Our trip was amazing — full of sun and wine and ocean and cypress and redwood trees and good visits with friends and family. Not to say that we didn't have our moments of tired snappiness and meltdowns, but every so often, I found myself in such a state of happiness that my body tingled. Daniel traveled really well for a baby of his age, and the long spells in the car went better than expected. We got back Sunday night and walked out of the airport into 92-degree temps — I can't believe it's hotter here in Minnesota than it was the whole week there. (It's cooler today, though.) I have more than 300 pictures in iPhoto to sort through; I'm going to post one per day to recap the trip.
We visited a couple of wineries over the weekend (and UPS arrived this afternoon to deliver the bottles we bought and had shipped home). I can't say I became a wine expert, but the tastings were fun. (Maybe too fun!) We drove through Napa briefly on Tuesday and decided we like Sonoma better as far as wine country goes. It's smaller and less touristy overall. Kind of like Melbourne versus Sydney. Here we are in the vineyard of one small winery we visited.
One of Steve's friends got married in a Jewish ceremony at one of the vineyards in Sonoma. Both the wedding and the setting were beautiful. Unfortunately, we had to leave before dinner was served because Daniel needed to get to bed. He was still on Minnesota time, after all.
Monday: More wine country
We spent part of the day at the Jack London State Historic Park north of Sonoma, where we learned more about his life and hiked in (and in Daniel's case, on) the woods. He grew up in Oakland but spent quite a bit of time up here (and died and was buried here) — and no wonder. It's gorgeous mountain country. I bought a copy of his autobiography, John Barleycorn, an "alcoholic memoir," as a memento.
Tuesday: Danville and Pleasanton
Monday night we drove to Danville, just east of San Francisco, and spent the night with my Aunt Gloria and Uncle Bruce. My cousin Jim, whom I hadn't seen in 20-some years, and his family, whom I'd never met, came for dinner. It was great to reconnect with everyone. We also visited Steve's aunt and uncle in nearby Pleasanton before heading to Santa Cruz and Carmel.
Unknown to me, a young Tibetan monk was walking down toward the ocean when Steve snapped this picture. It's one of my favorites. It says California to me. We spent two nights in Carmel-by-the-Sea, revisiting some of the places we saw on our honeymoon. It was as charming as ever, although I was sad that the Dansk outlet store (where I bought a set of dessert bowls four years earlier) is no longer there. :(
Thursday: Big Sur
Breathtaking views of the ocean, tranquil redwood forests. This was a magical day.
Friday: San Simeon
I guess it was worth the $20 admission fee to see Hearst Castle at least once in my life. It was pretty spectacular. This is the much-photographed outdoor Neptune pool. It was very foggy that morning.
Saturday: Santa Monica and Venice Beach
We spent our last two nights in Santa Monica and didn't get in the car once. Walking down the Venice Beach boardwalk, I kept looking for the scenes I'd heard about that exemplify the spirit of Venice Beach ... hippy girls in bikinis on rollerskates or something. I wasn't feeling the vibe. It seemed very touristy and gimmicky to me. And then this man strolled by, and I had my Venice Beach moment.
Sunday: Santa Monica
On our last morning, I looked out the window of our motel and found that the quiet park across the street had been transformed into a busy farmer's market. We strolled over before leaving for the airport and had a delicious breakfast of crepes while we sat on the grass. It was Mother's Day, and I was amazed at how many strangers wished me a happy Mother's Day. It was a lovely way to end our trip.
Thanks for looking!