We got back from St Helena on Monday having taken the scenic route over the hills to Santa Rosa which reminded us a lot of the lanes in Wales. Lots of trees and moss and small farms though these often had vineyards and there were not sheep. I miss sheep. Also I think they would improve the look of a lot of the green hills around here. Perhaps they just aren't practical though I always thought sheep were pretty adaptable. Funny what you miss.
We also tried to visit Muir Woods Park which is just north of SF and is one of the last remaining areas with coastal redwoods. I say tried because after driving round and round the car parks for 40 minutes looking for a space, I lost patience, we left and then we all had a huge row about it. We've decided to head back one weekend early, taking breakfast with us. We did stop at the Golden Gate bridge on the way back into town.
Since then we had a big big shop at REI which is a huge outdoor activities shop here in San Francisco. The bill at the end was also huge and the checkout guy handed us our till receipt saying "here's your novel". Very droll. But we are now kitted out with snow gear so Yosemite had better be good because this is turning into the most expensive weekend ever. Still if it is good we can always go again or to Tahoe.
We have also handed back our hire car and are carless. At least we are until this afternoon when Tom picks up an SUV for the Yosemite trip. We're playing it safe. The rules are that you have to carry snow chains in the winter whether they are needed or not but SUV's only have to put them on the car in the most severe conditions. We will get some as the park rangers can check if you have them with you but we have decided that if it gets that bad we won't be driving anyway. Also the hire companies generally won't let you use them. So far the forecast is for good weather this weekend. Sunny during the day, and crisp and cold at night.
We have no idea at all what it will be like. We're just not used to places like this in the snow. I have never done winter sports and Tom hasn't been skiing since we met. Snow in the UK is of the "2-inches-for-an-afternoon-but-screws-up-the-entire-country-for-a-week-kind". Also this will be our longest American journey. We're still adjusting to the idea that you drive a couple of hours to have lunch with people and that 4 hours away is close.
Meanwhile, yesterday Tom was back at work, going in on the BART/Caltrain which takes an hour and was quiet. I suppose this is the holidays but apparently he should be able to get a seat most of the time, which to anyone having commuted in London, is of course novel and welcome.
The girls and I had a lovely day. We took the J line down to 18th to visit a wool shop and furnish Lottie with needles and yarn. We bought Emilia some in St Helena and she's taken to knitting this time around. And of course little sister wants some too. Not sure if she's quite ready but woe betide me for not being entirely fair! The shop is gorgeous and I will go back some time when they are in school.
Then we had ice creams at Bi-rite (salted caramel for me again because it is delicious). Then on through the Mission to a butchers/wet fish shop for chicken breast and large prawns. And a produce shop for the makings of a pseudo-Mexican meal. Large tortillas, refried beans, avocados, coriander/cilantro, limes, tomatoes and so on. It may not be authentic, and it certainly wasn't spicy enough but it was delicious.