A very special day

Well, it’s arrived – our 12th wedding anniversary – and just like our 2nd wedding anniversary, we’re traveling. For our 2nd anniversary we were in China, on a 60 hour train journey in ‘hard sleeper’ class, and we celebrated with one bottle of Becks (brewed in Quanzhou) and a tin of Lindt chocolates (made in Shanghai). Both turned out to be revolting imitations of the real thing, but after 10 months in Asia we were happy. But this time we are in the USA, home of ‘Freedom Fries’ and ‘Gourmet Hamburgers’, so things are bound to be better!Emeraldbay

We started the day in Lake Tahoe, driving up the Emerald Bay on the lake. It was lovely, and the other 200 people standing at the viewpoint thought so too – and then we got back into the car and started driving west. (In Canada we were told that 95% of visitors to the Rockies don’t ever get more than 100 yards from their car. Well, we were in that mode this morning!)

We drove the Interstate, across the pass past Sacramento, towards San Francisco. After so many other amazing drives, this one seemed boring. We just drove past waterfalls, forests and mountain streams, and barely slowed down to admire the skyscrapers of Sacramento or the vineyards alongside the highway near Napper Valley. Mind you, we did stop for lunch at the Golden Arches (now, there’s one for the ‘wedding anniversaries from hell’ scrapbook). And we drove across the top of the bay near San Francisco, and drove down the peninsula towards the Golden Gate bridge.

Golden Gate BridgeAnd when we came round the corner and saw it for the first time, we were all excited. There was a strong breeze blowing in the sea mist, which covered about a third of the bridge, and made it seem as if we were standing on clouds. Charlotte and Emily had never seen anything like it, and were excited by the whole idea of fast-moving clouds in front of their eyes. And they were also cold, for the first time in ages.

We drove on, over the bridge, accompanied by half a dozen fire trucks (don’t ask me what that was all about – it looked like they were all out for a picnic, because they definitely have ‘working’ frowns on), and then dropped into the city along Highway 101. It took us about half an hour to choose a motel, after we’d looked at and negotiated with three different ones, and we’re paying $68 for a motel within a mile of the main sights (Fisherman’s Wharf etc). It never seems to take us long to find our accommodation, with the help of our handy motel-coupon book (pick them up at a California Visitors Centre – they’ve saved us a small fortune here) – we sometimes wonder how budget travellers must get on in the UK. Can you imagine doing the same in Oxford – driving around half a dozen hotels to find a good one at a good price? It would take half the day to just find half a dozen!

Anniversary toastAnyway, I digress. Once settled into our room it was early evening, so we wandered down to the sea front at the marina while the sun sank (whoo, that’s chilly. It might be 90-degrees inland 10 miles, but its 68-degrees here on the coast). And then we went for our special anniversary meal. Okay, only kidding – but we did decide to spend more than usual. We ended up splurging $35 (coo – £22) on a divine meal of skewers of lamb, beef, prawns and scallops, served on a bed of salad and garlic mash – plus a carafe of wine. It was expensive by our standards, but not really compared to home prices. It was the best, and healthiest, meal we’ve eaten in the States. (If you come to SF and want a good value meal, then we’d recommend it – Asque – on the corner of Steiner and Chestnut). You can see from the photo that we drank all the wine!

Mels Drive-inWe then went round the corner to Mel’s Diner for deserts and coffee. From the outside it looked like the classic 50’s style diner – jukeboxes on every table, and promises of ‘good home cooking’. But when we got inside it was a slightly different story – all the waitresses were oriental, rather than looking like Fonzie’s Mum – and the deserts were poor. But still, it made a great picture from the outside. And then it was back to bed (dragging two weary kids with us, who woke up the minute we got back to the motel, and played ‘airplanes’ while we tried to get them to sleep). And so ended our 12 wedding anniversary. Wonder where we’ll be for the 22nd? Will we be backpacking round the moon by then?

Categories: USA