Being in California with our friends kinda made me wish we'd had friends with us on our whole trip. I'm not saying I didn't have a good time when it was just me and Jay but...the level of fun was definitely amped up when Ron and Ali were around. Which makes it even 'awesomer' that we met up with them FOUR times within 10 months...plus...we didn't even know each other before we each left on our respective around-the-world adventures.
We were supposed to meet Ron and Ali when we were down in San Francisco for Evan and Mary's wedding. I'd found Ali on couchsurfing.com and noticed that she was gearing up with Ron for a similar trip to ours. She had a blog that I started to follow and because she was about a month ahead our schedule I could really relate to all the emotions and preparations that she was dealing with. Well, we didn't meet because of schedule conflicts but we kept in contact over the next few months via our blogs and email.
We were in Paris when I was catching up on their latest blog entries. The thing about travel blogs is that they are often posted a few days or sometimes weeks after someone is in a specific location. But Ali was constantly updating their current location on their itinerary page so I was able to see that they were in Paris too! Jay and I were only staying in Paris for one more night so plans were quickly arranged to meet for dinner along with our couchsurfing host, Veronica and friends. The night was short but it was enough to cement our virtual bond in reality.
To keep a long story short(er) we spent 2 great 'holidays' with them in Thailand and Vietnam and we now have new lifelong friends. The timing for our return to North America was perfect as Ron and Ali were also back from their trip.
View from Land's End
Ron took us for a day out in San Francisco while we waited for Ali to fly in from Oklahoma. We explored Land's End, had lunch on the beach, saw San Francisco from a hill, visited the painted ladies and ate at one of his favourite Mexican restaurants.
Painted ladies of San Francisco
The four of us headed to test out some wine in the Napa Valley. Ali had scoured the Internet for coupons and free tastings from at least 10 different wineries. We got a bit of a late start and it was at least noon before we were able to imbibe. The first host we met was extremely friendly and accepted our coupons without a second glance. She was quite liberal with the wine and even with our free 'classic' tasting plus our free 'premium' tasting she kept on pouring more samples. I think we must have tasted 12 or more wines just at this first winery. The afternoon kinda just spiraled out of control after that. I wish I had more pictures but actually I'm kind of glad I don't. Here's a series of us trying to get all four of us into one frame...it's harder than it looks...especially after another stop at a winery with no lunch in our bellies.
Is that Ali down there?
Ali! get in the picture!
better...but now we all look drunk! oh yah, we are...
After a quick snack of crackers and hummus on the hood of Ron's vehicle we careened over to the next winery on the list. (Disclaimer: no humans or animals were harmed in the making of this wine tour. Ali made sure she drank most of Ron's samples)
Hurry up boys! We gots more wine to drink!
We squeezed in four wineries before the 5PM closing time and then set out the rest of our picnic lunch which we postponed due to lack of time. As we were laughing and picnicking the staff from the last winery walked by to get to their cars. They must get that a lot. I mean, they must, right?...we're not the only silly drunken fools to visit Napa.
The next day we drove to Yosemite National Park and took a light walking trail to see a few waterfalls and lots of big rocks. We were lucky to be in the park during spring because the falls were at their gushiest and the crowds were at a minimum.
You know who
Half Dome at Sunset
We spent one last night with Ron and Ali in San Francisco. They took us to a fabulous vegetarian restaurant called Millenium. They passed us off to Evan (Jay's childhood friend) and Mary, our next hosts in SF after we all met up for a few drinks at Bourbon and Branch, a local speakeasy. It's been great getting to know these guys especially during such an incredible journey for both of us. It will be interesting to see the where, how and when of our next adventure.
The wine drinking didn't stop though. The next few nights with Evan and Mary we consumed the 3 bottles of wine we purchased during our wine tastings plus a few that they provided. I think I was the first one to drop out though. By the fifth consecutive day of wine drinking I was down to one glass...an hour ;p
We also did a bit more hiking with Evan while Mary madly worked to meet a looming deadline. This time visiting Muir woods to see the big 1000 year old Redwoods. We went up the coast a bit trying to find an elusive community of hippies but they had taken the town sign down again so we missed the turn off...and then there was this big hole in the middle of the road which we think led to the town...so we gave up and hit the beach for food instead. Those hippies can be pretty elusive when they want to be!
Read the sign, dummy.
The last sunset of our trip as we drive back to SF...sigh
And there you have it folks! Our round the world trip has come to a close. We haven't quite decided the fate of this blog. We will keep it alive for awhile and try to add some content with more regularity. If you don't live in Winnipeg (and don't see us everyday...sleeping in your spare room and eating your food) you may be curious as to what we've been up to now that we are home.
For now, rest assured, we are healthy, comfy and our kitties still love us.