California: The Golden State

Published: May 26th 2014
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mystery of Big Foot
We have spent the last two days in California. Although I think the nickname “The Golden State” comes from the fact that gold was discovered here, it is also descriptive of the rolling hills covered in yellow poppies. When you look at the hills from a distance, they appear gold in colour which may also be due to the drought the area is experiencing, but it is “golden”.

We arrived in Redding after a drive through the mountains east from the Pacific Coast Highway. Of course, by now, we are very accustomed to driving through mountain ranges and in fact, Bill has become an “expert” at negotiating the hairpin turns and steep slopes! As long as there are no high bridges, he drives these roads like he is racing in the Grand Prix. Now it is me who is holding on tightly as he speeds up and down, one hand on the wheel!

Before leaving Redding, we visited the Sundial Bridge which is a bridge made of glass and steel that crosses the Sacramento River. And yes, there is a huge sundial that I could not figure out how it worked until I took a

just liked this house!
picture and it became clear just where the shadow was and therefore, knew what time it was (plagues in the ground given the time helped too!).

We arrived in Redding and after dinner, we drove to Napa Valley, wine country. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera and so I have no pictures. Napa Valley is essentially what you would expect, fields of grape vines and to my surprise, rows and rows of olive trees. Thus, in addition to wine, the area is also known for growing and manufacturing olive oil.

Yesterday was a wonderful day touring the city of San Francisco. Similar to the majority of tourists, we wanted to visit Fisherman’s Wharf, take a ride on the cable car, see Alcatraz, and drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. We entered the city through the south end (at Oakland) and the first adventure was crossing the “Bay Bridge” which is one of the longest span bridges in the US. (See picture and compare to the Golden Gate Bridge).

We knew it would be busy, given that it is a holiday weekend here and so we left early in the morning. Our first stop was the AT&T stadium. Traffic was good and we were able to secure parking with easy access to Pier 39. (At a cost of 45.00 dollars) We walked the entire area, took lots of pictures and bought a few souvenirs. What was interesting were the number of sea lions who are enclosed in the bay and the number of street entertainers. Alcatraz is easily visible from the pier and although you can take a boat cruise in the bay, it does not stop on the island. By 10 o’clock, the area was teaming with tourists

We managed to take a ride on a cable car which, to my surprise, was quite small and accommodates about 40 people. I wish I had the courage to ride on the outside, but it was not happening. The pictures I was able to take are not great as they are taken from inside the cable car. You really do go up and down steep hills, and the driver clangs the bell as he enters each intersection (cable cars do not have to obey traffic signals). When we arrived at the end of the line and realized we had to travel back to where our car was parked, we were shocked at the hundreds of people just waiting to catch the cable car. Instead, we opted for the traditional bus! The ride was a lot of fun and it was easy to forget that people who live in San Francisco use these as a means of transportation to get to and from work.

The next stop was to leave the city and travel back to the 101. For this journey, you cross the Golden Gate Bridge. It was extremely crowded and so, we were able to drive it at about 20 miles an hour, which suited Bill just fine. The traffic going to the ocean was unbelievable.

San Francisco is definitely worth seeing. However, it is extremely expensive, busy and if you go, you need to arrive early.

Today, we leave for Reno Nevada and plan to stay for the next three days. Til next time............

Worth mentioning: it is a shock when driving from Oregon to California to see the gas prices. Oregon is a state with no taxes and California has high taxes. The gas prices in California are 50 to 60 cents more per gallon.

For the very first time, since we left, we are heading EAST!!

Additional photos below
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from Oakland to San Francisco
AT&T StadiumAT&T Stadium
AT&T Stadium

foul balls drop into the Bay

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