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Cable Cars and Bridges in the Bay Area

Los Altos, San Francisco, Pleasanton

sunny 22 °C
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When heading from the coast in Half-Moon-Bay towards Los Altos, we passed a nice forest and a very scenic lake. We only realized a bit later that the scenic lake was in fact the San Andreas fault – another reminder that we’re on dangerous grounds – specifically as scientists are warning that the next big earthquake is long overdue for the bay area.
Our first impression of the bay area was extremely positive. We had expected 5pm traffic towards the southern suburbs to be more than just bad, but realized that traffic was flowing nicely for most parts. So we ended up being too early at Hamish and Elis’ place in Los Altos. While we had pre-warned Hamish a couple of months ago that we’d be coming to the bay area, due to lack of reception around Big Sur, we were only able to firm up our plans that morning. So we were lucky that Hamish and Elis were spontaneous enough to receive us on such short notice.
While we enjoyed a nice BBQ and catching up, Max and Venicious enjoyed playing with each other and specifically riding Venicious’ bikes.

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They continued playing the full morning and Max did not want to leave his new friend at all. Still, we had plans, as we wanted to see San Francisco. We soon realized that we should rather give up on our original plan to park somewhere downtown and headed towards the waterfront at Fisherman’s Wharf.

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After some unexpected excellent food at a street booth, we went for the classic cable car ride We were lucky to be offered half-price day passes from other tourists (which eventually we sold for the same money at the end of our second cable car ride). Max and I sat, while Sam took the classical transportation method standing outside. We all enjoyed the cable car rides and it is simply amazing to see how steep the hills in San Francisco really are.

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After getting off at the final station at Powell / Market, we explored Union Square and Chinatown before taking another cable car back to our car. It was fun!

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Then it was time to approach the next San Francisco classic: The Golden Gate Bridge. Edging our way along the waterfront towards the bridge, already gave some nice opportunities not only of the bridge, but also of famous Alcatraz.

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But we had taken the conscious decision that did not just want to see the bridge, but we also wanted to drive over it. And we’re so happy that we took that decision: to see the bridge up close has just a different feel to it vs. just looking at it.
And best of all: on the north side of the bridge we had the evening light being just perfect and we really enjoyed taking in various viewpoints. To complete the vista, we got to see a couple of container ships and even some whales on both sides of the bridge.

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Considering evening traffic, we rather opted for going north and heading out towards Oakland via the Richmond bridge – which also had the nice side benefit that we did not have to pay any bridge tolls – to reach our next campground in Pleasanton.

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We spent the next morning in the attempt of getting Sam’s glasses fixed. He had realized that his frame had a crack on one of the two sides – the one that had not been changed a couple of months back in Germany. So we tried to locate a Silhouette retailer and at the second attempt even found one. We soon realized that they were only selling frames, but not able to fix the glasses on site. At least they were able to refer us to another store where we were promised that the new frame could be mounted within a couple of minutes.
Perfect! We went there and the guy was in fact very quick in getting Sam’s old glasses taken apart and the new fame mounted. Except that when mounting the first lens, the lens cracked… He had not realized that Sam’s lenses were high index material, which is significantly more brittle than poly-carbonate. Not good…
At least he had lenses on stock for Sam’s prescription and was able to basically make new lenses and fix them into the new frame – and all of that for 15$. Sam is happy with the result and even though this kept us busy until the early afternoon, we are glad to having done the replacement. After all, a journey like that without the proper kind of glasses would be a big miss. And after all: Yosemite was waiting for us!

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 16:48 Archived in USA Tagged car bridge golden san francisco cable bay glasses gate wharf altos Comments (0)

What a pleasant rendezvous

Picton, Cable Bay

sunny 25 °C
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It was late afternoon when we arrived in Picton. As the weather was simply perfect, we directly headed to one of the beautiful viewpoints above town in the Victoria Domain. The blue waters of the Marlborough Sounds were directly below us – sparkling in the sun. It was a simply great view. The view got even better once the Bluebridge ferry entered the scenes. The white contrasted nicely with the blue waters.

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Even better though was the knowledge that our Swiss friends were on the ferry, ready to meet us at the Picton Top 10 Holiday Park. And soon enough, we were all there, embracing each other and telling the stories of what we’ve done and seen in the six weeks when we last met in Busselton. And Emia and Max headed off to the playground and trampoline like long lost friends.
There was so much to catch up about and we could have talked without stopping for ages. But eventually it got late and we got hungry. While Guido and Lucia pitched their tent, Sam and I prepared dinner for us all. Over dinner and beyond, our talks continued. After all, we had recommendations on what to do and see on the South Island. And in return we had lots of questions about the destinations in Asia that our Swiss friends had been to already and where we still wanted to go to. Not surprisingly, it was pretty late by the time we all got into bed…

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The next day, there were rather other topics taking over. As all of us had left home in April of last year and were planning to be back in summer, we have much in common that we were able to talk about: learnings on the road, things we want to do when back home, thoughts about how the return to ‘normal’ life will be after so much traveling, next plans. Being so long on the road, we certainly started realizing how important relationships and friends are. And being so far away from most, it has an enormous value to meet some of them again.
It was a beautiful day again and at some point in the afternoon, everyone was ready for some activity. We hiked up the Tirohanga Track to a view point along the ridge behind our campground. The weather was picture perfect and the blue color of the sounds perfectly contrasted the green forested hills. The viewpoint was certainly worth the effort of the climb and we sat there for quite a while to enjoy.

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On our way down, we met a 82-year-old Austrian (he’s actually from Hartberg in Styria) with dog Henry. As Emia and Max had reached him first, they got chatting already by the time we got there. Both got lots of compliments on how well they speak English despite the fact that they did not learn it in school.

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Back at the campground, the kids raced around before we had dinner – once again all of us together. Not only the food was excellent, we also had a really nice wine from the region to go with it. And once the kids were gone playing, we had the time to continue our discussions. After all, we have so much in common: just like us our friends have been traveling since April 2016 and will be back at home sometime that summer. Check out weckerlos.ch to see what they’ve been up to in their travels.
The next morning it was already time to say good bye again. Given our plans from there on, the earliest chance to meet our friends again, would probably be back in Germany or Switzerland. All the best in the meantime, Guido, Lucia and Emia!
Eventually we headed to Karaka Point - a small peninsula reaching out into the sounds. The way the peninsula is formed, it was easily defendable in former times and consequently served the Maori as a fort – a so called pa site. We were able to still see remains of the fortifications. But it was also a nice place to see the ferries pass by through the sound. I guess we have been spoiled by the sunshine and lack of wind in the last days: it being overcast and windy today, made such a difference. The view was nice, but not spectacular.
That also helped our decision making. We had two more days to spend until we wanted to be in Nelson. We had considered multiple variants of what to do for these two days, including venturing out into the sounds to French Pass. Given the weather, we decided that it was definitively not worth it to do such a long and windy drive. Alternatively, we went to Cable Bay. The road was windy as well, but we would have needed to take it anyhow on our way to Nelson.
It was a good decision to only go to Cable Bay. Already after the two hours of windy roads to get there, we were happy to leave the car. None of us would have been keen on prolonging that distance any further. And Cable Bay was indeed a very nice spot to stay. A bit reminiscent of Cable Beach in Australia, we once again ended up at a place where the first overseas telegraph cable connected the country to the outside world. The beach was nice, it was wild and basically the beach end of a large boulder bank. While it was beautiful indeed, it does not live up to the standard Cable Beach in Australia has set.
The campground was small and cozy, the beach just maybe two hundred meters away and that’s also where a nice hike starts. As the weather was not too pleasant, we enjoyed the pleasures of being able to spend some time in the comfy kitchen area. Max immediately realized that rain meant playing lego and too all of his parts onto the kitchen table to play extensively.

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The next morning, Sam wanted to get some exercise and took off to hike the Cable Bay Walk. The 8km were excellent interval training with steep ascents followed by equally steep descents – offering sweeping views of the coastline, the Cable Bay lagoon and eventually also towards Nelson.

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Eventually Max and I headed off as well. The sun was out and at we wanted to hike up a tiny bit to get a view of the beach from above. Eventually we hiked up all the way up through the grazing flocks of sheep. The hilltop was hidden from our view and substantially higher than originally anticipated. Still, we made it - but I really had to convince Max hard that we would for sure see Sam once we'd be up there.

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And in fact, I was lucky: from our lookout we were able to spot Sam just emerging from the forest on the other hill. We hiked towards him and surprised him with our presence. We made our descent back to the campground together where we enjoyed a nice late lunch.
As we sat in the camp kitchen, we realized that there were more Austrians in the campground than all Austrians we had met on our journey so far. While that sounds like a lot, they were seven in total, not counting Sam.
As much as we liked the campground at Cable Bay, we had good reasons to drive to Nelson the next morning. After all, we had another rendezvous arranged already for quite a while that we definitively did not want to miss.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 18:17 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beach sheep friends cable hike sunny ferry sound swiss trampoline Comments (0)

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