Sunny Skies

[Warning: long post, with lots of pictures. Enjoy!]

Well, I can’t say that I’m sorry for not having posted last week. I thought I might. It was a possibility in my mind that I would be bored, trying to entertain myself while was in training, and I could occupy myself blogging. Obviously, that did not happen. I even brought with me three crafty projects, afraid that I would run out of things to do (along with a very large book). I didn’t even finish one of them. I did make it about halfway through my book, but most of that was reading at night before going to sleep.

I was so paranoid about missing my airport shuttle that I got up 15 minutes early (3:45 am). This ended up being a good thing, as my shuttle was 15 minutes early. I was all ready to go, however, and made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Really, I spent over an hour and a half at the airport before my flight boarded. Because of the time difference, I arrived at the hotel in California (after a bus and then the light rail from the airport) around noon. I didn’t do much of anything, seeing as how I was a bit tired. Took a short nap, watched some cable (so glad we don’t pay for that), and did some embroidery.

I didn't adequately capture the mountains in the distance for you. Sorry.


When got back to the room after his training session, we took the light rail to nearby Mountain View for dinner. It was such a cute little town that I decided to go back the next day.

I slept in on Wednesday (OK, let’s get this straight: I slept in every single day until at least 9, or 11 Minnesota time, and it was fabulous), and made it over to Mountain View late morning. It was, unfortunately, cloudy, and supposed to rain. I went to the Red Rock Cafe for a decaf mocha, because it was supposedly the best place to go. I was unimpressed (burnt tasting coffee does not entice me). When I was done browsing the first book store (there were 3), it started to sprinkle, and then rain. I couldn’t seem to figure out where to eat lunch, but did take shelter briefly in the new age bookstore. I eventually found some gellato (half caramel chocolate crunch, half chocolate hazelnut, aka Nutella). I should note that while the vast majority of stores on Castro Street are restaurants, nearly all are sit-down, fancy-like places, which is not what I wanted. In the third bookstore, the one that sold used books, I finally found the last book of the Pern series that I have been looking for. I paid a whopping $2 for it, which is all I spent this entire trip (food and transportation not included).

I had hoped to take some pictures, but the weather wasn’t cooperating and I just didn’t feel like it. After some more walking around, I realized that there was no way I could spend another 4 hours in Mountain View ( was going to meet me there when he finished for the day), so I went back to the hotel. I thought about using the hotel gym, but was tired from all the walking, so I did nothing instead. It was wonderful. We went back to Mountain View for dinner, stopping by a laundromat first so could do some laundry (he had difficulty packing a week’s worth of clothes in a carry-on).

Thursday, I pulled out my trip map (of all the things in and around Santa Clara and San Francisco that I wanted to do) and set out on my own adventure. I bussed to Santa Clara University, where I enjoyed the beautiful scenery. I went to the de Saisset museum on campus (free), looked at the outside of the mission (was unsure if I could go in or not), wandered through the gardens and paths, and then walked some more around the outside of the campus.

The (5th) Santa Clara Mission.





Garden outside the de Saisset museum, dedicated to Santa Clara (statue in the middle).


My tired feet carried me to the Starbucks across the street from the bus station, and the wonderful staff there made me a decaf mocha Frappuccino, the first I have had in far too long (I was unaware until recently that decaf Frappuccinos could be made). It was wonderful, and came with me on the bus as I continued my journey.

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What? You'd take a picture too if it had been that long since you'd had your favorite drink.


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From there, I went to Santana Row, an outdoor shopping mall also in Santa Clara.


Unfortunately, the unique stores were all very upscale (too upscale to enjoy more than window shopping), so mostly I walked around enjoying the weather and very slowly shopping in the stores we have back home (Crate and Barrel, Anthropologie, etc) – something no one ever wants to do with me. Seriously, I browsed that slowly. Eventually, I bussed back to the hotel. We decided to skip the train to Mountain View and found a place closer by.

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Prince Charming's classic Philly cheesesteak on the left, garlic fries in the middle, and my mushroom cheesesteak on the right.


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Did you need a closeup of those garlic fries? They were serious.


Originally, I was going to go to San Francisco by myself on Friday, but it turned out that the training was almost over. So, instead of spending 7 hours in SF by myself and then getting back for dinner, I lounged around all morning, and then we took the Caltrain together to SF (and still spent around 7 hours there). The Friday plan was to go to Golden Gate Park, where I had a few things marked (none of which we did), then walk up to the Cliff House restaurant, and then catch a bus back to the Caltrain. We did make it to Golden Gate Park, but basically just walked around, looking at stuff. The park was very relaxing, and the weather was beautiful.

We stopped at the Japanese Tea Garden, which was under construction. (The construction was behind me - this is a small portion of the garden that wasn't.)


Amphitheater near the Japanese Tea Garden.


We walked through the botanical gardens.

Strange plants in California.


Happy ducks.


Gorgeously pink!


And then we walked a really, really, really long way to the end of the park until we reached the coast.

My favorite Prince Charming shot of the trip. That's a wind surfer's kite there in the background.


Ah, the Pacific Ocean.


It was super windy, and since we had no idea what kind of restaurant Cliff House was (and we were fighting lots of wind and sand thrown at us), we found somewhere else to eat dinner (and took the bus to get there).

I don't know how we would have gotten around without our iPhones. I know I did it 11 years ago, but seriously? This is how we found out where to eat, which streets to turn on, etc. Invaluable for tourism!


The food was great, but the service was very slow (though it seemed on purpose, as if that was part of the experience). We were aiming for the 8:40 Caltrain (so as to not miss the last light rail out of Mountain View), so when the bus dropped us off for our transfer, we did the math and figured out that the 47 would drop us off at the Caltrain at 8:41, and perhaps we could make it there faster on foot (there was a 15 minute wait for the bus). We walked/ran the two miles to the Caltrain, and missed it by 7 minutes. Less than fun, and I really don’t recommend walking to the Caltrain at night through that neighborhood. If you do, put on your “don’t mess with me” face. Seriously.

The 9:40 was apparently the party train. It was filled with drunk or otherwise inebriated Santa Clara college students (who really did their university a disservice with their behavior). A few got kicked off for smoking pot in the bathroom (really, if I can figure out that it’s pot, you’re going to get caught – I am totally not good at that). The last light rail waited for the Caltrain, which was nice, since it was 5 minutes late, so we didn’t have to take a taxi home.

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We noted this on Saturday morning's Caltrain ride. The bike cars have outlets so you can use your laptop!


Saturday was our last full day in California, and we decided to take it easy (relatively speaking). We didn’t get up super early to go to SF. We slept in. Late. Very late. We transferred our belongings to the other hotel (one closer to the airport), and then took the Caltrain in. We didn’t arrive until 3, and wanted to get the 7:15 Caltrain back out, so we modified our plans a bit again. We did manage to do almost everything on the list; the only thing we skipped was the Cartoon Art Museum, which at $7 would have been a lot of fun, but we just didn’t have the time for it. We bussed to downtown, found the Apple store, and then had lunch (yes, at 3:30) at my favorite SF restaurant, Boudin. I had my favorite sandwich of all time, the Turkey and Havarti, which is still on the menu, unchanged, 11 years after I first had it (who knows how long it’s been there – it’s good! had the other half of mine and agreed).

From there we walked to the Transamerica Pyramid.


Then up to Chinatown,


where the buildings are quite unique,


and the Trolley goes right through - seeing it was going to have to do, because we didn't have time to take a ride.


Then across to see Lombard Street (Prince Charming walked all the way up to see it and take this picture, but my feet were killing me, so I waited several blocks down the hill, since I'd seen it before).


Then we made our way through North Beach to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39.


The ultimate in touristy places.


Due to time constraints and my inability to figure out what we should have for dinner, we ended up taking the bus back to the Caltrain and grabbing Panera before getting on the 7:15 as planned. The ride was significantly quieter, thankfully. We got back with plenty of time to eat our dinner and soak in the hot tub for a bit (soothing sore muscles and feet).

Sunday morning, our flight didn’t leave until 11, so we got to sleep in and didn’t have to rush the morning. The hotel shuttled us to the airport for free, and our flights back were relatively unremarkable (except for the nausea-inducing heat and turbulence on the first flight). The Twin Cities’ own light rail and bus system got us back to our house, unharmed, by 7:30 pm. Our two kitties screamed for attention, we had some dinner, and that was that. There is still plenty of laundry to be done, more kitty affection to dole out, and vacuuming (see, we’re gone for a week and the same amount of mess is on the floor – those cats need to learn to vacuum, because it’s certainly not our mess), but that’s life.

I’ll share some more photos in the coming days – I’m still working on processing them all.

Tired feet recap: Wednesday I walked at least 3.5 miles, not including all the wandering around inside of stores. Thursday I walked 2 miles around Santa Clara University’s campus and 3 miles at Santana Row (shopping center), and then we walked 2 miles to get dinner (and back again). Friday, and I walked 5 miles in Golden Gate Park and speed walked / ran 2 miles to the Caltrain station (though we still missed the train). Saturday, we walked 4 miles in San Francisco, from downtown to Fisherman’s Wharf / Pier 39, with a bunch of stops in-between. That brings my total for 4 days up to 23.5, but let’s just call it 24. That’s the bare minimum I walked, and doesn’t count getting to and from the bus/light rail, going to dinner, etc.

In the interest of full disclosure, most of the San Francisco pictures were taken by . Also, it should be noted that I have done very little editing on these photos – mostly cropping, not color correction. It really was that beautiful there. On the ocean pictures, the ones where the sky is bright blue is more accurate – looking directly out on the ocean seemed to change the color of the sky, making it duller, but it didn’t look like that in person.

One Reply to “Sunny Skies”

  1. So this is why I want to have Eric take pictures at the upcoming wedding: his skills/camera are phenomenal!

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