Sunday, March 1, 2009

Vacation Photos, Last Batch

Now that I'm home, I reckoned I'd post the last big batch of vacation photos. These are from the final ten days of our vacation, during which we stayed with my aunt and uncle, Joe & Carol Neil, at their lovely home in Berkeley.

(One caveat: these are just the pictures from the digital camera. My photos from the film camera -- you all do remember film, don't you? -- haven't yet been developed and digitized. I'll probably post whatever's nifty from the film camera later. This is why there aren't a ton of photos of Monique in this batch, since she generally toted the digital camera while I used my film camera. Let's face it, you'd all rather look at photos of Monique than photos of me, especially now that I've embraced the hermit-beard look. I don't blame you. I'd rather look at photos of Monique, too. You'll all just have to suffer along with me.)

First up, a batch of us went up to Sonoma to tour the 2009 HGTV Dream Home. From left-to-right we have Monique's friend Kelley, Me, Monique, my cousin Laura, and Carol.

Monique believes that she looks quite natural going in the side door.

I did get a couple good interior photos with my film camera, but I forgot to mark the "Create a CD" option on the envelope when I had the pictures developed. So if you want to see what it looks like on the inside, you'll have to click the link and take HGTV's tour. If you have a beef with that, go read a blog written by somebody who isn't absent minded. I won't be hurt. Much.

Tim & Jennifer Kardos hosted a little Friday night shindig at their place in San Mateo, with much of the old IAC crowd in attendance. We played croquet in the back yard, played an interesting empire-building board game on the coffee table, feasted on a delicious dinner, and did yeoman's work on a 1/4-barrel keg of very yummy Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. From left-to-right, top: Steve Lee, John Magee, Gene Cassaretto, Mark Berger, Jeff Harm, Tim Kardos, Gerry Droze; bottom: Sue Kelsch, Monique Magee, Mary Campbell-Droze.

Here's a photo that I liked of Laura and Carol in Carol's living room:

Speaking of my Aunt Carol's place, it's fabulous. It's located in the Berkeley hills about three blocks North of the University of California campus. We didn't get a lot of great interior shots during our stay, but here's a shot of the garden and the side of the house:

When Monique and I toured the 2008 HGTV Dream Home while vacationing in the Florida Keys last year, we had been sleeping in a tent for a week. This year we were staying at Joe & Carol's.

It's safe to say that your living circumstances certainly color your perception of the Dream Home. And the truth is that while the 2009 Dream Home was very nice, nobody in their right mind would trade two of the 2009 Dream Home for Joe & Carol's. (We would, however, still trade our very nice tent for the 2009 Dream Home.)

Technically speaking, of course, we didn't stay in Joe & Carol's house. We stayed in the guest cottage, which is this really warm and comfortable one-bedroom apartment above the garage. Here's a side shot. The garage is on the left and the pump house is on the right. (Brief aside: the pump house contains a natural spring which runs pretty much year-round and is a key neighborhood resource in case of earthquake.)

One day the sun came out, so we finally dropped the top on the convertible and drove out on the coast. (Here's a link to the blog entry with more detail of that particular excursion.)

Here are a couple shots of the Golden Gate Bridge from China Beach, which is in San Francisco out near the ocean:

Here are a couple of shots from Moss Beach. This is on the cliffside where I used to walk Simeon quite often and where Monique and I once had a lovely, romantic sunset picnic back when she used to visit me in California. The flowering ground-cover plant in the front of the shot is called iceplant:

This is me taking a picture of the harbor seals at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach. If you click on the photo and blow it up, you can see the seals, though it's a bit like playing Where's Waldo if you don't know what you're looking for. And it's easy to get distracted by the blubber-laden marine mammal wearing the Detroit Rugby sweatshirt:

Here's a photo of the front of the San Gregorio General Store. And by "general" they do mean "general." Not only is there a wide variety of hardware, cookware, food, beverages, books, office supplies, but it is also San Gregorio's post office, coffee shop, and pub.

Oh, and my sister Susan bought her wedding dress here. You people think I make these things up for comic effect, but that is absolutely true. A general store indeed:

Here's Monique peeking over the windshield when we stopped among the redwoods in Loma Mar:

We stopped back out by the ocean in Pescadero, with more iceplant in the foreground. We have lots of photos of iceplant, which is probably Monique's favorite coastside California flora:
This picture that Monique shot of me of me taking photos of waves hitting the rocks in Pescadero turned out better than any of my photos of waves:

On to other events. One of the fun things we did was to have dinner one night with my cousin Laura at her house out in the Sunset district of San Francisco. We dined with Laura; her ex-husband Deron; and their boys, Nicholas and Alexander. Afterwards, Laura, Alexander, Monique, and I played Clue.

The only photo I have selected from that evening is this one of Nicholas. I have chosen it because he was trying so hard to avoid being in any pictures. Yet his vigilance lapsed for one brief moment and Monique snatched up her camera and captured this action shot of Nicholas Van Hoff trying in vain to leap out of frame before the camera shutter opened.

Wildlife photographers around the world might take it in stride that they can capture images of rare mountain gorillas and cross-billed nuthatches, but any photographer would burst with pride upon capturing an image of the very seldom photographed Nicholas Van Hoff:

Monique also tried very hard to capture the visuals of crossing to San Francisco. I rather suspect we'd need a good wide-angle camera to catch the effect of the view of the skyline combined with the angles of the bridge. But a few of the photos of the bridge itself turned out quite nifty:

Here's a picture of the Small Press Spotlight exhibit at the San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum. Their current exhibit features Ryan Claytor, whose work I have extolled elsewhere. There are those who say the location of the Small Press Spotlight leaves a wee-wee bit to be desired. But where better to get a lot of traffic?

This is Monique in the Yerba Buena Gardens, with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in the immediate background and a skyscraper behind:

That same afternoon we also went to some of Berkeley's remaining used book stores. The once-mighty herd of used bookstores in Berkeley has been thinned considerably over the past few years, but the surviving stores seem to still be thriving. Among the many things we saw in them, we found this evidence that you can still find used copies of some of Arsen's science-fiction books in circulation:

... and that's about it for this batch of vacation photos from California. How do I know this is the end of the California photos? Here's the next picture, this one taken from my porch this afternoon:

Ice? Iceboats? Yup, must be back in Michigan.


  1. I've enjoyed all of these pictures, but the General Store made my day. I've tried to explain to Rich a time or two that I'm a fairly low maintenance type of woman. The fact that I bought my wedding dress at a General Store is one of those examples I pull out. :)

  2. Nice pics John, looks like you had a wonderful vacay, and I must say, your Aunts house is pretty spectacular of what I saw. Now get back to work.