Jesika enjoyed running each morning while we were in Monterey as there was a great track along the coast line. So while she was running about 5miles each day Nathan and I would cook pancakes and enjoy a leisurely breakfast chatting with the other hostel folk. Met some realy cool people from all over the world. Must say though that we did have a group of 4 totally obnoxious, loud young American´s staying for the last two nights. They seemed oblivious to anyone else there. Made sleep difficult too

We drove to Carmel-by-the-Sea. It is a lovely ritsy type village. No fast food outlets of malls etc. Just quaint artsy type shops and very highly priced real estate! We bought a board game at Boatworks called Nautical Trivia, so hope that will go down well at home. We then drove north to Moss Landing to meet up with Scott Jones, who had interviewed Jesika about her yachting trip. You can find the interview on www.moosemeals.com then go to quick pick menu and scroll down till you find With Wind and Seas. Click on it and the you will find Jesika´s 2 part interviews there. You do need to have Real Player loaded to listen to it though.

Scott took us out in his 28ft yacht Kittiwake, Jesika and Nathan had lots of fun learning how to tack & jibe, I kept my head clear of the boom and took photos! We saw heaps of sea otters and also sea lions, which are a real pest in the marina. They are very loud and also have cause boats to sink by several of them jumping in at the same time. They monopolise the walkways and are dangerous. Needless to say the locals are not very endeared towards them!! Anway, the current was way too strong for us to get out of the harbour so after a couple of hours we sailed back to the jetty and went aboard their latge yacht to socialise. They then took us out to ´The Whole Enchalada´for dinner. We are really enjoying these Mexican restaurants. Lots of fun, good service, great food and nice people. Afterwards they kindly let us use their internet. It is quite expensive at the hostels. $1US for 10mins.



We packed up and went to visit Gail again. Spent several hours chatting, using her internet and phone. Then about 2pm I suggested we all go out for some lunch so we piled into her car and went to Carmel. Had a very entertaining lunch at Village Corner – a Fawlty Towers atmosphere!! We wandered about for a while, found the two Thomas Kinkaide galleries. Really beautiful paintings but way out of our price range.


Finally managed to leave Gail – very sadly I might say, as I felt I had found a great friend, it was 5:45pm so we hit peak traffic and it took us 3 hours to get to Montara. We decided to go on the interstate rather than the coast road as we were unsure of time and distances and it was getting late. Got to Montara at 9pm. Booked in for 4 nights. It was a delightful lighthouse hostel, very friendly, comfortable, reasonably quiet and nice folk there. It was also lovely to be beside the sea.


We wanted a fairly quiet day so just drove down to Pigeon Point to see the lighthouse there. Unlike Montara is in not working, it is in a very delapidated state and there is a lot of fund raising to resurrect it. We then drove up to Pescadero Beach and let Nathan loose on the beach. There was heaps of great driftwood which other folk had been building into interesting huts so Nate built one too. We then found the Half Moon Bay library and used their free internet. Went back to the hostel and sorted clothes. Did several loads of washing and repacked everything so we only took what we needed to Mexico. We met some rally nice people at this hostel including Nat & Heather and young couple from Berkeley SF who were dressed in a Gothic style. Nathan´s head sure swund the first time he sawy them, we had to suggest he didn´t stare! However, it didn´t take too long to become good friends and we spent lots of time chatting and Nate played cards and Jenga with them.


Went back to Half Moon Bay library, Nate was thrilled when they lent him a book he had been reading on an honesty system. He didn´t even need to check it out! We sure wouldn´t get that in NZ! We went to Bean Hollow beach and had a lot of fun playing and exploring on some rocks. They had the most fascinating erosion patterns, also had tidal pools full of crabs and large anenomes. We got back to the hostel before 3pm so they were still cleaning. We sat out on the cliff edge reading our books in the fresh air and sunshine. Most relaxing.

We then got changed and headed into SF. Drove down the famous Lombard st zig-zag street, tried to get to Coits Tower but there was a huge traffic jam so we did a U-turn and headed to the theatre. Watched the movie ´Little Miss Sunshine´. It was a good movie, lots of crazy fun, family difficulties and interactions, but way too much bad language for our liking. Had a HUMUNGOUS container of popcorn and then finished it off with Starbucks frappaccino´s on the way home for dinner – most healthy!! I am sure Tim is not going to be happy about us educating Nathan into the habit of eating out!! He has especially developed a liking for Starbucks frappaccinos


One thing I have learnt here is that American´s do not know how to serve or eat small portions of food. Everything comes in BIG! Even eggs are served in 3´s. In NZ we get them in 1´s or 2´s. Any more is considered totally unhealthy.





As usual I was awake early so read my book until the other two woke. Phil left for work at 7am. We did a pile of washing. Good to have clean clothes again. Took off to the LV Outlet Mall. Did a good lot of theraputic shopping!! Was exhausted following Jesika up and down the mall looking for Converse boots/shoes for Jesus (our Mexican lad). Finally ended up buying 4 pairs for him, Jes & Brianna. Would loved to have gotten some for the little girls but I didn´t have their shoe sizes

We did a whirlwind cruise of The Strip. Saw the Mirage, Pyramid at Luxmor, Venetian and Treasure Islands. Saw a spectacular musical water display at the Bellagio. Headed backt ot Phils for a shower and then out to dinner with him and 2 friends.Went to Viva Michoacan – a delightful family Mexican restaurant. I had whispered to the waiter behind Jesika´back that it was her birthday. He seemed to really like her – so Summer was teasing her about that all night! She was able to say some long long Mexican word so got a free Margarita. Then after our meal we were just sitting chatting when all the staff and the guitar player came around Jesika and serenaded her is Spanish. Then they tipped her head back and poured tequila and lime in her mouth and then shook her head – very typical I believe. They also gave ´Churros´with candles and ´Flam´which were both delicious deserts. Nate and I gave her a model blue sports car – in rememberance of her car in Hawaii.


When we got home Phil copied our photos onto a disk, it was after midnight when we finally crawled into bed.



Went to ihop for breakfast with Phil. Rather good too , despite being a fast food outlet!!

We then sadly said goodbye and headed out of LV around 9am. Stopped at Indian Springs for fuel – it was $3.40 a gallon!! Needless to say we only got $10 worth, enough to get us to Beatty where is was only $3.199 a gallon. Interesting country along the way, wide, seemingly barren with odd housing dotten around and brothels on every corner!! Really felt like we were in the wild west – names like ´The Shady Lady Ranch Brothel´etc!!We took hwy 26 – a bit of a back road and apparently barren desert with Joshua trees scattered abundantly. Jesika stopped to take photos of them and found on closer inspection that the desert is actually very full and busy with wild life and plants. We passed into CA over the Gilbert summit and Westgard Pass. It was totally spectacular – it must be amazing when the snow is down. Got to Bishop at 3pm, Jesik bought a Brownie ice cream sandwich and then poted the wrapper home to Seb to make him jealous!!

We got to Mono Lake just before 5pm and found out that we still had 4 more hours to go. Panic stations. Very fast look around and photos taken of a place I would really love to spend more time at.

We soaked in the views as we zipped through Yosemite´s Tuolmine Meadows. It was so beautiful and definitely places to return to. We came around a bend at Crane Creek and found the road blocked by cars. So we hopped out and watched a black bear grazing below the road. Got good video footage of it. Couldn´t believe the stupidity of some folk who were climbing down the bank to get closer looks!!´We hopped in our car to go just as the ranger drove up and was going ballistic at everyone for blocking the roads!! It was a very windy road, with lots of RV´s – most frustrating when you get stuck behind them. Finally made it to Oakhurst and found our tipi at the Sierra Woods B&B. Nate was glad to find a swimming pool. We were all glad to get to bed.



Woke early feeling quite cold. I was sleeping with Natehan so cuddled up to him and read my book for an hour or so then got up for breakfast. Met a lovely couple from Uk who were in the neighbouring tipi. Decided to go walk in the Mariposa pines but by the time we got htere it was midday and the place was so crowded. No parking anywhere. Did a lot of driving before we found somewhere to park at Wawona and caught the shuttle bus back to the pines. Jesika went for a run up to the Grizzly Pine and Nate and I joined a rangers talk. It was really interesting. We had to zip back to Oakhurst to get changed for a night out on the Supar Pine Steam Train. We had booked a moonlight trip for Jesika´s b´day treat. The provided a bbq dinner – excellent steak. A man collapsed right beside us so that caused a bit of concern. The ambulance came but by the time we left on the train he seemed to be walking again. It appeared to be heat and high blood pressure, but they were concerned he had a heart attack.

While we were eating the Sugar Pine singers entertained us, then we left on the train at 7pm. Great rip thru the sugarpine tree forest. We were held up by two masked horse bandits. I handed over my only Kiwi money – a 20c piece. Forgot to tell them that it was going to be worth a lot very soon as our money is all changing as I write!! We were entertained by the singers around a campfire for an hour and then taken back by train under the stars. A really great night. The 4 singers were marvellous and signed a cd for Nathan before we left.


Learnt from previous day not to be late, so up really early and headed up to Yosemite village at 6:30am.. A nice cool morning of 50´F. Spent the day walking. First one was to the top of Vernal Falls. Jesika and Nate got right to the top but I couldn´t quite get there. The steps were so steep and afterwards I realised that I was being affected by the altitude. We then walked to the Lower Yosemite Falls, watched a movie ¨Spirit of Yosemite¨then drove to the Bridleveil Falls. Had lunch in the trees there.After viewing El Capitan – the rock climbers mecca we drove to Glacier Point. The views were amazing. We then drove back to a carpark and walked up to the top of Sentinal Dome. It was so incredible up there. We had 360´views of the whole Yosemite valley.

We enjoyed a much earned soak in the jacuzzi on our return to the tipi and slept soundly.



We had a leisurely breakfast and packing. Left at 11am. Arrived in Gilroy around 3pm and spent the afternoon shopping. I finally found the Gap shop that had clothes I liked and that fitted me. I was getting p´retty fed up because all the shops either cater for skinny wee wenches or big fat mammas – I seem to be somewhat in the middle!! Left there at 8pm and found Monterey hostel by 9pm. A really nice hostel, interesting and friendly people. Jesika slept the first night in different room but was able to move down with us for the next 2.



I was woken ealry by the lady next to me coughing and sneezing. I sure sent up a few prayers of protection. Don´t need to be catching any bugs while away from home!! Spent the day at the Monterey Aquarium. It was so good. We had gone on their so called quieter day and had prebooked so got straight in. But there were still hoards of people. Would have hated to be there on a busy day. They had some great displays about sharks, tuna and jullies. The jellyfish display was brilliant. I think that was our favourite. Also watched some very informative movies and talks.

We left there around 4pm and went to find my internet friend Gail. She had been away for the weekend and on return late the night before had ended up ion the hospital with her daughter Stacey who had had a grande mal seizure – so she  was still recovering. But we had a great few hours with her. I came away feeling like we had been best friends forever. The local supermarket is called Nob´s Hill so we had to shop there for our dinner food. Had delicious roast chicken wraps and crashed into bed at 10pm.




Got up late, had a shower – extremely temperamental – the shower I mean, I had calmed down after a good sleep!! Nate and I went downstairs and explored. Managed to actually find the car and then had a good American breakfast at Starbucks. Found fresh sugared donuts to be very delicious Went shopping at the hotel gift shop and found Jesika a b’day present. A model of a bright blue sports car – in rememberance of the one she had hired in Hawaii.

Jim from Intermountainguides picked us up at 1:30pm and took us for a tour of the Bonneville Salt Flats. It was really great. Had lots of fun – great guide. We were the first Kiwis he had had out there – and he had seen the movie “The World’s Fastest Indian”, so he knew about Bert Munro and understood why Nathan wanted to be there. We went back to the hostel and spent a couple fo hours in the pool. Got some more Starbucks food and waited to be picked up for the horse trek we had booked through the same company. When PJ collected us she was concerned because there was lightening up in the hills – not good for horses! So after much debate we decided to do an ATV trek instead. Nate was not too happy, but he chose a cool full faced helmet and hopped on behind PJ. By the time we stopped for the first chat and look around he was a very happy boy. PJ was wonderful, she was really great at making a fuss of him and by the time we got back he was a happy little camper!! The scenery was spectacular in the mountains, we were looking over the salt flats at times. Found a baby horned toad, saw the sunset and on the way home in the dark had the most glorious lightening display in the hills above us. We then sat in the darkness on the bikes chatting with PJ, just enjoying the quiet, the crickets chirping, the lightening flashes etc. It was only 5 mins into Wendover and back to the bright lights and glitz – horrid stuff after such a wonderful display of God’s works. It was late so most food places were shut, we finally walked across the skybridge to Montego Bay Casino and had a really good breakfast at midnight!!!


Short night again. Up at 6am, checked out and with fresh donuts hit the road at 7am. Did a quick circuit of the old Wendover airbase. Were annoyed that we hadn’t known about it earlier as it was fascinating. WW2 training camp in the middle of nowhere so they did a lot of secret stuff there, including formulating the atomic bomb. The plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima flew from Wendover. There was a population of 20,000 back then and now only 6,000. Found a brand new Cabella’s outdoor store in Forest City so spent a long time there. It certainly is a fascinating shop and Nathan was broken hearted because we kept saying no to the things he wanted to buy! It really is a haven of temptation for outdoor enthusiasts. We did let him get a camoflagued jacket – he wisely chose a large one so he could wear it for a long time!!

As it was getting late when we were heading to Zion NP we decided to find a place to stay in Silverdale and then have the next day to hike in the park. Phoned cousin Phil in Las Vegas to tell him we would be a day late and then headed off to the Zion Canyon. You have to use their shuttle buses to keep the cars out of the park because the number of visitors has sky rocketed in the past few years.  It is a really great and very highly organised system. We walked to the the beginning to the Narrows but decided not to go any further as you had to wade through the river and it was getting too late to go another 8miles. We went back and walked up to see the Weeping Rock. Quite cool! Took bus back, met a cool UK family on the way up so we entertained each other . Pizza was the only choice for dinner as everything else shut at 9pm.


Up at 5am to shower and pack the car. We wanted to get an early start to beat the crowds and the heat. Shuttle dropped us off at the bottom of Angel’s landing at 7am. It was cool, drizzling and threatening thunder storms. Great temps for hiking in. Going up was quite a mission for me but I did it. We got to the top of Scouts Landing at 8:37!! Absolutely amazing scenery at 700′ above the valley floor. But I took one look at the trail up to Angel’s Landing and burst into tears – the heights were just too much for me. So Nate and I staying there and watched Jesika zip up to the very top in 10 mins!!! Angel’s Landing is 1500′ above the valley floor and I think appropriately named because only Angels should land there!!

We got back down to the bottom in just over 3hours – rather pleased with ourselves as the rangers time is 4hours. My knee was becoming very painful so I took the shuttle down to the Lodge and Nate and Jesika walked to the Emerald Pools. I walked in from the Lodge to meet them – rather demoralising to be hobbling along and watch Jesika running off into the distance. Nathan was really lovely though, He helped and encouraged me – ‘just walk sideways like this Mum, or ‘have a rest if you need Mum’!!


We then went back to the car and drove up the canyon through the mile long tunnel. The scenery is amazing. Finally left and headed south through Arizona briefly and into Nevada again. Got to Phil’s at 5pm. He took us out to dinner after we had showeered and refreshed ourselves. We went to a local casino and had a buffet meal. Then he drove us through The Strip. Nate and I were so tired we could barely stay awake.

Was very glad to get to bed.



Had an early but leisurely morning. Jesika and Nathan took Marble the dog for a run along the lake trail. They then had a lovely swim and play int he paddle boat. When Diana and Bill surfaced we had buttermilk pancakes for breakfast on the beach. Nathan decided to stay and swim, play with the boats, read and help pack CD’s for Bill. Jesika and I went to Alderwood Mall to shop. On the way to meet an internet friend of mine at L’Artisan French Bakery I zipped into Fred Meyers to find a survival in a bottle kit that Nathan wanted. I got in the4 main door with only minutes to spare and it was so overwhelmingly huge that I didn’t know what direction to head for.

So I asked this tall, handsome black guy who was working just inside the doors where the chilly bins were. Well, between him not understanding my accent and not having a clue what a chilly bin was – it took some time for us to connect! When I finally got graphic he said ‘Oh, you want a cooler’!!! So I found the coolers and the bottles which were enarby and we were off again. Met up with Suzanne from Pennywise.com. It was so cool to meet her in person. She took me to visit a nearby stamping store which was fun.

Then Jesika & Melody went shopping for dinner and travel food. Finally got home and Melody made Mexican while we packed our gear.



Had a very interesting and short night. Jesika woke me up saying ‘Mum, look out the window.’ I was not too impressed at being woken so was a bit grumpy and was asking what for! Then she said ‘Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter.’ and turned over and went back to sleep!! I realised in the morning that she was sleep talking.

Then her alarm clock went off at 4am! She was very popular – not! I woke at 5:45 and we said our goodbyes to Bill, Diana & Joyce and headed west along Route 2. We got to Leavenworth intime for a wander around and have breakfast. It is a lovely Barvarian styled mountain village. Found the most wonderful Danish pastries. They were to die for so we got some extras to take for lunch.

We drove obver the Blewett Pass and down to the I90. Stopped at the Wanapum Dam lookout and walked up to the Wild Horse monument. It was spectacular – views and the construction. Looked so real from a distance. We took some backroads to Flathead Lake and arrived at the Murphy’s place at 7pm Pacific time – had to add an hour as we were now in Mountain time! Also cut the fuel pretty close and Jesika got a few gallons in a can when she and Nathan went toplay soccer with the Murphy’s.

Nathan slept in his new REI bivvy bag out on the large trampoline with Conner and Josiah. Such a lovely evening. They saw the Big Dipper and the North Star.



Had a lazy late start to the day, when I finally went downstairs, Nathan was already up and away playuing with the boys. Ann cooked eggs for me then she and Josiah went out to stain the steps of their new deck.

Sheila arrived laiden with food for lunch. Then she Jesika and I went into Polson to do some banking and mail. So we enjoyed a lovely chat over iced coffees at the same time. So good to catch up with her aftetr 11 years. Nathan went out to friends for the evening with the Murphy children and Jesika and I stayed and showed Ann & Sheila photos and chatted.


Jesika had to get up early as she had a phone interview about her yacht trip. A very cruisy day. I spent all afternoon and evening loading our photos onto Ringo and Havilah showed me how to get this blog up and running. Photos will follow soon…..



Up early and left at 5:45am. Temp 47’F so much cooler for driving! There were fires burning around the area and Washington so there was a lot of smoke haze all around. When I went to pay for my groceries as we were leaving Polson I discovered my Visa card was missing. Panic, Panic! Worked it out that the only place it could be was at the bank in Polson so as it was Sunday we had to wait to phone them. We had a long drive to Wendover.  Saw lots of antelopes in the paddocks near Dillan. Lots of wide open plains and rolling hills.

Got to Wendover Nugget Casino hotel at 6:30pm. We were very hot and tired. The hotel was an absolute maze and most of the employees were Mexican so with the heat, weariness and language confusion I got rather irritable, esp when we had asked for an extra bed for Nathan and it never appeared – it then took 6 calls to room service to get extra bedding for him – he finally made a bed on the floor out of the 8 GI-normous pillows that were on our beds!!! We made wraps in our room for dinner and then Nate and I went swimming till 9:45pm and then joined Jesika watching a movie in bed.


continuing 31/7

we drove towards Bellevue so we could try calling Jephta – our German friend. On the way Jesika decided that a street looked familiar so pulled off the main highway, drove around in what felt like circles and finally said – ‘This is the place’. She had managed to navigate to Jephta’s girlfriend’s mother’s home after only visitng them once several weeks before. They were totally amazed as even their friends have problems getting there at times!

While we waited for Jephta & Jenny to arrive we chatted with Jenny’s mother – Sandy. She was so lovely. After we had visited for a while Sandy decided she would like to take us out for dinner. So we hopped into her car and she took us for a tiki-tour around Bellevue. One of the most exclusive areas in America, home of Bill Gates and many of the Microsoft folk. Then we went to the Bellevue Mall and enjoyed a lovely meal at Nordstrum’s Grill. We so enjoyed talking with Sandy that the time flew and before we knew it , it was 9pm and we zipped on up to Lake Stevens to be greeted by our friends Bill & Diana Waring. They live downstairs in her mother’s home and we slept upstairs.



Well, the beginning of a new month and a beautiful dawn to wake up to. Nate went for a morning swim before anyone else was up. The house is right on the lakeshore and has just the most lovely vista. I met Diana’s mother Joyce. Lovely lady of 78yrs and still running her own real estate firm! Bill & Diana had had a very busy time flying around the US to home schooling conventions so they were ready for a sleep in. When they finally rose Diana made scones and scrambled eggs and we ate it down on the lake shore amongst the new gardens that Jesika had built for them during the month before we arrived.

We drove to REI to do some serious shopping and also to meet Jephta. Had a lovely time with him and chatted over lunch in a nearby cafe. Nathan was in his element – bought a bivvy bag and a hachet!! I got Chaco sandals for Cat and me. Found down jackets for Tim and me too. Once again we had to say goodbye – it was hard, there was still so much to say….. we dropped Jephta off near his bus stop and tried to get out of Seattle before the rush traffice hit. Jesika and I shopped for dinner and left Nathan swimming and playing with the boats. Phoned Tim – I have been missing him so much so was good to talk, also chatted with a very exuberant Shoshannah!! She never is at a loss for words. Diana & Bill went to the airport to pick up Melody, their daughter flying home from a month in Belize, said hullo briefly around midnight and then hit the hay.





Well, once we actually manged to get Jesika out of bed we found a Fred Myers store and purchased a couple of sun caps – we were very in need of some protection! Then we drove westward to Seaside. A quaint seaside town. The hostel there was really homely, we had a private room, the staff were really friendly.

Went for a drive down to the town and found the remodel of the Lewis & Clark salt works. Most fascinating. Then Nathan went swimming – it was cool but he had fun with the hundreds of seabirds – including pelicans.

Jesika was really tired so she dozed in the car, soaking in the smell of the sea as she rested.  We then found an Outlet Mall. Nathan was in 7th heaven when he found the book shop. He ended up getting the complete volume of Chronicles of Narnia for $15 instead of $50. It has been a Godsend as he is lost without a book to read and he is loving these stories. Must’ve read them a dozen times by now!! We cooked dinner at the hostel and I watched Four Weddings and Funeral with another hosteler – Jesika & Nate retired early.



Got packed up early and headed up the road to Fort Clatsup where Lewis & Clark wintered over. It was great. They are rebuilding the fort and we watched a man giving a demo on how they hunted for food and how to use and fire a flintlock rifle. Then a lady retold the story of Sacagawea. It was very moving and almost brought us to tears.

After making sandwiches in the back of the car we headed north over the Astoria bridge. It is an amazing – one-of-a-kind bridge. Really long, spanning the Colombia River and taking us into Washington. We drove into the Mt St Helens vistors centre. But as we had a long way still to go we just enjoyed seeing things there rather than driving another hour on to the bottom of the mountain.


We headed north and finally arrived in Poulsbo at Becky Capell’s place. It was SO wonderful to be there and to finally see her again. We talked till late and then gladly went to bed.



We slept in, Becky made porrige especially for Nathan because she knew how much he was missing his Dad’s cooking. We went visitng, met some home schooling friends and then went for a wander around the town. It is a quaint Scandanavian town.

We watched an old b&w movie – Christmas in Conneticut and dropped into bed after midnight.



I woke early so read for a couple of hours. We all went to church – good servicve, praying for Saskia and her friend who were due to head off to Germany on a mission trip. Gemma and Jesika took the younger ones shopping. Nate enjoyed hanging out with Ted and Becky & I did a lot of talking.



Sadly we had to leave. It was so hard to say goodbye.

We drove down to Bainbridge Island and caught the ferry over to Seattle. Went to the airport to change the car because we were getting such sore backs. 1.5hours later we left in a 2006 Toyota Corrola…..


I am going to have to finsih for now as it is time for lights out here

Talk again soon.


August 11th 2006 – the very beginning!

Well, Gidday

I began this blog as a diary of my travels in the USA with 2 of my children.

BUT, my journey is half over and I have yet to begin.

It is a hot balmy morning here in Las Vegas and I couldn’t sleep so I decided to get up early and make the most of my cousin’s computer and the free internet access,

I left NZ on July 23rd with my 10yr old son Nathan and flew to San Francisco to meet my eldest daughter, Jesika. She had crewed a trrimaran from Tahiti to Hawaii and then had flown onto Seattle a month previously. We left one of NZ’s coldest, yuckiest winters and arrived in SF in the middle of a heatwave. But that didn’t deter the tourists!!
Jesika met us and we travelled by BART into the city. BART is the train system in SF. We carried our gear from the bus to the City Central Hostel, changed into cooler clothes and went out to explore the Fisherman’s Wharf area of the city. It was hot, crowded and dirty – but  wonderful at the same time. We were hit with differences and similarities all together.


The funny things we have to get used to are the light switches are backwards,  the toilets flush differently – and a lot of the public ones have sensors and flush automatically – always gives me a fright!! The strange ways you have to manuvour the taps and faucets to make showers work. The lack of ceiling lighting. The different language – english but not what we know!! I never thought I was the one with the accent – but I feel totally foreign here – it often takes some explaining to make people understand me. And my name – well, that is another hilarious word – most Americans just cannot get their head around it!!! When I introduce myself they seem to think I am saying Rai-win, so I have to re-say it, spell it out and then explain that it is usually only common to Kiwi’s.

Words are different – chilly bins are coolers, a boot is a trunk, – we are having fun taking note of the different words and also the different pronunciations – words are accented differently so when I was talking about the Subaru we rented no-one knew what I was talking about. Nissan was the same – we seem to accent the first sylablle whereas the words are pronounced evenly here. I guess more like the way Japanese would say it. The money is tricky, getting used to the sizes, the names – nickels  dimes quarters   – with my eyesight I can never figure out what is what is what so Nathan is always happy to help me out. The notes are also tricky because they are pretty much the same colour, unlike the Kiwi ones which are very colourful and easy to spot.


Anway, I digress. We our first dinner at a Mexican place then back to the hostel – had the dorm room to ourselves which was great.

24/7 – Slept in late and finally wantered back down to Fisherman’s  Wharf after 11am. Met a very interesting and chatty woman who originated fromthe Ukraine, she was off picking lackberries so we joined her. They grow wild and the berries were wonderful. Nathan has become good at climbing up banks to get the yummiest ones. Nate and I then did a tour on the US Pampanito – a WW2 submarine. It was very interesti – esp to a war history buff like my son!!  We found Museum Mechanica – a FREE entry!! – a museum of over 200 working coin operated machines. After that Jesika took us to Ghirardelli Square. A wonderful heaven of chocolate and icecreams!! They make frozen lattes and mochas to die for!


We walked up to the Civic Square area to find the library, it has free internet. On the way a charming gentleman helped with directions and stopped to chat a while. He was an ex Vietnam vet who had done well with his life since then and he explained to us about the street peole. We saw so many derelects living and sleeping on the streets. He said that most were drug and alcohol dependant. They certainly were a sad lot. Some had shopping trolleys that held their entire worldly possessions, Others were just lying in piles of rags and newspapers, he explained a new word to us ‘pan handlers’ – they are the ones who walk around begging money. There was a real dirtyness about SF, we were astonished to see litter everywhere and watched in amazment at people just dropping stuff as the walked and not bothering to find rubbish bins. There was also a smell of urine which permeated everywhere,  we actually witnessed  a  man walk up to a rubbish bin and urinate beside it, he was only a few meters away from the public toilets,  I guess he didn’t have a quarter!

It was getting late so we went for a quick walk down Chinatown. It is the largest one outside of China. Nathan wasin 7th heaven when he saw the swords and knives for sale. We finally got back to the hostel and cooked dinner. Had dorm mates.


Took a bus to the famous Haight/Ashbury area and wandere about till Bryan showed up. He took us  for a walk through Golden Gate park and then to a lovely roof top cafe for lunch . Bryan was waiting for a call from his father to say Shimoda ( the trimaran Jesika had crewed on) was coming into SF. We took a taxi down to the Golden Gate bridge and had a good look around, walked across the middle of the bridge and then Jesika finally spotted Shimoda coming into the bay thru the mist. We all went to different areas to photograph and video the momentous occassion! Then Bryan suggested we walk back to Fisherman’s Wharf – said it wasn’t far – well, it was and it just about did me in! It was so hot and my legs were so sore from all the alking on pavement. We finally got to Ghirardelli Square and collapsed into a char in the shade and enjoyed a thoroughy well earned iced latte!!

After Bryan  left to go have dinner with his folks we had a look at The Cannery. A really cool area of shops and eaterys. Waited for a street car for ages. Met a Brazilliam guy and got to talking, it was hilarious, Jesika’s Spanish, his Portugese and very bad English, and his Peruvian friend Victor with his Spanish and moderate English. It created a wonderful amount of colour and energy to our evening after a hot tiring day.


We were up early after a sleepless night – lots of street noise. Packed up and caught a taxi to Hertz depot. Were sposed to have a small Pontiac, but the Hertz guy was a real ‘blonde’ Chinese who just couldn’t seem to do his job, he dithered about and finally decided to upgrade us for no extra to a Subaru Outdoor Legacy. So nearly an hour later we finally were loaded up and out of there. Jesika was very happy to have wheels again and we were all very happy to be heading out of the city and heading off on our adventures.

We had a long drive ahead of us. When we got to Lake Shasta I was so enthused by the beauty of the place and wound down the window to take photos and nearly died from the heat. It was 105’F outside!!! So from then on Nathan kept a close eye on the temp guage and gave us running commentaries. We finally made it to Portland at 8pm but had a real mission finding our way to the hostel. Portland is a beautiful city but with nine bridges it is a real maze. We checked in then went to find a Red Robin and tucked into burgers before heading back to the hostel around 10pm. We were sleeping in the basement area so had a wonderful sleep in the dark and quiet and didn’t wake till 9:30am.

Well, I am going to go get dressed and pack up as we are heading off today. I will continue our adventures as soon as I can find another computer.