Let's go to San Francisco ...
The headline is the title of an old song with the English group Flower Pot Men from 1967 and several other songs mentioning San Francisco were recorded that year. Scott McKenzie sang "San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)", and also Eric Burdon of The Animals released a song about San Francisco called "San Franciscan Nights". Now we were heading towards San Francisco for the first time.
From Napa to San Francisco is only 47 miles, so of course we had to take a deotur and visit at least one of Napa Valley's many wineries. We drove north along California Route 29 and enjoyed the view of the incredible number of vineyards in the valley. We were armed with our trusty Rand McNally map, and a list of various wineries. Especially one of them sounded interesting, namely Rutherford Hill, so when we came to the town of Rutherford, we turned right and drove towards the hills to the winery. When we got inside, we ordered a tasting of course, but before we we could complete it, we joined a tour of the premises.
We were shown the cave, where the full barrels were stored, the presses, where the grapes were pressed ad the large tanks, where the wine ferments. When we were shown the press, a middleaged lady of German descent stated, that she thought the wine was pressed by being stamped on by a bunch of barefeet people. Even when the guide told her, that the grapes were pressed mechanically, and no kind of bare feet was involved, she kept on and on about how unsanitary it was to stamp the grapes like that, and that was why she never drank wine. The rest of the company didn't quite understand, why she had decided to visit a winery in the first place - unless of course it was just to get a chance to complain. At Rutherford Hill they were specializing in the Merlot grape, which represents about 70% of their production. What exactly we tasted, I don't remember in detail but I don't remember that we bought two bottles of Cabernet Franc. I have previously mentioned that I love wine from this grape, which in Europe is almost solely used to mix with other grapes.
Dorte would like to have visited several more wineries, but we as we were driving and had to get to San Francisco, we continued north! It was in the wrong direction of course, but that was just a minor detail, as we wanted to see a bit more of the valley, before turning west. When we reached Calistoga, we headed across the mountains to Santa Rosa. Here we planned to take U.S. 101 south toward San Francisco. The road through the mountains was narrow, very narrow and winding, and though the mountains were not the highest in the world, it was quite an experience, not least because we also have to enjoy the beautiful countryside with vineyards, orange and olive groves hillsides with grass, forest and so on but eventually we came to Santa Rosa. And here had one of our first surprises on the Surprise Trip. In town were signposts for a "Woodstock festival". That made me think of the music festival in 1969, held in Bethel in upstate New York. As it turned out the festival of Santa Rosa had nothing to do with Woodstock 1969. But it was a festival for Woodstock, the bird, or rather the cartoon bird from Peanuts comic strip! If anyone is interested in learning more about Woodstock I recommed you to read the Peanut strips from the early 70'es when Woodstock was sent to Snoopy by the Head Beagle as a secretary. Woodstock becomes Snoopy's best friend, although he always flies upside down. We never discovered what the festival was all about - and we didn't find time to visit the Charles M. Schultz Museum either. Tim and I did that 4 years later though, as you can read about in the article, Big Trees, Birds and Peanuts on the Father and Son travel page.
When we finally reached U.S. 101 we turned
south and soon we saw signs for San Francisco and Petaluma. The latter
initated a text message to our son back in Denmark, even if it was rather late
back home. "We are going to Petaluma, and we don't even have a globe!". The only
reply we got, was "Petaluma?"
which confused Dorte a bit, but she is not a Peanut aficionado like Tim and me.
If she had been, she would have understood. In a series of strips from around
1970 Snoopy is going to Petaluma to participate in the Armwrestling World
Championships, and he doesn't know how to get there. In stead of giving him a
map, Charlie Brown equips him with a globe. In these strips, every time
Charlie, Linus, Lucy or other of the characters mentions the name Petaluma,
Snoopys just wonders "Petaluma?".
At Hyde Street
we waited in line for around 30 minutes to board a Hyde & Powell cable car. The tram runs through the
city's hilly streets from the terminus at Fisherman's Wharf to Market Street in
downtown. We stayed on board to the Market Street Terminus. The trip
to Market Street takes approximately 45 minutes, and as it was getting late, we
just walked around in the area for a short while, before we took the cable car back again. By coincidence, it was one of the
other routes (Powell and Mason), that also ran to Fisherman's Wharf, but ended up at the other end
of the area. So we walked along the waterfront, and looked at the many restaurants
and amusements that were here. We decided that it was time for dinner, so we
found a restaurant that looked interesting. It was called Pompei's Grotto and was
of course Italian. As we both like fish and other seafood, the menu suited us
fine. For starters we had Bruchettas, garlic bread with tomato and
in my case also with crabmeat. As a main course Dorte chose crabcakes, while
I ate the Fish of the day, which was great although I could not determine the
species, and I didn't ask. For the first time on the trip, we had wine with the
meal. After dinner we
strolled slowly back toward the hotel while we enjoyed the lights and life on
The rest of the walk back to the hotel was mostly uphill, and that made it take twice as long to get home as going out, but it would be even worse the next day.
A captivating experience
When you have only a single day in a big city, especially one
you have not previously
visited, it can often be difficult to choose what to see. We therefore decided to do
things the easy way, namely by taking a guided bus tour, and both in San
Francisco and later in Los Angeles we booked the tour from home via the internet. The tour we had booked in
San Francisco was a combined trip that consisted of a visit to Alcatraz, and a
"De Luxe City Tour".
When it arrived, the driver was still Greg, who also took us to the harbor, and it turned out that he was also the guide. Nothing was really anything wrong about that concept except that Dorte was a little nervous when she discovered that he spoke in an ordinary microphone, which he held in one hand while he steered the bus around the corners the bus with the other. Nothing happened though so he had probably done it before. Greg started to tell us about the tour we were on. We were first going to the Golden Gate Bridge, where there would be a short pause, and thence we would continue to the Pacific coast. Again there would be a short stop, and and there would also be two stops in Golden Gate Park and at one place in town. Overall, the trip would take approx. 3 ½ hours and it came to be a rather precise prediction. During the three and a half hours, Greg's mouth didn't stop for a moment, so we got mounts of information about the city, so many that I had forgotten most, when I came back to the hotel and had time to write them down. The first stop was at the Golden Gate Bridge, which was still covered in fog, so there wasn't much to see this time either. In stead Dorte and I walk a bit out on the bridge back again, and we looked at a piece of the cable that carry the bridge. Under the Bridge is also a fort from the Civil War time, and we had just taken a picture of that when it also vanished in the fog.
From the bridge we drove through San
Francisco's Presidio. Here we made no stop but continued to the
Pacific coast where we enjoyed the view over the Pacific, before we drove to
Golden Gate Park, where we stopped at the Japanese tea Garden. Here the bus
mase a rather lengthy stop to allow us time to visit the garden, which we did. The
garden is very beautiful, if you like Japanese gardens with trees cut in different
streams, stepping stones and so on. We spent about 30 minutes in the park before
we returned to the bus and continued the trip. Our last and final stop in Golden
Gate Park was at the Conservatory of Flowers, where there was a five minute stop
to take pictures.
The captivating or incarcerating experience was something completely different, and
much more everyday. When we travel to the United States, we do not so bring too many clothes,
because at many hotels and motels are washing machines, so we tend to
wash a few times along the way. We had now been away for a week, so it was about
time to do some laundry.
Unfortunately, the hotel that we stayed at, didn't have a washing machine for
guests, but a little further down Van Ness Avenue there was a launderette, recommended
the reception, so there we went. We put our clothes in two machines, and set them in
motion, and then we sat down to wait at a table. While waiting Dorte wrote a few postcards that
we would send home to friends and family. Just when we sat down, after
having started our machines, a young girl entered the place, and it was her who
gave us the captivating experience. I would guess that she was just in her early
twenties, and she apparently was not used to do laundry. She certainly had great
difficulty in sorting her clothes. First she occupied 5 double sized washing
machines, and then she took each piece of clothing up and studied the care label
before she decided which machine the piece of clothing would go into. Among other
things she had at least 30 pairs of string panties, and each was studied in this
manner. From time to time she took something out again and placed in another machine. Some clothes, she could not place
immediately, so it
was put on the edge of her cloth-basket until there was a neat stack. Then she called
someone on her cell phone, apparently to get instructions because after
each call, she moved some clothes from the edge of the basket to a machine.
Dorte and I agreed that it was probably clothes without labels. We
were convinced that either she called home to her mother for help, or else she
was doing laundry for herself as well as some girlfriends - the many thong
panties might indicate the
latter - and she was afraid to wash their clothes wrong.A ll this took some
time and we had plenty of time to observe the procedure, because when our
clothes were finished, and had had two rounds in the dryer (about an hour and a
had only just finished sorting her clothes and was about to put her machines to work. We
actually wanted to come back later just to watch her get her clothes together
again, but didn't though.