San Francisco and Santa Rosa, Sept 2015


Day 6 We were on our last long day of driving, and it looked to be under 8 hours, so we were all optimistic. We headed across the wide state of Nevada. We started seeing white crusted land near the highway. Some of it sparkled in the sun, some of it had black rocks set out in a type of graffiti, with hearts and initials and curse words duly noted by the kids. We had to check out this strange landscape.IMG_4916IMG_5085IMG_5076IMG_5077

There was a crust of salt over soft, claylike earth. We walked on it, and we tasted it- yep, salty. We got back in the car, bringing a fair amount of the stuff that had clung to our shoes. And westward we drove. 

Busted outside of Reno! We were making good time, too good as it turned out. We got pulled over sometime before Reno and I was surprised I managed to keep my cool. I had dreaded the possibility of getting pulled over, since we had more than the legal number of passengers in the car. Also, as we were to learn, we were going 94 in a 75 mph zone. Oops! The officer was reasonable and wrote us up for 10 mph over the speed limit. He said nothing about the extra passenger or cell phone use or anything else he probably could have fined us for. I breathed a sigh of relief as we pulled back out on the highway. There was more beautiful scenery as we drove.image image image

California!!  And then we went through Reno, and then here we were!imageWe drove through the eastern part of California on route 80. We were impressed with the pine trees, glimpses of forest paths,the hills. We continued across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and there we were in Frisco. It looked crowded and trafficy. We went to the southern part of the city to the house of a cousin of Mr. Fantastic. Wow! 

 They have a beautiful garden, hidden behind the house.  There are rabbits, chickens, teenage twin daughters, a house on a hill overlooking more hills. The lemony sunshine and bright colors looked almost artificial, they were so beautiful. We had an amazing dinner and great conversation with the family. My twins, of course, love having twins for cousins, and the house was so full of art and books and life and so inviting. There is an old set of greenhouses (seen in top photo) across the street, a poetic detail since Mr. Fantastic’s grandparents (relatives shared with the San Francisco family) had commercial greenhouses where they raised hosta plants among other things in the 1940’s. We left Fiercely with the cousins and headed to a different neighborhood, near Golden Gate Park. 

Here we stayed for a few days. We returned the driveaway, in good condition, thankfully, since we had put about 3500 miles on it, almost doubling the original mileage! We picked up a rental after a couple of days for the rest of the trip to Vancouver. Meanwhile, we enjoyed the company and hospitality of DM, a former neighbor who had moved home to Frisco a few years back. Cleverly is friends with DM’s daughter, who by unfortunate timing was out of town when we visited. In fact, her son and husband were away too, so we were sad to miss them. We did enjoy the neighborhood, which was in easy walking distance from Golden Gate Park. 

 Palm trees! Constant sunshine! Hilly neighborhoods with houses balanced almost on top of each other. It felt exotic, like I was in another country already. The twins loved the Rossi neighborhood park. We tried flying Chicago Uncle’s kites here (he is an accomplished kite flier!) 

 We went to this park multiple times. The big kids went to a Sonoma area relative’s house and the rest of us went to Ocean Beach with DM. We parents had excellent pupusas at a Salvadorian restaurant in the Tenderloin district. All of us ate “it’s-it”s San Francisco ice cream treats from the corner store near DM’s place.


 We learned a lot about local ecosystems from DM, an environmentalist who works with the parks department and learns migratory birds and animal tracking as hobbies. What an awesome mama and friend. We miss her on the East Coast and we’re always hoping to get her & family back! But seeing her neighborhood and the parks and beaches and mountains, etc, I think we get it why she and a lot of folks love it here.   






   A meet-up of small dog owners paraded by our spot on the beach. 
 There were surfers and sailboats.

 We got lost going between the cousin and DM’s place and ended up seeing the Castro and Haight-Ashbury areas and lots of hilly streets.

   We left on the Golden Gate Bridge and headed north to Santa Rosa, the famed winery area with another relative and where Fiercely and Cleverly had been staying. 
   We had a magical dinner under the pergola by a pool and beautiful gardens as the sun set. I live a charmed life, I thought to myself. The next morning, we delayed leaving because the kids were so happy. They worked on the treehouse on the property, picked delicious apples, and swam with cousins and their friends.  


They were having such fun we delayed leaving, which led to an interesting trip northward, but that will be another post!

Westward around the world – Original 2 year plan (notes)

I just thought I would post this in case it gives anyone information and because I am tired of seeing it in my “Drafts” section.  Obviously, this was from when I was planning to go for 2 years starting with the drive to Vancouver and the $900pp (sigh) cruise.


health insurance: $2500 for 1 year

Aug 16-Sept 10 drive to Seattle. 61 hours and 3870 miles incl stops in Cleveland, Michigan, Denver, the Grand Canyon, San Francisco, and Seattle where we ditch the car.  gas: (20 mpg, $3.50/gallon) $677,  food $500? (25 days), lodging (tent camping, staying w/friends) $500 or less? + about $1700. budget $2000 to be safe

Seattle to vancouver greyhound  4 hours $100

Sept 12- Sept 27 Vancouver to Tokyo cruise (15 nights)  ($900 x 6)= $5400

Tokyo to Shanghai by ferry 48 hours ($170 x 6)= $1020

air bnb place in shanghai for a night or two – I found a place that sleeps 6 for $59/night

Shanghai to Xian to see terra cotta warriors – $30/person for recliner seats, trip is about 20 hours.

Shanghai to Cambodia

Cambodia Nov-Jan

India Jan-March starting in the south going northward

April-June Turkey. eastern europe

July-Aug western europe and could go back home after 1 year.

Aug 20-27 Westbound Cunard transatlantic Hamburg- NYC $1500pp x 6= $9000 (should be less since not all adult tix and we will share cabin)

around same date Hamburg-NYC by plane about $1000 pp = $6000

The second year:

Aug-Oct Poland/Czeck republic?

Nov-Feb southern Spain a la soultravelers3 or stay in Spain until April cruise from Barcelona to Miami then home 4 ms. early

March to S. America? Asuncion April – June then Ecuador July-Aug?

July to Amsterdam for cruise to Boston then home

April 27 Barcelona to Miami NCL Norweigen

July 29 repositioning cruise Amsterdam to Boston 18 days Holland America