The SF base was in Sausalito across the bay from the city and just around the corner from the Golden Gate Bridge. Sausalito is a really laid back and attractive place thronging with tourists during the day but quiet in the evening. Most of the tourists come from the city across the Golden Gate bridge by rented bike-they cycle out to the redwoods at nearby Mill Valley and then back to Sausalito and catch a ferry back to the city in the late afternoon. So Sausalito is full of young and not so young cyclists during the day and it has a good vibe.
The ferry ride across the bay past Alcatraz is bracing and San Francisco is a very attractive city if you stay away from the very tacky tourist trap of Fisherman's Wharf. I despair when I see all the tourists massing around all those tacky shops-many of the visitors coming from faraway places. Do they really come all that way for that? Our one visit to San Francisco landed us at Fisherman's Wharf and I managed to get a few photos in all the tat although to be fair Boudin's sourdough bakery is worth looking at .
From Sausalito is that it is very easy to drive to Sonoma and up the Napa Valley.The area is is very touristy but is not tacky touristy. Even better is the coast road-Route 1- upto Bodega Bay via Point Royes Station-a very attractive little town.
One of the best things about the US nowadays is the beer. Not so long ago the US was a beer desert. It was Miller Draught (yuk),Budweiser (yuk,yuk),Coors Light ( yuk,yuk,yuk) or nothing. Now it seems that there is at least one craft brewery in every town and they are turning out some really great beers. I had some of the best beer I have ever drunk on this trip-it's that good. The beer's fixed -now they need to fix the coffee.
After 4 days in Sausalito it was off down south on the Saturday of the Memorial Day long weekend .I had planned to drive down on Highway 101 but the first hour out of San Francisco was a traffic nightmare and I figured at that rate of progress it was going to take 24 hours to reach our destination so I dodged across country to pick up Highway 5 and drive down the Central Valley. This very straight freeway goes through flat, irrigated,agriculatural land for over 600 kms. The Californian water crisis is being felt most actutely in this key farming area which produces more than half the nuts,fruit and vegetables grown in the US so the whole way we were subjected to roadside banners and billboards extolling the benefits of farming and blaming poiticians for the lack of water. It was a very tedious drive.
Not that the farmers should really be that worried as whilst we were there Donald Trump held a rally in Fresno in the Valley and told the farmers that he would give them water. Thank goodness that's fixed although it is a little worrying that he gave no detail on exactly how this was going to happen.
The final night's stop before catching the flight back to Aus was in Port Hueneme near Ventura. What a weird place. It's a beachside town with a naval base and a big car import handling port. Along the beachfront are blocks of very dull looking low rise apartments and a short pier which on the evening I was there this was full of Hispanics fishing and pulling fish in by the bucket load. The whole atmosphere in Port Hueneme was just odd. It reminded me of a beachside resort on the Black Sea in communist Bulgaria which I stayed at in the mid 1960s.
After Port Hueneme we spent the Sunday afternoon in Manhattan Beach south of LAX before boarding the late evening flight. The sun was shining,the place was humming and it was a great place to finish the trip.
All photos from the Leica X1. I have been asked twice in the last few days how I achieve the consistent colour on these photos. I invairably keep the camera settings on auto for white balance,ISO and shutter speed and aperture. I use DNG (RAW) files and convert them in Lightroom 5 using a set of adjustments which I have developed over time by trial and error and which I now store as a preset. I apply the preset and then fine tune each photo.
|Santa Cruz Boardwalk|
|Alligator sourdough at Boudins,Fishermans Wharf.|
|Obese bear sourdough bread at Boudins|
|Bored and charming Lily at pearl store on Fishermans Wharf|
|Tourist acting strangely on Fisherman's Wharf. It has that effect on people.|
|Local at Point Reyes Station.|
|Local colour.Hardware store Point Reyes Station|
|San Francisco from Sausalito at dawn|
|Weird Port Hueneme|
|Port Hueneme Pier.|