Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Playing lots of catch up (plus more road trip!)
Gosh lots to add...
It was the 18th birthday celebration of my cousin's youngest boy so mum, dad and I drove up to Dartford as (unusually) we had been invited to the family get together. The girls had been invited but Kelly was busy decorating and Laura was at cricket.
Anyway I had a lovely time chatting to my two cousins, Terry and Gary. Gary is researching the family tree on my mum/aunt's side. He had been to visit a Medium and as he was leaving he mentioned that he had come to a dead end with the search, having discovered that my Great Grandfather had written and sung popular music way back in the 1800's. 'You will go to a big library and find it there, but more importantly you will find the book' she told him. Well he knew nothing of a book, but his search took him to the British Library where he found several sheet music copies of great grandad's songs, and also a copy of an almanak GGD had written and published. Turned out he had published it for 5 years, and Gary has since discovered another 3 issues still exist.
We come from a fairly talented bunch of artistes, because alongside GGD, my grandad was a talented violinist, ventriliquist and cartoonist. He had written/drawn 6 books of his life in the Navy from boy to man through the second world war. These he bequithed to Gary but Gary has now loaned them to me. Yippee, been wanting to get my hands on these for like ever!
Did you know that my nan's sister's daughters were also well known as The Beverley Sisters? And still on that side of the family, my mum's cousin's son went to Kings School on a saxaphone scholorship? Which is probably why both Gary and Terry plus Terry's son were able to give us all a jamming session on their guitars?
Guess its why Laura can write poems and Kelly can draw, and why I enjoy crafting.
We had missed out on Father's day last week because dad had had to run Kelly and Ollie to Gatwick and Martin had had to work. So we had a bbq to cover it this weekend instead. It was rather windy, I had done the food from scratch rather than go shopping so there wasnt as many usual goodies (although there was still heaps to eat and lots left over) but I think we all had a pleasant time. Bailey dog enjoyed himself anyways.
Monday... Trevor was home from his heart repair op so we went over to see how he was doing and to catch up finally on how Joey is doing. It would seem that Jo didnt fall off her horse, her horse lost his footing and they both fell over. What Jo ended up with was very bad whiplash on her brain, and nearly 3 months in a coma. Now she has been 5 weeks in a special neuralogical hospital and is making amazing progress, surprising her doctors and therapists with her determination. Thankfully all her brain functions are still there, but the coma has left her with very wasted muscles and these have to be built up again while her brain has to be taught how to communicate with those muscles again. A long painful process for a very brave young lady.
So back to California.
After our stop over at Santa Barbara I had thought we would head straight up to San Francisco, spend some time there and then go on to Yosimite, but Martin thought to go towards Yosimite, stopping a night at San Jose. But before hitting the famous I-1 coast road we needed to fuel up on gas and coffee, as well as get out some more cash. Would you believe just how difficult it was to find an ATM machine? It took us nearly half an hour of walking after our Starbucks.
Finding the start of the I-1 wasnt difficult.
We took a small comfort stop in a small hick town where a really friendly lady in the cafe told us how lucky we were to be going along the beautiful coast road. Excited about the adventure ahead of us, we set off again. The start of the journey was quite beautiful and the roads were good.
There was a proper coast road, much like we were used to on the South East coast of England and we were really enjoying ourselves. We saw a sign for the Elephant seal colony were not prepared for the amazing sight when we stopped.
They were as far as the eye can see, and taking absolutely no notice of the tourists who had stopped to take their photos. No so the little squirrel/rat type critters who were all over the carpark begging for food. These little guys just would not leave you alone. I took this photo to show just how tame they were, I think they are Californian ground squirrels, and have to say I wasnt too keen on the way they got so close, in packs, hunting for food. In fact I admit I panicked a bit and made Martin chase them off, and was quick to get back in the car. Good instincts because apparently their fleas can carry some pretty nasty diseases. Back on the road, and although I had been looking forward to some stunning scenery I was rather dissappointed.
The road narrowed to one lane and soon hugged the side of the cliffs.
Which would have been fairly pretty but for two things, (1) I was too short to see properly over the crash barrier, and secondly we had been really spoilt for good sea/cliff hugging views in Maderia which I thought were far better than the ones we were seeing.
Poor Martin couldnt see them at all so he must have been fed up as the driving was not easy, all twists and turns. It was hot too and our car had no air con (something I thought came as standard in american cars.) I admit it was a long and somewhat boring journey.
I was glad when we finally reached Montery for lunch. Montery seemed huge, and full of nothing. Lots of museums, art houses, roads with little or no direction (we drove round one part three times) so we abandoned the car to see if we could find a place to eat on foot. Little joy until we walked all the way back the way we had come and eventually found the peir. This was were all the cafes and restaurants were, although it did seem they were only serving fish and chips or clam chowder in a bread bowl. The whole place was rather depressing so we soon munched our food and got back onto the open road.
Finally around 5 oclock we joined the I-101 and soon found ourselves in a bit of a spaghetti of internation roads heading north, either to San Francisco or San Jose. Guess who (despite his navigator telling him he was wrong) took the lane to SF rather than SJ? And like all men he has a huge phobia about retracing steps, convinced the road he is on will eventually take him where he wants it to. Of course when we found ourselves heading deep into the residentual area I finally put my foot down and made him turn around.
Karen (Scrapdolly) had told me that when they visit California they usually stay in the Great Western Hotels, and as it got later and later, with no seemingly main place or hotels in sight, a tightness of chest feeling was gripping me again. Whose silly idea had it been to come out here with no beds booked? (Actually it was the travel agents but who was counting?) We stopped to fill up with petrol and Martin was just about to ask the proprietor where the motels were when he spotted, immediately across the road, none other than a Great Western. Within minutes we were parked in their carpark, booked in and relaxing in the spa. Not only that there was free internet access, and I could email home.