Tuesday, March 10, 2009

California Memories

As I sit here in my dining room listening to the 35 mph, sub-zero winds rattling the windows, it's hard to believe that just 4 days ago I was hanging out in sunny California, but here are the pictures to prove it. Boy, am I glad I got the chance to enjoy a few days of warm, sunny weather in the middle of our lingering Minnesota winter.

Here's a picture from our lunch at Castagnola's fine restaurant in San Franciso where we met the West Coast bloggers: Mary C (Mary's Corner of the World) and Heidi (aka Red - MMATM). The fun thing about meeting fellow bloggers is that you already feel like you know them and there's not that awkward (for me anyway) "getting to know you" stage. We just all sat down and started yakking like we had known each other for ages (well, at least a year anyway!)

Back row: Brother Phil, Brother Dave, Me and Dave (Mary's spousal unit & Heidi's dad)
Front row: Mary and Heidi

After a delicious dinner, we headed down to Pier 39 to check out all of the usual San Francisco sights. It was a lovely Saturday afternoon and there were thousands of tourists also enjoying the day. (don't forget you can enlarge any of these pictures just by clicking on them)

Can't miss the sea lions -- what a life!

A larger container ship. I don't know if it was heading in to unload or out to sea, but I was amazed to see something like this. It was HUGE! And some of those containers were stacked 7 high. Wow!!

I'm sure you all recognize Alcatraz Island. I like the seagull on the left. :-)

Here's the TransAmerica Tower. If anyone knows what the building is right behind it, be sure to let me know in the comments. We never did find out.

Here's another view from the pier area. We drove in to the city on this bridge.

This was my third visit to San Francisco and I finally got the chance to walk around Chinatown. I didn't have my camera along, so here's a scene from nice postcard that I bought.

Someday I would like to have at least 4 days to spend in San Francisco. There are so many neat things to see and do. And I still haven't had the chance to ride a cable car, so there's another reason to go back.

Brother Phil had a birthday during our California visit, so we were able to celebrate with him when we got back from San Francisco on Saturday night. Here's Phil with his son Charlie. (We got back pretty late, so it was way past Charlie's bedtime, but he made it through the presents, cake and ice cream.)

Phil has a great yard with lots of different plants and trees. He had these beautiful camellias blooming at one end of his house. This was the red one (covered with blossoms and many more buds)

The pink camellia was also blooming. There weren't as many blossoms, but they were certainly just as beautiful.

There were daffodils blooming in the backyard.

He also has a pool and hot tub in the backyard. And how about those palm trees? That's certainly a backyard sight we'd never see here in Minnesota!

Sunset over the Tisdale Bypass
(of all the pictures I took on this trip, I think this one is my favorite! Aren't those colors amazing?)

Thanks again Phil for your hospitality and for driving us around to see all the birds and California tourist spots. It was a trip I'll never forget.


Mama Pea said...

Ruthie, what beautiful pictures! I can almost smell the warmth and fragrance of the flowers. That's sure one thing about California . . . they've got flowers! We can't begin to compete with them there. Thanks again for sharing with all of us back here in Blizzard Land.

Leedra said...

Love the sea lions, wouldn't it be the life? Nice sunset to end with.

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Red said...

Wish you were still here - as you must too :)

Phil's house is just beautiful. Nice that he has a pool & hottub :) The camelias sure look healthy. We've got pink & red blooming now too. Happy belated birthday Phil!

Based on a little sleuthing on google maps, I'm pretty sure that building behind the Transamerca Bldg is the old Bank of America Center - 52 stories and 2nd tallest bldg.

That sure was a gorgeous sunset at the Tisdale Bypass. Wow! Nice capture.

Mary C said...

What great memories, Ruthie. And a belated Happy Birthday, Phil! I agree, Ruthie, about your last photo being your favorite -- it is so beautiful I thought it was a painting. You would think one would see that kind of sunset only in the Tropics. ;o) Your brother's camellias are beautiful. Ours are looking good this year, too. Of course, Dave gives them a dose of fertilizer now and then. Stay warm and cozy there in Minnesota. Spring should arrive soon -- maybe in the next couple of weeks?

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Ruthie, what a wonderful collection of pictures of your trip. I feel like I was "almost" there. Thanks for sharing them.

Kallen305 said...

It looks so lovely there weather wise. You brought back fond memories for me of SF. Those sea lions were in that same exact place when I was there 6 years ago! HA

Jayne said...

How fun that you got to meet Mary C and her family! That photo of the sunset belongs on a postcard by itself Ruthie. Gorgeous!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mama Pea,
My previous California visits have been in January and they have blooming flowers even then! It was nice to go in March when there were blossoming trees in addition to all the other flowers -- people even have calla lilies blooming right in their yards! Pretty gorgeous!

Thanks Leedra. The sun was nice and warm that afternoon and those seals were definitely taking advantage of it.

Hi Heidi,
Thanks for the information on the BOA building. We had a street map in the car, but that didn't list any buildings.

Hi Mary,
Spring might pay a visit this weekend (temps in the 40's), but March is a tough month because winter still hangs on, so we have lots of weather fluctuations. I'm glad we still have plenty of wood for the fireplace!

Thanks Lisa. Glad you got to "come along!"

Hi Kim,
LOL about your seals comment! San Francisco is a great place to visit--everyone should go there at least once in their life!

Hi Jayne,
I have that sunset pic on my desktop wallpaper--it looks even better there!

Lynne said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful trip Ruthie- I'm so glad. Too bad you couldn't have missed yesterday's crappy weather!

Maybe we should find a California festivsal for next year's bird blogger convention! I'd love to meet Mary and Heidi, and Delia's moving there this summer....

RuthieJ said...

Good idea Lynne! According to Mary and Heidi, there are some good festivals out there. Monterey would be nice and I think there's also a spring birding festival at Yosemite......

Marsha said...

Great photos and how wonderful to have these warm memories on a cold da like today! I love the sunset photo as well...just takes my breath away!

I can see the family resemblence with your brothers :-)

troutbirder said...

I'm thinking of heading out to VanCouver island this summer but San Francisco can't be that far out of the way.

Anonymous said...

We printed out pics of all of you in San Fran and then for Philip's b'day, Charlie looks tired. Thanks for the trip to CA, pics of Philip and Armidas house and flowers. It was fun to see what you saw.


Meggie said...

Beautiful photos of California, Ruthie! Back to the reality of Rochester.... When I went to Florida, I said it was so crazy that after only a 2.25 hr. plane ride I was in a tropical paradise. Go figure.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Marsha,
On our plane ride back, there was a couple heading home to Green Bay after spending 2 months in Sacramento area. I think they got more snow up that way even than we did. I think they were regretting that they hadn't decided to stay another month in California!

Hi Troutbirder,
I think Vancouver Island is quite a distance from San Francisco, but I'm guessing either destination would be nice for sightseeing and birding.

Hi Mom,
It was way past Charlie's bedtime when we finally got back (after 10:00). He finally crashed on the couch around 10:30.

Hi Meggie,
I felt the same way coming into Mpls/St Paul--we took off from green grass and flowers and landed to snow. It's nice to know that we CAN get away from winter though, isn't it?

Ruth said...

Gorgeous pictures! You make me want to book a ticket there today.How nice that you got to meet Mary and her family.

dAwN said...

What a great visit.
I love your photo of the single camillia and the last sunset photo is amazing ...It looks like a watercolor...
Frame that one

Gaelyn said...

What a great trip. SF is my favorite little city, and I'm not a city person.
Love the sunset. It really does look like a watercolor.

Mary said...

I enjoyed seeing Mary, Red, and esp. brother Phil. You will need to travel to CA more often! That last sunset is so beautiful. Then you had to come back to winter in full force. Dang.


Mel said...

Hola Ruthie,
That was fun! Love the last pic!
I too want to meet fellow bloggers soon!!