Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Downtown San Francisco

Pauline and I took the BART into SF this morning to meet Peter for lunch. The second Mexican meal of my visit, this time in a busy lunchtime restaurant in the heart of the financial district –I  recommend the Nopales (cactus) Prawn Burrito and the beer. P1000813

We spent the afternoon looking at the 75 year Anniversary Show in the SF Museum of Modern Art and some large scale sculptures in the roof garden. There was work by Paul Klee, Jackson Pollock, Picasso, and this Andy Warhol self portrait.

P1000817 The outside roof sculptures were refreshed by a rain shower while we sat with coffee admiring this multi-spider.

P1000818  P1000819

In the atrium two large murals show the estates of Presidents Washington and Jefferson with obscured images of plantation slaves.

P1000816Downtown SF is, unsurprisingly, a mass of skyscrapers; shiny, stately, and sometimes ugly, for me this building was the star on our route today.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The start of my visit to San Francisco


The view of the Rockies from above lived up to my expectations –it looked just like the whitest meringue as far as I could see, changing to a landscape of canyons and desert as LA approached. The weather delayed my flight from LA to San Francisco –one of either the rain, fog and snow seem to travel with me as I move westwards!

It’s good to be settled here in Orinda for a few days with Pauline and Kris –I’ve just unpacked ‘properly’ and met the latest additions to the hen house. 

Leaving Colorado

I’m waiting at Denver Airport for my flight to San Francisco; there’s a great view of the Rockies this sunny early morning and I’m looking forward to seeing them from above in a short while.
Elizabeth, Jim, Katherine and Edward made my stay in Colorado very special; thank you all so much. Elizabeth, Katherine and Edward deserve special thanks for waking up early today for lots of goodbye hugs, and thank you, Jim, for getting me to the airport in good time.  Let’s hope we meet again soon … perhaps at home in France with the roosters?
I shall always associate Colorado 2010 with spring snow, dinosaurs, tarantulas, looming sandstone rocks and the delight of spending time with the next generation in our family.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A day out in Colorado Springs

Katherine is helping me to write the blog today… first we went to The Garden of the Gods, where there are lots of red sandstone rocks including the kissing camels. P1000768 Katherine and Edward held up the Balancing Rock, we walked on one of the trails where Katherine was our tour leader.
After lunch we went up Pikes Peak on the Cog Railway, up beyond the tree line, we couldn't go any further because there was too much snow ahead of us.
P1000797 P1000790 Before we came home from Colorado Springs we stopped at Diary Queen to have an ice-cream –Katherine had chocolate and vanilla in a cup.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Downtown Denver

Just a light covering of snow (on top of the previous many inches) this morning as we set off for the Denver Art Museum. Katherine and Edward introduced me to the Embrace Exhibition with some great temporary installations. I stood in a room of light magic, admired the ‘word’ art and walked through the bungee room! P1000730

The floor devoted to the American first nation’s people was a learning experience for me –so many different tribes and some beautiful pieces of art including this painted cedar food box. 


After lunch the kids made their own art pieces,P1000749 P1000748 I marvelled at a room full of classic American quilts and we walked the wolf trail.   P1000739

On our way home Jim shopped for supplies for the beer he plans to brew this evening and we stopped at a spice store where I had my first taste of freeze dried corn. Elizabeth and Jim have invited friends for supper tonight. As I write this entry Elizabeth is cooking and a wonderful fragrance fills the room and the sun is lighting up the snowscape outside in the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

A great day in snowy Colorado

I've had a great day with Elizabeth, Jim, Katherine and Edward; visits to Dinosaur Ridge, Red Rock Theatre and the  Bug Museum as the weather closed in and the snow came down. I'm told this is typical Colorado and the next two days will be fine.P1000655There were plenty of Dinosaur footprints and bones on show on the Ridge and the Red Rocks provide a wonderful open air auditorium and some great views of Denver.   P1000668
We had a Mexican lunch in Morrison City –good food that I could get used to. In the Bug Museum I was introduced to Rosie the Tarantula who walks across your hand with a gentle tickle. P1000679
We warmed up in the Butterfly House where Edward made good use of his new magnifying glass. P1000685
Jim chose the scenic route home so I could visit Buffalo Bill’s mountain top burial site. The higher peaks of the Rockies were hidden behind the fog but the Bison were out feeding lower down the slopes.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Downtown Rochester 23 & 24 March

Undaunted by the continuing rain Mattie and I spent Tuesday out and about in Rochester. First stop City Hall and a photography exhibition and then to the Library to listen the the Director of Public Health review a recent book on international health policy. Coming just as the President was signing the new Health Care Bill this attracted a large audience with pertinent questions from the large audience on the impact of the reforms. Everyone agrees that service demand will increase and more practitioners will be needed. After lunch (salad and freshly made crepes) we continued to trace the history of the women’s rights movement with a visit to Susan B. Anthony’s house. P1000614Susan worked with the abolitionist Frederick Douglas and there is a statue of them taking tea in a nearby square. The house has been faithfully restored with much of the original furniture and sets the scene for the life of this woman who campaigned for women’s suffrage across the US, delivering speeches written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. We ended Tuesday at a concert of music in a city church to celebrate the work of Emma Lou Diemer. Organ, guitar and choral pieces were interspersed with poetry (by another local woman) and the finale was the premier of a Variations on a Theme piece for piano and string quartet. The organ in Christchurch is magnificent; over 2,000 pipes and hand bellows.
Sunny Wednesday started with a breakfast meeting with three of Mattie’s colleagues at the University of Rochester who run an interprofessional masters in education programme. Two hours of great conversation, good food and a real insight into how the IPE agenda is growing apace these days in the US. Later that morning I listened to another of Mattie’s colleagues present their research on palliative care teams in hospital settings –it was good to be back in work mode for a very short while. The highlight of the day was the Kimono exhibition at the Museum of Art. Over 100 kimonos showing the range of designs and literature to explain the language of wearing these stunning yet simple garments.
 P1000635Later that afternoon I met some of Mattie’s family, Jennifer, Ted and grandson Griffin before supper at Lento’s (slow food). I recommend the vegetarian shepherds pie and the Finger Lakes Chardonnay accompanied by their guitarist who gave a great rendering of a Whiter Shade of Pale.  We finished our day at the Film Theatre watching the Jacque Tati movie –Trafic.
My three days in Rochester are now over –a wonderful experience of  history, culture, politics and geography  thanks to the hospitality of Mattie and Michael.  Now I am (once again) in Chicago Airport, this time waiting for my plane to Denver .. . the weather has been rough there but I]m told the 10 inches of snow was of the wet variety and unlikely to cause any delays.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday 22 March; the Women’s Rights National Park & Skateatelas

Mattie and Mike have given me a warm welcome into their beautiful house which was built with lots of Californian Redwood. Outside my window two small clumps of snowdrops provide the only green shoots in a rather bleak landscape. I’m told that Rochester competes with Seattle for the most cloudy days in the year. No surprise then: it’s raining

We drive east along the New York State thruway, our first stop is Senaca Falls and the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. Mattie and I are the only visitors today so we have the undivided attention of Dave with his endless knowledge and admiration of the women and men who initiated the women’s rights movement. Our tour of the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, where in 1848 the first women’s rights convention was held, is conducted from the window of the exhibition hall as the chapel is currently being restored. The original building has over time been used as a filling station and most recently a lauderomat. P1000596We stand beside clay statues of the activists, many of them were also abolitionists. Upstairs the exhibition tells the story of their 72 year battle for women’s suffrage and there’s lots about gender inequality in general. To my delight a large quilt hangs from one wall; simply patched in primary colours and perfectly hand quilted.

P1000604 In a nearby street we visit the home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton one of the leaders of the women’s rights movement.  She held ‘conversationlists’ in her home to teach young women how to organise meetings, use rhetoric and gain the confidence to speak in public. The room walls are covered in wall paper that matches the originals; all discovered under six other layers during restoration.

P1000605 Our final stop is in Skateatelas. A wonderful name for a town that sits on the northern tip of one of the smaller finger lakes. Lunch is very good clam chowder in a restaurant that overlooks the absolutely clear lake water. A wonderful day that the persistent rain does not dampen. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

London to Chicago …

An early start and Heathrow Terminal 3 was, as always, groaning with trolley pushing people. Babies and senior citizens travelling at ease in their carriages and lots of people making their way home for Passover.

It was good exercise getting to the gate –the travelators were all out of action and AA87 left from the far reaches of the terminal. I was deep into yesterday’s Guardian Review when they called my name to hand me an upgrade to first class. Oh the blessings of a full flight, no doubt because of the BA strike.

So I turned left inside the door of the plane to 1D, some excellent service, freshly cooked food and a seat that turned into a very comfy bed. No Ringo Starr or Tom Jones on my flight but I’ve started making my way thro’ this years films that I haven’t got around to seeing and had a welcome sleep. An unexpected treat at the start my trip.

US Immigration authorities now have my fingerprints and stamped me thro’ after an extended conversation about why I had two Iranian visa’s in my passport!

I’m writing this in a sunny and peaceful spot overlooking the runway at Chicago O’Hare. My flight to Rochester is in 3 hours and my aim is to stay awake until its bedtime at Mattie and Mike’s.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

different to the last time ..

I've been reflecting on how different the solo journey I start tomorrow, which will eventually see me in New Zealand, will be to my first journey to NZ when I was 9. That was a family trip, six weeks by sea to a new country so Dad could manage the building of a cement works in what is now a National Park. We stayed in a London hotel before travelling to Southampton to board the SS Corinthic. Lots of firsts for all of us .. certainly we children had never spent the night in such a posh place.  There was quite a send off as the ship left -Grandma amongst the many others waving from the dockside and then excitement of sleeping in bunks in our own cabin. Our days were full of activities, deck quoits became Mum's forte and she looked stunning  in her new clothes. I can picture her now in a frothy yellow ball gown and silky cocktail dress ... all stored in a cabin trunk that opened up like a wardrobe!   King Neptune reigned as we  'crossed the line' with appropriate ceremony and we watched in amazement as the lock gates let us through the Panama Canal.
I can't believe that my flights via the US & Australia will leave such an impression but who knows ... its time to strap the suitcase and eat the last apple.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Climate diversity

Just checked the weather at my first 2 stops. Rochester is looking good at 17C but its -2 in Denver!! So is there space in my suitcase for some more cosy clothes or shall I just hope that the warm sun they had earlier this week greets me next weekend. Decisions, decisions. its a tough life ...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Testing the off line blog writer

Some last minute things to do tonight including checking that I remember how to write a blog entry offline. It seems a long time ago since I booked my round the world ticket and James showed me how to do this!!! My first flight leaves two hour earlier thanks to the BA strike but I am so grateful that I could change to American Airlines. No pictures to attach yet but there will be plenty very soon.  I’m going to be sending messages to alert friends and family to a new entry but it would be great if you became a friend to this blog. I don’t think there are many so far …

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

lots to do ...

Getting ready for my trip has generated a long  to do list... My car is now SORNed from 01 April and I've ordered foreign currency after a very long spell at the local PO counter!!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Its getting close ..

I'm working my way my thro' my to do list; credit card companies informed, currencies ordered, e-reader with some new books to read and a huge pile of 'I might take this with me' on the bedroom floor. Watch this space