Piloting the Dutch Star travel blog

San Franciscos cabel car is legendard. To turn around they have these...

When 3 men can't get it up they resort to a pickup....

Once on two men can easily turn the car around

 

Out our hotel window is Union Sq and the location of the...

At the far side of the square this street goes into a...

This is the gate into China town

A famous old Episcopal church

 

We arrive as they are setting up for the festivities. this huge...

 

 

 

 

Here is the MacDonalds arch

Things get crowded when it hits opening time

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had lunch at this place

Could not resist this. Reminds me of the song "eye of the...

 

this building was a giant poster exen with the fire escapes

Looking up the street from the bottom of the festival street

 

 

 

The lion dancers are coming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cable cars stop in the middle of the street I guess...

 

 

After downtown, we went to Pacifica and after checking into the hotel...

After we headed down to the Southern coast Amazing this stuff is...

 

 

 

 

The beaches were close because of Tsumai warnings and the police and...

 

 

 

 

 

This house on the hill is right over the water. Amazing that...


MORE FIX-UPS IN PHOENIX AREA AND FUN WITH COUSINS: We've had a great time and REALLY enjoyed our friends and the Tucson area. But we have to get some additional service done on the RV--this time at Freightliner so hurry back to move the RV there Thursday morning. Jim explains that he is concerned about the defroster not working, so is annoyed when he gets a late evening call (about 12:30 am Friday indicating only work on the air conditioner has been done). Only two more tries, one Friday and then finally Saturday after talking to the manager a third time does he get the response that they have reconnected some hoses--just in time as we want to head back toward Porterville in low traffic Sunday morning. Cousin DeAnn and her husband Bill have graciously allowed us to leave our RV at their home in Gilbert (near Phoenix), so we repack for some car travel. Before we head out, we are treated to some great tales of Bill's camping and riding trip with 3 teens of their close friends (while Jim, DeAnn and I "roughed it" at a Claim Jumper that did NOT have a salad bar!), enjoy exposing the youth to hummus (most liked it), see some Olympic highlights, take a walk down memory lane via a cd recording of Dad Short's brother JR as well as some physical walks around the Scalf's lovely home.

GREAT SCENERY FROM PHOENIX TO PORTERVILLE: We leave early Sunday morning in a light gentle rain and are struck by how beautiful the mountains around Phoenix now appear as the air has been washed clear by the rain (it had been hazy until then). We see planes landing at the airport against sharply focused mountains behind them. Across the highway a large multi-level structure seems to be built right into one of the mountains. The Phoenix skyscraper skyline is striking under the suddenly bright sun, juxtaposed against shaggy peaks thrusting skyward into swirling grey and white clouds. A bit later, a soft white cloud blanket skirts the top of the mountains to our left. The skies clear more as we travel along I-10, but the remaining clouds cast varigated shadows across the surrounding foothills outside Phoenix and as we climb toward the foothills we begin to see more Saguaro cactus. In the distance, we see a large steam cloud rising from the Palo Verde nuclear power station. We are struck by the impressive snowcapped peaks and foothills surrounding Indio--impressive for miles as we approach from the east. As we climb higher in California, we notice what we believe to be Joshua Trees at the higher elevations of the Mohave desert, just abouve 4,000 feet; they seem as prevalent here as in Joshua Tree National Park. We approach this time through the Tehachapi pass and apreciate the beautiful rolling green hills of the Tejon ranch and the serenity of the grazing Black Angus cattle. We notice a parked train and are surprised to learn the next day that there has been a very recent train accident in the area so it will be awhile before trains resume. We are even more surprised to see how lovely the area from Bakersfield to Porterville (along Highway 65) has become with the rains. I don't recall ever seeing the oil wells in that area surrounded by GREEN hills, interspersed with yellow and orange wildflowers and even the occasional blooming fruit tree--WOW! We spend a few more days saying farewell to family in Porterville, catching up on laundry, handling a doctor's appointment and few chores for mom, and taking pleasant walks with her.

SAN FRANCISCO FOR MEETING: We take off early Thursday February 25 as I've agreed to participate in an HSR&D Career Development meeting in San Francisco that begins at 5 pm that day (I'm very pleased to have been invited back, since this has always been my favorite meeting). The meeting goes until late (6 pm Friday) so we plan to stay until Saturday. We route ourselves through Casa de Fruita at Pacheco Pass as I recall their wonderful Olallieberry pie (it's still good but everything there has become VERY pricey). I REALLY enjoy seeing many old colleagues and think the format the group has planned works very well. Generally, I think things are going well and am pleased to contribute a few comments to one of the workshops (regarding the variation in how funds for clinicians with merit reviews occurs). I also enjoy catching up with Hal Sox, recently retired from editing the Annals of Internal Medicine, recalling for him that I staffed an early site visit (my first) when he was in Palo Alto in the 1970s. His current activities in comparative effectiveness research are very interesting. I'm grateful to Seth Eisen who continues to direct the program as well as to the many HSR&D Center leaders who continue to make substantial contributions to the field and to VA. I'm pleased to hear how much Gerry McGlynn, Pauline Sieverding, Merry Ward, and the new Deputy Andrew Guccione are doing--exciting times. At the same time of course, I hear a few things that concern me and I wish I could help. I have a little trouble sleeping that night, wondering if there is something I should say or do about some things, but conclude of course that the program is in good hands and I must be on to other things. I regret that John Demakis was not able to come as anticipated. I get some ideas I want to share with Matt and Meg, with the (no doubt delusional) idea that they might find the suggestions as interesting and helpful as do those present.

BONUS FUN AND CHINESE NEW YEAR: While I immerse myself in the meeting Thursday night, Jim gets to walk down to Fishermen's Wharf for extremely tasty hot chowder while overlooking the harbor, and rides the cable car back to the hotel. On Friday, he handles some tasks (returning things to REI,getting gas), then tours the trolley museum, soaking up the works for the remaining four cable car lines in the city. We both enjoy a walk into Chinatown Friday night with Seth. We are amazed to see from our window in the Westin St. Francis overlooking Union Square (the first time I've ever had such a view on a business trip)the set-up for the Chinese New Year parade, so after checking out Saturday we walk down through the festival, note it is the "year of the Tiger"--auspicipous for our anticipated grandchild, grab some delicious dim sum and head to Pacifica for an even better view of the parade on TV after the news.

PACIFICA, HALF MOON BAY AND NEARBY RV PARKS: Before turning in for the night, we enjoy a drive down the coast past Half Moon Bay, checking out some nice looking RV parks for potential future use. The best views seem to be at Pillar Point RV Park; but this is a rather small park (ph 650-712-9277). The San Francisco RV Resort (part of encore group) is a very nice upscale alternatve in Pacifica (www.sanfanciscorvresort.com; reservations 800-822-1250; resort tel 650-355-7093), with some large beach front sites (maybe even-numbered sites 26-50 facing the beach as well as 51). Pelican Point RV Park at 1001 Miramontes Pt. Road in Half Moon Bay also seems like a very nice, quiet park with access to the beach and good management/rules but no apparent ocean views (650-726-9100). We learn an interesting lesson at the San Francisco RV Resort: as Jim meets with the manager in the office he encounters a couple using the phone trying to get a locksmith; it seems that they have been on a walk around the RV park without a key and one of their dogs has managed to lock them out--they seem to be coping. Rarely a dull moment and always good to keep a cool head when RVing!



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