There's nothing quite like California, is there? Paul and I flew into San Francisco (though we were supposed to fly into San Jose) late late LATE... grrr, the "getting there" part was not so much fun! But the next morning we were off and running.
|crossing the Golden Gate bridge|
We landed at Fog Harbor
for lunch, a seafood restaurant at Fisherman's Wharf. We really didn't intend to go to Fisherman's Wharf, because it is always so crazy-crowded... sigh. We enjoyed a lovely lunch beside big windows overlooking the bay, with a gauzy view of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.
We have loved visiting Muir Woods
in the past, so we thought, why not? Well. Once we crossed the Golden Gate, we knew why: these days one has to reserve a time to visit Muir Woods
. We had not reserved a time, and we did not want to wait around for the late afternoon openings. So we turned around, headed south toward Campbell -- not
Saratoga, our original destination, because a few days before our trip the Saratoga Inn sent a note to say their A/C was not working, due to some renovations. So... we hurriedly booked something else. The hotel was fine, but the big win of the day was supper at Bella Saratoga
, where we ate outside on the veranda as a guitarist played beautiful songs, like The Romance Song
. Perfect, perfect!
|Parajo Dunes |
We spent the next morning exploring Saratoga, which has a delightful main street of shops and restaurants. We ended up at Bai Tong
, a Thai restaurant for lunch, which might be the best Thai I've ever had. (Yes, for me and Paul, the vacation is all about the FOOD!)
Then we headed further south, through Santa Cruz, where I wish I'd gotten a picture of the Adrienne Rich
art (she lived there), and on to Watsonville, which turns out to be the heart of the agricultural belt, with acres and acres of strawberry and cherry fields. When we arrived at our Parajo Dunes
condo, we opened the back door, and there was the Pacific! We took a beach walk and napped then headed to the Fish House
|A deer and her fawn|
came to watch events
at the 2nd hole
The next morning we woke early for the drive to Pebble Beach,
to attend the last day of the 119th U.S. Open
! It was a bit chilly, so we had on jackets and thick sock instead of the hats and sunscreen we'd anticipated. We parked at California State Monterey Bay and rode in with the other thousands of golf fans to buy merch and watch our favorite players. We DID see all the players, up close! But it was hard to watch much of the game, just due to the sheer number of people in attendance. It was CRAZY. Fortunately Paul bought us tickets that included the Trophy Club, which was worth the money for the bathrooms alone. :) We walked A LOT. And I was wearing the wrong shoes... shoes I last wore to Universal Studios a few years back. They were fine then, but I guess my feet have changed, because I was really putting on a brave face by the end of the day. Those shoes went right in the garbage can when we returned to the condo.
After all those PEOPLE, we were excited to head east to Mariposa
, the little Yosemite
gateway town before you get to the Arch Rock Entrance. We stopped in to eat lunch at Jantz Bakery
in Merced before making the rest of the drive to Mariposa.
|butterfly mural in Mariposa|
I LOVE Mariposa. (Did you know Mariposa means "butterfly
?") The first time I stayed there was with my father in 2014, and I just found it the perfect blend of quaint shops and good food and history... and close to the park! Paul and I stayed at Fifth Street Inn
, which is a great choice if you decide to go. We ate at Savoury'
s one night (not our favorite), and Charles Street Dinner House
(delicious steak and lobster for 2) the next.
We'd originally planned to eat at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel
- we made reservations on the first day they open reservations for that date (like 3 months ahead of time) -- but wow, was the park busy! Bumper to bumper traffic, long wait times... so we cruised the Valley, ate our boxed lunches (from Jantz's in Mariposa -- oh, we wish we had a Jantz's here in Alabama!) under El Capitan, walked through the Grand (a building I love! And which made me choke up, remembering the last time I was there with my father.
), shopped a little, and then decided to head south to see the Sequoias -- only traffic was completely stopped, and there were reports of 2-3 hour delays, so we canceled our dinner reservations, turned ourselves around,
and got out of there!
I don't know about you, but I go to nature to enjoy NATURE. Quite. Solitude. Not to be "stuck" between thousands of people! Sigh. On our way out we did really enjoy the crazy white water and thick waterfalls (thank you, snow melt!) And you know, we've seen it all before. So it wasn't heartbreaking or anything to leave. Just kind of ... disappointing. A great example of how flexible one needs to be when traveling, and how important it is to listen to one's heart... what do YOU want to do? It's okay to stay, it's okay to leave. Just be honest with yourself, and everyone will enjoy themselves more.
The travel day home was BRUTAL, with waiting and delays and luggage disasters... we didn't get back to our home until 1 am! The next morning we took a walk on our quiet, secluded road and marveled at how lucky we are to live in a place where we enjoy nature every single hour. Yay for HOME!