As is the custom when on holiday, we got up at the crack of dawn this morning and leapt forth into the dawn rays. It is still an utter novelty to see sunshine. And flowers! Flowers everywhere, and even I, the notoriously always cold, can bear to bare arms (in short, controlled bursts). Are we quite sure it’s February here too? My skin may die of the surprise, and has probably had to dredge out the recipe book for vitamin D, it’s been so long.
The Bossman said he was going to drive me to the Golden Gate Bridge and to see The Redwoods, so I was quite the excited one, and I had brought my hiking boots and everything. I had even had the (rare) foresight to spend the week before this holiday breaking the damn things in – alas, the battle has been fairly even, and now my feet have stigmata so badly that it takes most of a packet of plasters just to be able to get my socks on of a morning. Of course, since the last time I had to break in new boots, I have somehow become allergic to plasters, which I didn’t find out until the stigmata got a rash all round it, which in turn became a whole bunch of new stigmata, so I now have around forty percent less skin below the ankles.
So I decided to take a chance and wear my not-broken-in ‘Womens’ Issue Military Combat Boots’ instead.
First stop: International House of Pancakes. The Bossman was astonished to learn I had never been near one of these establishments. In my turn, I was astonished to see that a gigantic confection of fried eggs wrapped in bacon wrapped in three sorts of cheddar counted as a ‘healthy’ start if accompanied by fruit. I had pancakes on the side instead, and coffee with half a cow’s worth of skooshy cream on top. I may need a new, larger wardrobe very soon. The Bossman, who is jaded from long experience with such places, had the fruit accompaniment – and the fruit was markedly unrelated to the fruit at home. It was soft and yielding to the touch of a spoon, for instance, and had colours on which weren’t brown. The Bossman informs me that all fruit is like that here. I may start eating it.
In a desperate attempt to stop me falling asleep and leaving him alone at the wheel last night, the Bossman had found a rock radio channel. This, too, was a gigantic novelty, since at home there is Clyde One or nothing, and the latter is often preferable. Of course, in the flat, I can listen to whatever I want, whenever I want – in theory – in practice, when I have tenants I can hardly open all the doors and let fly with the giant speakers, and also while I had tenants, the internet bandwidth seemed oddly limited to the first few bars of any given song. (I do not have an MP3 collection worth a damn, alas; everything was on cassette, back when copying your mates’ music was called ‘common sense because the nearest music store is a whole daytrip away and you make fifteen quid a week’).
So there we were, driving through California (I cannot get over this, I really didn’t ever expect to make it to this part of the world) with sunlight and eagles overhead like flying doors and the radio obliged by playing Guns’n’Roses for the drive to San Francisco and Van Halen for the drive through San Franciso, and as we went over the goddamn Golden Gate Bridge itself (it was spectacular!)… Whitesnake. Here I Go Again On My Own. Could anything have been better? Well, except stopping in the park on the other side of the bridge to take photos of everything. Dear god, it was not even eleven in the morning, and I felt the day could get no better.
We went a nice little drive to a nice little place called Mill Valley, for coffee and hiking supplies. It was terribly twee, which was good because I can only take so much of the Spectacular! before I become emotionally numbed to it. There were more eagles over the town square, and gigantic falcons hovering on swept-back wings, and glossy stray huskies like something out of the Littlest Hobo. (Note to self: things over here may well have rabies, no matter how picturesque they appear. Also, poison ivy.)
And then, it was off up into the hills for some rather spectacular scenery, swooping curves of the road and rocky hillsides and startled deer on the verge. I hung out the window like mad, taking bad photos of everything; the Bossman very thoughtfully stopped whenever there was an opportunity so I could take bad photos of things without the excuse of travelling at fifty miles an hour.
It was only a couple of miles’ walk round the Muir Woods redwood park – however, by this time it was afternoon, and absolutely everybody had decided it was a great idea to go there, so it was a couple of miles’ walk to the park as well. Six miles to someone like me, who ploughs at least four miles on foot every day – pish tosh, right? Well, except for the untested ‘Womens’ Issue Military Combat Boots’ part.
But they were okay – I just need to put plasters on all the other parts of my feet instead, tomorrow.
And the redwoods were pretty damn spectacular! Hmm, this is where I discover I am a rubbish writer, and cannot do justice to the Epic, being used to recording my humdrum bumbling through life. Perhaps I should come back and insert some photos or something. But since I almost certainly have to do Technical things to the photos first, I probably won’t. Hmm. So, picture yourself in a cool, deep glade, all dark greens with the occasional flash of brilliant emerald where a slash of sunlight filters down through the trees. Which you have to crane so far back to see the canopies of, that you are in danger of falling over backwards. The redwood trunks around you are a deep, soft russet colour and as wide around as the average American car, and on the slopes around you are lesser trees, with ferns and moss growing merrily on every bough. There. I promise not to quit the day-job.
Anyway, having marvelled at Nature and returned with my feet mostly intact, we bombed down through the chicanes to the coast, where I had planned to Swim in the Pacific(!) Sadly, it looked a bit cold and the sun was setting fast, so we merely paddled in the Pacific. Bah, I had been wearing that bikini all day, too. (Under my clothes).
What good fortune, didn’t it turn out that on our first proper day in the USA, it is Superbowl Sunday? ‘We should totally get to a bar and take in the Superbowl,’ we said to each other, ‘though we haven’t even a scoobie who is playing or indeed what the rules are’. (This is one of the things I appreciate about the Bossman; he does not follow team sports, being more of an MMA fan. This isn’t a value judgement – it would be a dull world if everyone had the same interests I do, especially for me, because I am permanently at the tail-end of queues – and I would appreciate him just as much if he was an ardent supporter of A Ball-bearing Sport, but it is very handy for me that he isn’t, so I don’t have to swear any particular allegiance myself. Or learn statistics about it, get into fights over it, or anything.)
In the end, it turns out we had missed the Superbowl, which is a bit of a shame because it would have been a totally ‘local colour’ thing to take in (she says, coming over all World-traveller-esque; my apologies). On the other hand, we attracted no scorn for not having a clue what it’s all about – well, not until I put this on the internet, anyway. Apparently someone won: jolly good. For our part, we caught the sunset over the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, then turned for home, Hotel California playing mournfully as we swept through the gloaming; how apt. We went cruising at random for dinner (the novelty! Imagine, not knowing where you’re going till you get there) and found a steakhouse. I was feeling pretty damn impressed by my sirloin and sweet potato chips and king prawns – ooh surf’n’turf, the rarest of treats cos it’s usually the priciest thing on the menu – until the Bossman decided to have dessert and they brought out this thing like unto a gigantic sugary whelk, the size of both my fists. However, he did introduce me to Samuel Adams beer, so he is forgiven. And we never fell out all day, hurrah!
And it was Sunday, so it was okay for us to go to bed early this time! Hurrah!