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San Fran

San Francisco, United States

Awakened at the Economy Inn by Benjamin's early AM routine [wake, grumble, nurse, sleep, wake, grumble, nurse, laugh, giggle, hunt for daddy]. First stop is the "Cow Hollow Playground" that I noticed on the map I pulled from the hotel's 'Pad O' Maps'. We walk the two blocks to find a wonderful playground packed into the size of a house lot (about 0.1 acre). There are a lot of flowers growing around the fence and plenty to do but no people. It was eight-thirty. We get some exercise and realize we're hungry. Off to "hunt the wild noodle" as I've coined looking for stores that have decent food. Ben and I strike out into the city [Lombard Street] and have no luck for four blocks. We ask a local "Are you a local?" she says "I only speak Russian", undaunted we say "food, where is food?" she suddenly finds she does know some English "Chestnut Street, you can find anything on Chestnut Street." One block North, very nice! We retrieve some breakfast rolls and fruit before returning to feed Momma, she's busy online and probably very hungry by now and wondering where we are!

After breakfast we drag Momma to see the playground. Now it's packed and the kids are having fun. Ben gets involved right away climbing and being climbed.

Sometime later we head for downtown and the Mexican Consulate. We fish out an hour's worth of change (four dollars in nickles) for the parking meeter then head to the office of the Consulate. There are homeless people under the bridge on the way there. The buildings are so high you can fall over trying to see the tops. We wait in line and discuss buying glasses online with friendly folks. After twenty minutes we reach the information counter and ask for Visas. We are sent through the metal detector and I drop off my pocket knife, then upstairs to the secretary who explains that we don't need a Visa at all. Our U.S. Passports are good for six months - more than six months visiting? then yes, we would need a Visa (and a reason). What about our camera and laptop? Shouldn't we declare those? "Yes, at the border." Grrrrr.

Frustrated for the misinformation we'd received online and from friends and other travelers, we leave the building and wonder why we came to San Francisco at all. I realized that I'd been walking around with my collection of wheat pennies (including a silver dime circa 1920) and felt the urge to hand it over to the homeless man. Did that. Maybe that was why we came. Seems a waste to rush through Yosemite to give a homeless man a dime but there you have it.

Onward South towards Simi Valley. On our way to the 1 we were travelling on HWY 17 when the car in front of us lurches and stops so suddenly I'm looking at their undercarriage. THEN their brake lights come on and they swerve to the right. I'm thinking they hit someone or something and am braking hard but there isn't enough room, I can't go left, there's a mini van there, CRASH.

The Green Machine strikes the brown Explorer and we all roll to the shoulder (only a white stripe) and make sure no-one's hurt. Then we pull up off the highway and get paperwork done by the CHP. The couple was from Italy. She was driving and "put the car in second gear to climb the hill" oh my goodness. They were on their honeymoon as well! It was good that no one was hurt and both vehicles were drivable. Ben slept through the accident and woke up when we pulled off the road. Didn't phase him one bit.

On to the coast where we played in a park for a while and headed South along the cliffs. We decided it would be best if we got to Grandma Moss' as soon as we could to lighten our load and get some repairs. Drat, I got the cheap insurance, hurray I even had some! [expires 7/12]

We roll into San Luis Obispo and get some sleep. Whew, what a day!

permalink written by  heddwyn on July 2, 2009 from San Francisco, United States
from the travel blog: To Costa Rica
tagged Park, City, Sf, Tahoe and Wreck

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Finally in Simi

Simi Valley, United States

Leaving San Luis Abisbo (and the drunk "surfer dude" whose presence graced our morning), we stopped at the beach to let Ben play for a while before the long drive towards Simi.

Ben decided to take an extra long nap, so we were able to complete the drive. First stop at Grandma's, then we went to see Kirsten, Ryan, Kari, Rebecca and Jolene's new house. It was a wonderful visit and ended up being a bit longer than expected (a little over 2 weeks).

Ben and Jolene spent hours together each day learning about sharing, and hugging, and enjoying lots of time in the pool. Ben enjoyed Jolene's toys (especially the mop), a second birthday celebration, his first 4th of July fireworks, lots of good food and meals, and all the time spent with family and new people. We saw Vince Turner, Jannel Pearson, Cheryl and Meagan Low, let's not forget Kevin's old friend Jason, his wife Hannah, and their new baby Jordan. And eventually the time came to say goodbye. We may see them again before heading south - we'll see. We greatly appreciate our long comfortable stay at the house (and really miss that pool!). Thank you all so much, we love you and miss you!

We worked out the cost of repairing the Tahoe and compared it to buying a replacement vehicle and found that to be the better option. Of course, once we had decided upon a vehicle it needed to be repaired to meet our standards for the trip. Each stage of the process took some time.

Rather than repair the Tahoe, we decided to replace it with a Suburban. Ended up costing more than we planned, but it has worked out well nonetheless. We have 3+ weeks to wait for the title, however, so we have some time to kill!

permalink written by  heddwyn on July 3, 2009 from Simi Valley, United States
from the travel blog: To Costa Rica
tagged Family, Tahoe, Simi and Suburban

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Heading South?

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