Marina and San Francisco, July 6-12, 2008

Trip Start Jun 28, 2008
Trip End Aug 11, 2008

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Petaluma KOA

Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, July 12, 2008

Marina and Petaluma, July

After Morro Bay, we moved to Marina, up the coast. We couldn't take Highway 1 as Tom had planned because of the Big Sur fire but Marina is right on the coast the rv park was really nice. We could walk out the fence and then right down to the coast. It was a bit of a hike and the path was partly hard pack and partly sand. After walking with difficulty through the sand for a long stretch, Tom mentioned that they should pave it to make it easier for old farts like him to get down to the beach! It was really pretty on the beach but so cool! Neither of us were really ready to believe how cool it had been since we got onto the coast.

The next day, we took the 17 Mile Drive. Tom, who is a great tour planner, talked to folks, researched online and found all these great things to do and see. The 17 Mile Drive is a toll drive through and around Pebble Beach and other golf courses you'd recognize if you watch golf on tv. It also goes close (but not TOO close) to some amazing houses that Tom wanted to stop and lok at but figured someone would come out and tell us to move along-that they didn't let our kind see their houses. The coastal scenery was just amazing. There was one fabulous vista after another. The cypress trees added a whole new dimension to the rocks and crashing waves. They take on distinctive shapes under pressure from the strong winds and look like gigantic bonsai arrangements. Tom found a green near a walkway where there was a box with scorecards-he grabbed on and I got a picture of him on the 4th green so he can at least pretend he could afford to play golf there. He'd check it out and found it cost about 400 bucks to play a round at Pebble Beach! It's open to the public-Really! We also saw the strangest thing at the Lone Cypress stop. That is the tree they show all the time on tv during the golf matches at Pebble Beach and it is apparently required viewing. It's very nice but it is just a cypress tree out on a point-there were gorgeous trees all around. Anyway, there was a couple there who were a bit strange. I noticed the woman first when I saw the man taking a picture of her on the hood of the convertible. She had long blonde hair and she was reclining on the hood with the road (not the lone cypress) to her back. That seemed strange-to cut out all the scenery. Next, we saw the man only he has this ENORMOUS white-guy afro. Looked like Dad Brady on steroids. Then he didn't have an afro and we realized it had been a wig. Then she was getting in the trunk and putting on a brunette wig with long braids. Then he took pictures of her in the car again. Very odd-she looked at me like I shouldn't be watching. As if I could NOT watch.

After the 17 Mile Drive, we drove over to Carmel to see the mission there. This mission was MUCH better cared for than Mission San Miguel Arcangel, not surprisingly. They have lots more money to give to it. The folks at San Miguel mentioned that the mission there was much closer to the original because they had no money to renovate and re-do. There you can see the original adobe-not at Carmel. Much of it is a reconstruction and it's beautifully done and beautifully landscaped but hardly original. The basilica seems authentic though and it is really lovely. While wandering around on the grounds, I noticed a historical marker (I try to take pictures of all historical markers I see as Susie can attest). This marker commemorated the baptism of the first 4 Americans in California. I kept staring at it and counting and it seemed to only have 3 names. I was bemused but Tom, as usual, more determined to figure things out. He found the docent and forced the poor woman to come talk to us about it. There were 4 names-I just didn't read closely enough (there is a picture of this marker in the pictures file, of course) but she was really nice and very interesting. We chatted about the mission and the reconstruction of it. She showed us a statue of Fr. Junipero Serra who was the priest responsible for the founding of all the California missions (there is a statue to him at ALL the missions, I think as well as many other things named for him.) He was a tiny little man-she said it was life sized and Tom would've towered over him! I would've towered over him!

After Carmel, I told Tom I wanted to see the lighthouse in Pacific Grove outside Monterey. What a lovely little town. I didn't get to spend enough time there but it is a really quaint, lovely coastal town. Apparently it has a butterfly festival or something-there were butterfly banners and things all over. We stopped and had lunch at a Carl Jr. Burgers. Now I know why Americans are SO fat. We had the medium-fries, drinks. OMG-the burger was very good and HUGE. The serving of fries was huge. The drink was huge-I can't imagine what a large would look like-I'd have to have help to lug out that bucket of Dr. Pepper. Chinese hamburgers at McDonald's come in sizes too and the medium Big Mac (badly named all around) is about the size of a child's hamburger (maybe the size of an American one??) at an American burger place and the serving of fries is about 1/3 of that medium serving. It was a reminder of the difference in eating habits between Americans and Chinese-one good reason why you don't see fat Chinese very often.

The light house was very cool-I love seeing them up close. The docent gave a very nice tour and demonstrated the way the light mechanism worked. It really put a nice ending to a very nice day of sightseeing. I ended up taking zillions of pictures of waves crashing on rocks. Tom mentioned that this is what happens when you put two Texans in front of rocks and water-we just don't see those two things together in Texas. Especially not in such dramatic settings.

The next morning, we left for Petaluma. This leg of the trip had worried Tom for some time, I knew. He'd been worried about the trip through Los Angeles and this leg because this leg would take us through San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge towing the trailer. So, we set off and I could see him getting more and more tense. We were going through San Francisco on a work day well after rush hour. The highway was not bad at all but it does go right through town-I got some pictures of the lovely houses down 19th Ave. Then there was the bridge! Little did we know this was the last time we would see it without fog. So, luckily, I took some pictures of it as we crossed. It went surprisingly well. Tom drove beautifully and once we got on the bridge, he began to relax though he didn't really relax until we were off it. We drove on up to Petaluma and found the rv park which is one of the nicest we stayed at in California.

However, when we got to our slot, we found that once again, they'd given us a 30 amp slot only-normally this is ok if the weather is cool. But the trailer is 50 amps and to run both airconditioners, we have to have 50 amps. We couldn't even run the fan on the front a/c unit without tripping the circuit breaker which really concerned us. We couldn't go on the tour of San Francisco that the park offered with that happening. We'd be gone from 9 in the morning til 5:30 in the evening and the chance that the electricity would go off, leaving our babies in the trailer with NO ventilation in 90 degree weather scared us to death. Well, you say, why not move? Good question! But Tom had taken the SUV to a Ford dealership after some alarming noises as we came down a hill outside San Francisco. So, we had no vehicle to move it. So, we stayed at the trailer on Tuesday. We washed clothes and we relaxed which was nice. The Ford folks decided the fuel pump was bad which we could hardly dispute so they offered to fix it for merely 700 bucks which again, we couldn't refuse. So, it was done that afternoon, Tom got it and then we immediately moved to a new, shadier slot with 50 amps! The trip was SAVED! YAY! We could take the tour of the city tomorrow so that Tom could enjoy it and not have to drive the gigantic SUV downtown in San Francisco. We knew the birdies, kitty and doggie would be cool and comfy and safe too. The only problem was that we were the only two signed up for the trip. The make for the tour was 6 so we waited around and sure enough 16 more folks signed up at the last minute. So, the tour was on.

This is one of the nicest features of the rv park. They have a couple of small tour buses that can hold about 20 folks. The drivers are good tour guides and you get to see a lot of the city without worrying about negotiating San Francisco streets. We gathered in the morning and it was such an interesting group. We were the only two Americans! The other groups were French, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish. That really surprised me-not that many international travelers wanted to see San Francisco-with the decline of the dollar, their money would go a LONG way in the U.S. But I was amazed that they were brave enough to rent RVs and drive American roads in them. I am not sure I'd want to go to France and rent an RV and try to drive around there.

The tour began at the Golden Gate Bridge-we all piled out and could see almost nothing! The fog was so dense the bridge was almost invisible. And it was cold! Texans are not used to cool, windy, foggy weather in July! From there, we went on to Golden Gate Park-what a lovely place. The whole place is beautifully planned (by ??) and the guide told us a lot about it. We stopped at the Japanese Tea Garden and spent some time there. The Tea Garden is really a neat little place-the landscaping is beautifully done and makes the place seem much larger than it really is. The Drum Bridge is a very neat bridge but I didn't climb it-it was too full of other folks posing on it.

From there, we went through the Haight-Asbury district which still seems to be cashing in on the 60s. Lots of tie dye and psychedelic poster about the place. We drove through the lovely Victorian neighborhood there that survived the earthquake and fire of 1906. By the way, if you want to read a really good book on that quake, read The Crack at the Edge of the World. I started that in China and it is a great book before coming to California-Simon Winchester does a great job of detailing the plate techtonics and geography as well as construction of the city that made that quake so devastating and I really liked seeing what I'd just read about.

We then moved on and took the obligatory cable car ride. It was really great fun. I got to talking to the engineer who was interested in China-he'd just seen a show on Guangzhou-it was called the biggest city you've never heard of. We also talked a little about the urban history of San Francisco-he thought maybe I was a cultural anthropologist. Not sure if that is better than historian but it sounds fancier. We then headed for Fisherman's Wharf and the obligatory stop there. It was really neat to see the ships-we had a good lunch. We did NOT have the obligatory clam chowder in a bread bowl though we did see one young lady-from Asia somewhere-who took a picture of her clam chowder in a bread bowl before eating it!

After lunch we headed back through the financial district and over to the Golden Gate again-still shrouded in fog though not as heavily. If you look at the pictures you'll see that we could see a little more of it. Then back to the rv park. It was a really nice tour and showed us a bunch of places we wanted to see again-that's what those tours do for me.

The next day, Tom was tired and we decided not to try to take the SUV down to San Francisco so we went to Bodega Bay. It was a lovely drive and a nice day. Bodega Bay doesn't really have a lot going for it except salt water taffy and the Hitchcock movie, The Birds. They are VERY proud of that! You can still see the school from the movie and other bits-I did take a picture of the school. We also went out on Bodega Head and saw the fisherman's memorial-I think these are really touching and I've seen them in Australia and in California. Dedicated to all the folks who leave to work at sea and never return, the memorials are quite moving. The coast was really lovely and it was a really nice, relaxing day.

I forgot to mention my favorite part of Californiana (if that is a word) that we saw when we were staying in Morro Bay. We were on our way to San Luis Obispo and there was a sign for the Men's Colony! That sounded quite intriguing. A men's colony-like some transcendental group where they go for enlightenment?? No, it is a prison that for some reason is called the Men's Colony. I thought that was so California-in Texas, we call them prisons-and the growth industry of Texas-we do love to lock 'em up there.

The next day was moving day-we moved up the coast some more to BenBow RV resort near the town of Garberville.
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