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!