What a lovely last day of holiday. The sun was shining in
San Francisco so we did some hanging outside in the sun, but we spent lots of
time in a captivating museum called the Asian Art Museum. It had this fantastic
exhibition on the influence of Asian art on Europe and vice versa in the 1800s,
especially on the Impressionists.
A lovely day for heading north up to San Francisco. But in
fact we started the day by heading south to do the 17-mile drive around the
Monterey peninsula and further on to Carmel. The coastline is stunning as you
can see in this shot around the peninsular.
And this one on the coast on the way north.
A bit of disappointment when we reached San Francisco to
find that our favourite Italian restaurant called Bocce has closed down. Fortunately,
we found a great local trattoria called Pane e Vino which had just as good food
– especially the lovely light ricotta cheesecake you can see.
Well, this was the worst weather day we’ve had. In fact, I’m
grateful that I didn’t go for a bike ride with Paddy in the morning because he
got absolutely drenched on the last hour of his 3.5-hour bike ride up into the
nearby hills. But we were travelling for quite a bit of the day and it pretty
much cleared up by the time we got to Monterey, in time to spend the afternoon
at the Aquarium. It was very, very well presented with some amazing exhibits.
Look at all these fish swarming and dancing around in this tank.
And I got up close and personal with this fish too.
So good to be at Jim & Elaine’s home again. It is like
our home from home in the United States. We love being here and feel so welcome
and happy. One of the highlight is their lovely pool where you can see us
hanging out today. Of course, being a spider monkey, I’d rather just sit on the
edge rather than get my fur wet, but you can see Ruth, Elaine and Jim enjoying
themselves in the water.
As it is Halloween today, I went “trick or treating” with
Elaine & Jim’s grand-daughter Rowenna (Hannah and Mike’s little girl).
Then we were off to visit Dylan (one of Elaine & Jim’s
sons) and his household of cats. Being Halloween, of course I snuggled up to a
pure black witch’s cat called Boba.
More sequoias today. They are such an awesomely impressive
tree – especially for a monkey like me because there are no branches low down
to help me climb up. I reckon I’d suffer from vertigo if I climbed to the top
anyway. Here is Paddy and me standing in front of General Grant – it may not
look that big in the background, but it is actually the second biggest tree in
the world by volume – 81.5m high, and 8.8m in diameter. President Calvin
Coolidge proclaimed it the "Nation's Christmas Tree" on April 28,
It’s a bit strange up there at the moment. They’ve had huge
forest fires which at one time had 3,000 firefighters working to control it, so
there are large blackened areas. As well as that there has been a drought for a
few years and lots of the trees are starting to die so large patches of brown
in the forests. And looking out across the Sierra Nevadas I ask myself “where
is the nevada?” Nevada means “snowfall” in Spanish for those of you that don’t
know. Reading about it find out that California’s mountains are at a 500-year
snow low, as California faces one of its most severe droughts in 100 years –
since this April the mountains have got only 5% of their historical average
from 1951 to 2000. Global warming or what?
We headed up to the mountains today – going up from around
400m to 2,700m at the highest point. You can see me looking out to Moro Rock,
one of the main attractions. It’s sunny in the picture, but by the time we got
up there to climb up it was starting to get covered by cloud.
But Paddy and I still climbed it and he took my picture with
the Sierra Nevada peaks in the background.
We had some lovely walks around the Great Forest which is
full of enormous sequoias – the largest trees in the world. You can see me here
looking up at General Sherman, the largest tree in the world by volume, with a
height of 83.8 meters (275 ft), a diameter of 7.7 m (25 ft), an estimated bole
volume of 1,487 m3 (52,513 cu ft), and an estimated age of 2,300–2,700 years.
Dave was busy today, but Karen was able to take us up to the
Getty Museum which Ruth hasn’t visited although Paddy and I have been there
before. We had a quick whip round some of the exhibits but the highlight was a
tour around the gardens with someone to explain some of the history and
thinking around their layout and design.
We’re spending a couple of days with Dave and Karen, hanging
and catching up with them. Changes for them this year with Karen retiring and
it seems like Dave has more and more projects on the go so no sign of
retirement for him. Jean moved into a lovely small retirement home this year
too, so we took the opportunity to visit her.
We had a look around Old San Diego in the morning, and guess
what we found! Yes, it was a Cold Stone Creamery, so there was no way we could
resist partaking of a little ice cream.
Then we starting moseying up the coast on our way to Los
Angeles. We stopped at a few beaches and had a swim. Lovely sandy beaches with
warm sun and Pacific breakers. And of course an industrial complex right beside
the beach – how did that get planning permission then?
I was so keen to visit San Diego Zoo as I’d heard it is one
of the best zoos in the world and I was very keen to catch up with some of my
friends who I knew would be hanging around there. Here is one of them that I
visited – a friendly gibbon who would have much preferred to be sitting beside
me but who unfortunately needed to stay in his cage.
The zoo was full of colour, noises and smells, so I had a
great time. Even saw some giant pandas and there were some very cute baby
gorillas as well as dazzlingly coloured birds.
Hi, my name is Sveg, and I'm travelling with the Paynes and writing this blog after Carlos decided to stay behind in Wellington in June 2015.
Ola, mi nombre es Carlos. And I'm the super spider monkey that you can see in all the Payne family adventures since 2011.
Bailey, the little brown furry dog that you can see in earlier adventures was one of Sarah's favourite dogs who always went on the Payne family travels, until one fateful day he went travelling by himself and he is yet to return.