Monday, May 22, 2017, Home again

Breakfast was early — over by 9 instead of 10. Jacqueline was interested in seeing “Silicon Valley”. In the end, we only had time to take a quick trip to San Mateo, where we saw a giant building with Tesla on it.  We didn’t stop to take pictures, but we did wander around a shopping center briefly.

Then, gas for the car and back to the airport. Check-in at Dollar went quickly. I went with Jacqueline to the International Terminal. She got checked in, we chatted a while and then she left to go through security. The waiting area had a lot of art:

Wall of tiles in San Francisco International Airport

Wall of tiles in San Francisco International Airport, more than 5,000 tiles created over years by an artist born in Korea.

C.lose-up of wall of tiles in San Francisco International Airport

C.lose-up of wall of tiles in San Francisco International Airport

I went to my terminal for Southwest. Both of us left at least an hour late — it seems that the San Francisco airport is under construction and is using only one runway for take-offs. This situation will continue for some months. Los Angeles, where my flight originated, also has construction going on.

That said, we both got home safely. I had enough time in San Diego, where I had to change planes, that –even with the delay– I got my flight to Tucson.

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Sunday, May 21, 2017, Sacramento and friends

Breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express brought a new experience: instead of the usual waffle machine, we found a pancake machine. You get two pancakes in two minutes. They were even good!

Pancake machine in the hotel

Pancake machine in the hotel

Sunday morning we’re off to Sacramento and the last of our capitals/capitols. Where we’d been cold, with rain and wind, much of the trip, we  now had sun — and temperatures that are now close to 100 degrees (after 60 degrees, a shock).

State capitol in Sacramento

State capitol in Sacramento

Detail of Capitol in Sacramento

Detail of Capitol in Sacramento

We found a few homeless folks there, too.

Another apparently homeless person, a few blocks from the capitol

Another apparently homeless person, a few blocks from the capitol

The official buildings are in the old style, but there are lots of modern buildings.

Modern building in Sacramento

Modern building in Sacramento

Another modern building in Sacramento

Another modern building in Sacramento

Yet another modern building in Sacramento

Yet another modern building in Sacramento

We saw the Tower Bridge, painted gold, ahead of us. In the process of finding a way to get closer, I ended up in a parking garage — in Old Sacramento, a National Historic Landmark District and State Historic Park. It’s quite a well developed area, with shops in the old buildings.

Building filled with shops in Old Sacramento

Building filled with shops in Old Sacramento

In one of the store windows was this LEGO bear. As my grandchildren are wild about LEGOS, I had to take this photo.

Lego bear in Old Sacramento shop window

Lego bear in Old Sacramento shop window

Then we were on the road to visit a former colleague from Bern and her husband, two space scientists, in El Cerrito. My intention was to go first to the hotel near the airport, then to their house. However, the navigation function on my phone kept saving us time by rerouting us north instead of south. I tried to ignore this, but the phone just persisted in trying to save 2 minutes here, 7 minutes there. In the end, we just went directly to El Cerrito.

I last saw Marit in October 2015 in Bern. I hadn’t seen Tai, her husband, for probably close to 20 years. I hadn’t met their two children before. Tai speaks French, so it’s helpful for Jacqueline — she can talk with someone more fluent than I am.

After a delicious dinner in an Indian restaurant, we set off to find our hotel. The phone took over the Bay Bridge and then on a tour of the airport before we landed at the Comfort Inn & Suites in San Bruno, next to the airport. I was a little concerned about finding the hotel in the dark, but Tai had given me some tips on the bridge, so the trip went quite smoothly.

I worried about not renting a highway sticker, so we wouldn’t have to worry about tolls. In checking, Oregon has no toll roads, and I was told the sticker probably wouldn’t work in Washington or Canada. As it turned out, we paid for one bridge and that was it.

Tomorrow I have to find the rental car return and then we’re off.

Saturday, May 20, 2017, a backtrack to Oroville, California

We’re aiming for Sacramento, but it’s about 8 hours from Salem, Oregon, so we’ll see how close we get.

We see some giant, snow-covered mountains — Mt. McLoughlin in Oregon and Mount Shasta in California. We found a Trader Joe’s for lunch.

Interestingly, California still has agricultural checkpoints. As we entered, we  had to stop and tell an agent whether we were bringing any fresh fruits or vegetables with us. Fortunately, we weren’t.

Mount Shasta was truly impressive, even from the distance.

Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta

We got to Williams, California, only to find that several colleges and universities in the area were holding graduations. The receptionist at the Ramada Inn was exceptionally unfriendly and unhelpful. Jacqueline checked Trip Advisor while I looked at Booking.com and called a few hotels from Sacramento north. Everything was full.

By chance I ended up with IHG, the parent of Holiday Inns. The Holiday Inn Express in Oroville had two rooms. They saved one for us, and we set off. Between Jacqueline with the map and the phone, we arrived at Oroville an hour later, back where we’d come from. The receptionist there was quite nice — the exact opposite of the one in Williams.

The hotel was the most expensive we had on the trip, but at least we didn’t have to sleep in the car. When we got to Oroville — through farmland and with not a lot of gas — we found lots of little motels with “Vacancy” signs…. It was a l-o-n-g day.

Excitement on the way to Oregon, May 13, 2017

The Best Western at Fort Bragg, California, (not to be confused –as I did, for no good reason– with Fort Bragg, North Carolina) overlooks the ocean. This morning I took this photo of a boardwalk across the street from the window of our room (upstairs, on the end):

View from our room at the Best Western in Ft. Bragg, CA

View from our room at the Best Western in Ft. Bragg, CA

Then we were off, headed towards Redwood National & State Parks and then Oregon. As we were whipping along the narrow, winding road, we whipped by these two good-sized fellows, still with velvet on their antlers. Needless to say, we stopped and walked back to get a better look. The elk checked us out, too, but continued to munch away. Several other cars after us stopped to look and photograph, too.

Elk through the trees by the road

Elk through the trees by the road

A second elk by the side of the road

A second elk by the side of the road

And this is why you need a viewfinder on your digital camera. I missed both large elk…

Why you need a viewfinder (no elk)

Why you need a viewfinder (no elk)

We stopped eventually for lunch and a brief visit to a thrift shop (thanks to the wonder of Google and the iPhone) in McKinleyville, then went on to the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center for the Redwood National & State Parks.

From the beach at the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center, Redwood National & State Parks

From the beach at the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center, Redwood National & State Parks

A Park ranger explained where the tree you could drive through was, and we picked up a map of the park. We set off to see if we could find more elk, since my photos this morning weren’t too good.

We found the tree, though I drove by it first, because the sign to turn wasn’t too clear.

A redwood that you can drive through, but we didn't (it looked awfully narrow)

A redwood that you can drive through, but we didn’t (it looked awfully narrow)

We found lots of elk at Elk Meadow. Here are a few:

Young-looking elk, shedding it winter coat, in Elk Meadow

Young-looking elk, shedding it winter coat, in Elk Meadow

Elk in Elk Meadow

Female elk in Elk Meadow

Elk digesting dinner in Elk Meadow

Elk digesting dinner in Elk Meadow

They were really savage-looking beasts, you notice:

Sign at Elk Meadow, Redwood National & State Parks

Sign at Elk Meadow, Redwood National & State Parks

It was getting late, and the sky was spitting at us off and on, and I wanted to get into Oregon before we stopped for the evening. A stop at a Starbucks gave us new energy, and Google and my iPhone (I’ve had it now about a week) helped us find a motel in Port Orford, Oregon.

It was after 7 p.m. when we arrived. We checked in, then took off to find food. Jacqueline wanted fish by the ocean. This was the best we could do:

Griff's on the Docks, Coast Gifts & Seafood Market -- and Restaurant. Port Orford, OR

Griff’s on the Docks, Coast Gifts & Seafood Market — and Restaurant. Port Orford, OR

The man was just putting the CLOSED sign in the window, but after some discussion, he let us eat. The food was quite good, the atmosphere what you’d expect of a little, informal place by the ocean. Since this blog focusses on glass, I took photos of the two really nice stained glass pieces in the windows:

Stained glass dolphins, in the window of Griff's Restaurant

Stained glass dolphins, in the window of Griff’s Restaurant

Stained glass turtle and fish in the window at Griff's Restaurant, Port Orford, OR

Stained glass turtle and fish in the window at Griff’s Restaurant, Port Orford, OR

The background is actually:

View of the Pacific Ocean from Griff's gifts and restaurant, Port Orford, OR

View of the Pacific Ocean from Griff’s gifts and restaurant, Port Orford, OR

Next to the restaurant were several boats:

Boats out of the water and on the dock at Port Orford, Oregon

Boats out of the water and on the dock at Port Orford, Oregon

Tomorrow we head north, aiming for Washington, as close to Seattle as possible.

Sonoma Wineries, Friday, May 12, 2017

We got off to a late start, since the wineries don’t open until at least 10:30. We had some coupons from the ladies at the front desk, but the first winery had a full parking lot, so we kept going. The second, Dry Creek Winery, not only had lots of parking spaces, it had several stained glass bonuses.

Entrance to Dry Creek Winery, with stained glass sailboat

Entrance to Dry Creek Winery, with stained glass sailboat

Close-up of saiiboat, stained glass window at Dry Creek Winery

Close-up of stained glass window with sailboat at Dry Creek Winery. The owner’s other love, the kind employee who helped us explained, is sailing.

Stained glass window at Dry Creek Winery, Healdsburg

Stained glass window with grapes at Dry Creek Winery, Healdsburg

Stained glass window at Dry Creek Winery

Stained glass window of wine bottles at Dry Creek Winery

After tasting a couple of wines, scrutinizing the gifts and buying a few things (not wine), we set off to get lost finding Francis Ford Coppola Winery, which we’d been told was very special.

Yes. An experience. You can swim there, eat, drink, buy a lot of souvenirs and even sample wines. You’ll find lots of memorabilia from Coppola’s films plus food items and much, much more.

Coppola Winery, Geyserville, CA

Front entrance of the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Geyserville, CA

Building by the swimming pool at Francis Ford Coppola's winery

Building by the swimming pool at Francis Ford Coppola’s winery

It was chilly and windy, so we had our lunch inside. Jacqueline had a side order of spinach, cooked with garlic. I had the fried zucchini, so she could try that, too. The pieces were cut thin, like French fries, and battered in something well seasoned. They were quite good, even without my usual ranch dressing (none served there, according to the waiter. Coppola doesn’t allow it.)

Outdoor patio at the restaurant at Francis Ford Coppola's winery

Outdoor patio at the restaurant at Francis Ford Coppola’s winery, Geyserville, CA

Looking out over the grape vines from the patio of Francis Ford Coppola's winery

Looking out over the grape vines from the patio of Francis Ford Coppola’s winery

Then it was onward, Route 128 and Route 1, scenic (that is, narrow and winding) to Mendocino, which I’d heard was a picturesque little town. At the outskirts we found a beach where we could dip our toes into the Pacific. We wandered around the town, were ignored at a few galleries, and went on to Fort Bragg, which was not at all what I thought it was.

The Pacific Ocean at Mendocino, CA

The Pacific Ocean at Mendocino, CA

As we went off to dinner, it began to rain. We had a nice dinner, with view of the ocean and excellent service, at the Point Noyo Restaurant.

I was trying to stay relaxed, but we’re headed to Vancouver, B.C., and we’re running behind a little. So much to see, so little time…

Healdsburg, Thursday, May 11, 2017

Today we were off to Healdsburg via Muir Woods and Berkeley. To get to Muir Woods, we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, which turns out to be free if you’re northbound. After the bridge there’s a convenient viewing spot.

Golden Gate Bridge, looking from the north side. It was about 10 a.m. -- still lots of cars.

Golden Gate Bridge, looking from the north side. It was about 10 a.m. — still lots of cars.

From the parking area you have lots of views. Here’s one of San Francisco, across the way:

San Francisco, from the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco, from the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge

And a more-than-just-a-sailboat:

Looking out from the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge

Looking out from the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge

After getting back on the highway, we headed for Muir Woods National Monument. In spite of my phone’s insistent instructions and Mapquest’s weird ones, we arrived — via a very windy road. I’m not sure what was going on in the middle of a May week, but the parking lots were packed. We ended up in the second overflow lot, a hike away from the visitors’ center.

Entrance to Muir Woods National Monument

Entrance to Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods, an amazing spot near a major city, has many large redwoods. This one absolutely dwarfs the ticket office. Thanks to my pass, we saved the $10 / person fee.

We wandered around for almost an hour, enjoying the quiet, despite all the other tourists.

Along the path at Muir Woods National Monument, a quiet and calming place

Along the path at Muir Woods National Monument, a quiet and calming place

Giant redwood (or sequoia, not sure which) at Muir Woods

Giant redwood (or sequoia, not sure which) at Muir Woods

All too soon, we had to dash off, since we had a reservation at Chez Panisse, the famous restaurant begun by chef Alice Waters. Jacqueline’s last name is similar, so she wanted to go to the restaurant. Treating me to a late birthday lunch was the excuse. We did eat well.

Entrance to Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA

Entrance to Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA

The food was excellent. I didn’t take photos, though Jacqueline did — with her phone. Technology is great if you can figure out how to transfer things around.

I failed to find out about parking. The restaurant does not have a lot, it’s in a densely populated area and you park on the street. We found a meter quickly, but it was only a one-hour meter, so I had to feed it a couple of times.

Afterwards, we visited a farmers’ market across the street, then set off for Healdsburg and the Sonoma Valley wine country. Thanks to the nice young employees at the reception desk of the Best Western Dry Creek Inn, we had tips on wineries to visit the next day.

 

San Francisco, May 10, 2017

Yesterday I flew Southwest Airlines to San Francisco via San Diego to meet my friend Jacqueline, coming from Paris.

Note to self: Never fly through San Diego. It’s an antiquated airport, with long lines for the Ladies’ Room. Plus to get from one gate to the next, I had to leave the security area and go back through security. And the flight was late leaving Tucson, so I just barely made it.

Jacqueline’s flight from France worked well, and we met up without problem. I’d already gotten the rental car and put my stuff in it, so all I had to do was collect her and take off.

Getting to the hotel in the heart of San Francisco, near Union Square, was not a problem. Directions from Mapquest plus the GPS on my new iPhone helped a lot.

Today we took a GrayLine Hop on/Hop off tour. The young woman in the office where I thought I had exchanged my voucher for a ticket wasn’t very friendly. A young guy, a friendly employee, walked with us to the Union Square pick-up spot, since it was not near the office. We apparently just missed the bus, because we had a long wait. GrayLine buses are every 30 minutes (or so)…long if it’s cold and windy and you’re waiting to get started. While we were waiting:

A Japanese-influenced heart at Union Square near our Hop on/Hop off bus stop.

A Japanese-influenced heart at Union Square near our Hop on/Hop off bus stop.

The cautions I found online about the open-air doubledecker buses were really true: it was cold and windy upstairs, but we got better photos without glass.

I found a couple of interesting façades:

Interesting building I saw on the tour.

Interesting building I saw on the tour.

I liked the patterns…

One of our stops was near the Golden Gate Bridge:

The Golden Gate Bridge, from the tour bus

The Golden Gate Bridge, from the tour bus

I follow a Murals blog in Tucson, so I’ve started noticing murals more. Here are a few examples that we saw on our tour which I found interesting:

Mural found during our tour.

Mural found during our tour. I follow a Murals blog in Tucson, so I’ve gotten “in tune” with murals. I found this one quite interesting.

A neighboring wall...

A neighboring wall–I think there were some musicians painted underneath. I just found it different.

Yet another mural in San Francisco.

Yet another mural in San Francisco.

Then there was the dome of the City Hall and cultural venues, seen from the doubledecker bus, so only the ornate top shows:

Dome of the City Hall in San Francisco, taken from the bus.

Dome of the City Hall in San Francisco, taken from the bus.

We rode through most of the circle of the tour, till we got to Pier 39. I’d heard about the sea lions, and I wanted to see them.

A couple of sea lions at play at Pier 39

A couple of sea lions at play at Pier 39

A slew of sea lions basking in the sun at Pier 39

A slew of sea lions basking in the sun at Pier 39

Two sea lions at play under a friendly sign at Pier 39

Two sea lions at play under a friendly sign at Pier 39

I also found some GLASS! This was in the Musée Méchanique, free admission but you have to pay to work all the moving games and items in it.

Stained glass window over a player piano in the Musée Méchanique at Pier 39

Stained glass window over a player piano in the Musée Méchanique at Pier 39

The gulls near the food stands at Pier 39 are absolutely bold and unafraid.

The gulls near the food stands at Pier 39 are absolutely bold and unafraid.

The gulls pretty much dive-bombed anyone silly enough to carry food around. This appeared to be mostly Japanese tourists.

Hard Rock Cafes are everywhere, including Pier 39, with this interesting entrance

Hard Rock Cafes are everywhere, including Pier 39, with this interesting entrance

Looking around Pier 39 we saw a lot of chain-type places. Hard Rock Cafe was one, but I don’t recall weeing the guitar entrance before.

Alcatraz, as seen from Pier 39

Alcatraz, as seen from Pier 39

While I was looking at the sea lions, I also found a good view of Alcatraz, the maximum-security prison no longer in use.

We got back on the tour bus at Fisherman’s Wharf after a lunch of pizza for me and fried fish tacos, a first, for Jacqueline. At the end, we headed for Eddie Bauer to see about another jacket (we bought a total of three last year during our trip to New York and Washington, D.C., I never got around to posting). She was out of luck this year — we were out of season. Then it was on to Chinatown.

Dragon Gate, at the entrance of Chinatown

Dragon Gate, at the entrance of Chinatown

Just to the right of the Dragon Gate I found a shop with this lamp in the window:

Glass lilies form a cool lamp in a shop on the edge of Chinatown.

Glass lilies form a cool lamp in a shop on the edge of Chinatown.

Nearby was a shop with several blown glass “flowers” à la Dale Chihuly (or perhaps Chihuly himself, I didn’t ask) in the top window. We found a lot of glass from Murano in Chinatown, including some quite large and heavy pieces:

Glass flowers, à la Dale Chihuly, in a shop window in Chinatown.

Glass flowers, à la Dale Chihuly, in a shop window in Chinatown.

Here’s a shot of a main street in Chinatown, with lanterns strung across the street.

View of Chinatown with its lanterns

View of Chinatown with its lanterns

Our final shopping was back at Union Square. We went into Neiman Marcus, because Jacqueline wasn’t familiar with it. The ship in the ceiling, stained glass, was pretty spectacular:

Stained glass ship in the very high ceiling at the Neiman-Marcus store at Union Square

Stained glass ship in the very high ceiling at the Neiman Marcus store at Union Square

For May 11, it’s on to lunch at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, followed by a night in Healdsburg, heart of the Sonoma Valley wine country.