Big birthday, bucket list, boozing and betting Read more
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  • Day 1

    Riders, start your engines...

    October 1, 2022 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    We're off! The week leading up to our trip has been a pretty sedate affair. For me, the joys of not working continue unabated. For Vicki, her new role is just a world apart in terms of workload and stress, and so the usual frantic finishing of work, packing some clothes and generally getting pretty tense about a trip just don't happen. On Friday evening, we have melon margaritas in preparation for what's to come...

    At the airport, we hook up with Ant (Vick's bro/my BIL for those that don't know...) and are quickly checked in and through security, finding ourselves a happy place in The Curator - a cool airside bar in the otherwise regrettable Heathrow T3. After a hasty few pints, we're distraught to learn that our other travelling companions, Tris and Liz, have been bumped from our flight. They're frantically trying to arrange a flight the next day, or maybe an alternative via San Francisco later today.

    The flight is fine. We doze, we booze, we cavort. We are comfortably the noisiest people on the plane. We form strong bonds of friendship with the cabin crew, in the hope that this will bypass Virgin's policy of a light boozy load on flights to Vegas. I can understand why they need a blanket policy in place, but really? Do WE look like the types who will cause a ruckus? Oh, we do?

    We land into Vegas, quickly navigate Customs and Immigration (a first) then spend upwards of 30 minutes waiting for our bags to arrive on the carousel. Finally emerging from the airport, the smack of desert heat is stifling. There's a sizeable queue for a cab, and our bodyclocks are screaming at us that it's already 2am. We make it to the Park MGM by 8pm, and hook up with Joey - who flew in a day ahead of us.

    We make it out for some noodles and a few beers, before the long day / jet-lag / heavy headedness catch up with us, and we hit the hay around 10, desperately hoping that we manage to sleep until a vaguely reasonable hour...
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  • Day 6

    What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas

    October 6, 2022 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 25 °C

    You didn't really expect a blow-by-blow account, did you?

    Lots of fun had, lots of mischief got up to, lots of stories to tell.

    Here - peruse a small selection of pictures and videos...

  • Day 7

    A close shave in Death Valley...

    October 7, 2022 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 9 °C

    Friday morning, and it's time for Ant, Vicks and I to say goodbye to Tris and Liz, and to Vegas, and set off on our road trip through Northern California. First up, pick up the car from the airport. I arrive and am told to pick my poison. There's a row of 'luxury' cars I can choose from. There's nothing in the big V8 US sedan end of things, so end up with an Audi SUV, on the basis that it'll be big and comfortable enough for us, and the controls will be similar to the A5 we had a few years back.

    We're on the road by 09:30, safe in the knowledge that it's going to be a long day to make it up to Mammoth lakes by this evening. The drive up to Pahrump is very easy - cruising through the desert and scrubland at a fast 80mph in a single lane highway.

    After Pahrump, we start to encounter some, um, 'difficulties.'

    Our Sat Nav (Google Maps - I WILL name and shame....) suggests we need to take an hour long detour from Death Valley Junction to Dante's View, as there's a road closure on the 190. We blindly trust the tech, and head off in that direction. When we're directed to turn off the blacktop and onto a gravel road, we become suspicious. We backtrack to DVJ, take the 190, and trust that the other folks heading down that road know better than we do.

    At this point, we lose cell service, which will prove to be problematic.

    We make it as far as Stovepipe Wells, which is a small collection of lodgings, a store and a saloon - right in the heart of Death Valley. The heat is stifling. We briefly hook up to the WiFi service in the Saloon (that's honestly the only reason we stopped in there - nothing to do with the locally made cider, lovely Californian Chardonnay, or urgent Bombay and tonic requirement) and discover that the 190 DOES have closures, but much further towards the West of the Death Valley National Park - basically, the route we need to take to get to Mammoth lakes. The suggested detour is faintly ludicrous, taking us an extra 3 hours, and taking us some 150 miles out of our way.

    We decide to get on the road ASAP, and hightail it towards our final destination, in the hope that we might still arrive before nightfall.

    Several miles down the road, we're advised that there is a detour from our detour, for another road closure. We begin to think someone is playing a trick on us. The detour of the detour takes us down some frankly stunning mountain roads, and through some of the most amazing scenery I can ever recall seeing. We're following some other cars that are taking (we assume) the same detour, and follow this circuitous route for perhaps an hour.

    Suddenly - confusion. A sign that says the road we are on ends in 9 miles. A road to the right that looks like something the World Rally Car drivers would relish driving over. The cars we have been following are in disarray. We have no cell service to see where we are. The sat nav 'memory' thinks we are no longer even ON a road, as the detail of Google Maps (name, shame) doesn't extend to these smaller roads through the backwaters of the park. We bravely (naively? blindly?) take the gravel track. Maybe a couple of miles ahead of us, we can see a dust cloud of another vehicle. I knew the 4WD Audi would come in handy. Would NOT have fancied this in a big V8 sedan... We set off after the dust cloud, and I have to admit I find the off-road driving pretty fun. Maybe I'm just kidding myself that we're not all doomed to die. Put the hammer down, and soon, we catch up to something of a convoy - an SUV, 2 trucks and an RV. Some ten miles later, we hit tarmac again, which we take to be a good sign. Some 15 miles after that, we finally rejoin the road we'd been detoured from. We've spent nearly 2 hours, and have travelled 20 miles as the crow flies.

    The next 2 hours are FAR more fruitful. It feels like there's a lawlessness to this part of Southern California. We stay in convoy with the two trucks for about 100 miles, travelling at upwards of 80mph most of the way. We pass through a ghost town called Trona. Google Maps (name/shame) tries to send us off course a couple of times, just out of spite. We're wise to the little fucker's antics now though, and just blithely follow our new convoy friends, who are doubtless communicating over some kind of walkie-talkie type device about how and where to brutally murder us.

    We come to a town called Ridge Crest, which offers:

    1) A gas station
    2) Cell coverage
    3) The merest hint of civilization.

    We fill up with gas, grab some snacks and drinks for the car, and use the phone signal to work out how far we've come, and how much further we've to go.

    There's good news and bad news. We've still got 180 miles to drive, which G Maps infers will take us around 3 hours. BUT - it's basically a straight shot on the 395, straight up the eastern side of the stunning Sierra Nevada mountains.

    As we near Lone Pine, we see a sign for the 190 back towards Death Valley - a drive that would/should/could have taken us around an hour, and realise how much time we've lost, and how much additional distance we've travelled. We stop at Jake's Saloon in Lone Pine for a much needed refresher, before getting back on the road for the final leg of our mammoth journey to Mammoth Lakes.

    As we approach the high Sierra, it's dusk. We're driving towards the most beautiful sunset, and rapidly tiring. Finally, FINALLY we arrive into Mammoth Lakes around 19:15. We've done something approaching 500 miles, and been in the car for at least 8 hours. Knackered doesn't come close.

    We check into our accommodation and start to think about some dinner. We've existed on car snacks today, and need a decent feed before bed. It transpires that:

    a) I have miscalculated how far our lodging is from the bars and restaurants of Mammoth Lakes, and
    b) They all close in ten minutes anyway.

    Dejected, we pile back into the car, and head for the local supermarket to pick up some picnic supplies, before a hasty and tasty dinner of bread, cheese and charcuterie back at our apartment.

    Tomorrow's gotta be a better day, right?

    All of this is not to diminish the bewitching scenery through which we have driven today - whether the harsh, arid climate of Death Valley, or the stunning foothills of the Sierra Nevada, or the rocky outcrops of the high Sierra - this part of the world is stunning. Yes - we've had several more hours than entirely necessary to look at it through the windscreen, but on another day, in another way, it really would have been breathtaking...
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  • Day 8

    The Legend of Yosemite Sam...

    October 8, 2022 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 21 °C

    The leaving of Mammoth Lakes is much easier than the arriving to it.

    We're all up and about early - a result of a fairly sedate evening, and relatively early night, after such a long day yesterday. The view as the sun rises over the Sierra Nevada mountains is beautiful, and I'm sure my phone pics of it don't do it justice. We're due to have a fairly early lunch, so all decide to skip breakfast, and hit the road a little earlier than planned. The Juniper Springs resort we're staying at is lovely to look at in the early morning light, and likewise the town of Mammoth. I'm sure during ski season, it's a brilliant place to hang out...

    We get back onto my new favourite road (Route 395) and head North, rising from our current altitude of 8,000 to a ceiling of very nearly 10,000. Ant and I are both feeling the altitude a little bit - breathlessness for us both, a slight light-headedness for him (which he enjoys...) and a slight queasiness for me (which I do not). At our first stop, a sack of thick chunks of jerky is purchased, and when offered to me, it rather turns my stomach....

    Leaving the 395 behind, we head into the Tioga pass, the highest paved road in California, and which will take us deep into Yosemite National Park. I've been looking forward to this day SO much. I don't think it's a stretch to say that Yosemite is widely considered one of the most beautiful places on the planet. As soon as we're onto route 120, it becomes clear why. The scenery is breathtaking. Again, I doubt my phone pics really give a sense of the majesty and sheer scale of what we're seeing. We stop regularly as our path winds slowly through the park - a breathtaking rock escarpment here, an astonishing valley view there...

    We're aiming for the Ahwahnee Hotel for lunch at 12:45. I've been ultra excited about this - as I've managed to keep it a surprise from Ant and Vicks. The hotel was used extensively as a set for filming of the Shining. The scenes where Jack Nicholson is at his typewriter? All at the Ahwahnee... We arrive, and - for fuck's sake. There's literally nowhere to park. After driving around aimlessly for fifteen minutes, I deposit Vicki and Ant to let them at least know we're approximately nearby for our lunch reservation, and I keep hunting for a space. Another fifteen minutes pass without joy (well, not for me - others manage to turn up and grab a space before me. The fucking impudence...) and Vicki comes back out to tell me that the restaurant is in disarray. They have 'started late' today - which where I come from is code for 'the chef turned up late.' Our 12:45 lunch booking will be at least an hour late, possibly more... I tell Vicks that she and Ant should finish their drinks and we'll head off to find lunch somewhere else. Another 10 minutes pass, and I FINALLY manage to snag a space. Heading indoors, I'm greeted by my travelling brethren who have (contra to my instructions) secured me an ice cold beer. It is incredibly welcome... We have a little wander around the hotel, and it's v cool to see the parts that were used for filming. We then enquire about our table, and are told that the hotel staff tried to contact us to let us know the table was ready, but because we didn't reply (by standing right next to them!?) our table has been given away. I sense this conversation could end very, very badly, so we pile back in the car, and head south to Wawona.

    It's pushing 14:30 by the time we arrive into Wawona, which is really just a gas station, general store, and small hotel. We enquire at the hotel about the possibility of lunch, but are told that service ended at 14:00. Looking increasingly desperate, we're directed to the general store, where we pick up a few sandwiches.

    Our next pit stop was due to be the Sequoia Groves, a few miles south of Wawona. When we arrive, there's a loooooong queue in the baking hot sunshine for the shuttle bus to the groves. Sensing mutiny, I suggest we get back on the road, and head straight for our overnight stop in Mariposa. We arrive by 16:00, to an amazing little house right off Main Street. A wickedly strong G+T later, and we've all relaxed. We head out to one of the local hostelries I've read good things about, and have a fab early dinner in a very cool little restaurant. By 22:00, we're all fixing for bed again, and it's another early-ish night for us all...
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  • Day 9

    From here, to there

    October 9, 2022 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 13 °C

    Once again, we're all up in good time after a good night's rest. Even though Mariposa is still at some 700m elevation, the early morning sun is warm, and I sit in the garden with a coffee for a while, letting the rays of the sun help wake me.

    Today's a bit of a transition day - heading from the mountains to the coast, and to Sonoma. It's also the day that will include the only segment of freeway/Interstate driving, which I've tried to avoid as much as possible during our trip.

    Our first pit-stop is at the Castle Air Museum. Castle used to be a US Air Force base, but was closed in 1995 following the end of the Cold War. Between the mid 1950s and the 90s, it was home to a bomber wing of B52 Stratofortresses, the workhorses of the USAF Strategic Air Command, and which were responsible for the majority of the 7.5m tons of bombs dropped on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia between 1965 and 1975.

    These days, Castle is a museum, featuring military aircraft of the past 75 years. It's a treat, and real eye opener to wander around the open air exhibits. The scale of some of the aircraft is staggering. After a fun hour wombling around, the sun starts to get a little warm, so we get back on the road to our next destination. The majority of this leg of our journey is on the Freeway, and we're all bored out of our tiny little minds. We blow past several towns, without the faintest idea of what kind of town they are. I'm assured that the choice to travel by smaller roads wherever possible is the right one, even if it adds time to the journey.

    We're collectively delighted that lunch isn't the clusterfuck that it was yesterday. We're a little earlier to our reservation in Lodi, but are quickly seated, and enjoy a very laid back brunch type affair, with some very tasty local wines. The restaurant is in a lovely and peaceful setting in Lodi, attached to a wine tasting centre for local wines. Our lunch is backed by a guy with an acoustic guitar doing passable covers of Police, Elton John, The Clash etc etc.

    Sated, we get back on the road, and head towards wine country. At one point, Google Maps takes us on a slightly detour, due to my route plan of avoiding the Interstate. We're pleased that it does as it takes us past a highly random saloon bar in the middle of nowhere (or Cordelia, if you prefer). We stop for a sharpener, and are met with a bar full of friendly locals, a ceiling covered in bras, and some of the strongest mixed drinks known to man or woman. These kind of out of the way bars are amongst my favourite things about travelling in the US. They're stacked with character and characters, and are almost always a smiling and happy place to rest.

    We've got a final 45 minute shoot down to Sonoma, and we're soon passing field upon field of vines. We drive past the hill that was used as the wallpaper for Windows XP, and quickly arrive into Sonoma, a small city of 10,000 that is a Mecca for wine lovers. Nearby Napa is bigger, and perhaps more famous, but Sonoma is home to some of the finest Californian wine producers around.

    For dinner, we head out to a brilliant Portuguese tapas restaurant. Salt cod cakes, crab pies, amazing braised pork, a stunning goat stew. Massively tasty, and a great little place to hang out.

    By 22:00, we're all winding down towards sleep. We're off on a full day's wine tasting tour tomorrow, and our chariot arrives at 09:30 to pick us up.

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  • Day 10

    We all need an afternoon Napa...

    October 10, 2022 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 14 °C

    We're up in good time after yet another restful night's sleep. It is COLD. The outside temp is around 8C, which is a bit of a culture shock after the past week. Our wine tour pick up is at 09:40, and it's still fairly fresh. We head off to our first winery, arriving at 10:00, and to be met by a cheeky Rosé for breakfast. Delish.

    This is Patz and Hall, top notch producer of (predominantly) Chardonnay and Pinot Noir still wines, along with a couple of sparklers for good measure. We spend the next 90 minutes trying 8 of their estate wines, loving most, adoring a couple. We limit our purchases to two bottles, as we're not planning to bring any home with us, and we've already got a fridge full back at the house. The surrounding scenery is stunning. Reminds me a lot of the Franschhoek valley, one of my very favourite places on the planet.

    We head off to an early lunch, regaled by our guide, Luke, with insider details of the different wineries we pass along the way. Fair to say that the Napa Valley is pretty much at saturation point now, with every conceivable square inch of plantable ground used for vines. We learn that it's a US holiday today, which explains some of the traffic. What used to be Columbus day, is now known as Indigenous day, a change made, according to Luke, because, "It turns out Columbus was a total asshole."

    We have an astonishingly good lunch at Farmstead in St Helena, a little village in the Napa Valley, and all suddenly feel like a little afternoon nap wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. We have more wine to drink though, so head off to Paraduxx - part of the Duckhorn family portfolio. Paraduxx is where they experiment with blended wines, using grapes from across their portfolio. A couple of traditional Bordeaux style blends, a very cool one that focuses on South American traditions, and an Aussie style Cabernet/Syrah option. We also get a little bonus tasting of their premium Merlot offering, which goes some way to changing my mind about the grape. We're also taken off for a mystery tour to see the concrete egg - something completely new to me, and apparently a way of ageing white wines without oak, but allowing them to oxidise a little (which stainless steel tanks don't allow). Our host, Steph, is a joy, and regales us with information and stories in equal measure. She keeps our glasses well topped up as well... The wines are great. Perhaps not quite the heady heights of Patz and Hall's, but none too shabby. The Viognier/Chardonnay blend we try IS outstanding, and I make sure to grab a bottle on our way out.

    We're in the heat of the afternoon, and fair to say flagging just a touch. We have one more winery to visit though - Gundlach Bundschu. We decide unilaterally that this 'probably' means Good Luck Bum Face. We don't ask at the winery, just in case. This is set up in the hills above the Sonoma Valley, and is a slightly more casual and laid back affair. Ant and Vick decide cheese is needed to help sustain them, and I don't argue. The wines are a bit more of a mixed bag. The Pinot Noir a little disappointing, the Merlot a touch bland, but the Cabernet is great, and the Chardonnay up there with the best we've tried on our tour. Our host shares that our next destination on our roadtrip is renowned for its pot farms. Interesting...

    Luke drives us the short trip back to our house, and we pour ourselves out of the car. It's around 18:00, and we're trying to decide if we should head out for a bite, or just relax at the house. We opt for the latter, watch a movie, and are all headed for bed by 21:00.

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  • Day 11

    Watcha talking about, Willits?

    October 11, 2022 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

    It's fucking FREEZING when we wake up for our second morning in Sonoma. The forecast promises 30C later, but right now, it's around 6C. I'm awake just before 06:00, so write yesterday's journal, and try and have a quiet coffee without waking Vicks and Ant.

    We plan to leave in decent time, and we're on the road by 09:30. First up is a stop at the Old Faithful Geyser. Arriving, the dude at the front desk tell us that the geyser has recently been erupting every 2 - 2 1/2 hours. Not the most promising of starts. He follows up by saying he's been at his desk for 2 hours, and nothing yet, so we might just be in luck. We sit in the warming sun and wait. After barely ten minutes, we're rewarded with an eruption that lasts maybe 10 minutes. There's a whiff of sulphur in the air, which Ant and Vicki both claim is NOT associated with them. There's also the most insane rainbow where the geyser spray settles. We couldn't have got luckier with timing....

    We head further up the road to Kelseyville, where we all feel an urgent need for beer o'clock. We stop at the Brick Tavern - population 2. It's not quite the friendly, saloon of Thompson's Corner, but it does the job. The JD and coke is probably more than I should have whilst driving...

    Our next stop is a buffalo ranch, where we pick up some steaks for the BBQ later. As we head on towards Willits, I propose an afternoon of relax, as opposed to the two hour round trip to the coast. My travelling partners literally and figuratively bite off my hand. We stop into Willits for lunch at a brilliant sandwich café called the Loose Caboose - Reuben dips for me and Ant, and a bacon and avocado concoction for Vicki. They are BRILLIANT. We head to our accommodation - a proper cabin in the woods. It's rustic - and Vicki is not delighted...

    We head down into town again to grab groceries, and then chill out at the cabin for the afternoon. The bison steaks are astonishingly good. Kind of like venison, in that it's a red meat flavour, but with less of the natural fat of beef. I open the disgracefully expensive Pinot Noir that I bought yesterday at Patz and Hall to accompany our dinner, and we settle down to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark. The temperature is falling ,and I suspect we're all going to be fucking freezing in the morning.
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  • Day 12

    If you're going to San Francisco....

    October 12, 2022 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Waking in Willits is even colder than Sonoma. My phone reckons it's 6C, and the vapour I'm breathing out suggests this is fair. We've a long and fairly slow drive today - over to the coast, and South down the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco, with a few stops along the way throw in for good measure.

    We're on the road before 07:00, and I have to admit I'm a little disappointed by the presence of Karl - the name Californians have taken to using for the early morning fog and mist that sits in the valleys in this part of the world. It's ethereal and really quite startling, but I worry that it'll linger, and somewhat ruin the dream of driving down PCH1 in the glorious sunshine...

    We stop in Fort Bragg, ostensibly to see the glass beach - a beach made entirely of smoothed glass from a nearby recycling location. As we exit the car, there are murmurs about the temperature, and we make it about a quarter of the way to the beach before we eject, heading back to the relative warmth of the car. We elect to grab some breakfast, and head further South, in the hope that we'll find the sun...

    We do not.

    The next 5 hours are a bit of a slog. Very twisty and sweeping roads alongside the rocky clifftops, a succession of places that we can't stop for a beer, and the continuing murky presence of Karl. At one point, the temperature hits a heady 13C. I'm genuinely a little sad that the elements have conspired against us, but I manage to put a moderately brave face on it.

    We stop for lunch in Bodega Bay, and grab a glass of wine to accompany an astoundingly good cup of clam chowder. Reinforced, we head onwards. Vicki snoozes in the back, whilst Ant and I take in the dramatic scenery. Around 14:00, something changes. Suddenly (and I do mean suddenly) the clouds break, and we're driving through bright, warm sunshine. As we drive alongside Tomales Bay, the view is glorious. Exactly what I'd dreamt of for this trip...

    It's not long before we find ourselves heading over the Golden Gate Bridge, which is a truly iconic experience. We meander through the heavy San Franciscan traffic, and arrive at our apartment around 15:30. It's been a long but interesting drive...

    After I've dropped the rental car back, we make some evening plans - to head down into the Mission District, grab a coupla drinks and some food. Our house is basically right at the top of Potrero Hill - there's nowhere to go but down, and we scuttle our way to a bar called Lost Resort, where a v cool bartender make us some v strong cocktails. We wobble on to our next pit stop at True Laurel, where another v cool bartender makes us some more v strong cocktails. Giddy with excitement (i.e. pissed) we meander down to Valencia Street right in the heart of the Mission District, and which is lined with great and funky little places to eat. We park at Bao, and enjoy some top notch dim-sum. The pork soup dumplings are staggeringly good.

    None of us are in the right frame of mind / state of physical well-being to attempt the mountain climb back to the apartment, so we jump in an uber, and are tucked up in bed not long after 22:00...
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  • Day 13

    A tale of two wharves - part 1

    October 13, 2022 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Yes, we're awake early. And yes, it's cold.

    Karl is lingering, and we're due a chilly morning. We head out for breakfast near the house we're staying in, and are hit by a tsunami of food - so much that Ant's and Vicki's breakfasts are each served on two plates. Mine is a little more abstemious, but still sizeable. We roll ourselves out of the diner, and head on towards the city centre, taking a tram to the Ferry Building, which offers stunning views of the Bay Bridge, and the bay over to Oakland. We stop at the Vaillancourt Fountain outside the Ferry Building. The water is a vivid green, which, it transpires, is the result of a dye in the water. They change colours regularly throughout the year. The Embarcadero square is also a particular hotspot for the many, many homeless folks of San Francisco, with one sleeping peacefully in the fountain. It's impossible not to notice just how sizeable San Francisco's homeless population has become.

    It's rapidly approaching beer o'clock, so we stop for a late morning livener in the financial district. Ant and I find an apple and hibiscus cider which is delicious.

    Happily, when we emerge from the Royal Exchange, the sun has broken through, and a lovely warmth is in the air. We head off on a lazy amble across the city towards Fisherman's Wharf. The wharf is actually pretty crowded. It feels like the first tourist crush we've experienced since Yosemite the previous weekend. Our 30 minute march deserves a reward, so we grab a seat at a bar on the wharf, and settle into an early afternoon pick-me-up.
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  • Day 13

    A tale of two wharves - part 2

    October 13, 2022 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Refreshed, we head further down the wharf to catch the views of the bay, of the Golden Gate Bridge, and of the famous pier 39 sea-lions. None disappoint. We have a view of Alcatraz, but we'll save that for our visit tomorrow.

    The sea-lions are a lovely distraction. Vocal, boisterous, hugely graceful in the water and somewhat clumsy out of it. There are clearly some interesting social interactions happening here, and we spend a fun ten minutes watching these unfold.

    We head a few miles over to Crissy Field for views of the Golden Gate Bridge. It's pretty blustery on the beach, and we walk a ways further to the bridge. Karl is still with us, shrouding the very top of the GGB towers. We take some pictures, I'm sure none of which really represent the size and majesty of the bridge.

    We head inland from the beach towards the Presidio. There's a fountain with a sculpture of Yoda outside Lucasfilm's offices in the park. It's a bit of a trot, some of it uphill, and having visited the fountain, it's time for a mid-afternoon sharpener. We stop at a great sports bar called Final Final, where we encounter a cool bartender, a bottle of Tuaca (which we previously thought only popular in Brighton), and the drinks we need to prep us for the next part of our day.

    We grab a bus back towards Fisherman's Wharf, only to find a monumental queue to take the cable-car back over to the financial district. A quick conflab, and we decide to find a bar instead, and form a new plan. Queues can do one. Conflab completed, we grab another bus back over to the city centre, wander around a little, before finding a very cool, speak-easy style cocktail bar that has a happy hour in full flow. It would be rude not to?

    It's approaching 17:30, and we're all pretty tuckered. We grab an Uber back to our apartment, and order some insanely good Chinese roast duck and roast pork from Go Duck Yourself. It's maybe 20:00, and we're flagging. Ant heads to bed with a Tin Tin book for company, while I find myself close to falling asleep on the sofa while reading my book. I'm tucked up in bed and fast asleep by 21:30, and I doubt Vicki is far behind me...
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