Tuesday, July 24, 2007

On The Road

SUMMARY: The joys of being on the road.


On the Road Again


I love traveling. Don't do nearly enough of it. Not too keen on getting up at 4:15 in the morning, but during midsummer, the sky is starting to lighten by the time I hit the road, so there are beautiful things to see, and interesting things, and strange things. The world is full of entertainment. Don't see how so many people can stay at home and sit in front of the TV! (It's so long between my TV/satellite uses that I forget how it works. Really.)

On the way to and from Petaluma, I typically go up the east side of San Francisco Bay--along I-880 to a brief stint on I-80 to I-580 across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and finally up 101.


Morning fogbank in Petaluma valley, sunrise touching the low-lying clouds with orange fingers.
Our three-ring trial was set up just inside the Fairgrounds entrance. The morning began bright and sunny.

In all my years of traveling, don't recall ever seeing such a sign.

Souped-up Infineon cow. Not sure how I managed to make it blurry; I was stopped at a stop sign. Clever camera might have been focusing on my windshield instead.

If you're comfortable driving across very long bridges, the R/SR bridge gives great views looking out at the Bay and a couple of tiny, steep islands alongside. North of San Rafael, it's lovely rolling countryside, cattle being the main "crop". On Saturday, coming over a rise nearing Petaluma, I could see a low bank of fog hovering over a section of the valley.

On Saturday, the trial site was completely out of the fogbank, but on Sunday we had some light fog, which kept it cooler much later in the day.

Saturday evening, four of us went to dinner at Panda Express and then two of us ducked into Coldstone Creamery for a very decadent dessert. I had the Chocolate Devotion with raspberry sorbet instead of chocolate ice cream. MMmmmm!

I spent the night at Chez Bruce (a friend's place) about half an hour from the site. In the early morning, I drove back across gleaming wetlands and flat, mostly rural countrysides and towns. The most interesting aspects of this drive (which I have reported on in previous posts but not previously photographed) were the souped-up psychedelic cow on the Infineon Raceway sign, and the interesting Falling Trees warning at the beginning of a eucalyptus-lined stretch of highway.

Have Camera, Will...Wait! Where's Camera?


Sunday evening, I agreed to take one judge to dinner and then to the airport (SFO). We stopped in Novato at Sizzler (yeah, we really treat our judges upscale ;-) ) for dinner and then joined the 3-mile queue of stop-and-go traffic to get across the Golden Gate Bridge, not my usual route home. The traffic was tedious at that point, but at least the conversation was good. And then--we were presented with the most beautiful, most astonishingly stunning photo op that I've just about ever been presented with, and because (a) I had had my camera out at the last minute taking photos of Tika's ribbons, (b) I had packed in a bit of a rush to get the judge on the road, (c) everything got piled in the back rather than my usual cameras-in-the-front-seat loading, I realized that both of my cameras were underneath a bunch of gear in the back and there wasn't much of a chance at all of digging one out.
Someone else's photo; similar fog and lighting to what we saw.

Another photo from someone else. This is much closer to our vantage and view, but with lighting closer to the previous photo. Sighhhh...


What we saw was the near of the Bridge's towers, already that famous bronze gold, lit full on from *our* side by the setting sun so that it fairly radiated orange gold as if lit from inside. Not only that, but the evening fog was rolling in--indeed, racing in through the Golden Gate from the Pacific, roiling between the two towers, so that our tower was completely visible, but the top of the other tower peered just above the pure white of the living fog. And, stopping and going on the approach to the bridge, we had the perfect--PERFECT!--view of it all. And I had no way to record that view except in my head.

To make it worse--people all around us had their cameras and (probably) photo cell phones out and were snapping photos, to tell you how unusual a sight it was. Consider the odds of getting a photo op like this: It has to be midsummer, when the sun is far enough north to light the northern side of the tower; it has to be just the right 20 minutes or so around sunset; the fog has to be coming in but only *between* the towers, and *below* the tops; and you have to be in stop-and-go traffic so that you can actually get a picture of it.

And me with no camera.

I spent half an hour searching the web for a photo of what we saw, and found nothing quite like it. There were plenty from the top of the Marin headlands, up to our right-hand side, where we saw dozens and dozens of hikers making their way to the standard stunning vantage point for that sunset view. Most of the photos of the Golden Gate bridge are taken from that viewpoint. Here's a search on Yahoo of "Golden Gate Bridge fog" photos that you can browse at your leisure. All the ones from above and to the right are from that upper viewpoint. But almost none from the roadway, and none at all with our view. So I had to borrow two to try to convey our experience.

Anyway--I love to travel!

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