Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sanfranication: Land of Fresh Food & Hills

Nearly the last California post (save some film photos in the undetermined future). I'll have to go on vacation again to have any interesting pictures to show you after this. Sigh...

After touring San Fran with Dr. Bev, I thought I'd never be hungry again. She was kind of a food slave driver. We went to lots of places where there are always lines around the building because the food is so unbelievably good. Hmmm...haven't seen any lines at the restaurants here. Curious. 

In between, we saw the sites and climbed hills almost parallel to sea level.

We went to a food truck gathering. It was like an open air gourmet food court. We followed it up with some bubble tea (which we also got two nights later).

  We breakfasted at Tartine twice. Words and pictures cannot describe how good were the pastries at Tartine. I would move to San Francisco just to eat their bread and scones.

I rode on old trolleys from Italy.

Went to the Pier(s) and partook of Tcho's fair trade chocolate. Free tours, people.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Just Finished: The Remains of the Day

"Why, Mr. Stevens, why, why, why do you always have to pretend?"

This line sums up Mr. Stevens, the narrator of Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day. Stevens is a  traditional English butler facing the changing world of postwar Britain. When his new American boss encourages him to take time off, Stevens embarks on a road trip through the countryside and through his past.

As Stevens meticulously reminisces about his life in Darlington Hall, he recounts the honor of serving the great Lord Darlington through the trials and aftermath of war. Stevens sets himself up as indispensable to the Lord who in turn played an imperative role in securing peace for the entire European continent.

But even as he prides himself on being a high caliber butler, maybe even comparable to the greatest, Stevens shoots holes through his own stories as he allows subtle doubt in about the small world he has dedicated himself to--the way he mostly ignored his own father's fatal illness as it coincided with an important meeting at Darlington or the anti-semitic turnings of his master.

Interwoven through all his memories is his relationship with Miss Kenton, the head housemaid, with whom Stevens was clearly enamored. In fact, Stevens is driving to see the now married Miss Kenton, harboring hopes he cannot admit to himself.

Like many of Ishiguro's narrators, one must question their reliability, and Stevens is no different. The above quote spoken by Miss Kenton is crucial to understanding him. Ishiguro masters this character through his  verbose recollections and obsessive details through which he hides truth within propriety, custom and the pride of his position. Nothing is exactly as it seems because Stevens pretends to everyone, especially himself. Also like Ishiguro's novels there are peculiar situations that don't ever seem to line up.

The Remains of the Day is my third Ishiguro novel and ranks somewhere in the middle with Never Let Me Go by far my favorite and When We Were Orphans one of the worst books I've ever read. Ishiguro's genius in creating his characters here resulted in exhausting paragraphs of skim-able information, but it effectively made Stevens' character and causes the reader to reflect on the veracity of the truth of their own actions and memories.

Read and judge for yourself.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sanfranication: To Golden Gate

We made it to the last leg of the trip with this and one more post full o' pics (and then eventually one final post with film pics--there are a few you're going to swoon over.)

I loved San Francisco and after lots of alone time in Big Sur, I thankful to get to spend time with my great friend Bev who lives there. She had to work my first day so I walked along the water and ended up (at long last, took me for-ev-er) at the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. Although I wish it hadn't taken so long to get there (had to turn in the rental and then it was a long walk), I did hit the bridge at the pppperrrfffeeeccccttttt time of day as the sun was setting. The setting sun seemed to dissipate all the haze and turn that bridge into the perfect shade of saffron.

Here's a teaser of the pics to come...

Grrr. I do not remember what this was called but it was neat-o. The ruins of a luxury spa, I think?

Mysterious totem pole

Unfortunately the Camera Obscura, which was modeled after an invention of Da Vinci, was closed for repair.

I walked and walked and walked...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Just Read: Love Finds You in Liberty Indiana

Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana by Melanie Dobson: Ya, what are the odds I'd read another Christian romance? Book club! I have to say this one was a thousand times better than Shadow in Serenity so I'll stop being sarcastic now.

This one actually wasn't so much a romance. Anna Brent is a young Quaker woman with deep abolitionist convictions. Along with her father and housekeeper, she helps escaped slaves on their journey north on the Underground Railroad. Because of this, they keep quiet about their anti-slavery even as the outspoken editor of the local paper catches Anna's eye.

Danger mounts as slave hunters come to town in search of a runaway and her baby who were harbored at the Brent home and Anna gets deeper into the railroad. Meanwhile tensions in the town mount and Anna must weigh the consequences of acting on her faith that God created all people to be free.

I appreciated that as Anna faced various challenges and temptations she evaluated her feelings and seeks to bring herself inline with the truth of the Gospel, but it sometimes felt too simplistic and easily wrapped up. My main beef with this book is that, despite dealing with a heavy subject, it still ends like all rom coms with everything basically coming together like a rom com in the end.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Californivacation Big Sur, part III

Pfeiffer Beach was almost my last stop in Big Sur (I couldn't help stopping at one or two more turnouts on my way north.) It was gorgeous and digging under the first layer of sand revealed purple sand. Not almost purplish but actual purple sand. God is amazing! I would not think to make purple sand.

I could have stayed there for hours on that wide quiet beach. Actually, I could have stayed at Big Sur for a week with a bunch of good books and a friend, of course. A girl can only listen to crazy beetniks for so long.

 I'm not going to lie to you. I thought this rock was a little unsightly.

 I was here.

 See it's purple!

 Heading north again.

 Bixby Bridge, 1932.

Next stop...San Francisco!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Californivacation: Big Sur, part II

I'll only keep Big Sur to three posts. I had just about a day to spend at Big Sur, not enough but I made the most of it, starting with breakfast at the famous and historic Deetjen's Inn. I wanted to stay at the cabins here, but I didn't know when I would arrive until the day of and the cheaper cabins were taken.   Breakfast was the next best thing. 

Everything at Big Sur is expensive as it's not the easiest place to get supplies in, and once you're there, they kind of have a captive audience--something like 2 hours to the next towns on either end.

And yes, I paid $7 for that bowl of fresh, organic berries. Obscene but indescribably good. The sourdough french toast came with REAL maple syrup and their chai tea latte would make Starbucks slap its java mama.

(Again, mind the jump to see all the pics.)

Deetjen's has a one page handout with their favorite trails in the area and the mileage from the inn. Thank goodness, because I was determined to find Partington Cove. A secluded trail with no markers near a turnout marked the spot, it's nearly impossible to find it unless you know where to look. No one else seemed to find it (or be looking for it) so I hit the trail alone. Creeepppyyy.

 A look back...I'd walked maybe 10 minutes along the trail and there was no sign of PCH or any other human beings.

 One of the special things about Partington Cove was the kelp forests. Don't you imagine trees draped in long, wet leafy kelp? Well, that's not what it is.

I loved how this picture came I edited it a half dozen or more times! A mini barrage for you...


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

January Reads: The Trilogy, Christian romance & Montaigne

I read 5 books last month, and yes I did pat myself on the back. There are just so many books that I want to read and I bought as many books in January as I read. Oh man. Barnes & Noble's sale table in the front. Have you been there? They have quality books at around $6 each! How can I be expected to not buy them, especially when they're actually on my to-read list. (That's a rhetorical question.)


The Hunger Games, Mockingjay & Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – Several people told me to read these books, but it wasn't until I saw the movie trailer for the first book that I decided to go for it. Unlike other extremely popular young adult fiction that has made teenage girls sweat and fawn, there are no vampires, shirtless werewolves or wizards. So for those of you who haven't read these thinking there was some relation to those other two series (no offense HP fans), trust me when I say--give them a chance. Have I steered you wrong in the past?

It's hard to describe the books without giving away too much important information, but here goes...

The Hunger Game Trilogy takes place in Panem, a country built on the ruins of America. Made up of 12 impoverished districts, all control is from the ever watchful Capitol--an outrageously lavish place in stark contrast to the rest of the country. Each year 2 young tributes are chosen at random from each district to be part of the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death.

Our narrator, 16 year old Katniss Everdeen of District 12, volunteers to take her sister's place when she is chosen as tribute and so sets in motion the events of the three novels. Katniss is a wonderfully flawed character--she's tough, a hunter, a survivor, but also honest and not immune to weakness. When she leaves her family and best friend Gale to go to the games, she fully expects to never return.

After a life of hunger and hardship, Katniss has little patience for her fellow District 12 tribute, Peeta Mellark, the son of a baker who once gave her much needed bread and their drunken mentor Haymitch, the only other District 12 winner.

As Katniss and Peeta train for the grueling games, its obvious there is more to the baker's son than meets the eye and while Katniss knows little about him, Peeta has watched her from afar for years. Yet Katniss can't afford to trust anyone because only one person is coming out of the Hunger Games alive, and once they're in the arena it's every man for himself. What follows are ingenious twists and turns as well as the internal struggle Katniss experiences as someone who is tested in every way.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Californivacation: Big Sur (Finally!)

This is the moment you've been waiting for...on this never ending journey from Orange County to San Francisco, we've finally come to the pinnacle, the wondrous Big Sur! 

A hangout of beatniks and nature lovers, Big Sur is a stretch of beautiful cliffs jutting into the ocean. Along the hairpin turns is a jade cove where hobos used to find and carve pieces of sea jade to sell, a beach of purple sand, and hidden trails lined with redwoods. Majestic doesn't begin to describe this striking landscape.

I arrived at Ragged Point, the first stop of Big Sur, as the sun was beginning to set (of course). Made for good pictures but also that I missed the cool jade cove (boo) and had to drive to the middle of the Big Sur area in the dark (marrrr).

(There are tons of pics on this one so be sure to see all of them after the jump!)

 Ragged point


 Another photographer alerted me to the humming birds about 2 minutes from the previous picture. Wouldn't you like to hold this little thing in your hand and tweet at it?

Not a great picture, but an important one. They are not joking when they say to load up on gas before you drive into Big Sur. There was one other place about 10 miles from here which I passed thinking my gas was fine. However the gas gage on my little rental suddenly started blinking at me. It was very dark by this point, my heart started pounding to the rhythm of the blinking, and I turned around to buy some extremely expensive gas. I probably would have been ok getting to my hotel, but I definitely did not want to be wrong and spend the night on the side of the road in the dark, sparsely populated extremely scary Big Sur.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Californivacation: Wildlife

Something you might not expect to find on the rocky coast of California....zebras! I slammed on my breaks when I saw these African creatures grazing on the side of the road (behind a fence, of course).

 But wherefore Zebras? They're descendants of a herd at Hurst Castle, once kept by the eccentric newspaper man. I didn't go to the castle, it was a long tour and I had to make haste to my next destination.

 Nope, these elephant seals aren't dead. They're just snuggling on the beach.

 A sea of seals. They're obviously Californians.

Next stop, Big Sur!