OSF. The heart Of Robin Hood

OSF. The heart Of Robin Hood

Golden Gates

Golden Gates

Morning on top of mark

Morning on top of mark

Avenue of the Giants

Avenue of the Giants

Sunday, August 7, 2011

August 7, 2011 From San Francisco to Ashland, 350 miles

The day started with us searching in vain for breakfast: the elevator refused to take us to the 19th floor, and when we attempted the stairs – the door was locked. The only thing left for us to do was to question the concierge… Breakfast was moved downstairs!
We left gray wet San Francisco and soon were driving along I-80. About 50 miles away from the city on the bay the weather improved – the sun came out, and though the Sierra Nevada ranges were still hidden in the grey haze, it was hot! We just wallowed in the sunlight…
We made several stops on the way, especially after Redding, when we approached Mt. Shasta. What a powerful giant! From the south, it glimmers with pure white snow, from the north it is dryer, the slopes are gentler and greener.
By 5:30 we were in Ashland, and strolled its sun-lit streets… listened to Haydn on the green… and swam in the swimming pool.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

August 6, 2011 Visiting the relics St. John of Shanghais in San Francisco

Another gloomy, cold, grey day in San Francisco. Today we took a taxi to the Holy Virgin (The Joy of All Who Sorrow) Cathedral in Geary Boulevard. The Church has been erected in the sixties, but once you step inside, you are instantly transported two or three centuries back in time. The church is lavishly decorated with murals on every surface; the King’s gates separating the altar from the floor are carved and gilded, bearing most beautiful images. The church contains personal belongings of the Tsar-martyr Nicholas II. But most importantly, the church contains the holy relics of St. John of Shanghais.
Here, at the church, we met a very pleasant Russian lady Irina, who insisted on being our guide. She took us for a walk in Richmond – Little Russia – and then through the Golden Gate Park. We walked through wild-looking alleys with colossal eucalyptus trees, past man-made lakes with men launching miniature boats, past a vast padlock with grazing buffalo, amid lavish local flowers… In the end of the trail we stopped by the North Dutch Wind Mill. This historic landmark stands here since 1902. It was restored on public money in the 80ies, and now is a most delightful place to view.
From the mill we walked along the ocean shore. The mists still roiled over the leaden waves, but there were dozens of surfers nevertheless braving these churning waters! We made it to the top of the cliff and just watched the seagulls and the tide…

Friday, August 5, 2011

August 5, 2011 San Francisco

The day began well: we had a lavish breakfast on top of Mark – on the 19th floor of our hotel. There were probably 10 more guests and about as many staff. The food was excellent! The view was stunning!
The city tour included a 3-hour bus trip and 1 hour long bay cruise. We were picked up from our hotel by a Russian driver Igor, who told us lots of interesting things about San Francisco. From the Fisherman Wharf we boarded a double decker – we chose to sit on the top floor – and viewed the city. Minor difficulties: behind us was a family from India, and the young lady constantly spoke on her cell phone in Punjabi; across the isle was a family with a toddler, who screamed non-stop unless they gave him a bottle or a cracker. I think next time I will opt for a private tour, may be Mr. Toad…
The city of San Francisco does not have a distinct down town and cannot boast an impressive skyline. There are virtually no interesting skyscrapers besides Coight Tower, only boring square boxes glaring here and there like an old man’s teeth. There is an abundance of Victorian 2 and 3 storied homes, but after you’ve seen a couple thousand of those, they grow stale. Everything is on a Lilliputian scale – homes, backyards, back alleys, grocery stores, cafés, parking spaces… It feels tight and somehow stressed out… The gloomy weather adds to the feeling! People we talked to all tell us that there are maybe 2 or 3 days a year when it is warm and sunny, but it is also never quite cold, so palm trees are doing quite well.
The cruise was the most interesting part of the trip – at least for me. We looked at the Golden Gate Bridge from every possible angle, we passed very close by Alcatraz, we enjoyed the sun and the wind on the Bay. And we were given a ride back to our hotel on a very cute old-fashioned bus.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

August 4, 2011 Benbow-San Francisco, 185 miles

We left our historic Benbow and headed down 101 towards San Francisco. We crossed the Mendocino County with its abundant vineries and made a stop at one of them, Jeriko. I was attracted by its Italian look the buildings, the olives and cypresses. It was as manicured as the vineries we saw in the south of Canada… with a touch of rusticity: several goats were grazing behind a fence.
Inside, it was cool, dim, and very pleasant. The most pleasant surprise was the girl at the counter who served us wine – her name was Lea and she was a Russian from Siberia!
We entered San Francisco through the famous Golden gate Bridge. It is majestic, if somewhat faded in color. From the bridge one views a breathtaking panorama of the great city, rising up the steep hills among green trees and crawling mists. Driving in Frisco required nerves of steel and experience with stops on uphill. Luckily, Seattleites have their share of steep hills, so that was not difficult, but parking!!! How do you even approach the hotel entrance!!! We made a full circle and finally I drove through the narrow mouth of the hotel plaza, as big as a tabletop, with half a dozen cars already unloading there. Thank God for valets!!! I am not going to drive here. Walking is a beneficial exercise!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

August 3, 2011

Today we have discovered a Victorian town of Ferndale and drove through the Alley of Giants. Ferndale is really miniature, but quaint, charming – and as historical as any small town museum. By the way, it will celebrate its centennial anniversary on August 7 this year. It took us about an hour to thoroughly walk it through, including a very interesting cemetery (which my father flatly refused to visit) and to patronize some local shops.(I got some ear rings, and my mom – a jar of honey). Their post office is quite amazing – it still looks the same way as it did 100 years ago!
We entered the Alley of the Giants above Pepperwood, and drove slowly along, making as many stops as we wanted. I am afraid photos do not give these trees the deserved credit… The scale is mind-blowing!
Now we are staying at the Benbow Inn – a historical hotel that was built in 1926 and became a popular haunting spot for glitzy Hollywood motorists, including Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. Eleanor Roosevelt was also quite fond of it. The building is amazing, filled with antiques. The service is great, the food also. I have abandoned hopes of loosing weight in the face of chocolate mousse and chocolate crepes....But the swimming pool is a hike away across some desert dusty trail… and the carpets in the halls are stained to ugliness…

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August 2, 2011

After a pleasant breakfast we headed back north to the Trees of Mystery park that is 19 miles miles south of Klamath. The road was completely enveloped in mist, and driving was somewhat challenging. By the entrance we were greeted by a huge statue of Paul Bunyan and his ox Babe. The park allows for close encounters with some of the world’s largest trees. It was a somber, majestic and, yes, mystic place. The gondola ride was a scary affair for someone who is afraid of heights (me) but I survived. Mists obscured the valleys below, but we still enjoyed the view.
Next stop was the Fern Canyon. The mist dissipated, it grew very warm and sunny. Warning to all of my friends who would want to visit this uniquely beautiful place: you need a hardy SUV, take a picnic and be prepared for a tough 5-19 miles hike to really enjoy this park! I drove my little Corolla – and my heart bled over each bump on the gravel road (8 miles!), each brook we waded, each sharp turn on the steep serpentine drive… From the parking lot on the beach - it is a pleasant 0,5 miles walk to the bottom of the canyon, and then one wants to venture up the stream. This was out of question for my parents who are over 80 – and we were getting quite hungry! Still, we followed the stream up for about half a mile more, and each turn brought another gasp of surprise and awe.

25 more miles and we arrived to charming Trinidad, that sits on the very edge of the bay and commands fantastic views of the Pacific ocean. We had lunch at the Seascape restaurant that is lodged directly by the fishermen’s peer, where we could see sea lions and grey pelicans! The food was great and very inexpensive… Portions generous!
When we returned to Eureka, the town looked very different in the sunshine – much friendlier and warmer! We crisscrossed their tiny downtown and enjoyed the quiet streets with Victorian-era buildings. Too bad their museum works only Wednesdays through Saturdays…


Monday, August 1, 2011

Road Trip with Mom and Dad 2011

July 31, 2011
First leg of the trip is done: we left Seattle around 8, and breezed through Tacoma and Olympia. The sky was overcast until we passed our capital. We caught a brief glimpse of the Capitol – dignified and somber, standing among a sea of tall trees. We made a brief stop in a rest area between Olympia and Vancouver, just walked around and stretched. I drank scolding hot cocoa – served by some religious youths- helped me to wake up…
Soon we turned east, bypassing Vancouver, and crossed Columbia river close to The Dalles. We drove along I-84 till we noticed exit 22 spelling out: Vista House. Our navigation system went bonkers: it insisted that we make a U-turn till we actually arrived to the place. It was not happy we chose the Historic highway… but we did enjoy it, except for a brief spell when we stopped at a view point and some youngsters nearly crashed their car into us… They zoomed in and out in two cars at top speed, paused a hairbreadth away from us and made a u-turn hitting their second car on the stone wall of the road with a hollow “boom” – and then, they were gone without even stopping to access the damage!
The Vista House was dedicated in 1918. A strange structure without any evident purpose other then to be a prominent landmark, it sits on top of a gigantic basalt outcropping overlooking the Columbia river Gorge. The store offers postcards, watercolors and pseudo Indian handicrafts…
From Vista House it was about 10 minutes drive to the series of waterfalls: we went to see the Bridal veil, which is a two-fold cascade of foamy water, falling in a narrow valley overgrown with tall, mossy trees. My parents did rather well on the trail, which is short but could be challenging just because it is plunging steeply down – and then climbing up again on the other side. 3 strategically placed benches made it easier for my mom and dad. Later we had a picnic under a gigantic Canadian maple, and by 3 – even considering heavy traffic, were at Portland’s Hilton.
At 4, we got on to the Pink Trolley for an extensive and humorous city tour. Portland is a beautiful city with some striking landforms – the Williamette river divides it into industrial and residential halves, and hills rise to 1200 feet in the west, offering breath-taking views of the city. The Zoo sits on the very top of the hill, with arboretum and Washington park sloping down to the poshy Edwardian and Victorian villas, giving way, in their turn, to mixed business and residential quarters mostly on level ground.
We ended the day in Brassiere Monmartre – I will seriously recommend the place to any of my friends! Their onion soup is incredibly good! Good house wine, good ountrees and pleasant service, plus fab ambience… Go there!
Hilton: do not stay in the main tower – small rooms have no refrigerator, tiniest counter in the bathroom… Pay a bit extra and stay at the executive tower: you will get bigger room with better furniture, nicer bathroom, a refrigerator – and a clean, if somewhat cool, swimming pool with no children.

August 1, 2011
Second day: from Portland to Eureka

It took us most of the day to reach Eureka – we left Portland around 8 A.M., and arrived at 5 P.M. We made a stop about 20 miles before Grants Pass – and it was a smart thing to do! The roads – both 199 and 101 were treacherously weaving along mountain rivers and through the forests; sometimes we drove only 25 miles per hour. There were some very beautiful sites to see, but somber – the giant sequoias cast a deep gloom over the road, and cold mist was seeping through from the ocean. Mysterious, bleak, overwhelming.
We are at Red Lion Inn in Eureka. The hotel does not boast many stars, but has a good friendly service, free breakfast, free internet – and a refrigerator. There is an outdoor pool and a spa, but it was too cold to even go there!

I love these movies!

  • The Fall, directed by Tarsem
  • Amelie, directed by Jean-Pierre Jennet
  • Lord of the Rings, directed by Peter Jackson
  • Moulan Rouge, directed by Baz Luhrman
  • Moonsoon Wedding, directed by Mira Nair
  • Australia, directed by Baz Luhrman
  • Despereately seeking Susan, directed by Susan Seidelman
  • Miss Pettigrew lives for a day, directed by Bharat Nalluri

Favorite books and authors

  • Boris Vassiliev, historical novels
  • C.Cherryh, Morgaine Sagas
  • Ch.Dickens, The Bleak House
  • George Martin, The Chronicles of Ice and Fire
  • Gregory Frost, Shadow Bridge novels
  • Heinrich Mann, Henry the IV
  • J.R.R.Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
  • Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Emma
  • Robert Jordan, The Wheel of Time
  • Sir Thomas Mallory, Le Mort D'Artur
  • Ted Williams, Green Angel Tower
  • Terry Goodkind, Magician's First Rule and the following books in this saga
  • Thomas Mann, Joseph and his Brothers