Monday, August 9, 2010 : From San Francisco to Mariposa


We haven't fully caught up on jet lag yet, but we nevertheless spend a good night. We have breakfast at the Colombini, the restaurant of the Nob Hill Hotel, and Marie and I go to pick our rental car. The Hertz O'Farrell is but a few blocks away, an easy walking distance, less than 10 minutes.


We quickly realize that we are far from the only tourists to pick a vehicle, and staff looks sort of overwhelmed. So I keep on waiting, while Marie walks up to the hotel and brings back our teens and our luggage. We get an almost new white Ford Fusion 2010, with GPS and many nice extras. We load our 8 big bags in the large trunk. Later on, we'll always load the bags always at the same place and in the same order, because we know that, though a bit tight, everything fits in.


In downtown San Francisco, the traffic is surprisingly light. The weather is still grey, and hardly warmer that yesterday. To go to Silicon Valley, we choose the Junipero Sierra Freeway, along the crest of the mountain, crossing residential suburbs, hills, reservoirs, much nicer than the Bayshore (a.k.a. 101), which stretches along the Bay in the midst of factories and warehouses for miles. The San Andreas Fault runs along the freeway, hardly a few hundred yards to our right. Since we are four in the car, I can use the carpool lane.


We have been driving less than 15 minutes when the sun begins to shine. As I already wrote, the infamous San Francisco fog is very local. The temperature has already climbed up at least 25°F. Now, it's the weather generally associated with California, warm and sunny. Exactly like in the movies !


We leave the freeway at Page Mill and drive past the HP headquarters. They've expanded so much than they now span both sides of the road ! Too bad we lost so much time at Hertz, I would have loved to see the famous garage on Addison Avenue, where Silicon Valley started in 1939, but we are expected.


Palo Alto, at Laura and Joel's house

Lunch on the terrace


Laura and Joel live in a typically Californian house, one level and no basement. One of the girders, between the living and dining rooms, is reinforced with steel. That is where they are supposed to take shelter during earthquakes, which happen a few times a year. We do not forget that the San Andreas fault is less than 5 minutes away by car.


After a short visit of the recently redecorated house, we have lunch on the terrace, of local organic food. Laura is absolutely right to make us taste these fresh products : cold tomato soup, chicken breast, spinach salad. Then, with some of our arms turning kind of red, we have dessert inside, with a deliciously chilled glass of white Cabernet (just one, we have to drive !). I then crack a few jokes in English and we're back on highway 101.


We  fill up the car at Morgan Hill. It's always kind of strange for us Europeans, but in the States, gas stations are always off highways. After Gilroy, where we leave 101, we cross part of central California, a mountain range (the second one, if we count from the Pacific coast), then a wide agricultural and farming plain, according to irrigation, and the first foothills of the real mountains.


We have arrived at Mariposa, one of the gateways to Yosemite National Park. We check in at the Miners' Inn, where our reservation has been correctly registered (nice !), then we go for a bath in the pool.


Ford Fusion 2010

Ford Fusion 2010, our rental car. I loved it !


We go for some shopping at the supermarket accross the street. When we get out, we see that the sun is already down quite a lot. Here, due to the much lower latitude, the amplitude between summer and winter is much less than in France, hence the shorter days in August.


Mariposa, Miners Inn

Our hotel at Mariposa


During this trip, we will often have picnics, whether in hotel rooms, in parks or along the roads. For economic reasons ? Not only. It's also to be in contact with the heart of America, the one with supermarkets, real people and unplanned encounters.

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