From San Fran to Zurich

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May 26th 2010
Published: May 27th 2010
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Hey Everybody!

I've been traveling quite a bit lately and it's been hard to make the time to write. The RV is in storage while we're traveling in Europe. I backed it into storage on the first try and we've been rolling without it ever since. This blog will talk about some trips we did in California as well as the first two days in Zurich.

Roll Out the Barrel

The first pictures I have on the blog are about the wine country near SLO. The vintners kicked off the season with the Roll Out the Barrel celebration where you could go to the wineries and they'd pair food with their wines. They'd also roll out select barrels of wine for the event that we got to taste. We only went to 3 wineries and tried a few wines, but they seemed to mix in a very potent manner. After a few glasses, they mixed in my head until we really enjoyed everything.

We also stopped by my friend Rich's so we played with Jack and Henry and took a few shots.

Mountain of Gold

I took one day off before the trip so that I could take Grace to one of my favorite beaches in the world - Montana De Oro State Park. That translates from Spanish into Mountain of Gold. Montana De Oro occupies some pristine coast line and has the best tidal pools I've ever seen. We went at low tide which seems to be a mistake because many of the sea anemones were closed. We were able to collect some mussels off the rocks though and Grace was overjoyed. Grace cooked them up in a pasta and they were pretty good except for these long hairs that they used to hold onto the rocks. We didn't know how to remove them very well and we had to pull these long stringy pieces out of the mussels after they were cooked.

When we told some people about what we did, they said that we shouldn't have eaten them at this time of year because they filter pollutants out of the sea that get there from rainwater coming out of the hills. We seemed to be all right though and I think it was because we were in such a pristine area. Hopefully, we didn't get much pollutants running into the water since it's a State Park. Time will tell.

Pismo Beach

I ran into my old friend Matt who I used to live with in SLO when I went to college. Matt's in one of the pictures where you can see him trying to hide his identity in his truck - there's an RV in the background in the sand. He took me out to dinner at McClintock's - a fine BBQ restaurant that used to be a famous horror house 50 years ago. Matt has worked there for 20 years and used to be a bartender there when I went to Cal Poly. He can make a mean lemon drop and I drank them until I dropped back in college. He's the dining room manager of another one of their restaurants now and has a great sense of humor.

After dinner, he drove me out onto Pismo Beach in his 4x4 truck. We drove on Pismo beach for miles and we saw loads of RVs camping right on the sand. They say you just need to let most of the air out of your tires and you'll ride right over it. Most of the people come from the central valley of California to escape the heat and ride their dune buggies, 4 runners and motorcycles all over the dunes. The same people often go to the deserts along the Arizona-California border to get their kicks. We met quite a few people who kept inviting us into their camps for an ice-cold beers. Some girls stumbled along and I took a picture of them grabbing ass.

John Muir Woods with Eric

I took a trip up to San Francisco for work and got to spend a night with my brother Eric. He is the one that started hiking yoga, but he has mainly been leadng tours for a job. He took me on his tour to John Muir Woods and we got to hike for over an hour amongst the tallest trees in the world. George Lucas filmed some scenes in Star Wars where they raced floating motorcycles through these type of trees. The National Park won't let him lead tours in the park, so he gets a nice break while the toursits wander amongst the giants. He loves his job and enjoys these treasures every day.

After the tour, Eric and his girlfriend Carina had a house warming dinner party at their new apartment. They're on the 17th floor of a nice apartment building in a booming area of the city. Carina's started a consulting job at Google and they are doing great. Carina prepared some great dishes and both of their friends stopped by for a lovely evening. His ex-roommate Lisa came by and told us how her job at Disney is going well and she'll be leading Disney tours around the world soon.

I'm glad to tell you that hiking yoga is booming. Eric has stuck with the business and gotten some help from Groupon. If you haven't heard of this company you might sign up if it's in your area. They offer Group Coupons (Groupons) for members that you have to buy in a day before they expire. They have 120,000 members in the Bay ARea and about 1% of them took Eric's offer up when it was his groupon day. That's over a thousand people signing up for hikes. His hikes have been booked ever since and the word is out that hiking yoga is the thing to do in SF. Of all the yoga studios in SF, he's rated the highest on Yelp at 4.94 stars out of 5.

One reviewer wrote:

What an amazing way to end a day. Me and a couple friends met Eric at the Ferry Building at 5:30 , not only did we discover so many secret areas of SF we had a great workout and much needed relaxing yoga sessions. Eric is such a great person, he made the whole thing so much fun and he is extremely knowledgeable about this city and fitness. I CANNOT wait to do it again!

You can read all 40 reviews here:!C(MISSING)+CA

He's has two teachers working under him now and is expanding to the Berkeley area soon. He's also adding a social aspect to the hikes where the group goes out to dinner afterwards. He's helping other yoga instructors start in other locations throughout the states. It's great to see someone's dream turn into a successful reality.

Venice Beach

Since we had an early flight to Switzerland, Grace and I had to drive down to LA and spend the night. After seeing the movie "I Love You, Man", I wanted to see the beach life of Venice Beach. While the movie made it look really glamorous, it isn't nearly as nice in person. We saw many drug dealers, head shops and homeless people hanging around their boardwalk. Grace had to go to the bathroom and the public bathrooms were disgusting as expected. While I was waiting for her and guarding the door that wouldn't lock, two black men went into the stall next to her. A few seconds later, another guy came looking for one of them and was yelling his name and didn't know where he'd gone. He started cussing and wandering around texting, but he got nowhere. When Grace came out, we immediately left and went over to the skate park.

At the skate park, we saw lots of good skaters riding the concrete that looked like smooth swimming pools. They'd loop around and peanut shaped tracks with great agility. One 4-year old was really good and dropped in way over her head. She might turn into the next Tony Hawk. Everyone thought they were the shit and it was the place to be.

After that, we walked by a big production for MTV that was near the beach. There were several hundred people working there to make it look perfect and incredible. Security was everywhere and they made it look completely different. Now I know how they made it look so good - Hollywood makes it up.

Zurich Party

From LAX, we flew to Denver, Washington DC and finally Zurich, Switzerland. We arrived at 8:30am after about 16 hours of travel. We couldn't check into our hotel yet, so we went down to the local cafe. We were just a couple of blocks from Cafe Odeon that has been a hang out for over a century. Illuminaries such Albert Einstein, Vladimir Lenin and the DaDaists used to drink coffee and eat croissants there.

After some tea, we went down to the Kunsthaus museum. There was a 30-minute long line to get into the museum that stretched down the street. They came because it was the day after Ascension Thursday. Christ ascending into heaven is a national holiday in most of Europe, so many people take Friday off too to make it a 4-day holiday. Most people came for a taveling exhibit that was in town, but I preferred the art that was regularly on display there. They had several paintings of my favorite artist - Vincent Van Gogh. I put a photo of one of his portraits as the first picture of this post. I looked at this picture and felt like I was looking right into the eyes of this strange red-eyed cowboy from 150 years ago. Vincent has a way of capturing the essence of people in his portraits and I just want to keep looking at them.

I also posted one of the few self-portraits of him after he cut his own ear off. After this portrait, he got a little self-conscious about his wound and hid it in his portraits. If you haven't read the life story of Vincent Van Gogh, I really recommend reading Lust For Life or watching the movie. Vincent documented his feelings in his letters to his brother and shows his passion in his paintings like no other.

The Kunsthaus museum was wonderful and I could see my Uncle John admiring many of the paintings there. They had works from Kandinsky that look like many of John's paintings. The audio tour said Kansdinsky was one of the first to do abstractionist art and he said that his are was inspired by spirituality. They also featured paintings from many of the impressionists (Cezanne, Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir), post impressionists (Van Gogh, Signac, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec), abstractionists (Kandinsky, Dali) and cubists( Picasso, Braque). The bankers of Switzerland had lots of money to buy painting and sculptures from these brilliant artists and they're all on display.

Zurich has great public transportation and we took a tram to the top of a nearby mountain and hiked back into Zurich through some beautiful forest. Spring has sprung in the hills here and we had a nice spring shower. We hiked with a roadie from KISS who is on tour in Europe now. He told us how he's been working 16 hour days when they get to a new city, but he's been all over Europe now. It was really nice to walk into the woods and get a feeling for the beauty of the Swiss countryside. The trees are what make a big part of the landscape here and I have many more pictures that I didn't include.

I attached 50 pictures. I couldn't help myself and would like to share more.

Next time, I'll tell you about our apartment in Vernazza, Italy where Grace and I threw a dinner party for some tourists. The mediterranean crashes into the Italian countryside in northwestern Italy and I have some incredible pictures to show you.


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27th May 2010

Have a great time in Switzerland
Hey Scott and Grace, Have a great time in Switzerland! If you get some time see if you can get to Rotten it is above Oberaegeri where my brother lives. Cute town but the mountain top view is fantastic as is the restaurant there. Had many a great day hiking, sledding and eating there. Can't wait to see you in Chicago in August (hope that's still on) Liz

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