Trip Days 7 and 8 San Francisco and London

SF Ferry BuildingKids LardBike wine holderGoogle Street View carPharmacy pizzaBay Bridge
Green ParkThe OvalThe OvalBig BenBig Ben10 Downing St
Royal HorsesTrafalgur SquareTrafalgur SquareLondonThe MallRoyal Guard
Buckingham PalaceBuckingham PalaceBuckingham PalaceBuckingham PalaceBuckingham PalaceGreen Park

Day 7 and 8 Update

Cruisey day today in San Francisco. Went to the US Postal Service, which is misleading, as they appeared to have very little service at all. 40 minutes later, I was out the door, and I think my package was put in the mail.

I always assumed the term “going postal” was about postal workers getting in a rut with their work and shooting people. The policy to eliminate this “going postal” has obviously been to eliminate the work aspect of the problem. I think it won’t be long before customer dissatisfaction may lead to a return of fire…

Walked down to the Ferry Terminal, where’s there some nice butchers and other food stores. Checked out the Cable Car Museum, before heading back to up to the Westfield shopping centre.

Picked up bags, headed to the airport, where the whole process of screening was really very hassle free.

Had an exit aisle for the 9 hour flight to London, mint! Not so mint was the fact that it was on the sunny side of the plane, and despite departing SF at 5pm, our route via the top of Canada and Greenland had our 747 in sunshine the whole night long.

On this particular big bird, the air conditioning blows onto the middle seat of the row, so it wasn’t a terribly productive flight sleep wise.

Once in London I did the standard touristy stuff- Big Ben, Westminster, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace etc. Suffering badly due to the lack of sleep, I came back to the hotel for two hours of kip.

Woke up, didn’t know why the alarm was going off, where I was, what I was doing- a pretty out of it 5 minutes of my life right there…

Walked down to The Oval via The Thames for the England Vs New Zealand. Two balls were bowled before it started to drizzle… at least was able to drink beer with Madam and Ashley in the drizzle. The game was eventually called off due to the drizzle, so I walked home in the drizzle. Disappointing England, disappointing.

Day 6 Update

Early start, off to Alcatraz on the first boat of the morning.

After watching a lot of documentaries on the place, to actually see where it all happened is incredible. Neat audio tour through the prison section.

Headed back to Fisherman’s Wharf for a lunch of clam chowder, which was odd, it didn’t seem terribly American as it had no cheese.

Went to Jack’s Bar for one of their 68 beers on tap, before heading over to the historic maritime museum thing. Some nice things, including an old old wooden boat that was filled with old timey wooden cars.

Cruised around for a bit, noticed that there was an Oakland ferry ready to go, so I jumped on it a couple of hours early.

The ferry unloads at Jack London Square, which has a nice glossy website, that paints it as a vibrant hub. Calling it a ghost town would be doing a disservice to ghost towns, as they tend to have ghosts.

With nothing going on, and nobody around, I caught a free-bus to “city centre” Oakland.

Walked around for a couple of hours, found one Starbucks and one bar. There were a lot of tall buildings, but I didn’t check to see if they had doors. Not many people around, and fewer shops open.

Trained it out to the Oakland Collesium to see the A’s take on the Cincinnati Reds. Cool deal, cool facility, but all of the concession stands are as dear as poison.

Had seats in the front row of the cheap reserved seats, which was slightly in the nosebleed section (ie deep left field). Fortunately the A’s brought their A game, and knocked a couple of sluggers over the fence in our direction… missed the ball by 10m! I left with 3.5 innings to go, however nobody scored after I left, with the A’s getting up 7-2.

Last day of cruising around today, off to England this evening. Have a good one y’all!

Trip Day 6 Alcatraz & Oakland

Hole in the rockAlcatrazAlcatrazChowderBeerCable Car
AlcatrazSan FranciscoAlcatrazSeagullMachine GunAlcatraz
AlcatrazAlcatrazAlcatrazOaklandOakland 2013Oakland beer map
Beer and nutsBaseball beardBaseballBaseballCollesiumAmerica's Cup

Trip Day 6 Alcatraz & Oakland, a set on Flickr.

Day 5 Update

Who’s idea was it to set up San Francisco on mountain on top of a tectonic timebomb? Good grief, there are some hills around here. More on that soon…

Time- 4:45am, something went crash in a big way, sounded like a garbage truck exploded. Whatever, I was awake.

With it raining slightly, and knowing how Australian drivers lose all ability when it rains slightly, I decided to head the 61 miles back to SFO and drop my baby Mustang off. Sigh.

Even with some pea soup fog, the Californian drivers all proved themselves to be capable of steering without shunting.

Caught Bart back into the city (it’s the train), dropped bags, and cable carred it off to Lombard Street (the winding one).

Picked up a bicycle, which evidently had zero gears for going downhill or flat, but 21 gears for going straight up mountains. This proved useful on the first mountain. Hard work!

The helpful dude at the bike shop gave me some pointers on the best damage limitation routes regarding hills, and he was pretty much on the money.

Went around Golden Gate Bridge to the beach side, then through Golden Gate Park to the California Academy of Science. It was a neat place (including the most recent America’s Cup winning boat hanging from the roof), but utterly packed with small kids trying to run into your knees.

Weaved back over to the Bridge, which was still covered in cloud, but very spooky/cool. Rode over to Sausalito, cruised around for an hour or so, and caught the ferry back to San Francisco.

Dropped the bike off, lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf, and walked around the waterfront for a couple of hours, including checking out the SS Jeremiah O’Brien.

Caught the cable car back to the hotel. Knackered. Can’t really type too well. That is all.

Trip Day 5 San Francisco & Bay

Cable CarCoffeeAquariumElephantFisherman's WharfSurprise!
#prFostersLombard StreetGolden Gate BridgeBicycleSan Francisco
Golf TeeLegion of HonourLegion of HonourSan FranciscoDutch WindmillBison Paddock
Disc GolfGolden Gate ParkFocult's PendulumAmerica's CupCritterAlcatraz

Trip Day 5 San Francisco & Bay, a set on Flickr.

Day 4 Update

The word epic gets overused a lot. But I don’t think epic is a strong enough word to describe today.

First thing’s first- didn’t get much sleep, and being surrounded by people who work in NASCAR, the baby elephant walk around the hotel at 5:00am had me awake way too early.

Subsequently got to the track at about 6:30am, then had a small kip in the car before heading into the pits.

First up I went to the Tweetup, I’ve always read about them, but quite obviously never had a chance to attend. Met two of my favourite all-time journalists, Jeff Gluck and Dustin Long. Had a good long chat, which was especially cool. Wound up winning a Jimmie Johnson hat from Old 5 Time’s spotter for correctly answering a trivia question- winner!

Met up with Marcos’s friends from Tassie Duane and Adam, and with number nine spotter Tim as our chaperone, we were smuggled into the driver’s briefing.

This thing was an utter circus. The rather large tent was filled with drivers, spotters, crew chiefs, celebrities, journalists, sponsors, it was the Ben Hurr of briefings.

The run down was 5 minutes of dignitary introductions, a 5 minute video (all custom animated to show the points of the track, much slicker than any actual TV production we have in Australia), a quick mention of the restart zones, two questions from Jeff Gordon, and a prayer.

Upon exiting, there was a police/security guard of honour restraining a mass of punters. I duly waved to the perplexed folk. That was cool.

Cruised around until the driver introductions, when Marcos said he would get us on the back of his pickup truck for the parade lap.

The standard deal is that each truck had an auction winner- the lady to go with Marcos paid $1,000.

With the four of us, there wouldn’t have been much room for pole sitter Jamie McMurray, so he was told to get his own truck.

Massively cool to do a lap of the track, awesome layout, huge crowd, and we Oi Oi Oied the Aussie Aussie Aussies coming at us.

Took in the pre race ceremonies from on the grid, another rad experience.

With the race start delayed by drizzle, we picked up some scanners and headed up to turn two.

In another rain delay, we went further up the mountain to the lookout where all of the spotters stand. Needless to say, the view was incredible, and it was brilliant to listen in on Tim and seeing exactly what he could see. He’s very pro.

After that, we headed back to the pits to watch the last couple of pit stops. Took these in from on top of the pit cart… that doesn’t happen everyday!

Marcos didn’t get the result he deserved, but that’s racing. Still, a day I’ll never forget.

Being told horror stories on how difficult it is to get out of the track, it appears they blocked off all exits bar the paddock car park, so I managed to get home in record time. Did not see that one coming…

Also, I found out today from a local regarding the all-stop sign intersection, you should “yield” to your left. I used this new-found info to my advantage driving home.

Tomorrow- head on down to San Francisco. They’ve forecast record rain for June. Since it’s never rained here in June, the actual forecast is for a 60% chance of showers. Wait and see… might be a fun bike ride!

Day 1 Update

So the trip has started!

Things kicked off well when the nice lady at Air New Zealand asked “Would you like a free upgrade today, sir.” Yes, yes I would.

The first leg was near the front of the jet, and pretty bloody good. Leg two from Auckland to San Francisco was more interesting. I jagged a quasi exit aisle- it wasn’t technically an exit aisle, it was the one behind, but my seat didn’t have anything in front of it.

Things were looking even better with an apparent empty seat next to me… until the last passenger aboard took position. At first she wasn’t happy because she wanted an aisle seat because she “had DVT in the past, and need to get up a lot.” Oh man…

Things weren’t too bad until she got the mega night horrors about two hours after the dinner service, when everyone started to drift off. The horrors then somehow resulted in a spot of unconsciousness. Fortunately one of the hosties was a former paramedic, and got her going again, but it wasn’t great for the other two punters in row 54!

Anyhoo, had a win at SFO when the nice rental car man gave me a Mustang for the weekend. It’s a pretty good rig, a fair bit of sniff, reasonably good handling, but the road compliance of a pogo stick. Note to self, never hit a bump/grain of sand, or run the risk of winding up in a paddock.

Staying on the correct (wrong) side of the road hasn’t been an issue- in California there is a car ever five square metres, so there are plenty of people to follow around…

Did In-N-Out Burger for lunch. $5 for a large burger/cholesterol meal deal. Delicious. Root beer, where have you been in my life since 1994?

Visited the Walmart next door, what unbelievable quality at outrageously cheap prices. I was surprised being in the middle of Wine Country USA that shit Australian wines feature prominently in their offering.

Went up to Armstrong Redwoods- amazing place, the photos of these 100m/1400 year old trees do them absolutely no justice. The road there was pretty special, all of the vineyards are green and leafy, on rolling hills framed by redwoods.

Staying at the Hilton Sonoma Valley, it must be the spot, as everyone else here is from the NASCAR circus. Darian Grubb is in the room next door… to eavesdrop on set up chatter or not?