That There is Real Bear Country

…but not a bear in site? We are still pondering which Bear of the brown and the black bears you run from, and which bear you freeze for? Fortunately we didn’t see a real live bear!! Lots of taxidermy though!

So 6 Kiwis, an Irishman, An Aussie and one token American go for a weekend in the woods! Sounds like a joke, but it’s not. Our friend Sarah’s boss had kindly leant her his cabin in the woods and said she could take up a group of friends.  So on a Friday afternoon 9 people piled into two cars, and we traversed 243 km/150 miles from the centre of San Franciso to Arnold, California. Located within the massive 900,000 acre Stanislaus National Forest, adjacent with Yosemite National Park. We seemed to spend an hour driving uphill to the cabin which sat at 4000ft/1200mtrs above sea level!

The car Lindsay and I travelled in got there late in the evening. The first group that arrived earlier in the day had already organised supplies and offered me a refreshing beer when I walked in. Pity I have never learnt to enjoy the taste of beer, after many failed attempts!
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The next day we woke up and opened our curtains to a view of a pine tree forest.

After some discussion about the days activities we took a short drive to Calaveras Big Trees State Park, where Camp Leader Sarah took us for a tramp, oops I meant Hike, amongst the giant Sequoia trees. Before departing, some of the party went in search of water to ensure they didn’t dehydrate on the trek. Here, Kurt and Tim model their Water Bottle Bags. It seems their ability to grip with their hands didn’t appear to be working.

Before leaving, we thought about joining the forest church, but the woman leading the singing was so out of tune, we couldn’t bare the noise.

The trees in this part of the park are so large that our group of 9 could easily fit on this stump, appropriately named “Big Stump”. img_7579

These massive sequoias only germinate when they are scarred by fire and many had burn marks up the side.  Other trees were dead, stripped of their bark though still standing.  In the early 20th century one of the trees had its bark stripped in sections, and taken on a roadshow. The bark was reassembled over and again, to show the impressive girth and height of these amazing mammoths
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It’s pretty hot in this forest at this time of year, though in winter it snows, so we decided to head off to an alpine lake for a bit of a dip and a cool down. After agonisingly walking into the freezing water up to our knees, we decided to give up on the swim. However there were some fun sights to be seen including this paddle boat swan, which also had a tiny outboard motor.  Kurt and I were so intrigued, we got a photo with it.

Finally at the end of the huge day, we headed back to the very large cabin and Clay aka Carl, the token American, prepared dinner marinating chicken and beef to be thrown on the grill(BBQ) later in the evening.  It was a fabulous meal, with a new group of friends. The evening was finished off with board games, with Lindsay and I tucking into bed a little earlier than the more youthful members of the group, who’s ability to drink later into the evening is still peaking.

I think the best way to tie up this post is with this short clip. Out and about tripping in this amazing forest, singing along with the great Neil Diamond. Click on the following pic to watch and laugh….be warned, have your volume turned down:

Thank you everyone for a fabulous weekend.

Getting Up To the Start Line

We have now been living in San Fransisco for officially one month, and it has been a larger social and cultural shift than expected, therefore taking us a while to find our feet and feel like we are getting started. Everything seems just that little bit different – from the size of teaspoons, variations in banking terms and function, tipping even when service is not good quality, sugar in bread, cheese, bacon cooked to a crisp, and so much more. But we are quickly getting our head around the way things work, thanks to the support of friends who get it.


It seems from an outsiders perspective that Americans love their food (Don’t we all), especially meat, cheese and Bacon. So a surprising aspect of living in San Francisco was the variety of food choices.  In all honesty it was to be expected as it is a melting pot of international communities, and opens its arms to social diversity. But still it is refreshing to find that portions don’t have to be over generous, and there’s a great variety of vegetarian/vegan options (we aren’t vegetarians, but we do eat a fair bit of vegetarian and  fish). We continue to strive to find good espresso, and though it can be found, a good cappuccino seems a little elusive.  My excuse to get my Breville expresso maker!  Not one to take pictures of food, I did enjoy my lunch at Foreign Cinema in the Mission, where at night they project old movies onto a back wall.  I ordered the Duck – too pretty not to photograph.
And if you are a meat eater who likes lots of food, you will be well catered for too!! This was shared with 5, and there were leftovers!


We have recently moved into some short term furnished accomodation till October 23rd. Last week I realised that even though we don’t know where we will be living, I might have to organise some basic furniture. We are shipping some household goods including most of our kitchen, but we need a bed, sofa and cutlery. I’d been recommended to go to Crate & Barrel which has everything for a home you might wish for, but due to massive Labour Day sale prices, we found there would a 12-13 week lead time on what we wanted. So I let my fingers to the searching and found a Bed Frame on Etsy.
I further trawled the internet for a couple of companies that made the style of sofa I wanted, finding three.
The first place nearly knocked me dead with the price. The second store, Furniture Envy was so good, we put our order in – customised to how we wanted it, price was reasonable, delivery expected when we wanted! Fingers crossed it goes to order. The final item of must buy was cutlery – Lindsay noticed that U.S. standard sizes of what we might call desert and teaspoons were quite different to what we were used to.  So after hunting around and not finding what we wanted, we went back to searching the online New Zealand stores, but then buying it on sale from UK eBay which was far cheaper than anything we’d seen.  Lindsay who’s not big on spending money on household items, appeared a little relieved with that saving. And thats the end of the spending on the big stuff until we have recouped our costs from paying massive bonds on our current and next rental properties, and the first months payment in advance. We did go to the Alameda Point Antiques Fair, a HUGE antiques fair that occurs on the 1st Sunday of the month, with my mother who was visiting on her way back to NZ from visiting my bother in Sweden.
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Mum did try to get me to buy some of the fabulous goods on sale, but alas failed due to this shut down in spending till moved into our next more permanent apartment.  That’s okay – It happens every month, and I’ll be back once we’ve moved into a more permanent home!!


When we’re not buying furniture, or eating, then I/We are out and about, exploring the city.  This has been made simpler for me with the introduction of Hildegarde.
Lindsay has been leant a road bike from a tall friend whilst he waits for his touring bike to arrive in shipping, but it needs a little alteration before he can reach the pedals!

A colourful Dragon on display outside the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

Loving the green pergola


Looking back at AT&T Park, the home of the Baseball Giants

Colourful crossings in Castro

The stunning views out over SF

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Exploring Golden Gate Park – I’ve got so much still to find

A stunning green park in the middle of very parched and dry SF

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Day time and night time views of the Bay Bridge.  I haven’t yet made it around to the Golden Gate Bridge since we arrived. In the next week I hope.

A caravan park – with permanent parks….Sunnyvale, further down the Bay

An art fair in Palo Alto. These artists displaying their craft on the streets

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Twitter: And the heart of Twitter that flashes on and off – apparently every time a tweet is completed.  And an original antique cabin, disassembled, shipped and reassembled inside the Twitter offices!  Best thing about Twitter – their chocolate!!!

A dress we’re considering purchasing from Valentino…hmmmm! Let me think!

Apple Love – Art out the back of Apples Union Square store.  Thanks to Lisa Halford and a little exploration.