Tuesday, 22 October 2013

One picture, 20 words

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35 years ago yesterday I married my soul mate.  It wouldn’t be different if we had known then what we know now.


Thanks to Abi for this idea.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Simply a Moment–a welcome cup of coffee

Thursday’s is my grocery shopping day.  I usually have a coffee in my supermarket, Waitrose, before I start the shopping.  But I am a bit earlier today and the restaurant is busy, so I walk to my favourite cafe, Caffe Latte:



As I approach the counter full of delicious looking cakes, I remind my myself again that I really should not order one, remember that dress that is a bit too tight at the moment!  But I should come here for breakfast one day, maybe before I go to my volunteer job at Citizens Advice Bureau.  I order my latte and find a table near the front door.  The sun is shining outside and I can see sunlight dancing on a ladies silver hair sitting by the door.  The waitress brings my coffee across to me, but unfortunately spills coffee into the saucer, I hate that, don’t you?  No matter, the coffee is good, and as I am sipping it I am adding groceries to my list.  I always shop with a list and do try to plan my menus for the week, but today I am not so organised.  I can hear other people’s chatter.  There are two women sitting at the next table, but my hearing isn’t good enough nowadays to eavesdrop!  Someone else has ordered a coffee and I can hear the noise of the milk being frothed.  I love the turquoise and brown decor in this cafe.  It’s very fresh and modern.  There are some really nice pictures on the walls too, they look great against the rich turquoise back drop.  I finish my coffee and get up to leave and walk back to the supermarket, refreshed from a few minutes reverie with a welcome cup of coffee.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

California Dreaming - Up to Oregon and back

After Lake Tahoe, we had a couple of long days riding to get to Oregon.  One of the nicest B&B’s we stayed in was the Grateful Bed in Chico.  It is a Victorian villa that the present owners have restored.  The decor is very tasteful, bed is very comfortable, and the breakfast was scrumptious! We had a lovely time chatting to the other guests over a nightcap on the veranda and next morning at breakfast.

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From Chico we rode up Highway 5 to our next stop in Grants Pass, Oregon.  It poured with rain most of the way!  But we were rewarded with one of the best restaurants we found on our holiday, The Twisted Cork.  Here I am eating clams!

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The next day the weather wasn’t much better!  It carried on raining.  We stayed with my friend Nancy, who I met on my goals class on www.simplify101.com.  This photo is taken in her back garden, and the forest behind us belongs to them!  We had a walk through the trails that Nancy’s daughter had made.  It was magical!  We had a lovely evening with them chatting about the differences between UK and USA.

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We popped back out on the coast at Lincoln City.  The weather was still wet and windy, so the sea was rough.  It was awesome!  So bleak and wild.  We stopped at Yaquina Lighthouse for a walk and a look at the visitor centre.

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As we made our way down the Oregon coast, the weather improved bit by bit.  Still bleak and wild though. Quite awesome!

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We stayed at a couple of interesting B&B’s: The Old Tower House in Coos Bay, and Abigail’s Elegant Mansion in Eureka.  Both were decorated in a highly elaborate Victorian way.  We were intrigued at the attention to detail!  Abigail’s was like something out of a Disney film! 

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I loved that all the trees had lichen and moss growing on them, like these in the background.

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Just south of Eureka is the Avenue of the Giants, more than 30 miles of scenic roads through the ancient sequoia groves.  We went for a little walk along one of the trails.  The trees really are magnificent and it felt magical to be amongst them.

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Of course, we had to drive through the Chandelier Tree!  What an American Icon!

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The weather improved more and more as we approached San Francisco.  The roads were even more twisty and windy, and at times we were very high above the ocean.  Quite scary at times!

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I was intrigued by the tsunami warning signs all along the coast.  Not something we see in the UK!!  There are lighthouses all down the coast, so we stopped at Point Arena Lighthouse and took the tour, and walked the Earthquake trail at Point Reyes, which was the epicentre of the 1906 earthquake.

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We rode into San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge.  What a thrill!  It was a beautiful sunny day, no fog! 

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We met another of my friends from the goals class who lives in San Francisco.  We took pictures in front of the ‘Painted Ladies’ in Alamo Square.  Cynthia and her husband took us to a fabulous restaurant, The Water Bar, just by the Bay Bridge.  What a fabulous last evening of our holiday! The Bay Bridge has a wonderful light installation.

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Sadly, the next day was our last, and we had the morning free:

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We loved San Francisco!  Shame we didn’t have longer there really.  Cynthia cooked us a lovely lunch at her house and then drove us to the airport.

What a fabulous holiday!  A bit of a whistle stop tour, but we saw something everyday that wowed us!  It was lovely to meet my two ‘internet’ friends too.  Where next?  Watch this space!

Monday, 7 October 2013

California Dreaming Yosemite and Lake Tahoe

We rode across California’s central valley past Fresno to Yosemite National Park.  (We were lucky to be visiting Yosemite when we did, between fires and US government closedown!)  We were riding on long straight roads through dry arid countryside, then through large farms – some arable, some cattle and some grapes grown for raisins.  We thought we were in the movies!

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Then, right in the middle of nowhere, we came across a gas station and this shop!  We had a welcome stop and cup of coffee here.

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As we approached Yosemite the land got greener and hillier, and prettier!  We stayed in a beautiful B&B in the little town of Fish Camp just south of the entrance to Yosemite.  After dropping off our gear, we decided to go for a walk in the Mariposa grove of ancient sequoia trees.  These photos show the ‘Grizzly Giant’, supposed to be up to 2,400 years old, and the ‘Batchelor and his three Graces’.  The third photo shows the ‘Fallen Monarch’.  There is a photo taken in 1907 of cavalry soldiers on horseback all lined up on this fallen tree, showing that sequoia trees do not decompose quickly, due to the tannins in the wood.

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The next day we rode back into Yosemite Park, along windy twisty roads.  First stop was Glacier Point, with it’s wonderful, majestic views across to Half Dome and over the valley.  Photographs just cannot so this awesome sight justice.  It is just so enormous!  And being up so high, it is a tiny bit scary.  I am sure the word AWESOME was invented just for this magnificent view. 

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We also did one of the short hikes, up to Sentinel Dome.  We struggled a bit as we were nearly 8,000 feet up, and to be honest I found it a bit scary.  It was so high and such a majestic 360 degree view, it was rather overpowering.  But wonderful!  We ended our day with a drink on the terrace at the beautiful Ahwanhee Hotel in Yosemite Valley.  I can understand why everyone loves Yosemite National Park.

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The next day we rode along the northern edge of Yosemite, the Tioga Pass.  We did expect to see some evidence of the recent devastating fires, but there was very little evidence of the burning to seen.

We reached the end of the pass, and stopped for lunch at a gas station near Lee Vining and realised we’d stopped right by Mono Lake.  We were fascinated with the white salty outcrops.

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We arrived at our inn for the night in South Lake Tahoe in the late afternoon.  First stop was the swimming pool and hot tub!  A great relaxer after a long day in the saddle!  Then a walk by the lake to find a restaurant for dinner.

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The next day we rode up the west side of Lake Tahoe, stopping for a hike down to the lake at Emerald Bay.  Back in the 1920s a Mrs Knight had ‘Vikingsholm’, a wonderful holiday home built here.  She had it built in the Scandinavian style, and furnished it with replicas of precious Scandinavian antiques.  She had a little tea house built on this island, where she would entertain guests.  What a wonderful place for a holiday!

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We left Lake Tahoe and rode on further north to the northern Californian town of Chico, where we stayed the night.