Friday, August 9, 2013

Encore en Californie

Day 3: Pebble Beach
My parents rent a house in Pebble Beach every summer for a week.  My Dad grew up there and knows all the best spots for abalone shell hunting, golf ball collecting, bike riding, otter spotting etc.

We went to Point Lobos in the morning and hiked along the coast.  To my great satisfaction we spotted several otters and watched the eat and play through my Dad's binoculars.

Some of the lichen on the trees had turned bright red  - it looked almost other-worldly.  I loved the contrast of the bright red with the turquoise water and light grey rocks.

We spent the afternoon at the shore closer to the house and went beach combing and tide pool hunting. It was foggy, but otherwise great weather.  I hadn't thought to put on an extra layer of sunblock with all that fog, but I roasted on my face from the glare off the water and now my skin is flaking off at the most awkward of times.  When will I ever learn?

Also included in our beach combing is hunting for golf balls.  There are (what seems like) hundreds of golf courses in Pebble Beach and the surrounding areas, and a lot of them have holes right along the water.  It would seem that not all golfers that can afford a $500 round of golf are necessarily good at golf.  We benefit from that.  

Golf ball hunting is like an Easter Egg hunt for adults.  We'd find them wedged between rocks and in the tide pools.  Carmel Beach backs onto Pebble Beach golf course and it's ball hunting heaven.  Extra points if you find a Pebble Beach logo ball and even more if it's in mint condition.  All told we found 98 golf balls throughout the week.  After a good trip through the dish washer, they were good as new.

What did we do with all these golf balls, you ask?  We fit most of them into our carry on luggage and brought them home.  Not to use in the conventional sense, but to fill a glass lamp.  You don't believe me?  Here's proof.

I've been looking for ages for something to fill our glass vessel lamps in the bedroom, but a lot of things just looked too cliche.  Ok, so maybe golf balls are cliche, too, but it's fun that they're a souvenir that we actually get to look at.  Plus, it's manly for Blake's side of the bed, right?  Now to find something for my side.

Day 4: San Francisco
We brought our bikes to San Francisco to ride the Embarcadero, across the Golden Gate Bridge, and into Sausalito for lunch and a ferry ride back.

I had (I thought) mentally prepared myself for the afternoon, knowing that it would be combining and combatting two of my biggest fears: heights and biking in crowds.  [It may interest you to know that the other two top competitors are the feeling of falling and spiders.]

When we arrived in San Francisco the waterfront was packed with tourists from all over the world - here for the America's Cup sailing races.  We were swarmed with huge families of French, German, Italian, and Japanese.  You name the language, we heard it (except for English).

This was all well and good, but it made for an absolutely chaotic ride.  No one knew where they were going or even the rules of the road.  When we got up to the bridge it was so packed that I just couldn't make myself trying to wend my way through the crowds.  So I walked my bike across all 1.7 miles of it.  In a total and absolute panic.

I was hit several times by cyclists who didn't know what they were doing (my ankles bore the brunt).  It was windy.  It was high up.  It was terrifying.  I'm a wimp.

The picture below was before any real tears started, but those sunglasses are hiding the terror in my eyes.  Don't let the smile fool you.

From the moment we got on the bridge, the only thought in my mind was that I was determined to make it off as quickly as possible.  The only picture I stopped to take was of the Emergency Phone and Crisis Counseling sign.  It's small in the above photo, but it says "There is hope. Make the Call.  The consequences of jumping from this bridge are fatal and tragic."

How about the consequences of getting jammed overboard by a speeding French cyclist? I wasn't taking any chances.

We later looked up the total number of suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge.  Since the late thirties when it was finished, there have been over 1500 known suicides (some of the bodies wash out to sea). That's crazy!  What a horrible way to die!

Anyhow. Back to less morbid things.  The fog had burned off in Sausalito when we rolled in (ok, when I walked in and the rest of the group rolled in).  We had grabbed lunch from a great burger joint and ate in the park overlooking San Francisco.  By the time we took the ferry back, the fog had burned off in SF, too.  It was gorgeous.  The whole scary adventure was worth it for that ferry ride.

I'm thinking next year I'll do something safer - like the Ghirardelli factory tour. As far I know there have been far fewer deaths by chocolate in the last 80 years.

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