Friday, February 28, 2014

Into the jaws of Titan

A durian fruit. Presumably forbidden to bring on some planes as it smells so bad


Last breakfast at Caffe Mezzaluna Great almond croissants

our view into the sunset

had dinner with Allie's parents yesterday. She now rolls over
We left at a good time because California is now being drenched. It drizzled while we drove to the airport after our last breakfast in a nice place. Traffic was backed up at one point. Is there an alternate route? NO!!!
But we made it to the airport in plenty of time though now Steve is no longer on the TSA approved list for the short line (I am!). Did they know it was him with the knife? Or was it just a random delisting? But we got the good plane (one with screens which we haven't had for the last 5 flights) so I could watch movies..the Gandolfino/Louis-Dreyfuss one, which I liked, and Gravity which didn't look great on the microscreen. I did enjoy my tasty margarita. Beautiful sunset on our south facing windows. Strong tail wind making up partially for our again late start, this time due to heavy airport traffic.

My fantasy was that spring would have come in our absence but no such luck. Although it did not snow while we were gone, it did yesterday causing a fatal accident near my hairdresser's: a horrible mix of white out conditions and a stupid semi driver who kept on speeding oblivious to cars slowing down due to being blinded. Hate trucks! And it is cold! Yesterday I returned to the Y to run like a gerbil around the track. No waves lapping at my feet, no beautiful flowers, no sand dunes: just a cautious drive tip-toeing over the new potholes. On the plus side, I did get a primo parking spot, not easy due to it being trash day and the snow mountains that are now ice bergs.

But things survived in our absence. On the first night we were gone, we got a tearful call from Naomi sharing some bad, frustrating news but she was mostly able to resolve this without our help. She is also getting an unexpected break from the dental school too. She came over and instantly some of my Chinese treats were gone. Still going to make some homemade bubble tea with my new bubbles.

And then to Josh's. He and Julie are on a plane right now to Austin, Texas where it will be 80 degrees, to be in a high school friend's wedding, the well traveled blogger who gave me the idea of sharing my Italian trip and then my trip into Cancerland. Lots of his high school friends will be there too so they are excited. Three days in which activities are planned every second. The other grandma has Allie duty. She has plenty of help. We will get our turn when the daycare shuts down in April. Allie was her adorable, cooing self.

Right now, all we have is bone chilling cold. I will wait a bit before running outside. Titan will come Sunday with even more snow. Titan coincidentally is the name of Maya's father's new dog. Tonight, Mom's night. I am warming eggs to room temperature to try to make French macaroons.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Back into the Polar Vortex

Lots of Mexican pottery

One of the many rusty animals. A mile away, another shop sells similar stuff

Steve in the land of dinosaurs

For MSU and Notre Dame fans

Pulgas water monument


A cultivar of the ice plant

Stevein a cave

Mustard planted to enrich soil

We leave in a few hours. Tomorrows temp will be minus nine.  Maybe it gets as cold as the high forties by the time I go for a run here so it will be a disappointment to see spring didn't come while we were gone.
On Monday we went to the Pulgas water monument  at the Hetch Hetchy reservoir . Both names crack me up along with the road Alameda de las Pulgas. The first time I saw it, I read avenue of the pugs but Pulgas  means fleas. Apparently there were lots of them for the early settlers to enjoy.

We made it to one of the two places of rusty giant animal sculptures. When I gain access to a computer (I am using an iPad) you will see how silly these things are.

For the last two days, we did lots of runs, at least I did, and hikes mainly along beaches.  It's been nice. Last night on the other side of the mountain, we had a Hong Kong style many dish dinner with dishes served very differently than I've seen before. Interesting. Shrimp covered with mayonnaise served with sugared sesame walnuts for one.
We went to a larger branch of Ranch 99 in search of the devil hot pepper plum rice wine but no luck. They had durian, huge bumpy yellow fruit, that supposedly smell very bad but these didn't seem too bad. I do have supplies now to make my own bubble tea.
Since our falcon experience, I've been reading about falconry. Why would these birds hunt for humans? A useful way to hunt before guns I suppose. Only the females are considered falcons. The male falcons are tencels. Females are 30% bigger though it wasn't obvious in that tangle of feathers during the mid afternoon quickie photographed Sunday. Hawks and golden eagles are used also in falconry but they have a different name for that. Apparently falconry is so popular, particularly among the Rich, that there are huge falcon hospitals to mend the birds.

I think no where else in the US is there such a gap between the rich and the poor than in the Bay Area. Where do the working poor live? California has laws giving everyone access to the ocean. Locally some rich guy bought up lots of beachfront and managed to find some obscure law that enabled him to grab the beach for himself. Lots of protests about that.

Back to Michigan where a 1000 sq foot house is well under a million.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Love among the Falcons

Angel's trumpet flower: This is in my brother's front yard. It and its fruit are poisonous

Muir Beach

Bunkers at Muir Beach overlook

hills covered in heather

Peregrine falcons having fun

Afterwards: the satisfied female

Stinson Beach

Crossing the Golden Gate into Marin County. Completely foggy coming back
Charlotte, the Jack Russell, enjoying her ride across the bridge

Muir Beach Overlook

reflection at Stinson Beach

more seals

overlook at Muir That dot on the highest rock is the falcon
view looking north from that promontory
Yesterday was busy. First a run along the beach and then to Marin County taking the scenic route along the Pacific through the San Francisco neighborhoods. Love the architecture but didn't stop for photos. We did stop at Ranch 99, huge, huge Asian grocery store for my red pepper plum wine but no luck..  So over the bridge into Marin. Although the morning was foggy (sparing my eyes as I ran southeast), the middle of the day was very clear and then the fog rolled in about 4. Our main stops were Muir Beach, the Muir Beach Overlook, the town of Stinson Beach for lunch (a picnic with sandwiches from a good deli), and Stinson Beach itself. We also stopped for seals and heather patches. Lots to see. The highlight would be the falcons. I've seen them before but usually through scopes as they like to perch high above. Then they can dive at 200 mph on their prey, usually another bird. This one was only about 20 feet above the viewing stand for the ocean. She sat there was a good 15 minutes being photographed. At one point, a noisy male landed upon her, they seemed to mate screeching the entire time, and then the male flew off. She remained perched for another 5 minutes in which Steve look numerous photographs of her. He was back at the car retrieving another lens during the mating but my brother caught that. I captured it all too but alas, iphones do have their limits.

But the views were beautiful, foggy beaches, heather covered hills, redwoods, a close pod of seals on a sandbar, lots of other birds.

We stopped at an In-and Out burger place on the way home. Huge lines. They were tasty but I am not sure they justify the long lines.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

To the other side of the mountains

Stanford's tower

I love the gold mosaics. The designer was inspired by the mosaics in Ravenna Italy (on my bucket list)

Love the sandstone carvings

Not only does the art museum feature Rodins, there's patches of them on campus too

This horse is made of metal, not driftwood as it would appear. Looks like something from ArtPrize 2012

These are plates

pretty flowers all around in downtown Mountain View

Skyline Drive  On one side, the foggy side, the Pacific. The other side the Bay

narrow brother and Steve up ahead

local dangers for our hike
Stanford church. It is spectacular inside too but it was closed 

Steve and a Rodin

Gates of Hell

On a Mountain View storefront

Thus spoke the Raven

My SIL and I
largest weed..the eucalyptus
Yesterday we went over the Santa Cruz Mountains for my SIL's class in Redwood City. The climate is much different there..sunnier, warmer but they did have a frost that killed lots of plants a few months ago. The plants look more like those in Southern California. According to her gardening class, it is considered spring here with fruit and nut trees flowering. Lots of cherry trees though some could be almonds.

Most of California is suffering under an extreme drought. The whole country will feel its pain with increased food prices. No grassfed cattle. Unemployed farm workers. On the peninsula that we have been staying on, particularly on my brother's side, the drought is not so obvious. The coastal fog covers up a lot of the damage. Things are still green.

While she was in her class, we walked around Stanford's campus in nearby Palo Alto. It was parents' weekend with lots of redshirted people of a certain age wearing red ribboned name tags with their heads buried in maps. The campus is stunningly beautiful, particularly the gem...their church. We went back to the Art Museum where I had been ambushed by my family last April.

After we picked up my brother's wife, on to Mountain View full of restaurants for the high paid tech workers all around. A pretty place with lots of flowers and cute restaurants. We ate in a patio of an innovative Mexican place. Then gelati at another.

Up the mountains to Skyline Drive which is on top of the ridge. Pretty views on both sides. We took a hike where we had great view. Then we descended to the other side through Redwood forests back to the sea coast. A fun day.


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