October 9, 2016

San Francisco

Flying above the clouds.
Our snack on the first flight was some kind of very flat waffle sandwich with caramel and the second flight was scoobie snacks.
Riding the Air-Train to the car rental, first view of San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge
I was trying to take a picture of Alcatraz the famed former prison, where Al Capone spent many-a night. (Anyone see the "deleted scenes" from 2nd Night in the Museum? "bullet, bullet, bullet"?  We thought that was the best scene ever and we are still laughing about it.... I digress...)
So, here is a snitched picture of Alcatraz, I find prison things fascinating... not being an inmate.

These "strings" (which, of course aren't strings) are holding up the bridge.
Views as we head up to our "Mountain Inn" in Mill Valley

This was the craziest, most squiggly road I have ever been on.  I think we maxed speed limit at 35... but not very often.
This is our "hotel" for the first night, Mountain Home Inn. This is where one enters, the rooms are downstairs and more stairs and more stairs. It was awesome!
This was the view out our rustic balcony.
Before we headed down to the Pacific Ocean we enjoyed a delicious meal. I had the Wild Mushroom Ravioli with a Marinara Cream Sauce, Pesto, Parmesan, Garlic Bread Crumbs.  Aragorn had the "Po'boy" fish sandwich which was also excellent.
This was our dinner view.
Muir Beach
In this part of California, that they call "Northern" the water is VERY cold. I felt like I was at Lake Superior.

Some kind of seaweed things.

I believe this is a raven which I hadn't seen since I lived in MN in my youth.

This is a photo from the once, long ago train that was the "crookedest railroad in the world" that went through the area of Mill Valley
A photo of the original Inn.
Very interesting bathroom, it's the usuall in all things except there is a window into the room, for privacy one simply closes the shutters. It was rather cute.
This is the "Jack London" room as this is the room he stayed in when he stayed here as a friend of the people who owned it.

View from the lobby
Being redwood area the posts in the Inn are made of redwoods, complete with bark.

We got up to watch the sunrise out our balcony. It was lovely. Of course the pictures are never the real deal.

We enjoyed a very hearty breakfast.  Aragorn had an omlette and fried potatoes and I had ham and onion hash with grits and scrambled eggs. We shared some yogurt with granola and fruit.  Please note, which I forgot to mention at dinner above is that they served water with mint sprigs in it. It was very tasty and refreshing.
This is our big hiking day at Muir Woods. We were there by 8:30 and it was "free entrance", that saved us $20.
Muir Woods was named after John Muir who was actually from our part of America:

John Muir also known as "John of the Mountains", was a Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. 
When he was 22 years old, John Muir enrolled at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, paying his own way for several years. There, under a towering black locust tree beside North Hall, Muir took his first botany lesson. A fellow student plucked a flower from the tree and used it to explain how the grand locust is a member of the pea family, related to the straggling pea plant. Fifty years later, the naturalist Muir described the day in his autobiography. "This fine lesson charmed me and sent me flying to the woods and meadows in wild enthusiasm."[12]:225 As a freshman, Muir studied chemistry with Professor Ezra Carr and his wife Jeanne; they became lifelong friends and Muir developed a lasting interest in chemistry and the sciences.[10]:76 Muir took an eclectic approach to his studies, attending classes for two years but never being listed higher than a first-year student due to his unusual selection of courses. Records showed his class status as "irregular gent" and, even though he never graduated, he learned enough geology and botany to inform his later wanderings.[18]:36
I wish I could express the immense beauty and size of these trees! It was overwhelming and gorgeous. In this woods was the deliciously sweet smell that was very good for the sinuses. It was very lovely.

I know, it just looks like trees, but they really are huge. I found the charred ones most fascinating.

Very tall, most of the time we couldn't see the tops.
See Aragorn?

We hiked about 9 miles that day.   Hitting the ever popular Redwood Creek Trail, some of the Alice Eastwood Trail,  up Boot Jack trail, back down hitting hillside trail.
up, up, up, up, up on a side passage

Here you can see a seedling that is actually not from seed but growing up out of the trunk of the tree. This is how the family circle is formed
Root system
This was INCREDIBLE and am totally incapable of showing, even in pictures, the immensity of this grove.

I'm not a big fan of selfies but wanted to be sure we had one picture of us.
We went as far as this bridge on Boot Jack trail and it was definitely as far as we could go... knowing we had to go back again.

Spider webs are as glorious as spiders are not.
Then we got a very special blessing and saw a black tailed deer. It must have been a yearling and had little spiked antlers. It was beautiful.  I think he liked us.
On the comical side, this is a spiked (antlered) black tailed buck that we saw next to Spike Buck Creek. SERIOUSLY!

This is a relief map of the area, I wanted to give an idea of the road we traveled, it is the one at the very edge, VERY squiggly.
We decided to take the very scenic... and twisty... Route 1 to take the long way to our next hotel. It was along the Pacific Ocean and very lovely.

We crossed the bridge that is across the bay from the Golden Gate Bridge and to our immsense surprise it is a double decker bridge and we were on the under side.

We stopped for lunch at the "In and Out" which we thought it was the CA version of our local Culvers.  We got bugers and real fries made from real potatoes (we saw them make them).  The burger part was the tiniest beef patty I have every seen in my life. It was so thin!
We stayed at this hotel the next 2 nights.
In digression, I took this photo of the shifting KNOB in the rental car.  Yes, it's a DIAL!
Room was complete with a kitchenette.
We are forever trying to figure out a nightlight system in our house so I thought this was comical, a hair dryer with a nightlight.  Seriously. Then Aragorn told me about a friend whose wife and some of her family members sleep with a hair dryer blowing on them through the whole night.  Seriously. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that one. But they can now have a hairdryer experience with a nightlight all in one.  Think of all the energy saved.... ???

We were trying to dodge traffic to go to a Mission and came upon the Dominican Mosastery.  In trying to get over to the Mission church we ended up in the Domincan cemetery. I like cemeteries and the older the better.

Stations of the Cross
At this point we see a sign that says "No Trespassing" oops... Well, I figured we were alright as we did pray for the dead.
I'm not sure what this building is but it was just absolutely lovely.  Some kind of small chapel?
Large turkeys feeding.

Due to the intense traffic we were unable to go inside San Jose Mission. BUMMER!
"Mission San Jose was founded on June 11, 1797 by Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen on a site which was part of a natural highway by way of the Livermore Valley to the San Joaquin Valley. It is the fourteenth of the 21 Spanish Missions in Alta California. They were founded to secure Spain's claim to this land and to teach the native people Christianity."
This is the inside of the Mission... that we didn't see.
Mission McDonalds?

This is the place Aragorn was going to work at ... hence the trip.
That night we went to Ray's Sushi which was out of this world delicious!
We each got a "Bento Box" with California Sushi, Raw Salmon and Raw Tuna slices with rice noodles, Broccoli, salad and I ahd the chicken terriyaki and Aragorn had some other chicken with a ginger sauce.  We liked it so much we went back for Bento Boxes again the next night. YUM.

Thursday, which was the day Aragorn had to work all day, I sat around the hotel. I soaked my blistered toes (from the hike) in the pool in the gloriously bright sunshine. It was lovely. I read more of the Perfect Joy of St. Francis.
Later in the afternoon I took a 2.2 mile walk to St. Edward's Catholic Church as they, amazingly, happen to have a Traditional Latin Mass at 5:30 on Thursdays.

I had taken a picture during Mass but somehow it disappeared so I snitch a picture, which is better since it shows the statue of St. Edward and the Sacred Heart which were blocked by some flags for some feast day or celebration at the parish.  Also note the statue of St. Junipero Serra to the right (at least I believe that is he). Anyway, when Mass started I gasped as I recognized the priest!  Canon Meney had been at the local Institute of Christ the King so we had known him from various ICK churches at home.  The fact was confirmed as I asked a woman if I was correct.
On Friday we had the whole day free since our flight wasn't until 11:20 at night. So we went down to Big Basin to hike among more of the grand Redwoods (and other trees).  This is the oldest state park in California so have some very old growth trees believed to be up to 2500 or 3200 years old.  AWESOME!
We started on the Redwood Trail which is only 0.6 miles but it had some REALLY big trees.
You get a better idea how big the trees are when you are standing at one end and your husband is standing at the other end of a fallen tree.  Can you see him?  Unfortunately all the pictures on Aragorn's phone were inadvertently deleted when his phone decided to do an inopportune update. ARGH!

I took a great interest in the charred trees and wondered what the fires must have been like and when they were.

The "Father of the Forest" is just shy of 17 feet in diameter (over 66 feet in circumference) and over 250 feet tall.
The "Mother of the Forest" is a little over 15 feet in diameter (70 feet in circumference at the ground). This historic height is 329 feet but the current actual height is 293 feet. Yes. That is TALL and FAT and plain old BIG!
After that trail we climbed "Buzzard's Roost which was 2500 feet above sea level. We went about 9-1/2 miles of hiking, some rather steep, it was glorious. It makes one say over and over "God is so Good!"

What a cute acorn with "hair"

Rather unique tree with an arm.

A big Redwood that had fallen over.

I'd like to know what kind of tree this is as it has such smoother "bark" (doesn't seem to have bark actually, just smoothness)
Not at the top
but getting rockier

Here you can see the top "buzzard's roost"

I made a lizard friend, ok, he had no interest in me at all, but I was glad to get so close.
Aragorn finally found some cell reception to make a needed call.
I guess some of my pictures got sucked up by the cyber police as I had a picture of all these little rock pyramids that people built on the back trail.  But this one of Aragorn building one was still on my camera.
I guess some people consider this littering, seriously... rocks taken from the ground right there piled up... seriously, it won't hurt anyone's descendants, no one was "moving mountains" just tiny bits :D
We decided to take a different route back, the service road, it was hardly a road and rather steep. We wondered what they drove up the hill to take that. It seemingly knocked off a full mile going back that way and it was really an awesome (continued) walk.
We ran into this HUGE logged stump.  You see all the little notches cut out? That's what they would stand in to saw.
Yes, very big.
By this point my feet and muscles hurt SO badly I seemingly ceased to take photos, it might be noted it had been about 6 hours since we had eaten as well.

We stopped for a veggie pizza, being Friday, and it was soooo good (and so expensive...!)

From there we drove down to Santa Cruz , this is a historic covered bridge somewhere on the detour we had to take.

We went to the Mission of Santa Cruz (which, in full, means Holy Exaltation of the Holy Cross)

St. Junipero Serra is the chief founder of the California Missions. He was canonized this year on the Feast of Padre Pio (September 23, 2016). Deo Gratias!
We enjoyed the old relics in the Reliquary. I didn't take pictures but was able to snitch some. I didn't know until afterwards that I could have taken pictures.

 Rather large, beautiful baby Jesus.
 Chalice used for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by St. Junipero Serra.
 Very, very old vestments. There was even a velvet covered very old Missal

The history of the Santa Cruz Mission is rather sad and almost comical in a weird sense of humor style. It was built in the flood plain of St. Lorenzo River. And after it was built, indeed they had more rain than usual and the poor original mission flooded away.  It was rebuilt and, as the above picture shows (this picture hangs in the Mission Reliquary) that the 2nd mission was destroyed in an earthquake. IT was again rebuilt. What dedication to the Church!

This is the garden/patio out back.

This next Church is built on the site of the original Mission.

We didn't go inside because we didn't know how long it would take to get back up to the airport given traffic but this is a picture of it. Wow!
From there we took the same Hwy 1 we took earlier but this stretch of it was not so beautiful, still VERY nice and excellent in comparison with city driving, but not as twisty and scenic.  We could actually drive 55 mph... We stopped briefly at this neat light house on the Pacific.
And stopped again at the Ocean.

That evening we at at a seafood restaurant but unfortunately their oven was broken so the seafood we wanted to eat wasn't available. Bummer. It was still yummy.
These buildings were pretty much the last thing we saw and reminded me of silos. Very bizarre.
I spent the airport time resizing pictures for the blog and the plain plane ride passed out until we got to Chicago.  I completely missed the beverage cart and another dose of Scoobie Snacks.  Ah well... it was a great little, relaxing trip, and my leg muscles are very glad to finally get to relax!!