Sunday, July 3, 2011

Road Trip - the final leg

After a lovely drive from Yosemite, we were delighted to arrive at our San Francisco hostel in the middle of beautiful, leafy Fort Mason a little before nightfall. The hostel is one of many stucco and red-tiled low-slung buildings surrounded by beautiful gardens and perched on the Bay just a block from Ghirardelli Square. We had dinner at some tourist trap nearby and collapsed after a full day that started with hiking, included a lot of walking around exploring, and ended with the drive from Yosemite to the City by the Bay.

The next morning we said our good-byes to cousin Jackson. Mark drove him to his hotel and Dylan and I headed to the Square, which we enjoyed immensely until the skies opened up and dumped the entire Pacific Ocean on our heads. We don't get this kind of rain on Vashon - this was all-out assault. We waited it out in a series of doorways and finally made it back to the room drenched anyway.

Mark and I wanted to show Dylan a litt
le of San Francisco before heading north into wine country for a couple of low-key days, but we had an errand to run first. Mark's laptop cord had bit the dust and we needed another. So, our first destination was the Apple store in the center of downtown SF. Here, it turns out, was my first real chance to kill another human being!

And I came pretty close. Not really the highlight of the trip, but with the high stakes of honking traffic all around us, a giant Apple store that my GPS insisted was right in front of me but I simply could not locate with my eyes, and the nano-second opportunity to leap out of the passenger seat at a red light - I lept. I lept without doing what I always, always, always do - check my mirror for cyclists. Always except this one time, and - Voila!

I shoved my door open at the light and BAM! She must have been going 20 miles an hour when she slammed straight into it. She fell to the sidewalk and I practically fell out of the car onto my hands and knees to beg forgiveness, just a puddle of relief that she was OK enough to leap up onto the curb and start yelling me the riot act.

I just kept nodding and apologizing until the decibel levels came down out of the range where only dogs can hear it properly and eventually, as Mark and Dylan slinked the car slowly out of the intersection, it was just her and me (and a small gathered crowd) and the understanding that I was a class A jerk but with some hint of possibility of joining the human race, so with a final nod and apology, I shakily made my way to the front door of the Apple store that had somehow appeared in my sightline and she climbed back on her bike to triumphant applause from our audience and peddled off.

Hopefully we will never meet again under any circumstance. I suppose I could have performed a more humiliating act in an even more public venue, but how, exactly, escapes me.

My family got the hint immediately upon my ret
urn to the car that this was not an incident open for either humor or advice.

And, I did my best to enjoy the scenes of the great San Fran until we tore ourselves away and headed to Sonoma County.

Ah, Sonoma - if ever the
re was a place to help you forget you'd almost broken somebody's neck, it's Sonoma County, California. We'd reserved a room in tiny Guernsville, a real jewel that's sort of on the edge of the actual wine country, a short drive from the action, but less expensive and heavily forested. I explored a little of the area while Dylan rested in the suite and Mark stopped off at a local doc to have something checked out. We spent the next day leisurely meandering through the countryside, with a spectacle of a lunch at the over the top Coppola Winery.


I'm not norma
lly a Disneyesque type of gal, but I could not help being impressed with just about every aspect of this place. The grounds are Hard Rock Cafe meets Mondavi, complete with bruisers who greet you at the door and the desk from The Godfather next to Francis's trophy case filled with gleaming Oscars.

All in all, it was a great way to round out our trip. We headed out the next day to drive along Highway 1 - something I've wanted to do all my life - lunching in lovely Mendocino, a town very proud of its water towers, driving through Redwoods National Park, and finally crawling into Crescent City.

One more long day of highway miles and we were home sweet home - what a fabulous tour of The American West!