Wednesday, 7 May 2008



The flight was good, Virgin Atlantic are great, H fell asleep about 2 hours before landing and woke up with some cajoling required. Upon looking out the window as the plan banked for landing he wanted to know if the plane was going to crash into the water. We landed smoothly with only a bump or two after roughly ten hours of flight, H watching Bee Movie and Charlie and Lola 50 times. I watched Juno, and something else that was apparently quite forgettable.
After the joy of customs, M getting fingerprinted and eyeball scanned, or whatever they do to ensure he is who it says on his passport, though H and I could have been anyone standing there with our little blue American passports in hand. We collected our luggage, H’s car seat being last to track down around a dark corner on an inexplicable separate conveyor belt with no sign or reason we were off on the air-train to the rental car centre. It was chaos as National has now taken over Alamo and its not going terribly smoothly we eventually ended up with whatever SUV we wanted on row Z and H choose a black SUV Rav 4 or something (I’m not a car person I don’t pay attention to these things. It was black, had 4 wheels, and got us from A to B, C, D- Z.

Our hotel was just across the water from SFO and you could watch the planes taking off and landing on the runway, H and M were quite impressed, I was less so. I guess it’s a boy thing. H woke us at 3am and not long after we got dressed and hit the road north to Santa Rosa. The Plan? Well there wasn’t one really we got some bagels from Sonoma Valley Bagel Co. and coffee from Wolf Coffee (possibly one of the strongest coffees out there, I’m convinced the steam will strip wallpaper and the coffee will remove varnish.

We waited outside the Target store for ten minutes before it opened then did a bit of a blitz shop round for food stuffs, gifts, bits of clothing, said hello and chatted with a woman I worked with there many moons ago. We then hit Old Navy for more clothes and those jobs done decided to head out to Sonoma for a walk around the square, coffee in the gardens of the Sunflower Café. H played in the park and the centre of the square and then we went and tasted cheese at the Sonoma Cheese Factory. The cheese factory is great but they have added a café to the back of the shop and you can no longer see them making the cheese but you can still taste it. We also had poke around Baksheesh a fair trade goods shop that I used to frequent quite a lot.

The Sunflower Cafe in Sonoma
Sonoma Cheese Factory

Candy and Kites in Bodega Bay

We stopped by Mary’s Pizza Shack to sit out on the deck underneath the old Magnolia tree and have pizza, My Dad used to take me there when I was little, a few years older than H is now. After that we headed back to Santa Rosa and met up with Meg at our old haunt of Barns and Nobles. We had a good talk and walked around the mall and downtown Santa Rosa, which seemed much prettier and tidier than I can ever remember it being while I lived there. We had burritos at Taqueria El Favorito, the best burritos in Northern California and H was quite taken with the Mexican Music Juke Box and entranced by a couple of Mexican Children that were speaking Spanish, I think he though they might have been real live versions of Dora and Diego.

The next morning we headed out to the coast and Bodega Bay. On the way we stopped off at the town of Bodega where there church and schoolhouse are that were used in the film The Birds. We had lunch at Dee’s at Lucas Wharf, the best Fish and Chips, accompanied by some of the nicest tarter sauce ever. After that we went to Portuguese Beach, my favourite beach on the Sonoma Coast and M wandered around taking pictures while H played in the sand and I tried not to cry as I sat running my fingers through the sand breathing in the salty ocean air. No seaside beach in England can compare to standing on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, The last time M and I were at the beach it was storm season and you could only park at the top of the cliff to watch the waves crash over the rocks and cover the entire beach.

They call the coast Highway 1 Dramamine drive for all the twists and turns and the worst of it is driving north past Jenner, the road twists and turns and hairpins back and forth, but is still undeniably beautiful. We drove north to the Timber Cove Inn to stay the night, it’s a peculiarly California kind of place, its nice, and rickety, posh and neglected at the same time, Our room had a windows overlooking the Cove and a balcony to sit on. it’s a beautiful place a place that you have to go to say you have been. In the night a rather determined raccoon attempted to break into out room but other than that you could hear the crash of the waves on the rocks.

Portuguese Beach
view from our room at the Timber Cove InnFlying Goat Coffee in Santa Rosa's Railroad Square

The next day we headed back inland to Santa Rosa, via Coleman Valley Road to meet up with my friend Jaci, who I hadn’t seen since High School and only last summer got in contact via MySpace. We met in Santa Rosa’s Historic Railroad Square at Flying Goat Coffee had a good walk around and had a meal together down town with her family and mine, Did I mention her son is a year old and has the same name as H?

The next morning we headed out to Fairfield and the Jelly Belly Factory, H was in heaven, I think we could have left him there for days watching the machinery and smelling all the lovely fruity Jelly Belly smells. Later Meg and I went to see a movie, just like old times, and like old times we snuck in Jamba Juice Smoothies and sat and watched Smart People which was quite good but not the sci-fi fest I was hoping for. The last day in Northern California we drove out to Calistoga to see the Old Faithful Geyser and a walk around the cute town itself. The next morning we flew out to my parents in Idaho and cue two weeks of snow and miserable weather, except for the day we arrived and the day we left. We flew back to California for two more days one last day in Santa Rosa were we stayed at the Fountaingrove Inn and had a last visit with Meg and Jaci before driving down to San Francisco.

In San Francisco our Hotel was just off Union Square so we did a bit of shopping, you could see Bloomingdales and The Big Old Navy from our Hotel window. We did the touristy thing, rode the cable cards, wandered around Ghriadelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. That’s about it, I think we will go again one day, as we ran out of time to go to Petaluma, or to ride the Larkspur Ferry past the prisoners at San Quentin before docking at the famous Ferry Building in San Francisco. I never realized I missed things so much until this trip and visiting them all again.

Old Faithful Geyser at Calistoga

Fountaingrove Round Barn

clang clang

Ghirardelli Square

the golden gate bridge


Katy said...

wow wow wow wow wow wow!!! Sounds like a fab trip, wish I'd have been there too!

Meridian Ariel said...

lol thank you Katy! it was great.. perhaps I should be a tour guide and show people around my favourite places!

AnnieB said...

I second all those wows - every single one! Sounds like an incredible trip - I'd love to visit there some day. Hope it's not TOO tough being back in blighty.

Miaou said...

sounds like you had a lovely time - hope it wasn't too hard to come back to England! Glad you all enjoyed yourselves.

muralimanohar said...

Man...seems like EVERYONE is making it to San Francisco except me. :p I'm only halfway saved up for my trip (my mom, sister, nieces, grandma, aunt, and cousin, all live in that vicinity...and yet Hawaii is home, go figure :p ), and I am soooo jealous of all you guys who are going! lol

Peechy said...

fabbby pics!! looks like you had a great time.

Love the candy and kite store.

Whizzz said...

What fab photos - that first one of poppies is stunning!
I'n very jealous!! :-)

Frizbe said...

I must get on blogger more, you've posted loads since I last had chance to look! lovely post, does sound like you had a lovely time, even making it to the movies with Megan, hurrah :-) Shame the weather was so pants in Idaho too.....can't you persuade your folkes back to California? or persuade M maybe....hmmm the hoilday possibilities ;-)