Sunday, November 16, 2008

Memories of San Francisco.

Lisa took this of David and me with Jackson the day we went to Fishermans Wharf.

The infamous Alcatraz Prison is in the background.
I couldn't have done this if I tried.

Last year I planted a clematis which has the most beautiful large lavender coloured flowers.

Several months ago I planted some hollyhock plants and they seemed to be taking so long to come into flower I was about ready to give up on them.

Something must have happened while I was away because suddenly the hollyhocks have shot up and flowered in delicate shades of pink.

One of the hollyhocks manged to twist itself around and through the trellis fence and has just begun to flower and has two of the lovely clematis flowers as a base. Now, if I had tried to plan that, it would never have worked for me.

A lovely delight in the random type garden that we have.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Home again after two weeks and the garden and those lovely flowers were still there.

The timing of my flight from San Francisco meant that I arrived at Auckland airport at 4am and the connecting flight got me to Taupo just before 9am.

I had expected sister, Linda, to be there, but Mum was there as well. I think she wanted to see for herself that I had actually made it home again.

Lovely to go on holiday, I had a wonderful time with David, Lisa and Jackson, a lovely opportunity to see parts of the world I had never seen before, but also lovely to come to family, friends and that lovely garden. Oops, forgot to mention the cats. I don't think they could believe it at first that I had actually returned. Boris, in particular, stayed very close once he realised it was me and purred like he had never purred before.
After our visit to the delightful Muir Woods, David took us for a drive high above the redwood trees. We were able to look down and see the redwoods towering high above their companion trees.

We drove through the Mount Tamalpais State Park and stopped at the lookout to view the scene in this image.

The weather was not good and dusk was approaching. The outline of San Francisco city can be seen to the right of the image in the distance.

Apart from the weather not being good, there was also a stiff breeze in the air. I was not brave enough to face the elements so Lisa was kind enough to be our photographer.

If you are ever in this part of the world a drive through this State Park is well worth while, providing some sweeping views of the vast Pacific Ocean.

As a visitor to the United States, the opportunity to go to Muir Woods was truly delightful.

Tucked away in a valley near the Pacific Ocean is the Muir Woods - the last remaining coastal redwood forest.

These redwood trees are truly magnificent and have to be seen to be believed.

We had hoped to use the opportunity for a grandma/grandson photo but Jackson had other ideas.

He had his little yellow car with him and he was on a mission.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Commander in Chief

If Jackson needs help with a project he likes to let you know.

'Help, Daddy, Help,' or 'Sit down, Daddy, sit down,' all with project completion in mind.

Jackson had a lot of fun with this giant Leggo when I was there and I found myself to be part of his construction team at time as well.

Nothing else would do but Nana had to get down to his level to help complete the project.

When all was done he would line up as many of his trains and cars that he could find and 'drive' them along the constructed road.

A trip to San Francisco would somehow not be complete without at least a close up look at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Again the weather was not the best but still it was worthwhile and not only did we look but we drove over the bridge so that we could visit and have a late lunch in Sausalito a lovely waterside location that reminded me very much of the harbour at Mosman in Sydney, Australia.

David had booked us into a hotel in San Rafael, also on the northern side of the Golden Gate Bridge and I offered to babysit Jackson so Mom and Dad could have an evening out together.

I ordered room service for Jackson and me and we enjoyed a lovely quiet evening together while he munched on french fries and watched a video.
Train journey over and I made it home again in time to be an observer for Googleween - David's employers version of Halloween.

Not quite sure what I expected from all of this but I soon came to realise that Google have made this celebration into a family event.

In the States, commercially Halloween is the most successful celebration after that of Christmas and when you see the amount of time and effort that families go to in costume dress up either for themselves or their children you gain some understanding of the popularity of this event.

Google had set this event up in the outdoors but the day was the first in a number of wet days and with the State of California being very thirsty for wet weather you could not complain about that but in terms of Halloween it did put a bit of a dampener on events.

Musical entertainment, nibbles and pumpkin decoration all seemed to be events of the day.

With a bit of help from Dad, Jackson was successful in creating a face for the pumpkin of his choice.

Lisa had bought Jackson a car costume to wear for Halloween but the tow car driver's cap was as far as he was prepared to go and he could easily have been a two truck driver in miniature dressed as he was.

Young and old - a young baby dressed up as a flower and adults dressed in costume as well -just a small sampling of what was on show. Spider man was very popular amongst the young boys.

The rain meant our time at Google was shortened and so we moved on to Lisa's work.

Jackson took his Elmo themed treat basket and he scored very well as we moved around the different cubicles at Live Ops and was consistently polite with his 'thank you's' as his treat basket filled up.

After a week in San Francisco with David and family I decided to go off on my own little adventure for a couple of days.

I took the Amtrack train from San Jose and travelled up the coast into Oregan, over the Cascade Mountains and on to Seattle, Washington.

The journey takes 24 hours and the under leg seat rest is a great help for the majority of people like myself who took a reserve seat and not a sleeper for the journey.

The countryside became prettier the further north we travelled. The Cascade Mountains were lovely, mile after mile after mile of autumn splendour. I had always said I would love to be in the America when the leaves were changing for autumn and I certainly had this dream fulfilled.

I had hoped to share images of the Cascade Mountains but my laptop was stolen on my return journey to New Zealand and I had uploaded my images and deleted them off my camera so they are gone for ever. Still, I have memories and they are all good ones.

Travelling by train over such a long period meant that meals were provided either in a community dining car or you could use the cafeteria. For most of my meals I chose to go to the dining car and it was a very good way of meeting people. Seating was limited and so you had to share with others in booths for four people.

Each meal time was totally different and so I got to meet an interesting cross section of people including Republicans who said they were voting for McCain but knew that Obama would win - how right they were.

The trip to Seattle was extended by a further 2 hours to 26 hours all up as we had to stop for rail works just near the Oregan border. This meant our train did not get into Seattle until about 10.30pm. I found a cab as soon as I could to take me to my pre booked hotel, made the most of sleep in a very comfortable bed, rose at 6.30am, showered and had a lovely cooked breakfast, before I headed back to the station for the return journey at 9.45am.

The forward journey was such that we arrived in Washington State after dark and so it was lovely, for the return journey to able to soak all of this in. Some very, very nice coastal scenery. Puget Sound would be worth a return visit, if only. It was just a glimpse in what was a very long train journey but enough to make me think that this part of the world could offer a lot more if I get the chance to go back.