On March 24th, Mark, Lola and I picked up my cousin Griet and her husband at SFO, the airport of San Francisco. While visiting us many times on Irie, in the Caribbean and the South Pacific (they also helped us transit the Panama Canal in January 2013), it was the first time they came to the United States. Customs and Immigration procedures took a while, as expected, but once we found each other, their 10-day vacation could start…
The heavy rains paused for about an hour and a half, in which we brought them to a viewpoint over San Francisco and to Fort Funston, an awesome off-leash dog park. Lola had been very patient in the car during the two-hour drive in rain and traffic and the one hour wait at the airport. She loved her reward in nature, our guests enjoyed their first impressions of the city and Mark and I appreciated stretching our legs during a break in the rain.
On Saturday, we revisited Armstrong Redwoods, still as impressive as the first time we came with Lola.
I had saved photographing the coastline along CA1 (scenic Highway 1) until this moment, knowing we would do an extended drive by (and “stop by”) with our visitors. It was very windy and quite chilly, but the vistas and beach walks were beautiful.
Sunday was to become the worst day weather-wise. Yes, Griet and Wim lucked out during their stay! The five of us went back to Pinnacle Gulch for a drizzly walk to and along the beach.
When the workweek started again, I released Mark as chauffeur and enjoyed being tour guide for my family. Monday encapsulated a return visit to Point Reyes, with its lighthouse, elephant seals and spectacular coastline. This time, we walked out to Chimney Rock and stopped along the way for photos.
On Tuesday, Mark decided to join us and postpone work. We all piled up in the car and drove south again. First, we visited Muir Woods National Monument, another forest of giants and a place Mark and I visited separately many years ago.
In the afternoon, we explored the Marin Headlands. I can’t believe I had never been here before. The views of the city were outstanding. Unfortunately, the lighthouse on Point Bonita was closed. It has been on my list of “must sees” for a few months, so Mark and I will have to return on a weekend one day.
Wednesday was spent in San Francisco proper; just the Belgians. The cable car, Chinatown, the waterfront…. Ah to be a tourist. While Griet and Wim set off for Alcatraz (the National Park grounds are free, but the only way to get there is by an expensive, $37 p.p. ferry) I enjoyed some me-time walking along the water and soaking up the sun.
The following day, we remained in Sebastopol. After a “relaxing” morning, we showed Griet and Wim Florence Avenue with its interesting sculptures by local artist Patrick Amiot. It is called junk art, since his pieces are assembled from “junk”. His wife Brigitte Laurent is responsible for all the painting. Then, it was onward to The Barlow, a hip and upcoming area full of restaurants and bars, where Wim could compare the equipment and finished products of The Crooked Goat Brewery with his own. Mark still prefers Wim’s creations – real, hardy and quality Belgian beer. I am happier with the Belgian chocolate they brought!
Friday morning, Griet, Wim and I took Lola for her hour-long walk in the neighborhood. She (and we) needed some exercise before the long drive in the afternoon. On their last weekend here, our visitors treated us to a three-night getaway near Yosemite Park. But, that will be for the next post.
On the day of our guests’ departure, a Tuesday, all of us had a 5:30am start. Mark needed to fly to Seattle to do some Wirie testing for our business. We dropped the couple off near the Golden Gate Bridge for a walk, Mark was safely and timely deposited at SFO and Lola and I met up with my family back in the city. This last morning of sightseeing brought us to Lombard Street, dubbed “the crookedest street in the world” (because of its steepness, the road is extremely curvy), Alamo Square with the Painted Ladies and Balmy Alley, sporting lots of street art in the Mission District.
After dropping our generous and appreciative guests off at the airport for their long flight home, Lola and I spent the afternoon and evening back at Fort Funston, until we picked up Mark after 9pm. Another hour and a half drive finished the busy, but fun ten days.
This turned into a long post with loads of photos, but I hope you enjoyed visiting these special places with me. Have a wonderful second part of the week!