Christmas at the Pacific Coast
We look back five months. It was the last week of July this year when we did our rounds in Yellowstone National Park. We just came back from our tour in the West Thumb Geyser Basin and had a snack on the parking lot in front of our car when a handsome young man with a French accent approached us. There we saw Yves for the first time. He asked us the usual questions about our trip and was interested in the Landcruiser. The small talk lasted a maximum of 10 minutes and we said goodbye again. But he did not fail to invite us to his home in Santa Cruz at the end and gave me his e-mail address. We accepted the invitation gratefully and promised to contact him as soon as we were in the area.
Now we are in the area and remember the invitation about half a year ago. We are not so sure if we should really report to Yves. Although we have long since accepted a bit of the openness of the Americans in the last few months, we are still completely Swiss at heart and feel it is rather inappropriate when we ask after such a long time whether we can come by and only at Christmas time! But after a long back and forth we jump over our shadow and write an e-mail to Yves.
Not an hour later we receive an answer from Yves, who would be very happy if we spent a few days in the studio in his basement. He also remarked that it would be great if we could get to him as soon as possible so that he could also see us as he and his girlfriend Natalie fly to the Bahamas over the holidays. But we shouldn't feel stressed. If we want to come later, he'd just have the key ready.
There she is again, this incredible hospitality of the Americans...
In this case we don't think long and go straight to Santa Cruz. We arrive only in the evening and enjoy a really cool Christmas decoration while driving through the neighbourhoods. There are people who have life-size cribs in their front garden or roofs of houses with towering, grim-looking snowmen who can flutter in the wind and make you fear ... and of course countless flashing lights in all colours and shapes.
I didn't really know what Yves looked like anymore, but I recognized him immediately when he welcomed us in front of his house. He shows us "our" studio, which is incredibly lovingly furnished. There is a bottle of wine and a can of sweets ready for us and we are allowed to use his home entertainment system, which consists of a 1300-part film database and ALEXA.
So we enjoy the holidays in Santa Cruz, make a few trips to different beach sections in the area, are invited by Natalie and Yves before their departure for dinner and celebrate on December 24th for two Christmas with brought Raclette from Switzerland and a few small gifts. A few short Skype sessions with the families at home are also a must.
Before we continued our journey to the south, we went a little further north. San Francisco is the destination. We leave early in the morning of December 25th and arrive two hours later in the golden city that welcomes us with the best weather. We park near the Golden Gate Welcome Center and get to see the bridge in full splendour from different perspectives during a walk through the park.
Afterwards we walk along the Waterfront towards Fisherman's Wharf and are confronted for the first time with the current government shutdown when we are denied access to the SF Maritime NHP. But we treat ourselves to a much too sweet hot chocolate in the stuffed Ghirardelli's, flee again a short time later and walk on to Pier 39.
Also there, everything full! We can see the cuddly sea lions that are romping through the water on the moorings but through the many people and thanks to Mathias' size a few snapshots land over the heads of the others on our camera.
We actually thought that Christmas would be a good day to do some sightseeing, as all Americans are certainly at home celebrating. Unfortunately we didn't make our calculations with all the Asians, who of course don't celebrate Christmas. San Francisco is home to the largest Chinese enclave outside Asia and it seems that all its inhabitants enjoy the beautiful weather in the city with us today.
So today we are still standing in a huge queue several times. Be it to drive down Lombard Street or to come to the viewpoint on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge ... we have to wait and be patient. Not exactly one of my strengths. To get to the View Point, we wait an hour in a traffic jam ... uphill. The access road was converted into a one-way to provide a lane of the 2,5km long road as parking fields. But the view compensates for the nerve-racking approach and so this day still comes to a conciliatory end. In the evening we have a Chinese dinner. The Chinese restaurants are open today, in contrast to most other restaurants.
After a not so restful night at Golden Gate Vista Point we have to leave early the next day, because we only have two days to get to Los Angeles, where we can pick up some guests at the airport again. *Freu*
We drive all along Highway No. 1 to the south and in between we enjoy magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean. In Monterrey we take the so-called 17-Mile-Drive, where the road winds its way directly along the unspoilt coast. At Point Lobos State Natural Reserve we take the time for a longer hike, as here the chances are good to see the cute sea otters living here. When we are discouraged and want to give up after 2 hours, a specimen shows up in the tides at the last minute.
P.S.: By the way, there was also a Christmas present for Baloo. But we already gave it to him or installed it before we went to the coast. We drove to Valley Hybrids in Stockton and had the front axle overhauled. We already knew in Switzerland that this is no longer completely tight and that while driving a little bit of differential oil constantly ran into the axle. This didn't have any negative effects so far, but we still wanted to do the work before we went on to Latin America, then the problem might get worse and the search for a suitable mechanic becomes more and more difficult. Georg is a Toyota Landcruiser specialist and also knows our older model very well. So we could take this opportunity to have a service done and buy some spare parts. He and his team did a perfect job and we were allowed to stay at Georg's home for the two days needed for the repair and were invited twice for dinner. Thank you very much Georg! In return, the rest of our Victorinox Chocolate Knives found happy buyers here.