Newsletter: April 2003 Archives

04/20/2003 Newsletter

Japanese Tea Garden
James and Amy on the Bridge at the Japanese Tea Garden
Lovers Point
Lovers Point
View more pictures from Monterey
View more pictures from San Francisco
View pictures from Hearst Castle


We have had alot happen in the last month. We went on vacation to California, started a new house project, and participated in James and Jenny's graduations.

In order to celebrate my graduation as well as birthdays for both Miekka and me, we decided to go on a trip to California. Amy, Miekka and myself left for Gilroy on April 12th. We got as far as Donnar Pass before we were turned back due to heavy snowfall. We rented a hotel room that night (Saturday) in Reno. The next day we began a search for tire chains. We had to call 5 places before we found wome one who had the tire chains that we needed. Evidently the storm created quite a demand. We finally left Reno around noon and headed towards the pass. Four and a half hours later we were through the pass and moving a freeway speeds again.

We stayed with Darin and Margaret's family on Monday. We had an enjoyable time playing with the kids, going to a fantastic mexican resturant and watching the second Harry Potter movie.

The main attraction for our trip was San Fransisco. Early Tuesday morning grandma Jean drove us to the CalTrain station on Monterey St. The train took approximately two hour to get to SF. From the train station in SF we got on a bus and went to fishermans wharf to buy our City Pass. The City Pass gives you unlimited public transportation (bus, sub, cablecar) for 7 days, as well as entrance to 5 museums and a trip out to Alcatraz. After we got the pass we went to our hotel and checked in.

Our hotel was located on top of knob hill. It provided a lovely view of the city, but we always had to walk up hill to get back home for the night. That was kind of a bummer. We finished up Tuesday by going to the Legion of Honor museum.

Wednesday was spent mainly in the Japanese Tea Garden, the Exploratorium, and China Town. The Japanese Tea Garden was really peaceful. It was cool to see all the different plants and arrangements. We spent at least an hour walking around that garden and we also at lunch there. After the garden we jumped on another bus and headed for the Exploratorium.

The Exploratorium is a really cool hands on science museum. There are all kinds of experiments and demonstrations of various scientific priniples. We had a really fun time "playing" with all of the toys there. I had to hold back some of my enthusiasm cause the place was packed with school kids. I didn't want to take away from their experience by hogging the displays too much. Of course any empty display that I went to would immeditatly attract 20 different kids who would get in the way, so it was a little irritating (grr, kids!)

Our hotel is about 4 blocks from China town, so after our Exploratorium trip we went there. Most of the souveniers for the trip were purchased in China Town. We wandered from shop to shop for an hour or so. We finally settled on the Chinese Emporium (or Flea Market or something like that) were we bought some cool dishes, chop sticks, and various other trickets.

Wednesday was our last day in SF, we had booked a tour to Alcatraz, so we packed up our bags, checked out of the hotel and headed to fishermans wharf. After waiting for about a half hour on the docks we were boarding the ferry to the island. The ferry only takes about 15 minutes so we were on Alcatraz in no time. We were lucky to catch the only ranger tour of the day. The ranger tour that we were on focused on the Army's involvment in Alcatraz. We were told about the significance of the island in defending the bay, and how the fort was built. After time the fort was transformed into an army prison, and then eventually became a federal prison. The ranger tour ended near the cellblock on the top of the island. From there we went into the cellblock and got an audio tour.

The Alcatraz audio tour was really well done, it walked you through the different areas of the prison and showed some famous spots like where the brothers tunneled there way out of their cells and where the solitary confinement was at. We finished our tour and headed back to the ferry. We got back to fishermans wharf around 2:30 or so.

We were all hungry so we had to go to Boudin's Bakery and get the famous bread. I got the clam chowder in a bread bowl. It was delicious. Before we knew it it was three o'clock and we were running for a bus to take us back to the train station. Unfortuneately we missed our intended train and had to wait until the next one. We arrived in Gilroy at 7:00, just in time for a birthday party at Jon and Jan's house for Miekka and Joanna's birthday

Friday was mostly relaxing, Miekka and Amy stayed in Gilroy and went to the outlets and hung around. I went with Scott to Monterey to see what we could do about his Mercedes. The outlook was grim so we emptied his car of his belongings. We stripped off the car rack and took out his stereo system. After that we decided that we needed to go to the beach and refuel on a few negative ions (inside story, ask scott). Scott took me to Monistary beach. It was a beautiful day.

Saturday saw Amy, Miekka and myself in Monterey (again). This time we went to all the old haunts. We climbed on Lovers Point, drove through Asilomar, played on Asliomar state beach and flew a kite. Then we went to a really good pizza place (on lighthouse but I just forgot the name), we finished up the day at the Monterey Aquarium.

Sunday was filled to the brim with easter egg hunting in the morning, church and a huge dinner at grandma's that evening. We had a really good time discussing the symbolisms of the Easter dinner and enjoying good food.

Monday was another busy day. We left around 9 and started driving towards Hearst Castle. We drove along highway 1 which goes along the coast. It is a beautiful drive. We stopped several times to take pictures and look at the different vistas of the ocean and magnificent cliffs. We arrived at Hearst Castle around 1:00 and quickly joined the next available tour. Hearst Castly is an odd mix of really old stuff and semi modern architeture. I haven't dediced if I liked it yet, but it was definately impressive. My favorite part was this pool that was tiled in dark blue and real gold leaf.

After the tour we watched a video on the building of the castle, then we ate and headed back on the road. On the way to the castle we saw a beach that had a bunch of sea lions and we wanted to go back and see it. The beach had thousands and thousands of sea lions on it. It is had to imagine that many in one place! The drive back to Gilroy was uneventful, except for a quick stop in Castrovile for an order of artichoke hearts... mmm mmm good!

Tuesday was our final day in California and we spent it mostly lazing about. We managed to fit in a quick trip to San Jose to the dutch store for some dutch licorice (it is much saltier then the licorice we are used to but Miekka's family loves it). Then we went to the movie Holes that had just been released.

Wednesday saw us back on the road to home. Fortunately that trip was very smooth. We had a wonderful time, and are also very happy to be home

Love, Miekka and James