California

Here are some pictures from the trip to California that I took late September this year.

Actually, I didn't fly straight there. I stopped off in Chicago first to visit my friend Dave.

View outside Dave's placeNot actually near Dave's place at all - it's just a random picture of the Sears Tower I took

He has the largest, most impressive washing machine I have seen:

His TV is awesome too but I didn't get a picture of that.

Dave also has the most entertaining golf game to watch: Dave's golf swing

After Chicago I flew to San Diego and met up with my friend Chris - who also lives in Chicago but agreed to go on a road trip with me up the Californian coast. Like me, Chris is a pretty avid golfer.

First we headed to Joshua Tree National Park. One of the things I've wanted to do for a long time is to look at the night sky when there's a new moon, with no light pollution. I figured the desert inside Joshua Tree National Park would be a good candidate for this (as their website also says). In practise, the light pollution from nearby Phoenix is enough to make it less amazing than I had hoped - so some day I still need to do this.

I seem to do this a lot (take pictures of other people taking pictures)... My excuse is: they say that pictures look better when there's stuff in the foreground as well as the backgroundyou can actually see the San Andreas fault in the valley to my left (right hand side of the picture).My attempt at reproducing the U2 album cover

The park is named after the trees, which got their names from the early Mormon pilgrims who named them after Joshua in the Old Testament which got their names from the early Mormon pilgrims who named them after Joshua in the Old Testament. It was also the inspiration for the title of U2's famous album.

We also spent some time in San Diego - where the movie "Top Gun" was set.

I recommend if you don't see anything else in San Diego, check out the Midway tour. This aircraft carrier was in active service as recently as the first Gulf war, although now it's not big enough compared to their new aircraft carriers. But still, it's impressively big. They have people who used to work on the aircraft carrier who tell you what it was like! One guy told us about how he was knocked overboard:

"I was standing in the wrong place, at the wrong time, where I wasn't supposed to be, and got knocked overboard (by some mechanical appparatus). As I saw the ship moving away from me I thought I was a dead man. Well, they fished me out of the water and brought me before the chief flight officer, at which point I wished that they had left me back in the ocean!".

On the flight deck they have lots of examples of all of the different types of navy aircraft - the F14 "Top Gun" aircraft, helicopters, FA-18s and so on.

A friend of mine is named "Tom Oswald" so I took this picture!

 

OK but enough of that - the real purpose of our trip was to play a lot of golf! Here's a few shots from "Pelican Hill" - definitely the most scenic course that we played, but a lot cheaper and easier to get on than Pebble Beath (but we played lots of different courses):

 

A burger joint we ate at (notice, they sell gift cards!):

Notice that you can get gift cards at this burger restaurant!

 

For the last leg, we drove up the Pacific Coast highway from south of LA to Monterey Bay:

The best thing at Monterey Bay is the acquarium, although there's also plenty of cool marine life outside it: there's a Sea Lion colony that you can scuba dive with, as well as sea otters, the kelp forests etc.

Chris and I headed up to San Francisco for the last day where we had a few beers at the "Rogue Ales House" before meeting mutual friend Mike for some steak. There were lots of very fancy beers there, and Chris is quite the "beer connoisseur", however, I amused myself by delegating the decision of what beer I should try next to the friendly waitress who served our table (unfortunately I don't have a picture of her):

 I also saw a very odd looking car:

They don't do this to cars in England, except maybe on Top Gear

I spent my last day in San Francisco. The fog was incredible - the southern part was grey and gloomy with a really strong wind blowing the fog in off the sea. But I rode across the Golden Gate bridge to the north end of the bay, where it was beautiful and sunny, then caught the ferry back.

From the south end of the bridge. You can see the blue sky to the North - that's where I was headed!

Alcatrazyep, sea lions, right near downtown

The Golden Gate Bridge from the ferry on the way back

It really was a great trip and I was feeling quite melancholy on the flight back...

Oh well, I'm off to Zermatt again this December - let's hope it's as good as it was last time!

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