Well, it's been very busy since I last wrote. I've had a full 10 days with my best friend in San Francisco, Alex has returned, I've driven 1500 miles in total, including stretches on the iconic Route 66 yesterday and Alex and I have arrived at the Grand Canyon!
So, first things first: I split my drive from LA to San Francisco into two sections so I didn't have to do the 7 hour journey in one go, all alone. It actually turned out to be quite nice to stop over in a little town called Pismo Beach where I indulged in yummy local seafood chowder and caught up on some seriously trashy American TV (UK TV execs: why do we not have “Say Yes To The Dress” in our scheduling?!). Although the drive was very easy, I do have a bone to pick with the American road planners though…who on earth thought it'd be a good idea to have the slip road coming onto the freeway immediately before the slip road to come off?! It means cross streams of traffic going at 70mph! Seriously puzzling, not to mention dangerous.
The following day, I headed to San Francisco International Airport to pick Wozzle up: after nearly 9 months apart, she came out to see me for a 10 day trip which was awesome! She'd booked possibly the nicest Airbnb apartment in a lovely residential area of 'Frisco and I think we both decided, upon entering, that we'd like to live there forever! We had acres of space, our own bedrooms, a huge kitchen and deck and the decor throughout was quirky and delightful!
Woz and I managed to squeeze in a LOT of sight seeing during our time together, including a trip to see the murals of “The Mission”, which is the Latin area of the city, an open top bus tour around the city (my favourite past time in most cities I visit these days!), a lovely dinner with old family friends of Wozzle's over the Golden Gate Bridge in Tiburon and an evening trip to Alcatraz!
The trip to Alcatraz was really interesting and, if you ever wend your way to San Francisco, it should definitely be on your to do list. The audio tour was informative, engaging and exciting. I especially loved the fact it was narrated by one of the prison guards and had interviews with other guards and four actual inmates! We got to walk the corridors that the inmates would have walked as they were admitted to the facility, as well as stepping into one of the cells and even into one of the solitary confinement cells! It was easy to see why the prisoners felt so isolated and why Alcatraz was such a deterrent for bad behaviour. The wind really whips around that little rocky outcrop and, even though the city shoreline is clearly visible, as we were repeatedly informed, the currents are so strong that anyone making a bid for freedom would be swept out into the ocean…and the waiting jaws of great white sharks! I wouldn't fancy my chances!
Half way through Wozzle's trip, Alex came back from the boat, so we had a few days as a little trio. We went out to Napa Valley together on a winery tour and, as you know from previous posts, Alex and I LOVE wineries! I am pretty sure Wozzle was well and truly converted to the winery way too! Alex and I spent far too much money on bottles of wine to take with us and enjoy over the next few months…and even a bottle of dessert wine that blew us away: we are saving that for dinner parties in our new home (location yet to be confirmed).
We also met up with Izzy and Aislynn of Thailand fame, which was lovely! They invited us over to their house in Oakland for dinner so the three of us drove over there and saw the girls' neighbourhood, met their dad and had a really lovely evening. It was great to mix very long term friends with very new friends and everyone got on incredibly well! A lovely little bunch!
Since Woz sadly left to head back to the UK, Alex and I have driven back down to LA and stayed another night with the ever hospitable Jan and Arabella (Alex got to meet Ella and all the animals so was in 7th heaven playing handball in the garden and then petting the dogs all evening!) and then made the very long drive up to the Grand Canyon! (We even drove part of the way on the historic a Route 66 which was quite exciting….sure, it looks like every other highway….but still!)
Alex has booked an incredible hotel here at the canyon….we can see the rim from our window…it takes 20 paces from the front door to the precipice edge of the canyon! Imagine that! On arriving, Alex and I hopped out of the car and headed straight for the edge (rather than the check in) and just stood there saying “wow” repeatedly. I highly recommend arriving just as the sun sets: it really is a gorgeous welcome to the area!
Today, we drove the length of one of the tourist routes and stopped off at nearly every view point. It's hard to explain what the Grand Canyon is like, even pictures don't give the same atmosphere or gravitas. You'll just have to visit it yourself to see what I mean! As well as being very awed by such a grand natural spectacle, I have also been battling a lot of anxiety today! If you know me, you'll know I am very afraid of heights and edges. My other half, however, isn't! He will happily toe the very edge of a cliff, usually in order to get a good photo! We've been working on an anxiety scale today where I give him a number of how nervous the edge/his or my proximity to it is making me….I've got up to a 10 on a few occasions! I was surprised that in the USA, the nation of the lawsuit, there are no safety barriers!
Tomorrow, I may be standing up to my fear of heights once more by going in a helicopter over the canyon. I am equal parts excited and terrified. Actually, that's not true: I'm definitely more excited!