Central California

11 – 19 November 2015

You have an old friend who you have known since before he was born, but who you don't see much because he lives half a world away, although you frequently party with his sister in Wales. Suddenly you will be passing within 100 miles of his house, what do you do? You call him up.

When that same friend says he'd love to see you, and you can park your RV outside his house while visiting the area, but you'd better get your ass to his house in time for his 60th birthday party on Wednesday? You put your foot down to make sure you won't be late.

Our journey from the coast, through downtown San Francisco to Mike's house in Concord began. First stop was the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. We snapped the obligatory photos and enjoyed the views of Alcatraz.

Next came the white knuckle ride in Harvey right through the centre of San Francisco.

Of course, being so concerned about punctuality, we arrived half a day early, so had the chance to explore Concord's peaceful arboretum for a while until it was time to party.

Golden Gate Bridge

Jeepers – Harvey doesn't like cities!

Concord's Markham arboretum

As we arrived at Mike's house, the party began; a wonderful meal in a local Chinese restaurant with a fun group of Mike and Patti's friends.

Mike, the birthday boy.

Uh-oh, time to sing!

The fun didn't stop then. Next day we were off to the theatre to see a production of 'Urinetown', which Patti was stage managing. Brilliant it was too.

Phil also got a chance to try out Mike's Tesla. The acceleration was like a rocket ship!

The next day was scheduled for our trip into the city of San Francisco on the BART, although with hindsight, perhaps Friday the 13th wasn't the best day to pick!

Our first priority was to ride the city's famous cable cars. We purchased our day pass and joined the line to get aboard. The line didn't seem to move much, or the cable cars for that matter. It turned out a small police incident just up the street had brought everything to a stop temporarily.

Now I want one!

The wait gave us time to watch the manual process for turning the cars around at the end of the line.

Eventually we got aboard. Phil managed to snag a seat at the front, while Christine stood on the side platform hanging onto a rail. Well, you have to, don't you?

We set off up an impressive gradient, pulled along by the cables below the street. It was a sometimes hairy mix of cars and cable cars on the street, which seemed to work quite well, until one car driver decided that there was time and space enough to pass a parked car before our cable car would reach the spot. Wrong! As our cable car took out the rear corner of the offending car with an almighty crunch, Christine was forced to jump out of the way to avoid losing a leg.

“What? Did I hit him?” asked the driver who couldn't really see the corners very well from the central driving position. Perhaps it happened all the time, as he just attempted to drive on.

Unfortunately the cable was slipping and we started to roll down the hill, ending up a couple of hundred yards back at a junction where the road plateaued out briefly and we were able to stop rolling backwards.

Finally we managed to get hooked on the cable again and we were off to Fisherman's Wharf. En route we learned that apparently little old ladies have road priority over cable cars, as we were forced to make another emergency stop.

It was certainly an exciting welcome to the city.

What? Did I hit him?

Give way to little old ladies.

We enjoyed the sights of Fisherman's wharf and some fresh seafood before setting off in search of the famous Lombard Street. The gradients in the city were amazing and now we were walking!

An uphill struggle

A downhill struggle!

Lombard Street

Next we were back on the cable car and headed for Chinatown. Here we discovered shops full of serious home décor bling, shops full of tourist junk and shops full of just about everything all in one place. Our bank had a pretty swanky branch there, no wonder there are so many bank charges! We enjoyed the museum we found by chance too.

We headed for Union Square, taking the cable car and walking the last stretch. Timing was everything. Just moments after we crossed the street to the centre of the square, an out-of-control tour bus careered down the street, mounting the sidewalk and crashing into some scaffolding on a construction site, demolishing it. Several unfortunate people ended up in hospital but we were lucky, our second near miss on the same day! We headed to the Cheesecake Factory to treat our shock, to the sounds of the wailing sirens of rescue vehicles.

Would this look good in our lounge?

Now I see what the ridiculous bank charges pay for!

Union Square

We made it safely home and Mike whisked us away in the Tesla the next morning for a weekend at their gorgeous house near Placerville. In the Tesla we were there in no time at all, even after stopping for a free charge at the supercharger!

The house was a fairly recent acquisition and Mike was curious to see what we thought. How could we not like it? It had a river! The middle fork of the Cosumnes to be precise. It had deer in the garden, beautiful views and we were assured that you could even swim in the river. We weren't brave enough to try it in November!

The weather wasn't playing along for our visit but we toured the area, ending up at the nearby pub in Fairplay. (Delayed shock relief?) There were numerous jokes about the 'Wenglish' use of the phrase “fair play mind” and the menu selection of a “Philly Cheese Sandwich”, naturally.

In shock, need cheesecake!

Refuelling on the way to the River House.

Friends in the garden

One of these is a statue

It's got a river!

The beer was good, fair play!

Heart attack on a plate!

We had a wonderful and fun packed time with Mike and Patti and could have stayed longer but we had a list of other people in Southern California we needed to annoy before our plane left at the beginning of December!

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