On the road again…

We’ve left San Francisco. It was a bit sad, we’d come to love the city, the area, the house. But we’re now en route to Las Vegas to meet my brother, who accidentally won a ticket to Vegas in some competition that he’d entered without thinking too much about it. Together we’ll drive out and see Grand Canyon, the last great sight on our American journey.

On our last day, we had lunch in San Francisco. I’d been complaining that we’d been a whole month in SF and hadn’t had Chinese food. We went to the Far East Café on Grant Street and had a traditional family lunch there together with hordes of Chinese. Nice finishing touch!

Dane’s fortune cookie said: Life to you is a dashing and bold adventure. For those of you who know him, this probably rings a bell :-) Mine said: Investigate new possibilities with friends. Now is the time! Anyone up?

Last night we spent at a La Quinta hotel in Bakersfield, CA. And this afternoon we’ll join my brother at the not-so-new-and-shiny Tropicana hotel on the Strip in Vegas. Will be interesting! Talked to him yesterday and asked: What’s Vegas like? And he kept saying: Different, different…

Remember to check out pictures here.

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Real life drama

Today we witnessed a puzzling drama as it unfolded under our windows, out on the bay. It is an extremely stormy day, the metereologists say it’s the worst storm in the Bay area in many years, so we wondered what a relatively large fishing boat was doing, anchored right off the coast in this part of the bay, where we haven’t hitherto seen any larger boats.

Through the binoculars we saw that two men were working on the ropes that held their dingy. After a while the dingy got away and we looked on in astonishment as one of the men dived into the sea and tried to swim after it. But it was already far gone, and he swam back and was pulled back on board by his mate.

But then they went up to the upper deck and got a canoe, which they launched into the water and the guy got into it and started paddling after the dingy (which was by now out of sight) with one big, long oar. The winds were up to 70 mph. After a few hundred yards he capsized and we could just see him clinging to the bottom of the canoe. David rang 911, but luckily they had already got a call and were on the way.

David and Dane got in the car and drove down to the bottom of the bay where they witnessed the rescue. At first nobody could see him, but then Dane and another by-stander spotted him and the two rescue vessels went to the rescue. On the last photograph you can see him being pulled to shore.

It was such a weird thing to witness first-hand and the weather was so crazy, that David’s glasses flew off. So now he’s wearing sun-glasses… They were both soaked to the skin, when they got back, in spite of all their rain gear.

Quite a few sailing boats are drifting around in the bay and have been blown onto the shore after having lost their anchors, I guess. The garden furniture was skating around on the porch and we were a bit worried about the trees. But they were the bending kind!

We’re pretending it’s Emils birthday today (it’s really in two weeks’ time), so he could decide where we’re going to eat. He chose a sushi restaurant in Mill Valley, but when we got there, the whole valley was without power. We saw many fallen trees along the way. So now we’re back in Tiburon, where there’s also a sushi restaurant and where there’s power. We were lucky not loose electricity at the house, we understand, because many thousands of houses in the bay area are without power since the storm, which has now almost died down.

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Added at 10 pm:

This evening the above story appeared on the local paper’s website. Clearly the other guy had chosen to modify what happened in his explanation to the police. Of course, had he admitted that the guy first jumped and then sailed out in a canoe without vest or wet-suit in 70 mph winds, he might be facing charges!?!

Added January 6th:

I just read that the man died. He went into cardiac arrest when he was brought to shore, and in spite of a massive effort to bring him back to life, he was taken off life support yesterday. That is very, very sad. And particularly when his death was so utterly unnecessary. My thoughts go to his family and friends.

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A thriller

These last days we’ve (me mostly, and David) been watching CNN all day and night long to follow the so-called Iowa caucuses. That’s the pre-elections if you will, among the presidential candidates from both parties. First state is Iowa and that is of course why it’s so important.

The republican candidate who won tonight was Mike Huckabee. I had not even heard of him, when we arrived in the US and I’m pretty sure many Americans hadn’t either. And the democrat candidate who won was the black outsider Barack Hussein Obama. And Iowa is really a very white, a very religious and a very republican state. Those two candidates have very little in common. But they do have one thing: They both speak warmly about a UNITED America – united across the dividing line that has defined American politics for many, many years, a line that started widening badly during the Clinton administration because so many republicans hate him and hate Hillary so much, and which has grown so, so much deeper during the Bush administration, because of the Iraq war.

Even if Huckabee is VERY Christian and is against abortion and speaks about no sex before marriage and all sorts of things that I so not agree with, he said something very beautiful in his thank you speech in Iowa. He quoted someone, I didn’t catch who, but said: “War is not about hating the people in front of you, but about loving the people behind you.” And he drew on that line to talk about how he wanted to unite America across the divide.

Obama’s thank you speech was marvelous – I’m sure you can catch it on one of the networks’ websites or on Youtube very soon. Obama also speaks constantly about healing America and it’s self-confidence. He said: “It’s not about a group of blue states and a group of red states – it’s about the United States of America.” (Quoted from memory).

I’ve just read an article in Atlantic Monthly which elaborates on why Obama can unite America. You should read it… I like Hillary, I always did. But she looks old and worn – not as an old woman, but as an old hand –  and she repeats herself in her speeches.

And why is this so interesting to us Europeans. Well, surely that’s obvious. The president of the United States is half president of the world. What he (or she) does, the signals he (or she) sends, influence us all. If America’s economy doesn’t start to fare better very soon, that is going to affect us all. And if America doesn’t soon start working on healing the wounds in the Middle East rather than deepening them, we’ll all be in trouble. You can continue the litany yourself…

And a bit about us. We’ve been somewhat under the weather with both Emil and me suffering from relatively bad colds. Emil being hit the hardest, lying all of New Year’s day with a high fever. He’s better now, luckily.

Due to the above our New Year was quiet. We had nice food, watched a good film on the computer and toasted in tiny glasses of sparkly to a more peaceful world. It was certainly very peaceful outside our windows, no fireworks whatsoever. Pretty strange – don’t think I’ve ever experienced a New Year without fireworks before! But we watched one million people celebrate in Times Square in New York. They certainly had lots of fireworks!

Today we drove in to San Francisco and parked in San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s parking garage. I can recommend that. It’s not exactly cheap, but neither is the ferry. And it’s very central and probably fairly safe. We went and saw an exhibition with Olafur Eliasson, which felt very close to home. David and I liked it a lot, Emil and Ida weren’t so impressed. We also saw an exhibition with an American artist I’ve never heard of before. Joseph Cornell. Very refreshing, very inspiring (particularly to Dane, who’s produced four boxes since we got home…) and very thought provoking. So all in all a very nice day at a very nice – but surprisingly small – museum.

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A day in the city

From our local town Tiburon there’s a boat into San Francisco. It’s not exactly cheap, but neither is parking in town. Besides, parking in town seems to be an art form, which we’re not sure that we master.

We took the boat at 8:45 am and were in town 20 minutes later. We walked through Chinatown and watched the shopkeepers busily opening their shops. In North Beach we headed straight for lovely coffee and croissants at a boulangerie just across from City Lights Booksellers, while waiting for them to open. Boring Dane to bits we spent an hour or so in there. We didn’t buy any of their staple books from the golden era. I’ve never understood Burroughs and already have two copies of On the Road by Kerouac. But we bought a few newer books, also published by City Lights. If I remember it, I’ll comment on them once I’ve read them…

After that we headed towards the Coit tower. Up, up and up we strode. And then the last bit by elevator. Interesting to see everything from up there with a map handy – that way we got a much better idea of the location of various things. Dane loves the hilly streets, climbing up and running down. We spent another hour in a bead shop (yes!!!) by the name of Yone where Dane and I picked out beads, so he can make me a lovely necklace for my birthday. The old man who owned the shop had owned it since “The summer of Love” and must have been pushing 80. His younger brother was visiting from Michigan, and he wasn’t exactly young himself, a long time retired psychologist. So far the people here have been just as nice, talkative and friendly as the people in the South. That’s a positive surprise – I guess I expected Californians to be less forthcoming than Southerners.

We didn’t do much shopping, though we really ought to, Christmas being so near. We just walked. And walked and walked and walked. But enjoyed it thoroughly. At one point however, we accidentally wondered into a part of the city (the Tenderloin) full of what looked like homeless people and gang-types. Was I glad that it wasn’t dark yet! Without a word from either of us, Dane commented: “Mommy, I don’t like it here, these people look at me like they want something from me!” Oh, but was he right! We made it to Van Ness in one piece, so much the wiser. There we took refuge in yet another bookshop, Books Inc., where we sat down to rest our weary feet and have a cup of coffee. And we bought Dane a copy of The Guinness Book of Records. I never thought I’d buy that book, because I find it quite stupid, full as it is of idiotic records, dangerous scorpion longest in mouth or longest beard on a woman… But Dane is driving us nuts with questions like What’s the name of the tallest mountain in the world? How fast does the fastest airplane fly? Where does the world’s tallest tree grow? He goes on endlessly. And though we think we’re both rather knowledgeable, we really haven’t a clue about most of these fact-type questions. So there.

The boat back home was so homely, most of the people on board knew each other – at least by sight – and knew the staff. Coming into the harbour in Tiburon, we could see that many of the boat- and yacht-owners had hung Christmas-decorations from their masts and rigs. It looked very pretty!

Yesterday we drove south through the city and along highway 1 in the opposite direction. I won’t bore you with any more beautiful views, but will tell you that we saw fat seals sunbathing on the rocks just under us, when we stopped to see a lovely old lighthouse. We also had an excellent burger at Gazo’s Grill, a very cute place with fantastic décor. Any variation over the lighthouse theme you can imagine. How about a tablecloth with lighthouse-motif?

And we bought a little Christmas tree. There was no way around it…

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