June 26, 2007 at 6:46 AMGreetings from San Francisco! Though I've lived in California since 2000, I had not taken the rite-of-passage trip that actually makes me a "Californian": that is, I'd never driven up the California coast on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). So the Niles family is taking a week for some important sight-seeing, rest and relaxation.
Yesterday we headed north from Pasadena (Los Angeles, basically), on the famous PCH. Somehow I expected a sleepy and sun-soaked drive along stretches of sandy beach forever, but I was completely mistaken. The Pacific coast is one long string of jagged cliffs, with only the occasional beach. This makes for stunning views of the ocean, but slightly difficult driving, even for a Coloradan who learned on a stick-shift in the Rocky Mountains. A narrow two lanes of traffic hugging the rocky cliffside, the PCH dips and winds, requiring total concentration to navigate.
I wanted to take pictures of these amazing views, but I have to confess to some mild acrophobia. When my children leapt from the car at a rest stop, ran up to the bare edge of the cliff, jumped up on a rock and said, "Take my picture!" I nearly fainted dead over. "G-g-get back a little, okay?" Even with the picture of me and Robert, you can see I'm leaning to the left, because to the right was a straight drop several hundred feet down a rocky cliff to the ocean.
Today we explored San Francisco. We arrived too late last night to see anything, but today I opened my window (at the Argonaut Hotel) to find a great view: the sunny San Francisco Bay, with the ship, the Balclutha, parked right in front of me.
Starting at Fisherman's Wharf, we took a cable car downtown. I'm pretty amazed by a system, built 134 years ago, that runs on cables, pulling these cars up and down impossibly steep hills.
Who on Earth thought of building this town? The sheer audacity of perching these buildings on these hills boggles my mind, not to mention all the engineering that had to go into every floor of every building.
My son (who turned seven on Saturday!) again went nuts with the camera. Among about 200 other things (pixels are free!), he took the picture of me in Union Square with a San Francisco heart.
Tomorrow's destination is Yosemite National Park, another great California wonder that I've never seen. I'll post pictures!
Well, living in a place where are Lifts/Elevators to join different parts of the town, to say nothing of conveyer belts in more recent times to take you up some streets, it seems that people everywhere liked living on hills very much indeed!!
I remember the first time I did Hwy 1, in the mid-80s with a college roommate...I couldn't get over those amazing bridges, and the fact that the passenger door was in some cases only inches from...the abyss! But what a gorgeous abyss...
That trip was what persuaded me to come and live here.
Don't miss Napa and Sonoma...there's a lot more to see 'up north' here!
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