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Day 160-204, 18Dec08 – 31Jan09: San Francisco. Part 4: Critical mass, Ivana’s B-day party and friends

February 4, 2009 by  
Filed under California, North America, Trip reports, USA

Critical Mass

Though my knee was still painful, I could cycle slowly again. It was time to move on, and leave our new home for new adventures down the road. We invited our new friends for a dinner in a cosy Lebanese bar to celebrate our departure and Ivana’s b-day the next day. But first we had some other cycling to do!

San Francisco is the birthplace of the Critical Mass. It is a monthly event where hundreds, maybe thousands of cyclists group together and ride through the city, reclaiming the streets from the cars that have no other choice that to wait until all the cyclists have passed :)

Critical Mass, SF Critical Mass, SF

It is a great event and I urge everybody to join the Critical Masses, in SF or elsewhere. It is not just to make a firm statement, but also a great way to see the city, without being bothered by cars and red lights.

Besides, it is a big party with all types of cyclists, music and general fun. It was Ivana’s best B-day present and we enjoyed it thoroughly.

Saying goodbye on Ivana’s B-day

We had to hurry back though as we had a party appointment! Adriana had picked the nice place with relaxed people and Lebanese snacks as well as fruity hookahs and even a belly dancer!

We had a great time and though many people could not make it to the the last minute invite, we were happy to spend some of our last hours in SF with our new friends.

Ivana and AdrianaLiving life on the edge in SF

Ivanas B-day party in SFHarry enjoying the tipping (2)

BrianMitch and Kourtney

New and old friends, thank you for making San Francisco our home

Ivana, Mitch and Harry as with most places, it is not the Golden Gate or any other famous landmark that makes SF special. It is the never-ending stream of friendly, helpful and generous people.

We met many new friends, some of them (Mitch, Adriana, Gerard, Kourtney & Brian, Fiona & Jeremy, Kim & Nate & Jessica & Mikelanjelo) are listed on the “1000 Americans” category, others whom we did not capture with our cameras we owe just as much.

We could write full page stories about each of them, but for now here are some simple thank you’s

  • Couchsurfing in Oakland (2)Thanks to Kristan& Rhasaan for opening their house in Oakland and showing us Berkeley as well.
  • Thanks to Jan and Wandralee for opening their house and giving us time to relax and re-organize. Jan is off to to the ride from SF to LA for Aids, she is a brave and strong woman!
  • Muchas Gracias to Barbara & Ramiro, who invited us for a wonderful dinner in their new home twice! Ramiro never forgets his roots and makes great empanadas.
  • Thanks to Yaffa and her roommate, who shared their house with us for a few nights.

We even met some old friends again, some we had met earlier on the trip, others we had met many years ago.

  • Colie is the coolest chick we know, she is just great, and it was wonderful to spend New Years Eve with her in snowy Truckee!
  • Alison was busy as ever, still it was great to see her briefly, the 4th continent we met on! Thanks for letting us borrow your car, we would have missed Colie & Yosemite otherwise!
  • Many thanks to Bradley & Saskia, it was great to see you again after nearly 10 years! Thanks for letting us guard your great house, twice!
  • We saw Louise again and this time she brought her husband Brian as well as her kids, it was great to see them; thanks for the great Thai lunch!
  • Barry dropped by for some lunch, just before he started his bike trip across the US, heading for Florida. Meanwhile he has returned, read his reports here.

Thank you all, more than words can express, for making San Francisco a special place for us.

Ivana in Yosemite with friend Gerard and Brian

Mitch and Kourtnet Well, this fur not rubz itself!

Next report: on the road again, off to LA! how will the knees hold out with the Devils’ Slide, Big Sur and many more challenges ahead? Tune in next time, same channel, unreliable time 😉

Downtown San Francisco

Day 160-204, 18Dec08 – 31Jan09: San Francisco. Part 3: Outside SF, Yosemite, Berkeley & Wine!

February 4, 2009 by  
Filed under California, North America, Trip reports, USA

We did not only spend time in the city, but managed to get out. As my knee needed more rest, we were lucky that Alison had borrowed us her car, so we could head out of town for New Years. She had warned us that the tires were old and bald, so it would be better to avoid rain.

Right after we pulled the car out of the garage in Filbert St, we continued the road East, leading up and down a huge and steep hill. I think we found the steepest road in SF, and we both felt we were in a rollercoaster when we crossed the top..

Snow and champagne in Truckee, saying goodbye to 2008…

Truckee in winterAfter my new camera had arrived (yes!) we packed our camping gear in the car and drove to Truckee, a few hours east. We arrived in the dark and noticed that most of the town was covered in knee deep snow and the car slid back and forth over the slippery roads.

It was so great to see Colie again. I had been climbing in Uganda 4 years ago together with Romke, Ali & Andy and now we had seen the entire team again, spread out over Amsterdam, Seattle, SF, Truckee and a bike! Colie took us on a tour of Lake Tahoe, which looked wonderful in the winter snow.

Finally after avoiding the snow since Northern Alaska, it was great to be surrounded by the cold white stuff!  We went for a nice winter hike with some of her friends and got ready for a new years Eve party with more friends and lots of great food and drinks.

ColieIce at Lake tahoeIvana at Lake Tahoe

Goodbye 2008, we will miss you..

We have no idea what 2009 will bring, but 2008 was again amazing. I had been on 6 continents (alas no Antarctica this year), hiked with friends in Australia, almost got scammed in Kuala Lumpur, proposed to Ivana on the summit of Kilimanjaro, witnessed by all 26 clients. We saw Machu Picchu with Ivana’s mum, watched a lion grab a gazelle in the Serengeti and cycled 7000km through wonderful North America. It was not always easy, but it felt that we had been more alive in one year than most in their lives…

ColieIvana and Harry, Lake TahoeIvana in Truckee

Off to Yosemite: big walls and black bear?!

El Capitan in winter, YosemiteWe had a great time in Truckee, but as bad weather was coming, and we wanted to see Yosemite park before it became impossible to get there, we headed out on New Years day.

The road to get to the valley was high and steep and there were several spots with snow and ice, but the views of famous walls like Half Dome & El Capitan made up for the nerves.

The final part into the village and campground was even completely covered in it, but I managed to reach the famous Camp 4, home of all Big Wall climbers. The camp was covered in deep snow, so we had to prepare a campspot by packing some snow.

Just when I was busy preparing the tent, I saw a big shape passing just behind it. It was almost dark, so I turned on my light and called Ivana. ‘Look at that, a bear!’

Just as we though we had definitely left ‘The Wild’, we had the closest encounter with a black bear so far, less than 10m away. The big animal did not pay attention to us and slowly walked into the foggy forest…

Ivana in Yosemite with Half DomeYosemite FallsIvana in Yosemite in winter

Ivana cooking in the snow, Yosemite (2)Winter in Yosemite

Half Dome, YosemiteIvana checking pix.

We made sure to leave no food in our tent or car (Yosemite bears are known for ‘opening’ cars) and put everything safely in the special bear-proof containers. We managed to cook a nice pasta meal and finally sacrificed our last Adventure Food meal, before heading over to the restaurant for a cup of hot chocolate.

Camp 4, YosemiteYosemite with Half Dome

Yosemite FallsCamp 4, Yosemite

The night was cold and uncomfortable, but we got no more bear visits and the next morning we took the free shuttle around the village and walked back past great views of the Yosemite Falls and Half Dome.

Oakland and Berkeley

It was time to get out as more snow was expected. With much effort I managed to get the car back on the road and down to drier elevation before the rain hit hard. We contacted Mikelanjelo & Jessica, who had invited us already a long time ago and stayed a few days in their place in Oakland.

Street Musician in BerkeleyJessica and MikelanjeloFat Squirrel in Berkeley

Couchsurfing in Oakland

Together with their friend Kristan and her kids (including “I-love-you-Leif”) and boyfriend they made us feel at home.

They showed us around in Berkeley as well, a nice college town with a friendly atmosphere, unlike Oakland which had an air of aggression, which was confirmed after the shooting of an unarmed boy on the subway a few days later…

We visited a multicultural fleamarket and were chased by fat squirrels in the park on yet another sunny winterday..

Ivana had left a comment on an Argentinean newssite, where bicycle touring was criticized, and soon after we were contacted by Ramiro, an Argentinean living in the US. he asked us to come over to his girlfriend Barbara’s house for some great homemade empanadas! And he even invited us back the following week, so I guess we are not such bad guests after all 😉

The good life in wine country

Us in Napa ValleyMitch had introduced us to his good friends Adriana & Gerard. It as fun to speak some Dutch again with expat Gerard and after inviting us in their home for a great meal, they asked if we already had seen the vineyards. We explained that we had been on the coastal road all the time, and they immediately made plans for a tour in the weekend.

We had a great day, cruising in Gerard’s convertible in the warm winter sun. We visited many wineries, tasted some good wines and olive oils and thoroughly enjoyed the company and places we visited.

The good thing about a bicycle trip is that you sometimes get taken to places where you would never had gone yourself, but that are great anyway…

Winetasting at V.Sattui WineryVino Tinto

Winetasting with GerardGeorge, V.Sattui Winerywinetasting friends

Lunch with Gerard and AdrianaGroovin' and cruisin' with Adriana and Gerard

My knee was feeling a bit better and though I could not step down stairs properly, we decided that we would try and start cycling again. But first it was time to say goodbye to SF!

Next and final SF report coming very soon :) : Critical mass, bellydancing B-day and many friends…