The main reason why we first flew West instead of directly East to Europe
was because our friends Mike and Dasha were getting married on July 15th
and we wanted to attend their wedding in Carmel, California. We're glad
we did! We were able to catch up with friends and relatives as well that
we hadn't seen in a while since we stayed at their houses instead of in
|The drive from Vancouver to Seattle went very quickly and we arrived
in time to catch an earlier flight to San Francisco than we had planned.
We also were able to find a cheaper convertible than we had originally
reserved by going from rental counter to rental counter. Arriving in San
Francisco was nice. We saw the sunset crossing the San Mateo bridge and
arrived in time for pizza at Matt and Pam's. We were frozen, though, since
the weather was cold and we had our convertible down anyway!
The next day we went to work with Seth's cousin Matt since we were meeting Mike at the Park Hyatt downtown. Matt's commute to work is really kool! He takes the ferry from Alameda to San Francisco. Everyone on board was really friendly and there was even a dog "commuting".
|At the Park Hyatt, Mike's parents picked us out right away and came
over to say "hi". We had plenty of time to see Mike's baby pictures before
he arrived with the bus. Mike and Dasha had aranged a day of wine tasting
in Sonoma Valley. It turned out to be a great day out with friends. The
only person other than Mike and Dasha who were knew was Mike's friend Kim
since she had stayed at our flat in London. We also liked her boyfriend
We first headed across the Golden Gate Bridge and stopped on the far side to take photos. Seth and I had been there last in 1991. It is neat to compare our photos from the two trips. The tree trunk is the same, but notice how all the signs on it have changed. After our quick photo stop and an unexpected detour into Napa Valley, we arrived in Sonoma Valley.
|Our favorite vineyard was Kaz's. Kax himself gave us the grand tour and invited us down to the basement to try his wine. What we liked best about it was that he was working in advertising previously and then decided he'd rather do something he enjoyed: which was raise grapes. So far, things had worked out well for him and he was enjoying it. Seth bought two bottles from him for Matt and Pam - one port and on chardonney. What a great surprise that Matt loves port and even has special port glasses. The only bad part of the day was that Tara, who didn't try any of the wine, ate way too much and ended up with a stomache ache that lasted two days.|
Because of Tara's stomache ache, we stayed around Matt & Pam's house on Friday. Tara's big event was to read the 4th Harry Potter book and get her hair cut. Seth's big event was to play computer games all day. Matt's computer is really fast and Seth loved it. We did manage to get out in the evening. We met Matt as he got off the ferry in Jack London Square. We very much enjoyed a Mexican dinner and a movie (The Perfect Storm).
The next day we all had weddings to attend. Matt & Pam left early for the drive down to Santa Barbara. We left a bit later for our shorter drive to Carmel. The weather was really warm when we started out. It was fun to drive with the top down. Then, suddenly, the temperature dropped from 82 to 65 degrees in 15 minutes! It was shocking how quickly we became cold and had to put the top up. It was still chilly when we arrived in Monterey. Luckily, Seth's tuxedo he had ordered over the phone fit. We had a quick lunch, bought a wedding card, bought Tara some pantyhose and then headed to Carmel.
Well, we tried to head for Carmel. We took the LONG route since we couldn't find the entrance back onto Route 1. Even though what should have taken us 5 minutes took us 1 hour, we enjoyed the journey. The scenery was pretty as we drove along the coastal dunes for a while when we were lost.
We had just enough time to check into the Candlelight Inn in Carmel and get dressed for the wedding. Mike and Dasha were getting married at another hotel, so we jumped in the car and prayed that we didn't have trouble getting back onto the highway again. We thankfully had no problems finding the Highlands Inn.
Mike and Dasha were married in a beautiful ceremony on an outside balcony overlooking the ocean. We're very glad we arranged our travel plans so that we could attend. During the wedding party, we liked how speaches in both English and Russian were given. Plus, how various Russian traditions were worked into the evening. We ended up talking to Kim and Matt a lot throughout the night. We even exchanged phone numbers and decided to try to meet up the following day.
Since we were spending only one night in the Candlelight Inn, Tara was determined to try out the hot tub before going to sleep.
In the morning, we noticed a dent in our rental car that could have happened only at the Highlands Inn the night before. After a few inquiries, we learned that we'd have to go back to the Highlands Inn to file a report. Before dealing with our rental car dent, we met up with Kim and Matt for lunch. Downtown Carmel seemed like a very quaint little tourist town. Unfortunately, we didn't spend much time in town since we wanted to make sure our dented car was documented.
Getting a report written up at the Highlands Inn was time consuming, but enjoyable since we waited in very nice lobby lounge. The lounge had large glass windows with sweeping ocean views. There was even an old-fashioned wood telescope in one corner. Tara got a kick out of looking through the telescope to a nearby island that was inhabited by 100's of birds. Finally, we had the Highlands Inn accident report in hand and we were ready to now get a police report. Getting a police report proved extremely difficult. Due to the Highlands Inn being located outside of Carmel city limits, the Carmel police could not help. We were directed to the country sherrif - only we couldn't find the sherrif's office. In the end, we learned from the Carmel police that any CHiPS officer in the state of California would be able to file a police report for us from Monday to Friday. Seeing as it was Sunday, we gave up and starting driving back North towards Chris and Sam's house in San Jose.
Instead of taking an inland route back, we decided to take the coastal route. The sand dunes scenery along the highway looked burnt out but pretty. Eventually, we had to cut back inland. The highway we chose was very unique to say the least. It was twisty and turny for miles on end. We're sure that this highway has seen its share of accidents due to the numerous scuff marks on the roadside guard rails and pavement. Luckily, Seth navigated all the turns safely and we arrived at Chris and Sam's in time for dinner.
Chris and Sam's house was filled with kids and fun. We had met Jordan and Adrienne in Chicago previously. But Evie was a new family addition. Everyone had really grown too. Their house was ruled by the kids. There were fun sealife creatures painted on the bathroom walls, a cute smiley-face mailbox and toys all over the place. It was great for us to stay with them and see Chris and Sam as parents with kids since we're thinking of starting a family ourselves in the next couple of years. We especially enjoyed the family pets. Flip the hampster was our favorite since he looked so much like our little H's. We enjoyed taking Flip out to play late at night when the kids had gone to sleep.
Tara especially enjoyed taking Sam's iBook to the couch and working
on web pages. This was our first experience with a wireless network and
we were impressed. The connection speed was FAST and surfing on the couch
was convenient. Tara relished using a Mac version of Photoshop and happily
finalized the look of her World Tour web icons. Seth was also able to use
our Vaio on Chris' network. Chris simply gave Seth the right drivers and
a PCMCIA card. We can't wait until we have a home and are able to install
our own wireless network.
take away at Chris & Sam's (Thai, that burger place)
The matine Xmen
The california highway patrol
The california landscape
|Here is Tara in front of Kaz Winery in Sonoma Valley. We liked Kaz
Winery the best. It was the smallest and the guy who owned it was very
Seth thought his wine tasted really good too. We bought two bottles for Matt & Pam. Matt especially liked the port!
|Ease of Journey||6|
Jul 19 - UA 132 SanFran 8:55am - Chicago 2:14pm connect to a UA flight
at 5:15pm going to London Heathrow
On way to Europe Chicago to London cost 527.40 - also paid for this with vouchers.