Mike and I spent the first 3 days of our trip touring around the city. We rode the Cable Cars, took a boat trip out to The Rock, and basically just took in the sights and character of the city.
This shot of Alcatraz was taken from the Recreation yard out back - if you were a good little prisoner, this is about as far from the building as you were likely to get...
If you were a bad little prisoner, you only got to see this view - usually right before you got thrown into 'the hole'.
If you do go to San Francisco, be sure to have an Irish Coffee at The Buena Vista Cafe - legend says that the North American version of these drinks was 'invented' here in 1952! :)
When we'd had our fill of the city, we headed north to the Sonoma Valley. What with all the wine tasting, we seem to have forgotten to take any photos...
The original plan had been to end our trip with a few days in Yosemite Park - but then we realised that our visit was going to coincide with the Memorial Day weekend, which meant that cheap accommodation in the park was long-since sold out... So we headed south instead, and wound up in Carmel and Monterey.
|Carmel Mission, founded in 1771 and restored in the early 20th century|
Real estate in Carmel is crazy expensive, a fact that is reflected by the very posh shops and galleries lining the main street. But then we saw this beach:
I think $8 million is pretty reasonable for a 4-bedroom house overlooking this beach, don't you? ;)
Since the draw of Carmel and Monterey (for me, at least) was really all about the ocean, we decided to take a whale watching tour on one of our days there. Summer is Humpback Whale season, and our trip did not disappoint us!
First you see the water spout...
...then his back...
...and then his tail, as he dives deep underwater! :)
(We actually saw two whales swimming along side by side, but without a proper zoom lens I couldn't get a good shot of the two whales together)
There are also several species of dolphins in Monterey Bay, who love to come and steal your attention. In these photos you can see a group of (apparently rare) Northern Rightwhale Dolphins riding in the bow wave of our boat.
Look closely - these guys don't have any dorsal fins!
And of course, no ocean-based boat trip is complete without seeing harbour seals and sea lions
While we didn't make it up to Yosemite, we did manage to take in some of the California redwood forests. North of Santa Cruz (which is between Carmel and San Francisco) is the Big Basin Redwoods State Park. You drive along this highway
(which is only slightly wider than one car, even though its a 2-way road!), and then in the centre of the park you can take a little nature walk and view the 'Mother and Father of the Forest', two of the tallest trees in the park.
This is the Father of the Forest, 2000 years old, and just shy of 240 feet tall. Just think - this tree was alive when the Augustus was taking over the Roman Empire! (sorry its crooked - that was the only way to get it all in the shot!).
In the midst of all the sightseeing, I even managed to drag Mike into a few yarn shops. Keep an eye out for pics of the yummy yarn I picked up. For now, I need to get to bed so I can recover from all our vacationing! :)