Sunday, August 10, 2008

Out and About

by Anna Campbell

Or as my Canadian friends would say, oot and aboot, eh?

As regular Bandita Buddies know, I was really looking forward to seeing a lot of the San Francisco area when I visited for the RWA conference. So I thought rather than talking about the conference, which my Bandita buddies have done so beautifully, I'd give you a quick rundown on my travels in California.

I arrived the Friday before the conference and after a nap went shopping. Hmm, don't think that counts for the purposes of this blog. Although I think that Woman's section of Macy's was amongst the nicest scenery I saw in my whole trip!

On Saturday, I drove down the coast to Monterey and Carmel. We were enormously lucky - apparently this spectacular coastline is regularly shrouded in fog in midsummer but we had a beautifully clear day. You could see almost all the way back to Oz!

Highlights of the day were seeing the otters in Monterey - at a distance admittedly but still special - and the seals and sea lions lying around the shore. Those sea lions are SOOO noisy! I hope they never plan to move next door! The otters have an idyllic life, or at least it seemed so on such a sunny day. They just lie on their backs in the kelp and let the sun warm their fuzzy little bellies.

Sunday's trip was something I'd looked forward to for years. A visit to Yosemite. Sadly, my romantic dreams were dashed. Nothing to do with the national park which was utterly magnificent and full of awe-inspiring scenery that left me feeling as insignificant as an ant. But a couple of factors worked against my wholehearted enjoyment.
First, forest fires were raging so there was a tremendous amount of smoke in the air which badly affected visibility. Even worse, I was on a bus full of very rude, noisy, over-sexed Italian high school kids. They fought, they kissed, they cuddled, they screamed, they sang, they threw stuff at each other, they threw stuff on the ground. They were NEVER on time for the pickups which meant I spent a lot of time in the bus waiting for them. Sigh. I kept hoping we'd meet a bear with a taste for Italian food but alas, twas not to be!

Oh, well, perhaps I'll get another chance to go. I would have liked to have seen a bear even if he wasn't eating my unappealing travel companions!

On the Monday before the conference, I had a great trip to the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. All adults, thank heaven! All keen drinkers, even better. I really like American wines - they're similar in style to Australian wines and vineyards are always in such pretty places. We managed five wineries. Well, they did. After four, I was fading a little so I went and explored the wonderful Sonoma Mission when we went to Sebastiani. I'd got interested in the missions which the Spanish used as the basis for settling the coast in the 18th century after we went to the gorgeous Carmel mission on Friday.

Cute moment of the trip - I was talking to a really nice English family. The father was an Oxford don and a real wine buff and traveling with his lovely wife and two beautiful children, a girl about ten and a boy about six. All had that gorgeous cut-glass English accent that I like to give my heroes! Anyway, I asked the boy what he'd done in America. He replied with beautiful poise, that he'd eaten an ostrich sandwich. I asked him what an ostrich sandwich tasted like. He looked at me like I was as silly as a wheel and replied, "Ostrich, of course." Right! One point to the Brits, nil points to the Aussies!

Oh, and by the way, I took a lot of pictures but they're all still on my old-fashioned film camera. I've had to borrow other people's brilliance for the illustrations!

So where have you been lately? Any places you're planning on visiting in the near future? If you were in San Francisco for the brilliant conference, did you get out and about at all? Come on, spill!


Tiffany Kenzie said...

pretty pictures.

Anna Campbell said...

Pretty ROOSTER, Tiff!

Elyssa Papa said...

WOOHOO, Tiff!! I know the rooster will be enjoying his time in Canada with you!

I'd love to go to South Africa, Ireland... Australia.

And a slew of other places.

Washington, D.C. is looking like it might be a definite go next year for RWA; it'll be my first time visiting the capital ever if I go. That'll be exciting.

And of course, I'd love to go to a deserted beach with a fruity drink and a naked George Clooney.

Tiffany Kenzie said...

well even if they aren't your pics they are still pretty... and I do NOT say aboot :) Really, it's an east coast thing... I'm central, in Ontario. I think we tend to drop letters when we talk.

I never go anywhere. okay I went to Virginia, Williamsburg was beyond words, yes great writer I am in at 2am.

I want to go to DC. But most of all I want to slog around europe... go to Vienna sneak a touch of Beethoven's piano... walk the streets of Paris, Versailles... okay I'm gonna stop babbling.

And Anna, BOOOO to the noisy Italians... Yay for the happy wine times... those Californian's make the BEST organic wine... Bonterra. But I do like me some yellowtail on occasion.

It's a wee bit rainy in TO for a rooster... hmmmmm... maybe I'll put him to good use to scare those nasty, overgrow raccoons from the verandah... he'll give 'em a good peckin' won't he?

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Tiff, I wanted to see a raccoon too. Saw a couple of squirrels - they were whizzing around the rock wall at the beach at Monterey which struck me as rather strange! I thought they were woodland critters. Actually my Canadian friends who all say aboot are from Halifax and Nova Scotia. So apologies, no worries aboot that!

What made me laugh about the wine tour is that the nicest thing I tried was a sparkling from Domaine Carneros. Only $85 a bottle!

Hey, how cool you and Ely are talking about coming to Washington. I'm sure you've been reading the numerous blogs about the place on the conference and you know what a ball we all had there. I had such a blast catching up with my Bandita friends. The only problem was I had nearly every second booked and didn't get a lot of time to just sit around shooting the breeze with people.

Ely, I'm hoping I get a chance to see some of the area when I get to Washington too. Fingers crossed.

Tiffany Kenzie said...

I was teasing... I'm not sure I say about how it's supposed to be said... but it doesn't come out

And you don't want to really see a raccoon do you? They are cute for all of five seconds then you want kill the nasty pests. Come on over have an eyeful of the wee devils ripping up my shingles off the roof slope as they give ME the evil eye... it's that look that says... and what are you gonna do about it lady! I kid you not!

I'm partial to cheap sparkly... lol... but I'd try that stuff on a wine tour. *g*

Gillian Layne said...

I'm so glad you had a chance to explore the area, Anna! I remember seeing the sea lions there too, and in Oregon, several years ago, and they are both noisy and stinky! The west coast shoreline is a thing of beauty, for sure.

Husband will be working in Portland, Oregon for a month very soon. I'd love to pull the kids from school and go visit, but we'll just have to see. It gets more and more difficult to miss the homework, etc. as they get older.

Long live the film camera! ;) I thought I was the only one left who still used one....

Anna Campbell said...

Tiff, sounds a bit like a couple of the Aussie animals. We get possums in our roofs and they're cute until the urine starts staining the ceiling and they have parties all night. You wouldn't believe the noise a couple of rambunctious possums can make! They sounds like World War III! And cockatoos are beautiful too until they start stripping the lead off your roof and your house floods.

Anna Campbell said...

The weird thing about sea lions, Gillian, is that they sound just like dogs barking. There's a rock south of Monterey where we stopped and seriously, you could hear those b*ggers from miles away!

I've got a camera in my phone but the pictures aren't particularly sharp. For things I want to keep, my film camera is still best. I'm sure if I bought a good digital one, they'd be good shots - but it seems silly when what I've got still works perfectly well. I'm a bit of a technophone, sadly!

The trip to Oregon sounds like it would be fun! Having seen a little of the western coastline, I'd love to see some more, right down to Big Sur and then up to Canada. It looks like it just gets more and more spectacular.

Annie West said...

Anna, what a lovely post. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about your travels (and your travails). I have memories of French high school students invading the baths in Bath, UK, and wishing I could shove a few into the gently steaming waters.

Would love to visit some of those places. Intend to visit some of those day.

As for other trips - yahoo! Will be spending Christmas in Europe!!!!Can you tell I'm excited? Christmas in Salzburg after visiting German friends and Christmas markets and, if lucky, a castle or two. And maybe Paris. Sigh. This will be our first big trip in ages. Catching up with friends, seeing special places, eating lovely food and drinking lovely wine. Can't wait. Oh, yes, right, I can wait. I have to finish a book first!

Elyssa - I'm confused - deserted beach, naked George C, what is the fruit drink for? I can think of a few options here.


jo robertson said...

Great post, Foanna, and what lovely pictures, borrowed or no! I do love northern CA when it's lush and green. It turns brown all too soon, but it's always lovely on the coast even when the fog sets in.

Glad you didn't mess with the squirrels. If they were whizzing about, they might've been rabid.

Tiffany, there's a beautiful conference area south of SF called Asilomar where the raccoons are particularly aggressive. I've stayed there 5-6 times and it's a wonderful site, however, close to the beach, food family style in the dining area. When I taught I always went there to renew my creativity with my teacher friends.

Helen said...

Well done Tiffany

Anna what beautiful photos and I love hearing about peoples travels sorry about the Italian students I am sure you will be able to go again then you can try more wine.

Unfortunately I am not planning anything till next Feb when I am going down to Melbourne for the Australia Romance Readers Convention not a long trip but I am so excited to be able to go some wonderful authors are going to be there and I plan on going to all the events I can the cocktail party the dinner the book signings and the authors talks all the ones I can fit in.

Have Fun

Anna Campbell said...

Annie! Ooh, boiled French students? Oooh la la! The travel plans sound marvellous! Lucky you!

EEEEK! Jo! RABID??? Are you serious? And they were such cute little guys too.

Helen, I'm really looking forward to the reader convention in Melbourne next year. Should be huge fun! They've got some big names attending too. Be great if it became a regular fixture - our own mini RT conference!

Keira Soleore said...

Cock-a-doodle-doo, Tiff.

The travels of my heart are: Tibet, Bhutan, Greenland, Iceland, northern Finland, and Alaska. I would also love it if we made a regularly scheduled trip to Hawaii every year.

Fo, Yosemite notwithstanding, your travels sound like you got the best of the best there.

Keira Soleore said...

I didn't write Aus and NZ in those dream travels, because it's next on the list and happening in 2009 or 2010.

Eva S said...

Hi Anna,
thanks for the wonderful pictures! Sorry about your Yosemite trip, that's a place I'd love to visit too.
But I'm sure you will get another chance some day!
There are so many places I'd love to see, Scotland, Greece, Australia, the Andes....
No plans, I'm going to work in September, been home for over six months now...Maybe next year.
Our family will spend Christmas in northern Finland, we have no snow here south.

Congrats Tiffany, I'd love to visit Canada too....

Margay said...

I really haven't been anywhere exciting - I've been up and down the East coast from Maine too Florida, but never anywhere outside of the States, not even to the West. :( I am so deprived. Places I'd really like to see: Several spots in the UK (England, Scotland, Ireland), Australia and Japan. In the US, would love to see Arizona and San Francisco. Maybe some day...

PJ said...

Hey Tiff, congrats on nabbing the GR!

PJ said...

Lovely blog, Anna. I've been to all those places and they are just so beautiful. I'm sorry the fires, and students, cast a pall on some of the locations. On my last trip to Pompeii we had the misfortune of being there on "Italian School Day". Yep, that's right, thousands of running, jumping, shouting, squealing school children. Peaceful it was not.

I've never toured the California wineries. I'd like to do that someday. We have a winery about an hour from my house that's a favorite lunching and wine-tasting spot of my neighborhood ladies lunch group.

Amy Andrews said...

Well I did have a long travel list but now I just want to go hang out on elyssa's beach.

PJ said...

Well, I did spend a week relaxing at the beach but, alas, never spied George. Did you have him hidden, Ely?

Gannon Carr said...

Love the blog and pictures, Anna (even if you borrowed them).

All of the places you mentioned are among my favorites. I was lucky enough to live in Monterey for three years, and it remains my absolute favorite place that I've been lucky enough to call home. I would love to live there again, maybe when I win the lottery. ;)
Those sea lions are incredibly noisy. When we lived there, sometimes I could hear them at night, if the wind was blowing in our direction.

Mmmm, the wine country. Another fave destination. Since I work in a wine store now, you know my feelings about vino. In fact, I was at a friend's house last night for a party--she works with me and is getting ready to move to Oregon to work at a winery--and we had far too much lovely Italian wine.

Sorry about the trip to Yosemite. It is truly breathtaking and worth seeing....without the obnoxious Italian kids.

Speaking of Italy, I lived there for two years as well. Lovely country, filled with beautiful scenery, amazing food and wine, and gorgeous men!

Other places I've been that I love: Scotland, England, Prague, Germany, France, Corfu, Spain, and Egypt. The places on my list that I'm dying to visit, but haven't yet: Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, and Africa (I want to go a safari).

So many place to see. I'd better get busy.

Gannon Carr said...

Congrats on the rooster, Tiff!

Hey, I think we should add Gerard Butler to that beach of Ely's!

Cassondra said...

Anna, squirrels were originally woodland creatures, but they adapt really well. Now, if there are trees around, there will be squirrels because their habitat is so much reduced in populated areas. We have lots of squirrels in our yard, and they scamper all over--up onto the roofs, along the fences, out onto tree branches jumping from one tree to the next. Typical squirrel behavior.

They're very funny to watch. We get squirrel feeders and put them out in the winter so the little devils will leave our bird feeders alone. They still don't, but it helps.

Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. Sorry you didn't get to see a raccoon. They are cute. They're destructive though, and very smart. Recently a racoon got our last hen. It was also opening the dog food container (to do this it had to spin the lid with its little hands, then lift the lid off--basically it had to unscrew the lid) eating dog food and pooping in what was left. It died of unfortunate lead poisoning, which destructive creatures tend to do around our house. Not unless it gets bad and expensive, but then.....lead poisoning. :0/

Made Steve and me both very sad to have to do that.

Joan said...

Anna, your trips sounded great. We contemplated doing the Yosemite one, but the 15 hours seemed daunting. Instead we did Monteray/Carmel and thank God we chose that one...I would have missed out on Garlic World!

We weren't as lucky as you to have a sunshiney day, but the coast was still magnificent. I REALLY wanted to see an otter...I LOVE Sea Otters but we did see the seals. We ate at the FishHopper on their deck and watched this one little seal snuggle himself on a rock to sun and sleep.

We stopped to look at that "Seal Rock" too and the barking! I peeked at them through the quarter telescope. Felt like I was in Wild Kingdom.

Now, I didn't see any least not the ones I'm used to in KY (the American Gray Squirrel) but our bus was accousted by a dozen what I would call chipmunks....a type of one anyway. You could tell they were used to tourists feeding them.

And {shudder} at the opossums. I had one in my neighborhood the size of a Chevy. NASTY thing and it was ambling toward MY house.


Terry Odell said...

We went to Oregon after RWA. As a matter of fact, we're still there, but will be on our way in a couple of hours. Great countryside -- farmlands, ocean views, forests, and of course, the wineries and wine tastings. I figure there will be no need to eat for days.

Might get some pictures on my blog in a few days. DH had his good camera, so I'll have to wait for him to upload his pictures into a format I can put onto the web.

Again, it was so nice meeting some of the Banditas.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Keira, sounds like we have similar tastes in landscapes - we like the wild north! Maybe we'll meet up on a cruise ship one day! And yay to you getting to Oz before too much longer!

Eva, I was so disappointed about my Yosemite trip being such a mess. The park is amazing - seriously the scale of those rock walls has to be seen to be believed. Next time, I hope I have better company though. I also didn't realise quite how long the trip was to get there - it's hours from SF! I think the best idea would be to stay in the lodge and have a couple of days to soak up the atmosphere and the landscape.

Anna Campbell said...

Margay, to an Aussie, the east coast of the US IS exotic! I'd love to see the fall color in New England. Although I hear it can turn into quite a traffic jam up there when the trees are turning which isn't how I imagine it! Hope you make your dream destinations.

PJ, the local winery sounds lovely. Ugh to the Pompeii trip, though. What really annoyed me about this group is that they had two chaperones who made no attempt whatsoever to bring these kids into line.

Amy, you are so EASY!!!! ;-) Great to see you in SF. How did the rest of the trip go? Amy was traveling with her family and had covered an incredible amount of territory last time I saw her.

Anna Campbell said...

PJ, get real! Do you think Ely let George out of the broom cupboard that whole beach holiday? Poor boy looked quite shaken last time I saw him ;-)

Gannon, you lived in Monterey? You lucky duck! I love seaside places and this one was really cool with the wildlife and the great architecture. For anyone who hasn't been there, it used to be a huge sardine canning area and they've turned all the old wooden factories into these really cool hotels and shops and restaurants. There's a great boardwalk right along the beachfront too.

Gannon, you've traveled so much! Wow. I hope you get down to Oz one day. I've still got lots of places on my wish list - I've never been to Eastern Europe and I'd love to see it so I envy your visit to Prague.

Anna Campbell said...

Cassondra, these squirrels were seriously cute. And we don't get them in Oz so they count as exotic wildlife to me. Goodness, that raccoon is smarter than some humans I know! R.I.P., though! I didn't realise they ate chooks. We'd better be careful when you get the rooster next time! And you're right - it's amazing to watch how agile they are.

Joan, you diss garlic world most unfairly. I bought a really nice bottle of wine there - and believe me, I needed it after Yosemite! Our possums are actually really, REALLY cute. Big eyes, fluffy, curly tail. Quite different to yours. And they carry their babies in their pouches and the babies are absolutely gorgeous. But they've worked out that a roof is a lot drier and warmer than your average tree so they can be quite a menace.

Anna Campbell said...

Terry, lovely to meet you too. And congratulations on finalling in the Aspen Gold contest! Yay, you! Actually I've decided that the SF trip was just a taster - one day I'll go back and do that whole coast. Oregon looks really spectacular and my wine buff friends tell me the wine's great too. Hope you have a safe trip home!

Elyssa Papa said...

Of course I keep George hidden. I'm smart that way. *g*

terrio said...

San Fran was my major trip. And I didn't get to see nearly enough of the area while I was there. Next time, better planning!

Anna, lovely post and it was wonderful getting to meet you in person. Good for you on getting to the places you wanted to see. And I've never thought of squirrels as being an exotic animal but then we take for granted what we see every day, don't we?

Congrats on the Rooster, Tiff. And I can attest that Tiff does say "about" a little funny, but her accent isn't too bad.

Can't wait for DC next year! I haven't been (other than to drive thru) since I was 16 so I'll be going up early to get out to the sights.

My list of places I'd love to go is WAY too long. But anywhere in the UK would work for me. And I've never been to the Rockies here so that would be amazing too.

Nancy said...

Tiffany, they are beautiful pictures, aren't they? I wish I'd taken them. Congrats on the rooster, BTW.

Anna, I miss my film camera. The batteries lasted for more than a year, and I understood it. All the special features on my digital camera give me a headache, and the batteries seem to last about 2 minutes. It's getting harder to find film, though, and the largest area photo chain, which used to develop at all its locations, now does so only at the central one.

We're hoping to make it back across the pond next year. We haven't been to England since 2001. We're not sure this is a realistic hope, though, since air fare seems certain to rise steadily in the interim, and the dollar cringes against the pound. It's actually doing better against the euro, with that exchange rate about what the dollar/pound was on our last trip. There's no sense in going if we can't afford to do much when we get there. OTOH, we do have friends there it would be lovely to see again.

The summer I studied in Oxford, I took a bus trip to Stongehenge, Avebury, and Salisbury. The sights were fabulous--awe-inspiring, in the case of Stongehenge--but there were some loud, rackety, obnoxious kids on that tour, too. With their parents, who did nothing to curtail their brattiness. I first noticed them at Stonehenge (this was back in the days when you could still walk amid the stones), climbing on the stones despite repeated admonitions from the guard.

I turned to a fellow American student on the trip and said, "What do you bet they're Americans?" She shook her head. "I'm not taking that one."

And they were. Aaagh!

For all that, though, I think being on a bus with people making out and throwing stuff would be worse.

PJ said...

Anna, the United States is filled with so many gorgeous areas. I hope you have the opportunity to explore them all. The states where Gannon and I (and some of the Banditas) live are home to some of the most georgeous mountain scenery I've ever seen. The Great Smokey Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina are simply breathtaking. If you've ever seen Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day Lewis that will give you some idea of the beauty of the area.

Gannon Carr said...

PJ is so right about the mountains. I feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful place. Last of the Mohicans was filmed not far from where I live. Such lovely scenery, including Daniel Day Lewis!

Cassondra said...

Terrio, I was wishing the Aussies could get to the Rockies while they were here.

I was chatting with Denise Rosetti and she said there's nothing like Yosemite, or real mountains I guess, in Oz. That surprised me. I know relatively little about Aussie geography, but I know that New Zealand is somewhat mountainous, or so I thought.

Denise said she was astonished at the soaring vistas in Yosemite, and I wished at that point she could at least get to the Rockies--maybe to Jackson Hole or to Yellowstone--for just a bit--to see the really "young" mountains there. A different kind of beauty from the older, rolling mountains in the eastern US and different still from the type of scenery in Yosemite. I love it that it's all so different, and yet each has a beauty of its own.

I want, desperately, to go on a wine tour of the west coast. Oh who am I kidding? I want to go on a wine tour of ANYWHERE.

Since I didn't get to see any of San Francisco's famous places while I was out there, the food was the best part of the trip for me (as far as local stuff) I love good food and there's nowhere around here that has a particular cuisine of its own or anything strikingly good.

Southern food and southern-style cooking is its own thing I guess, but when you grow up with it, it's just food ya know? I did notice that at Annabelle's, where we spent a fair amount of time while we were there, that the chef had created an heirloom tomato salad. It was yummy, and it included some fried green tomatoes. I guess he was trying for an Italian/Southern fusion, and I think it worked.

I've been to the Rockies only once, but I hope to go back some day. We took a horse pack trip across the continental divide and it was fabulous. And as far as local food, I don't know if there is any, but ANY food cooked over a campfire is usually good. ;0)

Eva S said...

Anna, I'm sorry I almost forgot,
congratulations on winning the award!!

Cassondra said...

Oh, yes HUGE congratulations on the Bookseller's Best Anna!

We Banditas have gotten so used to our "Fo" being a huge star that we've come to find it almost common for her to win stuff. "Oh, there goes Anna, winning another award....." I'd been meaning to congratulate her here on the blog but I'd forgotten. Thanks Eva for reminding us!

That's the award of awards to me. That booksellers think your book is amazing says it all. They're usually the most voracious readers anywhere.

Nancy said...

Elyssa, I hope you make it to D. C. Banditas will be there in force.

Tiffany, the tidewater area of Virginia says "oot" and "aboot" and "hoos," but most of the South doesn't. I think any large region has a variety of accents. Which Hollywood usually mauls.

I've noticed that two of my favorite Candian actors, Amanda Tapping and Michael Shanks of Stargate SG-1, say "oot" and "aboot," but it's a very subtle difference with them.

Gillian, I hope you get to Portland. I've never been there, but I hear it's gorgeous.

Annie--Christmas in Europe? How fabulous! You'll have to tell us all about it.

Jo and Tiffany--my in-laws live in the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies and often get raccoons raiding their bird feeders. My brother-in-law sent us a picture recently of a black bear climbing on their deck rail to get at the feeder. They also see foxes, deer, and elk from time to time. I don't think I'd like to have a bear hanging around.

Helen, RWA Australia sounds like a fun trip. I've always wanted to see Australia, but that trip doen't seem to be budgetable in the near future.

Keira, Iceland is on my list, too. I have friends who honeymooned there and loved it. The scenery is spectacular.

Eva, Margay, and Gannon, all those places sound great. We love to travel. If only we were independently wealthy! *g*

PJ, I'd love to see Pompeii. I sympathize about the kids. Not long before Westminster Abbey became a mandatory-pay, everyone-shuffle-through-together place, I visited and bought a ticket to the chapels, which were then the only part of the main building with an admissions fee. There were several school groups there (French, if I pegged the language correctly, though that's probably irrelevant) racing through the chapels and shrieking despite admonitions from the vergers.

The new system has undercut my pleasure in visiting the abbey. I like to stop and contemplate the hole the Blitz put in the wall above Cromwell's former tomb, scowl at the plaque about the Princes in the Tower, think about Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, and ponder the tombs of Elizabeth I and Mary of Scotland, among other things. That's hard to do when hundreds of people are shuffling past and you can't get clear of the flow. However, being surrounded by shrieking, running, unsupervised brats has a similar effect, and I do understand why the new system was instituted. At least the cloisters, pyx chamber, chapter house, and undercroft are of little interest to brat-kind and so offer chances to contemplate. If I ever get there again. :-)

In general, I like to think about the places I've visited, regardless of how much it costs to get there.

Margay said...

Anna, now I don't feel qu9te so bad! I get to have that view in my back yard every year and it is amazing. So the trick is finding someone you can stay with and having them take you to see the foliage some place that no one else would think to go. Case in point: There is a street I drive down on my way to my mother's house that is like driving through a tunnel of trees, and two times when this is absolutely stunning (aside from its green glory, that is) is in the fall when the leaves turn and after the first snowfall. The latter is enough to make you believe that there really is magic in the world.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Cassondra, when I lived in Ohio the squirrels always got into my bird was the corn and big seeds they liked. My local nursery stocked plain thistle for the birds, and once I put that in my feeders only birds ate the seeds. I put corn in one feeder and the kids and I tied pine cones dipped in peanut butter and oats to the trees in was fun to watch the little critters hang upside down to get to the pine cones.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Anna, I wish I could've gone on a few more area tours when I was there. I did get to Sonoma and then out to Alcatraz. It was very cool...oh yeah, and they did let me off the Alcatraz island!

PJ said...

Nancy, the "A Day in Pompeii" exhibition is currently at Discovery Place in Charlotte and will be there until Jan. 4, 2009. Charlotte is its fourth and final stop in the US before it's sent back to Italy for refurbishing. It will then go on to Melbourne, Australia and to the UK.

Helen said...

After reading everyones posts I want to travel there really are some lovely places around the world to see and some cute and smart animals that I would like to see as well.
Australia has some beautiful spots as well and I would love to meet you all if you came to Australia for a visit.
Anna I am really looking forward to seeing you at the conference in Melbourne it is going to be a blast and I too hope it becomes an annual event.

Have Fun

Anna Campbell said...

And you know you have some rabid squirrels...uh, writing colleagues as competition, Ely!

Terrio, the Rockies are definitely on my list too. What I think is great about RWA is I'll get to see a lot of the States courtesy of the conferences! By the way, it was lovely to meet you too!

Anna Campbell said...

Nancy, it was one of those little minibuses too - you know, no room to swing a cat or KILL an Italian! And there were no spare seats because it was a Sunday and some people were staying over so there was luggage everywhere too. A VERY uncomfortable trip. I've written to complain to the tour company but haven't had any response - with 20-odd (and ODD!) Italians, the most sensible thing would have been to give them a bus to themselves. But of course, people get greedy. Sadly, though, the ill will ends up costing more than the couple of empty seats would have.

I'm always envious of your Oxford stay. I actually wrote to find out about the summer school so I'm thinking of following in your footsteps. But it's very expensive.

I'm a little like you with your digital camera with my phone. I have no idea how to do anything with it apart from ring and take pictures.

Film developing seems to be readily available here still but who knows for how long?

Anna Campbell said...

PJ, I've seen LOTM so often, I've actually even started looking at the scenery rather than the gorgeous DDL! ;-) I'm looking forward to the Nashville conference because I hope I get out to see some scenery then.

Ah, Gannon, I see you too are a DDL connoisseur! He's the perfect romance hero in that movie, isn't he? So focused on the heroine!

Anna Campbell said...

Cassondra, I agree about the food. I got quite addicted to my crab omelette for breakfast. It's a bit sad now I've only got my pantry to draw on! Californian food was similar to Australian food too - much more so than the stuff I've had on the east coast. We use a lot of Asian ingredients too.

Australia is actually the oldest continent so our mountains have all worn down to molehills, basically. The Snowy Mountains and Australian Alps are magnificent but nothing to compare to the real Alps, for example. New Zealand is on a fault line so they have higher mountains because of the seismic activity. Hmm, that's your geology lesson for the day!

Anna Campbell said...

Thanks, Eva! It was a cool one to get!

Hey, Cassondra, what a lovely thing to say! You're right - I feel that if you can impress a bookseller, you're really doing something right.

I'm such a contest ho, I've got to admit I ALWAYS get a lovely surprise when I win.

limecello said...

Great post, Anna! I love seals and sea lions - so cute. My favorite, however, are otters. :D That's too bad about the annoying travel companions. That's why I fear and hate tour buses and guided tours.
I don't think I'll be visiting any place soon - but I'd like to go to Canada. Possibly Seattle for a conference... but we'll see.

Anna Campbell said...

Nancy, it's sad when these place become more tourist centre than what they were built to be, isn't it? I went to Westminster Abbey when you had to pay for the back bit only and you could take your time. Same with San Marco in Venice - I remember spending ages in there staring at the mosaics in 1985. Went there in 1995 and it was the shuffle through, don't stop thing. Yuck! York Minster had adopted a similar scheme when I was there last year. I can see why they do it - it costs a fortune to maintain those buildings. But turning a cathedral basically into a fun park really defeats the purpose, well, at least for me!

Anna Campbell said...

Margay, I think people forget that to a visitor where we live is exotic and interesting. I live in a seaside resort with some amazing scenery but of course, it's not exotic to me at all although I'm always very aware that it's pretty. Visitors remind me how lucky I am. Your area sounds gorgeous. I was raving about the big trees in Yosemite to a friend of mine who lives way up near the Canadian border and she just snorted and said we should see the redwoods in Oregon and Washington to know what a really BIG tree was.

Anna Campbell said...

Suzanne, what a great story! Do you have pictures? By the way, wonderful to see you in SF!!! And hey, did you see those T-shirts saying 'rejected for Alcatraz because you're too cute'? That's you, girlfriend! I went on a boat trip on Wednesday which was great - we went under the bridge and the wind was absolutely freezing and around Alcatraz. I've got to say, it looked like a pretty bleak place.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, PJ, thanks for the heads up. I'm going to Melbourne for the Australian Romance Readers Convention in February, which is the one Helen has been talking about. With a bit of luck, I might catch it there.

Helen, did you see they're launching my third book TEMPT THE DEVIL at the convention in February? I hope you're going to be there with bells on! I've never been to a book launch of my own before. It should be fun!

Margay said...

That is so funny! Are we ever really satisfied with what we have? Your area does sound lovely, though.

Anna Campbell said...

Limecello, I'd love to visit Seattle and then go along the coast north of there. The first time I saw seals in the wild was in Scotland - they're pretty common around the isles and the far north-west coast. It's funny - there's two types you see, the gray and the common and the gray is actually a lot more common than the common! I saw an otter in Scotland too but I really had to work hard to do it - they're really rare and hard to find. This guy was really big with footballer's shoulders and he was eating a salmon out on a rock in an inlet on the Isle of Mull. That was such a thrill. Did anyone else see Ring of Bright Water? I cried my eyes out at that movie. But this is the first time I've seen sea lions - it was cute to see the ones that hang around pier 39 down at Fisherman's Wharf too. They're a cranky lot - they seemed to spend most of their time fighting and pushing each other off the pontoon!

Helen said...

I am so going to be there Anna I have already put up a note on the wall calender at work that I need time off in Feb so as I can go.

It will be wonderful to be at your book launch I will get another copy when I get there I am sure I will already have the American release and of course read it.

Have Fun

Pat Cochran said...

Congratulations, Tiffany,on snagging the Golden One!!

Ms. Anna, so sorry your Yosemite
trip didn't work out for you! It
is one of the areas I want to someday visit myself!

I want to again congratulate all
the Bandita winners and especially
yourself for the Bookseller's

Pat Cochran

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, it will be great to have you there. The whole convention sounds like a heap of fun. I,like you, am going to all the social stuff so we can partay!

The Banditas and Buddies did ourselves proud in SF, didn't we, Pat? There were so many awards, I lost count! Of course, the big one was Susan Seyfarth's Golden Heart. You should have heard the shriek that went up when that was announced on Saturday night. Thanks for the congrats too! And even with all the troubles, I'm so glad I saw Yosemite. As Denise Rossetti said, there's absolutely nothing like that in Australia. I can remember standing at the top of the valley and looking down that magnificent view and just having my breath taken away.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Foanna, lovely post! Snorked at your wish for a bear with a taste for Italian. Sorry I'm so late to the party. Life has been crazy since I arrived home from SF.

As the Banditas already know, I was a day late to the conference and consequently didn't manage to do the small amount of sightseeing I'd already planned. However, I will be traveling again soon, possibly to New Zealand for a walking tour--walking between luxury bed and breakfasts, that is! And a trip with the family to the Barrier Reef is on the cards also. My dh is on 3 months' sabbatical from work starting in October, so we hope to make the most of it. Any suggestions for holidays with very small children gratefully received!


Anna Campbell said...

Christine, do you want BEARS to be involved in this small child holiday? Yeah, I know, cheap joke! Thanks for popping by. NZ sounds wonderful. I was so sad we missed out on our day of sightseeing on Tuesday. As it is, I really feel I didn't see much of SF itself. I rode on a cable car, I saw Fisherman's Wharf, I had the boat trip, and I went shopping. That was about it!

Eric said...

I’ve often wondered what Ms Campbell puts her mind to while at leisure.

I didn’t come close to guessing that she moulded horror plots around potential Italian romantic heros. I can see a novel (probably) by Annie West about the handsome Italian banker who fell for the plastic surgeon's assistant. The one who nursed him after the operation to restore his long lost smile. She was holding his hand as the bandages were removed.

I think this is where I cry because I’m supposed to tell of somewhere interesting I’ve been. I guess I could attempt fiction. But the truth is, its only romance writers who swan around the world on busses filled with under sized Italians. The rest of us stand before a hot stove dreaming of another life.

I did go to Bribie Island last summer but it rained. Just as well, the year before I got sand kicked in my face.

I do have a question for the chief Bandit. Would advice be welcome relating to un-parking the domain address? --- Regards, --- Eric

Suzanne Welsh said...

Anna, I didn't see that particular shirt, but I did see one that said, ALCATRAZ Psych Unit....Outpatient!

Which probably fits me more! hehehe

Christine Wells said...

Anna, wouldn't that have been lovely to do the galleries together? That was my main regret besides not getting to see Fisherman's Wharf. The conference was almost totally business for me. Pleasurable business, but business nonetheless.

Maybe next time!

Oh, and unless they come hand in hand with Goldilocks, I think we could dispense with BEARS on our family holiday. LOL

Anna Campbell said...

Eric, your trips to Bribie sound...memorable! Yes, I was completely ready to write a murder mystery after my day with the Italians. Sadly, I have no idea of which you speak with domain addresses. I'm a simple soul - ask me about Almack's! ;-)

Anna Campbell said...

Hmm, Suz, outpatient of Alcatraz, huh? I won't comment on the grounds that you Alcatraz outpatients are really scary!

Actually, Christine, aside from missing your wonderful company, I wish we'd done the galleries together on Tuesday too. Because instead I went shopping. Ouch to the poor Visa Card!

Susan Seyfarth said...

Anna--your travels around the San Fran area sound lovely. I, alas, didn't get anywhere beyond that fabulous food court at the mall while at RWA. :-) But I did enjoy it, so that's something, right?

As for upcoming travel, my oldest is starting kindergarten in a couple weeks which is going to seriously curtail my habit of jaunting off for a trip whenever my husband is out of town on business. I told myself that when the kids started 'real' school, I'd stop doing that. I'd start making school the priority. But oh it stings!

We're going near chicago for a wedding next week. That's going to have to hold me.

Anna Campbell said...

Susan, wasn't that a fantastic food court? Actually the mall altogether was a great place to hang out! Hope Chicago is fun! Perhaps you could brighten it up by wearing your GOLDEN HEART!!!!