here I come

San Francisco sky
San Francisco sky (Photo credit: davidyuweb)

San Francisco is just a week away. I have long wanted to visit the city and I am now getting excited. My experience of the States has all been over on the Eastern side. My Aunt lived in Boston for years and I loved visiting. From there I branched out to Maine, Nantucket and Cape Cod on various trips – beautiful places all.

So now the West Coast beckons. I have a couple of great guide books and I’m beginning to get an idea of the neighbourhoods and highlights. What I really want to know are some of the ‘best kept secrets’ or hidden away delights. I would love that feeling of having stumbled on something that I might have missed had someone not tipped me off.

Any thoughts, lovely people?

p.s. watch out for a huge number of blogs when I get back! I’m hoping for some great photos if I’m lucky.

By Carole Scott