Monday, April 14, 2008

At home with Farzin and Parisa and Hooch the dog


Here are the last of our California pictures, these were taken with our very good hosts Farzin and Parisa, whilst stopping over in San Jose.

We had a great time and much thanks to each of them for sharing their home and giving up their bed.

The weather was so kind to us - blue skies every day - which gave us the opportunity to have BBQs on the porch.

We eat out at some lovely places in and around San Jose. We hope to visit again soon.













Sunday, April 13, 2008

An assortment of pictures and comments from our trip around Southern California.




Santa Cruz is one of the best places to Surf - if you can of course - the place, particularly at the North End is famous as one of the first places to start the craze, though difficult to see in the pic there were lots of surfers in on the day of our visit, the South part is more seaside like with many fun rides - a bit like Southend - but with the sun.


This pic was taken At Santa Cruz - the Lighthouse was close by.








This pic was taken from the pier at Monteray - there were absolutely loads of sea lions in the bay area.





When we got to Carmel, which is famous for Clint Eastwood being the Mayor there, we checked out the beach which was fantastic, but a Little cold, then we headed for the mission but we were a little late as it had just closed, so this pic is from outside of the grounds.



We saw many seals and sea lions along the coast some in the sea and some on the beach like this one. Unfortunately there were also many dead ones on the beach we were assured that this was normal at this time of year as many of the pups could not survive and it was all a natural process.



Some of the best sea food is available along the coast - here Suri is checking out the local crab which was sold fresh from the end of the pier - it was top quality.









Morro Bay was an interesting place - though a little sleepy, it is famous for the rock and close by a power station which was incorrectly sited close to the rock. On the day we went it was lovely and sunny but very windy.




Here I am trying to escape from the local Jail - fortunately I got out.










Here we checked out one of the oldest houses in California where California was declared in dependant of Mexico - A lovely building with some interesting historical pieces.






Santa Monica on the pier Suri is checking out the police and I was checking out the location of Bay Watch - Great beach.







Another Mission -







We went up to Hearst Castle - not really a castle, but it was interesting to see what could be recreated if you had a limitless supply of money to buy up old furniture and to rebuild Rome in the middle of California on the top of the hill overlooking some beautiful scenery. Here is the outside swimming pool.




Here is the indoor swimming pool.





Whilst visiting Downtown Los Angeles we thought we might try our hand at the talent show ... but decided it wasn't for us and anyway we were too busy enjoying ourselves - it would be too much like going back to work.





Whilst at Santa Monica we thought we would participate in the Muscle Men n Women scene, but there was nobody around so we just messed about on the swings ..................















.............. n ropes n things.








We looked up a few people in Beverly Hills - here I am outside the house of Peter Falk - Columbo - trying to do an impression of him - not sure it was too good.





Surprisingly for me - one of the highlights of Los Angeles was the Universal Studio complex - I am not keen on Disney type things but this was pretty good, here I am fighting with Jaws.









Here Suri and I are setting off for a trip through Jurassic Park - where we got pretty wet - well done for Suri going on this ride - I am not sure she knew what was coming....



Suri and Shrek - what a lovable chap.







After leaving Los Angeles we headed inland and North through some beautiful scenery, on our way we went through miles and miles of Orange Groves - I have never seen so many oranges in my life - and so sweet and juicy, as you can guess we tried a few.




Here I am checking out one of the old logging trains - now used solely as a tourist attraction - it was just the start of the tourist season so we were virtually on our own - unfortunately the trains were not running.






You can gauge the size of these Sequoia trees, here we drove through them and it was pretty tight - and the snow was still hanging around.






Here I am in front of the largest ( by volume ) tree in the world - very impressive I can tell you.

Some are over 2000 years old and still growing - unfortunately lots were chopped down last century.









Suri walks through a fallen Sequoia tree - quite amazing.










The General Grant tree stands 81.1 m, and its diameter is the second-largest of all Giant Sequoias at 8.85 m - absolutely mind blowing.







One of many Waterfalls in the Kings Canyon.











Unfortunately not all is good in the forests of California - they have suffered from many fires recently and now most worrying is the effect of acid rain from the cities which are polluting the area - many will I fear not survive






If you click on this picture you should be able to see Suri and see just how tall these trees are.






















































Monday, April 07, 2008

A few pictures taken around San Francisco


Including:


A view from Pacific Heights - Suri running up the steps!!!










Looking down the long and windey road.










A trolley car on a very steep Hyde Street.











Suri, Parisa and myself at the end of Pier 39.








A view of the Sea Lions on Pier 39 as we return from our tour around the Bay.






Alcatraz - from the boat.












Parisa and Suri on the boat under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The California Tour



For the first few days we were based in San Jose staying with Farzin and Parisa, Suri wanted to do a bit of shopping - so that's what we did for the first couple of days - checking out Downtown San Jose, eating out and generally chilling out.



Then Parisa drove Suri and myself up into San Fransisco, where we checked out the Bay area - taking in a trip around the Bay .... going under the Golden Gate Bridge - which was big and impressive and then around the smaller than expected Alcatraz.



The boat was choca bloc and we were the last to board, so we felt a bit like sardines for most of the trip but it was certainly worth it.



Next to the ferry terminal, was Pier 39 - very busy and more touristy than I like, and the food we had there was on the poor side, except for the ice creams which were top rate. The best thing however was the view of the Sea Lions which was really a not to miss sight.



Then we went for a drive checking out Hyde Street where the trolley busses go up the very steep hill - Parisa's driving on this hill was very good, at the top we checked out the windey road, then on to Pacific Heights for a great view of the Bay, then on to the Golden Gate Bridge stopping off at Fort Point rather than going over it, by this time, although the weather had been good all day it was getting a bit breezy and we did not stay long. All in all a very good day.



Then on the Sunday I picked up my rental car ahead of the trip - it was a Silver Dodge Avenger - sort of middle of the range vehicle, with a modest 2.4l engine - Automatic of course, and it did the job, though not as bad as most other vehicles it was a little heavy on the gas, which is pretty expensive at 3.6$ a gallon - though still cheaper than in England but lots of complaints from the locals who voiced their opinion on the issue from time to time.



Monday we set off - probably the most difficult part of the whole tour - was getting out of San Jose - first of all going the wrong direction up the freeway, then turning back and trying to get onto route 17, which we eventually found, but a little on the hairy side.



The route we chose was:



Route 17 San Jose to Santa Cruz.

Route 1 all the way down the West coast to Santa Monica (Part of Los Angeles) , visiting on the way:



Seaside

Monteray

Carmel

Big Sur - not a place but a whole area of coast

San Simen

Morro Bay

San Luis Obispo

Guadalupe

Santa Barbara

Malibu


Then we checked out parts of Los Angeles.


Returning to San Jose we took route 5 to Bakersfield, then detoured off to the Sequoia National Forest, then stopping at Visilia, before going through the Sequoia National Park, stopping overnight at Fresno, before going through the Yosemeti National Forest, before our last overnight stop at Oakdale before heading back to San Jose.





More detail and pictures to follow..................

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