24 May 2012

Napa Valley Wine Train

One of the reasons, we came here after our stint baby-sitting in Los Angeles, was to take a ride on this famous train. It was a fabulous experience. The train leaves Sonoma and runs up the valley for about 4 hours during which time you get to sample the local wines and have a fabulous gourmet lunch in the restored Pullman carriages.

The Observation Car for our Tour Group

The other Blogger enjoys a glass of Napa Valley Cabarnet.

Two glasses for the 'happy chappie'
A great gourmet lunch is served in the dining car

22 May 2012

Cooking Up a Storm in San Francisco

Last night, our Tauck Tour visited a commercial restaurant kitchen to cook up a storm. Well, actually it was a bonding exercise to get to know each other and it was a lot of fun.

At the end of it, we got to eat everything we cooked. It was a great experience and we did get to know our American travelling companions a little better. 'Y'all come back now, hear...'

(All photos taken by Diane with the kitchen people's camera which I downloaded from their web site)

21 May 2012

The Famous Cable Cars of San Francisco

Yesterday, having arrived a day early for our tour, we took the chance to ride on a few of the cable cars in this fabulous city. We started off at The Cannery Wharf where one of the cable car's turntable is. Being Saturday, we had to queue for about 15 minutes before we got on one of the cars but it was worth while waiting. It took us up Hyde Street right past Lombard Street. we stayed on up to the Cable car Museum and got off to visit the museum where also the engines are that drive the cables all around the city.
At the turntable, the driver rotates the car and guides it onto the other track.

Inside the car, with the driver in front
 When the car takes off, the driver applies a clamp to the constantly moving cable below the street level with a kind of clamp. The car then moves at the speed of the cable until the driver releases the clamp, applies the brake and the car comes to a stop.
Our car after we jumped off, outside the museum.

These giganic machines turn the fly wheels which in turn move the cables on rollers around the city.

Looking out of the car going back to our hotel
The shot above really does not show how steep some of the roads are in San Francisco where the cable cars run.

18 May 2012

We're off to San Francisco

We had 3 great days in San Luis Obispo with Diane's cousin Chuck and his wife Lois. They took us to see the elephant seals on one of their northern beaches,
Last night they took us to their evening street markets in town, including their famous Bubble Gum Alley which is really gross, Both walls are covered with bubble gum people have stuck on.

So now this morning we're leaving San Luis Obispo and travel to San Francisco.

We had actually intended to jump back onto Amtrak for the 4 hour trip, but guess what: There is no Amtrak railway station in San Francisco. The nearest one is in Oakland or Emeryville, from where we would have to organise a bus. Also we would arrive there at 10.00 PM, and then search for a bus.


So we may as well take a bus from San Luis Obispo. Looking at the various bus schedules, there are quite often delays and the bus trip takes between 5 and 7 hours. No Thanks!

So we looked up air planes and found United. (I always wanted to fly united, ha ha. This one is actually operated by SkyWest. It takes just over an hour and lands at SFO airport.

More from San Francisco.

15 May 2012

Universal City Visit

Today, Carol my eldest daughter and I visited Universal City, well, you've got to do it when you're in L.A. We had a couple of Front-Of-Line passes which enabled us to bypass the long queues everywhere.

First we did the Studio Tour which took us through the backlot of the studios through the sets of their movies and TV shows. The first set was of 'The War of the Worlds'.

Then we went through the set of the TV series 'Bones' just as an earthquake hit the railway station we were driving through and a tidal wave flooded the station. All very realistic.

You all remember the movie 'Psycho?', well we drove past just as Norman Bates loaded a body into the trunk of his Fairlane 500. He saw us and chased us wielding an enormous knife.
Then we bumped into the Keystone Cops and one took a dislike to me and once again I got arrested in Los Angeles.
And finally I took a job on a street gang in New York.

It was a great day out. Well, as I said, you've got to do it.

08 May 2012

Fairfax High School Flea Market

We went to the Fairfax High School Flea Market yesterday, Sunday, and it was quite an experience. Flea markets are quite different over here from ours in Australia. There are lots of antiques, new and used items.

The market is in the car parking area of the high school, which is quite big.

It's a horders' paradise. Just as well we are here only with suit cases or I might have bought a few items.

Fox loved all the used toy cars and Papa was conned into buying a new addition to his car collection.

Photos by Diane

06 May 2012

Banjo mixes with Show Business Royalty

Banjo is getting to know a few TV stars already. Brett Tucker who stars in the US TV series Spartacus: Vengance and Castle, called at the hospital to see little Banjo.

Esther Anderson called in yesterday to see her friends and check on the baby.

For our overseas friends, Esther, an Australian actress, played Charlie Buckton in Home and Away and was a contestant on Dancing With the Stars. Esther was also nominated for 2 Logies including the Gold Logie this year.

04 May 2012

Hold Your FIRE!!!!

On our visit to The Grove this morning, I saw this shop just made for my son-in-law David when he gets here after London.

David loves hot spicy sauces and here are plenty here to choose from.

They have hot ones, pretty hot ones...

Very hot ones and .....

Explosively hot ones....

I'm sure you couldn't take any of those on a plane....

01 May 2012

Extra At The Grove

This morning on our daily walk to The Grove for Granddad's coffee, we came along the shoot of the US TV Show Extra. Now that won't mean much for Australian and European readers but apparently it is fairly big here in the States.

The crew is setting up the set

Lots of equipment was brought in

The stars of the show Maria and Mario

Here is a promo for an earlier show at The Grove: