Tuesday, October 30, 2007


November is National Blog Posting Month. My friends who've done National Novel Writing Month will be familiar with the concept. But in NaBloPoMo, you post to your blog every day. That's it. No cheating.

Perhaps I am crazy to try this. I've never even managed to post every week. And my posting since July has been extremely intermittent. My hope, though, is that this experiment will lead me to post more often, even after the month is over.

This may make me lose my marbles. And I can't guarantee my daily posts will be anything that anyone wants to read. We shall see.

If you're feeling a little nutty, too, you can sign up at www.nablopomo.com.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

California dreamin’

Two gals, five days, 1,800 miles of flying, and 900 miles of driving. Now that’s a whirlwind tour of Northern California.

Kim and I flew into San Francisco late Monday night, arriving at our hotel room at 3 a.m. Kansas time. We drove (in our Ford Mustang convertible) to Yosemite National Park early the next morning, following the winding mountain roads into the valley and gasping at the panoramic views of the granite monoliths and endless evergreen forests.

We stayed that night at Yosemite’s historic Victorian hotel, which had the distinct feeling of summer camp, with its worn white cabins and run-down tennis courts and bonfire pits. No televisions, no phones, no cell service.

In the morning we wandered through Mariposa Grove in absolute awe of the giant sequoias. A friendly French couple took our picture standing in the tunnel of the California Tree, which was hollowed out in 1895 to allow stagecoaches to pass through.

Then we drove south to Carmel, a pretty little town on the coast, where Clint Eastwood once served as mayor. We walked on the sandy beach, drove along the rocky shoreline, explored the 18th-century Spanish mission, and enjoyed the lush garden of our hotel.

It was back to San Fran early the next morning. Chinatown, North Beach, Fisherman's Wharf, a stop at some Beat Generation hangouts.

And then, just before we left to meet our reservations at the world-renowned Chez Panisse, we began to feel a bit ... queasy. As soon became clear, we had food poisoning. We’re not sure what caused it, but the next several hours would be some of the worst we’d ever experienced. Needless to say, we missed our date with Chez Panisse.

Somehow we managed to get out of bed the next morning and set off for Mendocino, about three hours north. We were still feeling rather unwell, and the winding road wasn’t helping matters. “We’re trapped in hell!” Kim said as we pulled over in the forest. “Our own specific hell.”

We did eventually arrive at our hotel, a cluster of cottages perched on the edge of 60-foot bluffs. It was stunning. Everything was perfect, inside and out. The staff had a peculiar aloof over-politeness that lead me to dub them pod people. Our dinner that night was saltines, apple sauce and grape sports drink. I didn’t take a picture.

By noon the next day we had regained the will to live, and we set off once again for San Francisco. This time we enjoyed the drive through the forests and countryside, marveling at the towering trees and rolling multi-colored vineyards. We even felt well enough to stop at one winery for a tasting.

Back in San Francisco, we headed for the Castro District on a historic street car and enjoyed some first-class people-watching and our first real meal in two days.

This is the short version, of course. You can see the rest of my photos here. We survived food poisoning, rain, San Francisco traffic, the hills, the winding roads. And it was fabulous.