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Published: November 24th 2005
Pretty In Pink?
We're not sure if these were part of the Hallowe'en thing or some flight attendants on a night out.
Hallowe'en in Castro
After we got to San Francisco we parked the car and went into a cafe for liquid refreshment and to get our bearings before looking for a place to sleep. As we were drinking our coffees the other customer in the cafe suddenly asked "Where are you guys from?" "Britain" we told her, thinking we would then get something along the lines of "Oh, England, I went there, whereabouts are you from?" Instead she carried on with "Are you looking for somewhere to go this evening? Somewhere exotic, fun, whacky, stupendous, erotic, exciting, unusual and completely unique?" We both decided this was the start of a sales patter and said "whaaaaat?" in that slow, 'don't try and flog me anything lady' way. She told us to go to the Halloween celebrations in Castro, saying that they were completely free, just a lot of people out in the streets, dressed up and having a good time.
So having found a cheap hotel we set off to the Castro district to see the entertainment. We took one of the trolley buses down Market Street, and a succession of people (quite a few in fancy dress) got on at each stop.
San Francisco, Lombard Street
In the distance is the steepest road in the city which we christened The Wibbly, Wobbly Way
We stood chatting to a pirate ("Avast, me hearties
", "Yarrr!") and were finally disgorged at the corner of Market and Castro.
There were a few hundred people walking about (and a similar number of San Francisco Police Department's finest standing around), so we nipped into a pizza place for a couple of slices of pizza and a beer each. We then wandered up and down Castro, admiring the costumes and taking photos. There seemd to be an unspoken competition between the young gay men and young straight women over who could wear the least - on the grounds that they have less to cover the gays have it! By 9pm, there were thousands of people crushed into the district, so we took our leave and walked back to the hotel, where we watched the proceedings on the local news channel.
1-2/11/05 - San Francisco
We took the trolley to the Ferry Building where a farmers' market was in progress. We found a decent cheese shop (more than just American, Swiss or Provolone for once) and got a chunk of Isle of Mull cheddar, which we had for lunch with some nice bread, bananas and raspberries. we then walked along the seafront
to Fisherman's Wharf (don't go there!) and up to Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower for a panoramic view of the city partly shrouded in fog. Bits of the Golden Gate Bridge kept appearing and disappearing in the fastest moving fog we have ever seen; if we'd waited long enough we probably could have photographed all of it and made a nice mosaic picture with no fog showing.
The next day we started the 49 Mile Scenic Drive of San Francisco, but with one of us map reading and one driving we didn't get much sight-seeing done so we decided to drive up to the Coit Tower again and get some pictures of the GGB without fog.
We lunched in Sausalito, then visited the Bay Area Model. As it's name suggests this is a huge scale model of the entire San Francisco Bay area. It was built in the 1950s by the Army Corps of Engineers, originally to test the Reber plan to determine if it would be possible to dam most of the bay to provide fresh water for the San Fransisco area. Horizontally the scale is 1:1000 and vertically it is 1:100 to allow for measurements of water
movement. The day length is 14 mins, so you can see the tide go in or out every 3.5 mins. The entire model (which is made of concrete) is on a series of jacks which can be raised and lowered to represent the effects of earthquakes and currents are controlled by hundreds of carefully positioned copper strips. The bay floor and water courses are perfectly modelled, but the land surfaces are just flat, nobody was interested in the land, so for the visitors the names of the cities are written in the correct places on the model. Amazingly it was in use as a research machine until the mid 1990s, when a computer model finally took over; now it is a (completely free) tourist attraction.
There was a display of Second World War posters about the US ship building effort where we learned that Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of England and that "England alone held out against the Nazi threat". We tried explaining the error of their ways to them, but apparently this display was nothing to do with the Bay Area Model, We were advised to put a Post-It note over the problem wording correcting it.
Hallowe'en in Castro
We think he's a snowball, because he was followed by a load of reindeer.
stopped at a motel in Stinson Beach run by a guy called Frodo, I wasn't brave enough to ask if that was how he had been christened.
Point Reyes 3-4/11/05
We did the tourist thing around the peninsula, going down the 300 steps to the lighthouse (and back up them again - oooh me 'ead), we also drove to McClure's Beach to play in the rock pools, but it started to rain, so we found a place to stay in Point Reyes Station. Oddly when we were having dinner our waitress asked us if we were there because of the royal visit on Saturday "What?!!!!" we said. Apparently Mr and Mrs Windsor are visiting the Farmers' Market which is a shame because we'd have quite liked to have a look around it, but not if there's any chance of us being picked out as British by the media and therefore obviously being there because of the royals. We're outta here on the first road out in the morning.
The next morning the place was awash with OB units, it's still a day before they get here, but people are already being asked their opinion - sheesh.
Tried McClure's Beach
Miss World Contestants
But why is Miss England wearing a kilt?
again, tide was in. We are obviously not destined to play in those rock pools. Instead we went to Limantour Beach to take lots of pictures of the birdies - herons, egrets, plovers, gulls, oyster catchers and pelicans mainly, oh and a few ducks.
we headed out to the wine region for the night, as far away as possible from the media circus on the peninsula.
Familiar Faces 5-6/11/05
We headed back down to Mountain View and the calm of Tom and Julia's place. Vernon's old PhD supervisor was in town at a conference, so we met up for dinner, mine was fine but all the meat eaters got cold steaks at a recently opened steak house in Mountain View which was so memorable its name eludes us.
The following day we went for a walk up the foothills of Windy Hill in Portola Valley. We saw wild turkeys in the forest, then were startled (as were the turkeys) by a sighting of a fine example of Loud Mouthed Jogger and her companion species Long Suffering Friend. We stood very still and quietly and were rewarded by the sight of them running right past our hiding place (the side
of the path) without a pause in her monologue.
Later in the day we set off to Los Angeles to spend a few days with Carol, Rita and Mikayla before flying out to New Zealand.
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