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Monthly Archives: November 2005

US Trip, Stage 2

Ok, so I’m now in Portland, Oregon after a short hop on the plane from San Francisco. The difference is pretty noticeable. First off, I was walking around San Francisco in a t-shirt most of the time and even that was pretty hot work. When I arrived in Portland, I could see my breath it was that cold! It’s great to see Dawn again, and Tom has come down for the weekend too so it should fun! Yesterday we drove up to Mount St. Helens in Dawn’s red Beetle. It was only about a two hour drive from Portland, and what an amazing place!! The views were outstanding. The whole place seemed so immense, although due to the lack of very much around, it was very difficult to get a sense of scale. I couldn’t believe that after the eruption back in 1980 that the mountain lost almost 1500 feet in height! That’s a whole lot of rock!

Before I left for Portland, my brother and I hired some transport to get us to Monterey Bay and a few other places that we couldn’t otherwise have seen. Muir Woods and Mt. Tam were the first stop, both stunningly beautiful places. The trees in Muir woods were BIG to say the least (although far from the tallest in the world). Perhaps the most impressive thing there was a segment from a fallen tree that dated back to 909AD. The rings were marked with historic dates such as the Declaration of Independence (which featured right on the edge) and the founding of the first Aztec city – quite a humbling thing! And the views from Mt. Tam of San Francisco and the surrounding areas were awe-inspiring.

Monterey Bay Aquarium was the next big stop and anyone visitng San Francisco has to make the 2 hour trip to the Aquarium. There’s obviously been a lot of money pumped into it and its all been put to very good use. The exhibits were amazingly varied and most of it was interactive, in really clever ways. Getting to touch a stingray was very cool too 🙂

US Trip, Stage 1

Ok, so I’m now posting this from San Francisco, California. I’m on the first leg of my 2 week trip to the US, and I’m visiting my mate and landlord, Tom. He’s out here working for a few months and I’ve taken the opportunity to visit him. Stage 2 will be visiting another friend, Dawn, who’s moved recently to Portland, OR. So I’ve now been here since Wednesday and I’ve had an amazing time. SF is a great city with so much busting out of its seams. The first day I was here I walked down to the marina and along the beach to the Golden Gate bridge. Then Tom took us flying over San Carlos and Half Moon Bay which is south of the city. There are some great photos (and some not so great) from the air on flickr.

We’ve been to Sausalito, and yesterday we went the famous Napa Valley for some wine tasting. Napa was fantastic, and the leaves on the vines are all starting to change colour so it was a great time of year to visit. It’s amazing how different all the wines taste from different parts of the valley, using different grapes (varietals!) of different ages, in different barrels. Got to admit that towards the end of the day I couldn’t taste all that much anymore. So we stopped off at PJ Steakhouse for a Flat Iron Steak that was out of this world, washed down with a glass of wine, of course 😉

The subtle differences between the two cultures are still popping out at me every now and again. I’m beginning to become very conscious of when I say “cheers” when I mean “thank you”. And I’ve got to be careful writing the dates on travellers cheques. I ask for the check, not the bill at the end of a meal, and when I was stopped by a passer-by asking for the time, I replied “Half four” which got me a wry smile and a reply, “so, 4 thirty?”. Which reminds me – we also spent an afternoon surfing in Santa Cruz. This was exhilarating and scary. The waves were immense and I’ve heard people talking about waves producing a powerful undertow, but this was something else. I was pulled down a few times after the wave hit, and there’s nothing you can do but wait for the water to have its fun and decide to let you back up for air. I failed to stand up, although I’ll definitely be surfing again – what a place to go for the first time!

I’m here in SF until Friday now, and then it’s a quick flight to Portland for a few days. Can’t wait!