Monday, September 18, 2006

Highlights from the California trip

The first views from SFO. "South San Francisco The Industrial City." Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. The Cheeseboard and its well-worth-it line around the block. In SF: Ferry Building. Cable Car to Lombard Avenue. Chowder at Boudin's. The outdoor Ghirardelli chocolate fair. The arduous but satisfying hike up the Greenwich Steps to Telegraph Hill. Coit Tower and its murals. City Lights Bookstore. The Transamerica Building. The countless clothing exchange shops on Haight Street. Delicious tacos at an award-winning taqueria in the Mission District. The Golden Gate. The fog. Marin County Civic Center. The open freeways. Bistro Don Giovanni in the Napa Valley. Stopping in for a peek at and a drink in Yountville. The Mondavi tour. Opus One and its funky contemporary building: home of the $25 single tasting. The Rutherford Grill. The Silverado Trail. Stunning view after stunning view. The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. The Monterey Bay Aquarium. Sipping wines while overlooking the bay. Excellent tilapia from the Sea Harvest, a local seafood house in Monterey recommended by someone behind the wine counter. Sunset over Highway 1 south of Carmel. Stopping at every other turnoff to take it all in. The thick fog, again, that descended on the twisty-turny one-lane road after dark. The slightly worn around the edges but still welcoming glorified motor lodge that is Cambria Pines Resort, complete with an obviously unused par 3 golf course. Hearst Castle and the amazing collection of fine art and decorative art arrayed inside; imagining what it would've been like to be there as a guest in the '30s. Once again, the views. Dinner at a basic but decent Italian place in Cambria. The coarse, pebbly sand of Moonstone Cove, down the hill from my motel. Sixty-ish degrees and foggy again, walking out for the complimentary breakfast, before heading back onto the coastal highway. Watching the sun come out miraculously as I came up and over into the Santa Ynez Valley for more wine tasting. Quick lunch in the faux Danish village of Solvang. Some great sips, talk of Sideways. On to the Santa Barbara Mission, one of the most famous along the Historic El Camino Real, marked off at regular intervals by the poles with the hanging bells along the freeway. Rolling into L.A. County. Winding along Mulholland Drive for the outlooks and the expensive homes and the pricey cars in front and behind. The Hollywood Bowl from above. The Hollywood sign in the distance. Staying steps from Hollywood Boulevard. The next day, reveling in the glory of Los Angeles' own acropolis, the Getty Center atop one of the Santa Monica peaks, between Brentwood and Belair. Spending most of the day there, not wanting to leave. In-and-Out Burger. A fair to good sushi place in the Hollywood and Highland complex. The Walk of Fame. The handprints. The Chinese Theater. The cheesy tourist souvenir shops, like Times Square, but slightly seedier. Strange how the N.Y. crossroads feels more Disneyfied than the one just over the hill from Burbank itself. The L.A. County Museum of Art, free after five. The beach at Santa Monica and the chilly but swimmable Pacific. Fish tacos and wheat beer on the bike path. A random cruise through Beverly Hills. A final stop at the beautiful Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on a typical sun-drenched SoCal Sunday before heading to LAX to fly home.

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