October 4th, 2007

plane feet

Yosemite Sa(nd)m

After Seattle we spent almost a solid week working at IDF, finishing with an interview with Logitech; the weekend started well with brunch with rowanf and galileopan and hanging out for a while, but I came down with a cold and took to bed for a couple of days. When I emerged we wanted sunshine and daylight so we took off for Yosemite, driving through the central valley and stopping in Mariposa overnight and then in through the oldest rocks in the park. There's a budget motel for sale along this road - and I'm a tiny bit tempted ;-)

All the roads were open so we got to see a lot more of the park than the last time; we went up to the tunnel view first, then up round all the top roads to glacier point. At one point we stopped with a fantastic view of mountains that aren’t your classic Yosemite peaks, stretching across the sky and away into the distance.  Glacier point makes you feel you can reach across and touch Half Dome, but when you look down to the Yosemite Valley it looks a hundred miles away (rather than just 8,000 feet!). Chipmunks skittering across the path, the fattest ground squirrel I have ever seen waddling along, blue jays, deer – and a huge herd of tourists; we didn't see any bears, just bear-proof boxes.

We saw climbers on the face and on the top of Half Dome and when we went down into the valley, those tiny dots on the face of El Capitan? Those were climbers too. The Tualamine Valley road was open; we didn't go up quite as far as the Tioga Pass but we stopped at Olmsted Point (not a place to put a house) for a glorious view of the backside of Half Dome, then caught the last of the afternoon over a lake and on to the Tualamine Meadows for sunset light on the peaks, and then back to Olmstead to watch the moon rise.

The journey home was made more ‘interesting’ by having the GPS set to shortest route rather than quickest; this took us off a road with long but level hairpin bends in favour of the Old Priests Grade road with tight hairpin bends on 45 degree slopes. It would be a beautiful route in the daylight but the brake pads were smoking at the bottom of the road!
plane feet

Driving the fox

Wednesday morning was all to-do lists – finding the UPS store, setting up a UPS box with a street address, looking for a bank, collecting an Archos charge cable – I felt like a spy arranging  handover in the parking lot closest to Bucks, I’m the blonde with a full head of braids in a Pontiac G6 looking for the blonde in the BMW – and meeting Nick and his brother for lunch in San Francisco, which started as clam chowder and somehow ended up back at Mistral, the fantastic rotisserie at the back of the Ferry Building, eating Neiman Ranch pork rib and cassoulet and yams and roasted tomato and polenta and lamb and watching the ferries and the planes.

When we saw the Virgin plane go overhead we headed off to SFO to pick up tanais and take him to church... owing to the arcane queuing system we went into the Apple store, then out to a shoe shop then back to the Apple store and then across to Citizen Cupcake for wonderful coffee and ginger spice sandwich cookies and rocky road cupcakes – more topping than cake. Wandered up to Union Square to find a post box and saw the Westin-sponsored Zen garden, then drove Tanais over to Dan’s place, did the hokey coky on waiting and leaving messages and heading off to eat and doubling back and finding they were in and all ending up at a delicious Thai restaurant on Haight – the deep fried pumpkin and mango shrimp and red duck curry were standouts.

Next day we drove tanais down highway one to Nepenthe, on a sunny day overlaid with fog that cleared in tendrils over Cafe Kevah to let us see a condor as well as the blue jays then back to San Francisco for the ever fascinating Strategic News Service dinner where we closed out the dining room talking to Tye from Microsoft. The Mark Hopkins hotel has a very impressive mural of gold leaf and paintings illustrating the founding of California, with Calipha proffering a huge gold nugget and turkeys welcoming settlers from around the world in native costumes; you know it’s a good conversation when you don’t look up.

Next day again we picked up tanais with coffee in hand and headed over Golden Gate to the wineries; first to Ravenswood and then Imagery. Very different styles – Ravenswood looks small and down home and friendly and is maybe five times the size of sleek, high-end Imagery, and the wines run a different gamut too. We did another tasting of sorts over dinner and decided we like the Fog Dog merlot to go with the prime rib, sausages and rotisserie lamb with jalapeno corn bread. Yum! A lovely sunny day doing fun things that we’ve been wanting to do with tanais for ages.
plane feet

Three state hop

We needed to get from the bay area to Las Vegas – but via North Carolina. We wanted to get some time with my sister in Cincinnati. And luckily that turns out to be the perfect place to break the journey. We fitted in dinner with my sisters friends, a morning in the antique mart, afternoon in the half price book store and early dinner at the Chinese with her oldest friend Aaron, plus some good hanging out and talking time. Raleigh Durham is just a short hop in a Canadair Regional Jet, where I was sitting next to the tallest US navy officer I've seen – I’d parked in his window seat when the stewardess said the flight was closing, he said he didn’t mind and truth be told I don't think he’d have fit under the curve of the roof at the window!

Two days of meetings and interviews in Cary and two days in Las Vegas, to which we flew on the corporate jet, which is an utter treat and a delightful way to travel, with comfy seats, minimal security, no hassle, a fantastic view of the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam – we need one ;-) But somewhere between the chocolate martinis at the poolside reception and the nice steak dinner and watching the lake show at the Wynne – the Muse head with part faces and images projected onto it – I picked up a touch of food poisoning that had me in bed all yesterday. Which was our wedding anniversary. Bleah...

It was nowhere near as bad a bout as the first time I came to Vegas and I was able to finally get up for dinner – the shrimp and ginger mayo at Sensi at the Bellagio was as spicy as I fancied and I went for a nice, plain, easy to digest, all the hard work of shelling done for me steamed lobster with spinach and no alcohol at all. I made almost the whole day of sessions here – from how Harrah’s tracks players from when they check into the blackjack table to the product failures that Procter and Gamble found in modelling rather than in the supermarket and why Pringles would be easier to make sideways. Tonight we’re off to one of our favourite places anywhere – Shibuya – and then tomorrow we have time to wander las Vegas, then we fly back to San Francisco for our very last conference this trip. Of course when we get home we’re off to Jersey and Malta so the road still beckons...

So - any bay area folk who aren't off celebrating the mysteries this weekend want to met up? I quite fancy wineries again Saturday - there's an exhibition at Turnbull that sounds interesting - and Sunday there's the pear festival at Santana Row...