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Friday, July 16, 2010


Peter and Bronwen's house in Los Gatos

We had a delightful break of home living in California staying with our long-term friends Peter and Bronwen who have a very spacious house set in the woods of Los Gatos where all you hear are the sounds of squirrels and woodpeckers and the occasional uncanny rasping of the parrot next door like a fingernail on a window pane.

The garden entrance

We hung out most of the time enjoying the home environment, conversations, good home cooking, the ability to do a few things unhindered like a couple of loads of overdue washing punctuated by a couple of trips in rural Californina, a trip to Davis to retrieve a set of Machuguenga bows and arrows I had collected on my Amazon trip ten years ago, now in a rather disheveled unfeathered state needing extensive restoration, and an afternoon jaunt to Half-moon Bay on the coast south of San Francisco and then in a loop south to Santa Cruz.

Caught pensively in the flashlight when I was trying to set up for the next group shot

A view of the trees with a distant sliver of Mt. Hamilton

The interior: Kitchen and living spaces

Caught by Bronwen in the act of photo-blogging

I had my fist drive out after breaking my hip courtesy of Bronwen, to go to Davis to pick up the Machuguenga hunting kit. I made a successful two hour trip to Davis without incident, although I have to say that, given a 65 mph speed limit, and the fact that the traffic stream often speeds up to 75 mph in spaces, before a burst in density causes cars to begin flicking lanes, makes this kind of driving something you have to keep a riveting attention on, particularly when the traffic is spread over four or five lanes and you are heading toward rush hour and have to decide the route which will best avoid it.

Two scenes on the freeway to Davis

It's also a non-trivial exercise navigating one's way across state, because the freeways are built like the internet in a diffuse parallel network which makes it easy to miss a critical turning and find you are heading up through Oakland and Berkeley, rather over in the less urban, and hence less clogged, backdrop of Walnut Creek.

The dry California summer landscape with patches of green trees

On Friday we drove out together to Half-moon bay and had a meal of different fish dishes at a bay-side fishermen's brewery that brewed its own ale on site and served excellent fish and seafood dishes, except for the face that they forgot Bronwen's order and held on to her VISA card without telling her in case she added anything to the tab.

Near Stanford on the way to Half-moon Bay

These lakes from the trough of the northern San Andres fault line

Panorama of Half-moon Bay, with the coastal fog bank in the background (click to enlarge)

Surveying the menu at the fisherman's restaurant in Half-moon Bay

Heading south along the coast in the coastal fog bank

Lighthouse on the coast

The fog bank stretches prominently further south as we head to Santa Cruz ...

and here where kite surfers are sailing ...

The fog bank hugging the hilltops

entering Santa Cruz ...

We then rove south to Santa Cruz, the small coastal town, with UC Santa Cruz campus in the redwood filled hills behind, and a famous seaside fun park, that had a serious earthquake, along with San Francisco, just before we arrived in 1992.

Santa Cruz has reverted to being a chic tourist town with a share of drifters, which seems to have contributed to a rather hard-nosed attitude not to provide toilets, even in coffee bars serving huge drafts of strong diuretic coffee triggered my scorn and caused us all to have to race through looking desperately for a public toilet in bookstores and car parks, having quaffed down both a good head of beer and a large tanker of coffee.

The main precinct ...

The coffee house devoid of a toilet ...

Finally on Saturday morning we left on a chaotic American Airlines flight that had confused queues a mile long, delayed flights, inconsistent seat booking followed by one of those ridiculous x-ray and body searches everyone derides, climaxed by me having to have a centimetre by centimetre body scan because of my hip plate and crutches which kept picking up my shirt domes but when I tried to remove it to make things easier the guy tried to accuse me of reacting like a terrorist before giving up and letting mus through.

The the four hour flight didn't have any food and we had to half starve all the way to Chicago with a couple of coffees and orange juice. I'll blog Chicago next, but first we have to get to the airport for our connection to Ireland.

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