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Saturday 26 Oct 2013
Livermore, USA

Old friends, new friends

Ailsa’s school friend, Sally, has been undertaking her own epic road trip while I have been away.  She has driven right across the States from Florida to San Francisco, with a detour up to Seattle and down the Pacific Coast due to the National Park closures.  I’ve been following her blog and realised we would all be in San Francisco at the same time so we arranged to meet up for lunch.

On our way up to San Francisco, I took Ailsa to one of Half Moon Bay’s pumpkin farms.  She was just as excited and awed as I was and we bought a mini pumpkin for the car as a road trip mascot.  We headed up into the city, skirted west along the edge of the Golden Gate Park and along the seafront by Ocean Beach.  We parked up and wandered along the seawall, watching the mist over the sea, which did nothing to deter the surfers and students in fancy dress holding some sort of Mini Olympics on the beach.  It was quite eerie to see the beach simply vanishing into the fog. 

We’d arranged to meet Sally and her friend Karri at Cliff House, a famous bistro perched precariously on the cliff above the Pacific Ocean.  It is now in its fourth incarnation, the previous three having fallen victim to fire and storms over the past 100 years.  It is now a white Art Deco building with huge glass windows overlooking the sea, having previously looked more like a gothic Victorian mansion.  I’d suggested it because I thought it was an easy landmark that Bill had pointed out to us on our tour a few weeks ago, but I’d actually been thinking of a diner a couple of blocks further down the road.  It was a bit of a surprise to see the real Cliff house when we arrived, but a nice one.

Sally and Ailsa had been friends at school, but hadn’t actually seen each other since then – almost half a lifetime ago!  I’d been following Sally’s blog, but had never met her, and neither of us knew her friend Karri, but we had a great lunch together.  Several hours passed catching up on old stories, filling in the missing years and discussing dive sites around the world.  Sally and Karri are both dive instructors and had some great tales to tell.  Hopefully I will be able to dive with Karri in Costa Rica in December.

Eventually we had to say our goodbyes as Ailsa and I had another dinner engagement in Livermore.  Bill and Donna had invited us back again for a family dinner with Nick and Mike.  I drove Ailsa across the fabulous new Bay Bridge and out through Oakland.  We had to stop for gas at a fuel station in a suburban area that looked nice enough, although the bars on the window and anti-ramraid bollards outside told a different story.  We didn’t stop there for long.

We arrived in Livermore to find Bill and Donna had got the Halloween decorations out especially for us - a line of lanterns welcomed us up the path and a large spiderweb with a plastic spider on the door held a card saying ‘Zoe! We meet again!’  Clearly the car park tarantula incident had not been forgotten.

Inside, we found Bill and Nick elbow deep in pumpkin as they finished hollowing out six large pumpkins for us each to carve.  We were not the only ones visiting a pumpkin farm today.  Donna served a spread of cheeses, crackers and delicious grilled peppers as we all caught up with each other, before we started on the pumpkins.  Ailsa – probably quite wisely – decided that sharp knives and jetlag was not the wisest combination – so I had two pumpkins to carve.  I love getting into the Halloween spirit, but I don’t ever remember having so many people to carve pumpkins with in such a pleasant setting.  After all, in the UK it’s usually wet and miserable by this stage so a glass of mulled wine by the fire is more likely than chilled Chardonnay outside by the pool!

Dinner was one of those great evenings where we sat around laughing, telling stories and putting the world to rights, while the wine flowed and the top hat was passed around the table (one of Nick’s favourite purchases).  Once again, I cannot thank the Leach family enough for their wonderful hospitality.  I will really miss them when I leave the States.

 

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Zoe's Big World Adventure Part II - #1 America

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    Half Moon Bay

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    Half Moon Bay

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    Half Moon Bay

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    Half Moon Bay

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