Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day Twenty-Seven: Sonoma County and San Francisco

After some early morning bird-watching (a process not aided the four outdoor cats), we depart from Leggett and head south towards San Francisco. As soon as we get into cell phone range, my cellphone starts beeping madly - I am trying to a, sort out a meet-up in Ukiah and b, organise stuff with friends in San Francisco. Tim, similarly, has contacts in San Fran.

Our first stop is a minor detour to Ukiah, where we meet up with Linda again at a diner near the exit. She is eating, but we just order smoothies, having had breakfasts of yoghurt parfait (made with maple granola), only a short while ago. Linda hands to me the journal pages created by Locke, thus finally concluding our journal trade.

We head into wine country. The hills are golden, covered in low green trees, which give way to rows of grape vines and barren fields where planting is in progress. We pass through several small townships, taking a detour through the city of Santa Rosa where I am searching for a Target (in the hope of getting a new SD card for my critically low camera) but without avail.

The Golden Gate bridge is awesome to cross. I've seen it so many times in movies, that it feels almost unreal to be actually driving across it. At the far end we pay our fee and enter into San Francisco. A brief detour to try and find the Golden Gate park takes us into the Presidio area, where we wind up randomly driving around houses unable to find the actual way into the park and eventually give up and head out. The San Francisco architecture is gorgeous - the buildings with their decorative "gingerbreading" and all nestled in close together like they're huddling for warmth. Driving into the main city is another matter entirely, however. The traffic is insane, and we wind up one block from the street we want to be on - but unable to turn left because every single corner has a "no left turn" sign. Meanwhile the GPS is saying, in her calm voice, "turn left, at the next junction, turn left" and we're continuing to go straight ahead and then we miss the turn off for the parking garage and have to go around the block one more time. It is with relief that we finally take the car up 7 levels of the Stockton parking garage and deposit it there for two nights. It is within easy walking distance of  the hotel.

The Hotel des Arts is actually quite delightful. I had been a bit nervous about it, because the reviews were mixed, but aside from the ricketty elevator and the treacherous staircase, it was great. Much to my surprise, our room actually had an ensuite, and was very comfortable and quite colourful too, being one of the "painted rooms". We then took a walk around the city, and I contacted Linell and Lisa, the lasses I was hoping to meet up with for dinner. We arranged to meet outside Macy's at 7, with the intention being to dine at the Cheesecake Factory.

Then Tim and I took a walking tour of the city, where I was delighted to see parrots near the sculpture below. These were the famous red-masked parrots, originally of Conical Hill (but now migrated down into the city). They were too high up in the foliage for me to get a clear shot at them, alas.

Sculpture near the Ferry Building
Chinatown Mural

Toucan in Macy's
The Cheesecake Factory was packed - waiting time over an hour, and so we discarded that idea in favour of anywhere else, finding an Italian place a block or so away.

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