Travel Blog: Week 6

USA Week 6: 17.12.2012 – 23.12.2012 Monday:- Prep day. Only a few days left in Virginia. Time to decide what to take with me for the rest of my travels and what to leave at Tammy’s. Laundry and general readiness required. I cooked dinner, which I have to say was a rare event. Noodle soup with some of the fabulous steak left-overs. Not too shabby! TV and bed Tuesday:- Last full day in Virginia. Today was a trip into DC.


Week 6: 17.12.2012 – 23.12.2012


Prep day. Only a few days left in Virginia. Time to decide what to take with me for the rest of my travels and what to leave at Tammy’s. Laundry and general readiness required.

I cooked dinner, which I have to say was a rare event. Noodle soup with some of the fabulous steak left-overs. Not too shabby!

TV and bed


Last full day in Virginia. Today was a trip into DC. Tammy had booked a classical concert for tonight and as she was working in the city I could either go in really early with her, no way, slug at around 7:30, still no way, or get the bus. Tammy had printed all the location and time details (she’s so organised!!!) so this is what I opted for. As I was walking to the bus stop, and no one walks in this county it seems, so I gave myself plenty of time. Good job too, it was quite a way. But I got there in time and boarded using my SmarTrip card – the only, and cheaper, way to travel. There were only a few others on the bus so plenty of room to get comfy. Ok, so it’s one thing to know where to get but quite another to know where to get off. I was expecting one stop with a mass exodus. Wrong. Pick a place any place. So, I picked one by a park. Found a seat amongst the squirrels and checked the map. Boy, those squirrels were friendly and brave. And yes……I had some nuts in my bag so I fed a rather cheeky one.

Anyway, back to my plan. What plan! It was a beautiful day so I headed for the Martin Luther King Jn memorial. Through the park, passed the Washington monument (still closed for repairs following the earthquake, passed the World War II memorial and the DC War memorial – I’m starting to get to know my way around here! Finally MLK and some time for contemplation “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, them portray defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant”.


A few spots of rain signalled time to leave. Back up 17th and a place for lunch – ‘Cosi’. Pretty good food.

After that I pretty much wandered aimlessly around DC and eventually found myself at Foggy Bottom – like you do! Parked myself at the bar of the sophisticated Circa, and ordered……a cuppa. Camomile though! The girl next to me ordered a plate of delicious looking cheesecake. Hmmmmhhhhh – maybe I should…………. Nah!

Tammy joined me a tea and dark and stormy later. We walked down Pennsylvania to the Library of Congress, with a brief stop at the Christmas trees by the White House and a moment with Santa. The real Santa – of course.


And something to eat…

We took our places to watch/listen to the music. It was amazing how the 4 instruments, a couple dating back to 1639, All worked together to make a wonderful sound whilst still keeping their individuality. 30 mins in I had a coughing fit and left to catch my breathe. A friendly attendant got me some water and suggested somewhere I could sit and not disturb anyone else – phew. At the interval I met up with Tammy and we decided to head back.. It was getting late and the second half didn’t quite have the same appeal. A short, but cold, walk to the metro then onto collect the car from Tammy’s office then home.


Last day in Virginia. Bit mind blowing!

Today I had to pack up for good. Decide what to leave and what to take on. Strangely it was a challenge to get everything in my back pack. A few things didn’t make the cut and will stay with Tammy.

Packed and ready to go by 11:30. We were both travelling to San Fran today but with different airlines and at different times. My flight was later but I took the ride to the airport with Tammy. It took a while before I could check my bag because I was so early but thankfully I was allowed through despite the weight – thank you whomever is looking after me! As usual security was a true joy and I got the full X-ray thing – feet apart and arms in the air. But I made it through that too.

I found a place for lunch. Take away noodles – just a small bucket sized portion. God bless America!

Time to find the gate and wait for the flight to San Fran via Chicago. Southwest Airline runs like Easy Jet. No seats are allocated but passengers are boarded in batches. Luckily I was batch A and so got boarded quickly and got a great seat near the front. The other 2 seats were filled with skinny girls so we were all comfortable. The 2 hour flight went smoothly – a free drink and some snacks helped. We were a little late so I only had 20 minutes to gate to the gate for the next flight – easy! I arrived at gate 2 and only had to get to gate 7. This time I was boarded nearly last so sat at the back and next to a lady and her daughter who was actually well behaved the whole 4.5 hour flight. It was strange to see so many dinky dogs being taken on board at carry on luggage.

We landed late and with the time difference it really was late – 1am Virginia time. I found by bags and got the shuttle to the car rental centre to meet Tammy.

Once the bags were loaded into the car we set off for Santa Cruz. After an hour or so we found the hotel. We were both tired by now so hearing that the room booking had not been held was not good news. Phew – they found us a room away from the main hotel. It was great though with a little kitchen area. Straight to bed!


Beautiful day – cold but beautiful. We were up pretty early considering we got to bed at 1am California time (4am Virginia time).

We grabbed breakfast from the hotel which was really good for continental. They had a nifty waffle maker. The batter was pre mixed in a machine like a Mr Whippy, which you poured into a hot waffle iron and waited a couple of minutes, DE-LISH! Off to the wharf.


A few gift shops were open but there was so much more going on. Fishing over the side (one guy had caught a few bull-heads and a starfish which he said we would dry and give to someone as a present. One of the fish heads was given to a nearby pelican who reluctantly swallowed it), loads of gulls and pelicans (Mr Percival – anyone remember that Aussie film), the famous sea lions, and a great fresh fish shop. My infamous leggings got another comment – “great leggings would you like a peanut butter sandwich”!!!!!




We walked along the beach and along the boardwalk through the fun fair with its old fashioned looking roller coaster. We also found the main street with whacky shops, street buskers, skateboarders, restaurants, antique shops, tattoo parlours and a fabulous sandwich shop. Yes, you guessed it that’s where we had lunch. A quick trip to Trader Jo’s and back to the room for a snooze.

An hour or so, and some, later we were ready for the evening. Wrapped in as many layers we had we headed out. We walked the same street again but it looked so different at night. The shops were all lit up and still open, although they didn’t seem big on chrissy decs here. We came to the end of the street and a restaurant filled with laughter – this is where we would eat. And eat we did, great home cooked meals and a great choc dessert. The restaurant had Mayan references everywhere. Pretty appropriate for the end of the world.




We woke the next morning to find the world had no ended – perhaps a new cycle was beginning. It was overcast but much milder than the day before. A run was in order. Not just any run but a run along the sea front and beyond. We crossed an old metal railway bridge and ran along the canal. I even saw a busy hummingbird – bonus! I’ve already mentioned the lack of Christmas decs. Well we found the entire town’s on one house. Awesome.

We ran straight to the main hotel and had breakfast – couldn’t resist another waffle. Back to the room to change, pack and load up the car. We drove along the coast to San Rafael with a few stops along the way. It was pretty windy but we braved a quick view of a beach with its rolling waves, and then the cheapest fruit market I’ve ever been to.



Next was Monterey Bay – we walked the old and the new wharfs. The harbour was full of boats, jellyfish and a few local characters. On the new wharf we checked out the famous salt water taffy and the restaurants and gifts shops. On to cannery row and a fabulous walk along the coast to watch the waves, seals, deer and surfers.






Time to head back and move on to San Rafael.

It was late when we got to the hotel and there was a storm moving in so we had dinner at the bar of the hotel. The bar tender was a cheerful chap – not! So back to the room.


Breakfast was a full buffet and free as Tammy was a loyalty member (gotta love those loyalty schemes) so we stocked up on food and managed to stash enough for lunch too. Today was a hiking day. We drove to the park information centre grabbed a map and headed for the trail. It was a bit of a drive so we didn’t set off until nearly midday. It had rained overnight but the storm had stayed away for the day so we stayed dry. It was a 9 mile out and back. It took us 2 hours to reach the end of the peninsula – we passed deer, elk, cormorants, pelicans, and gulls as well as amazing coast scenes. Tammy braved seat on a precarious cliff edge – nah, not me, way too high, steep and unstable.





We headed back and just got to the car before the rain set in. We sat in the car and ate of free lunch, courtesy of the hotel. By now it was 4:30 so we decided to drive to the lighthouse to catch the sunset. The road was longer and twistier than expected so we missed the sunset by about half an hour. But, we did see mo elk and a coyote along he way. We did walk down to see the lighthouse though.


Back to the hotel for a quick change and down to the nearby restaurant bar – called BJs – which kind of says it all!! A huge place with massive screens everywhere all showing sports. Not much atmosphere or a dance floor.


Another free breakfast and lunch compliments of the hotel.

We left on a full on stormy day which fortunately got better as we approached the city.


Luckily we could check in so we dumped the bags and headed off to the airport to drop off the rental car. All went smoothly and we were soon on the BART train back to the hotel. It was pretty blustery and still raining so a few hours in the room were very welcomed.

Next stop Alcatraz. Tammy had booked the night tour and we needed to be at Pier 33 by 5 ish to get the boat. It was a two mile walk, up and down the hills of the city, and raining cats and dogs. Rather soaked by the time we arrived but in good time to board the boat, which took us on a little tour of the bay before docking on the rock. All off to join a short walking tour and then into the building itself. Most interesting to hear the history of the place and get to stand in the cells. Bloody cold though so we were ready to get back on the boat.







We walked back, through the Stockton tunnel – which went straight through the steepest hill on that road, stopping for a cheap and cheerful Chinese and yoghurt for the morning. No free breakfasts here. Boo!

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