August 16th, 2011



harrock and I took last week off to go to California and visit family and friends. Normally we only go out for an Event (weddings!) and Christmas (or maybe "Christmas"), so it was interestingly different (and maybe a little more relaxing) to go with no real obligations. My sister works part time, so that provided some minor structure to when was family time and when was Bay-area-friends time, but that was about all that was pre-ordained. It did involve a lot of driving - nearly a thousand miles on the rental car! - and we listened to most of the Guns of August audiobook, which involved a lot of me being surprised by history. ("France and Germany are already about to go to war? Isn't there supposed to be an Archduke getting killed?" "There will be, just wait." "Oooh, they just mentioned Zimmerman! Was that cable the Zimmerman telegram? I remember that was... something." "No, dear, the Zimmerman telegram is later.") I am, sadly, doomed to repeat history - hopefully I will not be Germany.

We got in Friday, and Saturday was the family Apple Cider Pressing, which was one of the things setting the date of the trip. Dave's parents (who Dave & Jess live across the street from) have a Gravenstein orchard, and have a yearly cider press which is partly work but mostly mellow party. I took a lot of pictures, including:

Sunday was the first of the long round trips - down to visit tallou and jofish22 and new family. We were early and they were late getting back from the farmer's market, so we spent a while sitting in their front garden petting the cat and watching the butterflies. After a little while, the front door swung open, but there was no one there, so we were a bit spooked - was it haunted? Did the cat want to go in and have telekinesis? Should we go in? We finally decided to shut it again and pretend it hadn't happened, and then the next time the door opened, there were people. Jofish made the Best Sandwiches Ever, and Jerry got to practice his baby-calming skills. After that, we trundled to merastra and izmirian's, for the Bento Making Party, also with ricedog, treiza, algorithmancy, and chicatorque. (Pictures here. I made the pirate and ninja!). merastra is very good at both organizing plans, and at pushing conversations along, both of which I appreciate greatly. On the other hand, ricedog and I both go into introvert mode and kind of wave at each other and smile, with no inspiration for something clever to say, leaving me somewhat embarassed to think of myself as a poorly entertaining visitor. :)

Monday... what did we do Monday? There was the trip to the new breakfast place in Sebastopol that we found on Saturday and triumphantly dragged the family to, in the morning. Isabelle went to cartoon class at the Charles Schulz museum, and then there was a lot of grocery shopping. I think that was it.
Tuesday was the trip to the Jelly Belly Factory - perhaps a little overly technical for the kids, and underly technical for me (I really wanted to get closer to the machines to see how they worked, not be trapped up behind windows, but I understand that they can't have people running around on the factory floor), but jelly beans are generally fun. Wednesday, we went to the Sebastopol County Fair - I was very impressed by the quilts and less so by the knitting, and wonder if that would have been reversed had I known more about quilting and less about knitting. The garden show was also lovely, though it took us a while to understand the theme (Diamond Anniversary: all previous themes!)

Thursday was the first trip to San Francisco, which was more like "What Laura thinks is important in San Francisco", that being boats, restaurants, and yarn stores. We took the ferry over, and then ate lunch at the Slanted Door, which has been on my mental list ever since rifmeister mentioned it. It was all very tasty, including the giant shrimp, which I ate up crunch crunch crunch including heads and tails, at the advice of our waiter ("How adventurous are you guys?") - Jerry was very brave about his shrimp heads too. After that was Yarn Stores, which we reached by a variety of buses (I am very impressed by the non-lateness of San Francisco buses - though I may have my bar set excessively low due to my experience with the #1 bus in Boston)! I have been admiring Artfibers from afar for a long time. It's all their own yarn, spun and dyed, and they have sample cones of everything to test out swatches with. Also, they have a bathroom, which they got lots of points for for a place to spend time. I ended up getting a sweater's worth of yarn for a black sweater for mjperson and another sweater for Duncan, who likes sweaters nearly as much as Mike. Atelier wasn't nearly as impressive, but Jerry found a bag for his craft project, so I didn't have to feel guilty. Then ImagiKnit, which was larger again and had very many tempting things, and I finally succumbed and got another little sweater's worth of yarn for Aedlin (my newest niece).

Friday was more Visiting Friends - we zipped down to Google to have lunch with rifmeister, then back up to San Francisco for some wandering around Golden Gate Park. I couldn't quite bring myself to spend $30 each for a brief look in the Academy of Sciences, so we visited the Japanese Tea Garden (and had tea). The Conservatory of Flowers proved to have closed by the time we got to it (perhaps we should have skipped the tea!) but there were gardens around it, including some spectacular zinnias and a giant squid plant. On the way back to the car, we tried to stop by the Lily Pond, but it was also somewhat disappointing due to a lack of pond.
After that was Barbecue and Games at algorithmancy and treiza's, where I gave myself a blister playing Rock Band not very well, and lost Seven Wonders even less well. Then back to Sebastopol very late. :)

Saturday was dim sum (another merastra plan), which also involved Surprise (at least to me) Bonus Guest exponentialdk. After that was Hiking, though I think suggesting shade rather than wind was a mistake on my part, since merastra had sunscreen and I am a heat wuss. But that meant we got back in time for dinner with Jess & Dave & the kids. Sunday was a Last Breakfast at Hole in the Wall (biscuits to die for!) and then down to the airport, where it turned out the plane was going to be two and a half hours late. But mjperson rescued us from the airport anyway, despite it being Very Very Late.

I don't usually do the tirinian-style "What I Did Last Week", but vacations are worth narrating. :)
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