Family Visit

Well I didn’t mean to disappear from here for the month – and I’d been doing so well at writing regularly in February and March, too. Oh well!

But my excuse is that last week my sister Katy and her clan visited. Katy visited once before back in 2008, as part of a trip for a conference out here, but this was a planned vacation. When I say “her clan”, I mean her boyfriend Andrew, her son I, and his daughter A. They flew in Sunday night, getting in around 10 pm – which was 1 am in their east coast time zone. I was surprised the kids were not totally asleep! We’d spent time on-and-off during the month getting ready for their visit, making sure we had sheets and blankets, and buying an air mattress for our study so we could use all of our bedrooms for them. We had everything set when they arrived, so we gave them a short tour of the house and let them crash.

We planned a pretty quiet first day: We had brunch at Hobees, then went to the Apple campus because I is a huge Apple fan and wanted to see the mothership. Then we met Debbi in downtown Mountain View to show them our stomping grounds.

We spent two days in San Francisco: Tuesday we went to California Academy of Sciences and Ghirardelli Square, and then Thursday we hit the Golden Gate Bridge, rode the cable cars (who surely have the most primitive web site of any major attraction in the nation), and went to Pier 39.

Andrew used to live in the area in the late 80s and he wanted to go down to Santa Cruz to see his old stomping grounds, which we did on Wednesday. I guess Pacific Ave is quite different now since they rebuilt much of it after Loma Prieta. We also went to the Beach Boardwalk and walked out the municipal wharf. We had gorgeous weather for this trip, and finished with a drive up the coast, turning in at Half Moon Bay.

Friday was not so nice, as we went back to Half Moon Bay and it was cloudy and chilly on the coast. That didn’t stop us from going to the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. Then we went along Skyline Drive and took in some of the scenic views, as well as a walk at Russian Ridge.

This was not as packed a visit as I’ve had with some other folks, as we spent the mornings hanging around the house, and the late afternoons and early evenings in the back yard, where I, A and a mixture of adults kicked around a soccer ball and played with out bocce ball set. We did have the usual food-fest, eating quite a bit of Mexican and hitting some other favorite restaurants too.

It only took three-and-a-half decades for Katy and me to develop an adult relationship – we did not get along as kids, and didn’t interact a lot in our twenties. I guess the bright side of us dealing with our mother moving into assisted living and selling her house has been developing that relationship. I’d gotten to know Andrew during our trips to do all that, as he helped out with a bunch of stuff and was extremely helpful with the manual labor, and he’s a friendly, funny guy. The kids are great, too, and both had fun. I was a little worried that they’d be a bit bored by the visit since we don’t have a lot of experience entertaining kids of their ages at our home – most of our friends’ kids are much younger – but I was worried about nothing, I guess. We barely even turned on the television, except to watch some sports!

They all headed out Saturday morning to go home, which went smoothly too. Now we’ll have to go out to visit them sometime!

The Clan

Home Project Weekend

This weekend we took advantage of OSH‘s “we pay the sales tax” weekend to pick up a bunch of stuff for around the house. For example:

  • New filters for the HVAC system. Apparently you’re supposed to replace them more often than once every 2 years! (LOL.) The old ones were completely filthy, ew.
  • New bulbs for the under-counter lights in the kitchen and laundry room. 6 of the 9 bulbs in the kitchen were out. Replacing them was simple once I figured out how to get the covers off.
  • A couple of new daisies for sports in the yard, as a couple of plants died off over the last year.

I also mowed the lawn and gave it some food, so it was a pretty productive weekend. I still haven’t replaced the busted tube on my bike, so I still haven’t biked to work, but hopefully this week.

We also went to Half Moon Bay yesterday morning for the first time in a few months, and enjoyed the incoming warm weather to go for a couple of nice walks along the coast. We got parking at the trailhead near Pillar Point Harbor to go on this nice walk out to the beach (very popular with dog-walkers we noticed), although we didn’t walk along the beach itself.

I feel like I’m finally just about caught up on all the stuff that piled up during my trip east last month.

A Cool Day in Half Moon Bay

For the long Memorial Day weekend, Debbi and I came up with several things to keep ourselves busy without, you know, being busy. So Saturday we made one of our occasional trips over to Half Moon Bay for brunch at the Main Street Grill, poking our heads into some book stores (used stores Ink Spell Books and Ocean Books, as well as Bay Books), and then walking along the coastside trail.

During the summer it’s tricky to figure out where to park to get to the trail without having to pay for parking, since all the state beaches are charging now. Their charges are a pretty good deal if you’re going to spend the whole day on the coast, since admission to one beach lets you in to the others, too. But if you’re just walking for an hour or two, then the price (which I think is up to around $7.00 these days) is a bit steep. Fortunately over time I’ve found more and more free places to park, as there really is just lots of parking around. You just have to look.

It’s the height of wildflower season along the coast, so it was very colorful. But it was also overcast and a bit chilly, so we were glad we brought a sweatshirt and jacket. But otherwise it was rather pleasant.

We also saw a bunch of neat stuff. For instance, a cat on a fence who seemed to be mousing, but when I went over to get her attention she jumped down and climbed right into my arms, and was happy to jump into Debbi’s arms, too:

Friendly cat with Michael

Friendly cat with Debbi

Friendly cat loves everybody!

The birds were out in force, too: Lots of red-winged blackbirds, and a few yellow birds I hadn’t seen before:

Red-winged blackbird

Yellow bird

Plus some bunny rabbits:

Bunny rabbit!

(All photos by Debbi using her new camera, except for you, know, the two photos of Debbi.)

It never did clear up, but it was a pleasant walk all-in-all. We grabbed some iced coffees for the drive home, where it was sunny and warm. Then we collapsed for the afternoon until heading to Cafe Borrone for the evening.

It’s always fun to head to the coast for half a day.

On the bluffs
(Click for larger image)

Did I Mention The Lovely Weather This Past Weekend?

Well it was amazing: Highs in the 80s in the valley, so Sunday morning we drove over to Half Moon Bay for breakfast and to walk around along the coast. We were delayed getting there due to an accident on Route 92 (a sedan smashed up with a minivan – both cars looked totaled, but I didn’t see any injured people), but we got there about half an hour later than expected.

After breakfast at the Main Street Grill we went to Poplar Beach and walked along the bluffs to the south of the parking lot. Here are a couple of pics from our walk:

Debbi by a wind-blown cypress tree in Half Moon Bay
(click for larger image)

Half Moon Bay beaches & coastline

It was cooler and breezy by the ocean, but still just about a perfect day. I think 4 out of every 5 people we saw were out walking their dogs. Can’t blame them, as this might be our last nice summer day for the year – summer days in November! Now I remember why I live here!

In the evening we cooked chicken-fried steak with homemade fries and frozen green beans for dinner. Mmmm…

Beach Day

When talking about the shaky housing market these days, people in the Bay Area are naturally wondering how the market will shake out here. But we do have an intrinsic advantage that goes beyond the employment and cultural opportunities here: On a Saturday in the middle of March you can go over to the ocean and walk along the beach wearing just a light jacket.

My friend Karen has been visiting this week, staying with us but mostly here for business. She finished up the bulk of her work on Thursday, so Friday we went out and gorged ourselves on food, and then Saturday we headed over the hills to Half Moon Bay. We had brunch at one of my favorite breakfast places, the Main Street Grill downtown. We were initially surprised because we went by their storefront and it was empty – cleaned out down to the booths and stools! But it turns out they just moved a block down the street into a large venue which had been the home of the competing diner. Whew! The people and food are just the same, so overall I’d say it’s a win, and they’re still busy enough that a few people who came in after us had to wait for seats.

We spent over an hour shopping downtown; for whatever reason Karen happens to have great success finding things in the little shops and bookstores in downtown. In particular we spent quite a while in the Moon News Bookstore, which is one of those rare independent bookstores which pulls out all the stops in presentation and recommendation of the books it carries – a quantity over quality approach.

Downtown is actually experiencing a lot of turnover: Other than the second diner that went under, a travel clothing store is moving out-of-state, and several boutiques have turned over since our last visit (which must have been late last year). Some turnover is a good thing for consumers I think, but of course it’s a good thing only up until one of your favorites stores goes out of business. But at least new stores keep springing up, which means that Half Moon Bay isn’t moribund and is still in some demand.

After that we drove over to the beaches south of Pillar Point Harbor where we walked along the beach for a while. I was chilly and overcast, but not really so bad if you had a jacket on. Try that in New England this month, people! We walked north towards the harbor before turning around to walk along the trail which runs above the beaches to head back to the car. (I had thought there used to be a bookstore in that vicinity, but either I was mistaken or else it’s gone under. Ah, well!)

So after a view of the ocean, of the various coastside plants that are flowering at this time of year, and a brief encounter with a kitty-cat, we piled back into the car, picked up some coffee, and drove back home.

A great outing. I don’t know why we don’t do this more often.