Spectacular San Fransisco

Another amazing day and my last one in this beautiful city with my oldest mate and his special family. 44 years of friendship and lots of special times over the years and this has stood out as one of the most special of all.

The morning began with me finding a special gift for my nephew that I have been hunting for so it was a good start.

We then headed out to the walk Golden Gate Bridge and enjoy a day of sight seeing and special time together. San Fransisco is a truly beautiful city and in a lot of ways reminds me of Cape Town.

We took in the views of the amazing bay surrounding Alcatraz and Golden Gate and were blessed to see a few whales frolicking in the water during our bridge crossing. To consider that this bridge was built over 80 years ago and still stands majestically today is quiet a thing.

After our hike to various view points and the walk across the bridge, it was time to get some ice cold Weiss Beer and a few Jalepeno Chilli poppers in at Marin Brewing company.

We then spent some time walking Around the little Harbour and Ferry port and then headed to San Rafael for an early Thai dinner.

What an incredible 9 days it has been with Brendan, Naoko and Ray. I have managed to see a substantial amount of beautiful places and got to spend some real quality time with old friends.

Tomorrow I am off to Miami to my dear friend Evan and will be meeting his gorgeous wife and their furry children. I was unable to attend their wedding a few years ago due to illness so really look forward to quality time with them too.

Sausalito Saturday Meander

Following a rather large night of Napa Valley red wine quaffing, Saturday got off to a slow start. To prevent any possible hangover it was into the gym for a 1 hour work out and a shower.

We then decided to take in a bit more of the beautiful Marin County scenery and headed to Sausalito for a little meander and some lunch.

This little suburb is a tourist favourite with lots of people hiring bikes in the City and riding over the bridge to enjoy the wide selection of restaurants, delis, coffee shops and bars. It was our intention to get on the water and have a bit of a paddle through the bay but it was rather chilly and my joints were taking a bit of strain.

Instead we had a nice slow walk and took in the sites. We landed up having a great lunch at a Restuarant called Trident which has been around since 1966.

In the 60’s and 70’s this was San Fransisco’s version of Studio 54. David Crosby called it “ground zero for drugs, sex and rock n roll”. Robin Williams was a bus boy here and Janis Joplin had her own table there. Clint Eastwood hung out at the bar often with good friend Sonny Barger (head of the hells angels). In 1975 and 76 the Rolling Stones had private parties there hosted by Billy Graham.

The original Trident closed in 1976 and then reopened in 1980 and was renamed the Trident again in 2012. The venue is located in an amazing location and the 25 minute wait for a table was well worth it. The food was excellent and the service was world class.

Another great day on this amazing trip spent with my Lifetime friend and his amazing wife.

Thanks Sausalito

Taking in Napa Valley and St Helena

On route back from Lake Tahoe I got to stop off and spend the night and a two incredible days with my special friends Dave and Mitzi Zamarripa and their two beautiful daughters Allura and Bella.

This part of the trip began with watching Brendan, Dave and the girls get some tennis training in. These two incredibly talented young ladies are making waves in the tennis world and are moving their way up the tennis rankings steadily.

It was great to watch their commitment and dedication to the sport and see such a great family unit work together with both their mom and dad giving them such support. Such humble beautiful people. It was awesome to reconnect. The last time I saw these guys was in Hawaii in 2007.

We then had an incredible Mexican meal and some great laughs. On Friday Morning Mitzi and I went to the farmers market in St Helena which was a real treat while Dave and the girls got some more training in.

Dave and I then headed to Napa Valley taking in the beauty of the wine lands and enjoying a fabulous meal at the Napa River front.

Once again I was blessed to see another beautiful part of California but more importantly I got more time with incredible mates. I am one blessed human being and feel utterly grateful for the friends I have.

Spectacular Lake Tahoe

There are few words that can explain how utterly spectacular Lake Tahoe is.   To paddle on this beautiful Lake has been one of my goals and dreams for many years.  Often when you have had such high hopes for a place when you get there eventually it can be disappointing,  this however was not the case with Lake Tahoe.   It is simply magnificent and took my breathe away.

Brendan I got in the car and headed for Lake Tahoe on Tuesday morning.  The drive to the Lake from San Rafael was pretty spectacular.  As we entered the mountains and got to the beautiful Condo we were staying at in the Northstar resort I was literally speechless.

The Lake is huge and stretches on for miles and is surrounded by mountains still capped with snow.   The first day the water was a bit choppy and the wind was strong so we literally paddled for an hour and then called it quits.   The next morning however we were up at 6am and on the water by 7:30.    The journey to our paddle was of course started with me getting my morning Coffee fix at Starbucks.

We decided to take advice from some of Brendon’s mates and jumped on our boards in Sand Harbor.   We paddled out on the majestic lake and took in the unbelievable view.  Our paddle was filled with coves and bays that had emerald colored water and big beautiful boulders.    The water was glassy and the paddling was simply sublime.

I would say that Lake Tahoe to date is quite honestly the most spectacular paddle I have had the opportunity to paddle.  The last 3 days on the water have been complete bliss. Thank you Bren for making one of my dreams come true.

San Fransico and its Diversity

Today started with a good 1 hour 30 minute training and stretching session. My pain levels have been a bit off the charts for the last few days so I thought it best to get some focused stretches and exercise in.

We then headed to a great farmers market to shop for the fruit and veggies for the week. We had an incredible breakfast at the market then headed into the city. We had intended on walking the Golden Gate Bridge but due to the heavy fog we decided to head straight to the City.

We started off in North Beach in the Italian district and I was thrilled to get a really good espresso latte. Bren and Naoko then took me to a Tea tasting in china town that was fascinating. They have over 350 teas to choose from and you are treated to a divine journey into the extensive health and healing benefits of the various teas.

We then did a bit of a 6km walk through the city to Union Square and the surrounds and took in the sites and diverse, eclectic culture of the city. At the end of our day we had a special dinner in the Italian district and caught up with another one of my old mates that I have not been able to see in 10 years. It was amazing to reconnect and once again I have had a truly blessed day.

Tomorrow may be a day of rest as I give my joints a bit of down time.

Seattle Blessings

As I sit in the airport ready for my next leg of this epic journey, I feel utterly blessed and loved. This past week has been spent with some really special friends that I have not been able to see for 10 years.

My last visit was in winter and was filled with snowboarding and log fires. This journey was filled with outdoor hikes, paddling and heaps of love and laughter.

To put into words how grateful I am for the incredible friends I have around the world is hard. Little Irie and Dylan touched my heart deeply and I loved being snuggled in the morning by these two special little angels. There is nothing quite like the bubbly sound of a child’s laughter to greet a new Morning.

Heika, Noelle, Brian and Victoria all made me feel so welcome. Planned special outings and filled my soul with joy. Thanks guys and I will definitely be back again. This is a beautiful city and I leave part of my heart with you all.

San Fransico hear I come.

Seattle Sight Seeing

Today was my allocated tourist day! Yes that’s right I did it again, I embraced not only one but two organised tours. I can’t believe it myself but there you have it me breaking out of my comfort zones.😂

My day started with an early morning train ride on the Sounder to downtown Seattle. I then hopped off the train at King Street Station with my personally printed and demarcated map (thanks Heika) and headed for Pioneer Square.

I grabbed my morning Americano, which I must say is always good in Seattle and headed for the Seattle Underground City Tour. It’s always interesting to get to know a little bit more about a city but I must say this was a bit strange in some ways. Basically the beginning of the tour focuses on the challenges Seattle had with sewerage and the installation of the first flushable toilets aptly named “Crappers”.

It then tells you about how the entire City of Seattle burnt down and when this happened they were able to rebuild but decided to build the City literally 2 stories up from where it had been before. The underground city became the location of many brothels, bars and businesses avoiding taxation.

I then headed to the Ferry that would take me on my next group tour. This one took me on a ride across the ocean to the Indian Village of Tillicum.

I really enjoyed the Storytelling and amazing lunch that was served. On arrival we were handed a cup of fresh clams and as with the tradition on completion of eating your clams you had to smash the Shells on the floor. We then moved into a large dining hall with a stage.

We were served Fresh Salmon which was cooked on an open fire in a traditional manner and treated to a storytelling and Native Dancing session. After lunch we could hike around the island and enjoy the wildlife. I saw the cutest Racoon and managed to get a pic of him sitting quietly in a tree.

We then headed back to the mainland. I made a quick trip to Pike Market to watch the Fish Throwing and pick up some great giant shrimp for dinner.

All in all a great day with fabulous sites.

Road trip through Washington pass

Yesterday was a glorious summers day and I got to enjoy a spectacular road trip with Noelle up Washington pass through the Northern Cascades to Diablo then a and to the highest look out point in the mountains.

To say that this is a breathtaking drive is an understatement. The drive included lush green landscape filled with giant trees that have lined this road for hundreds if not thousands of year. The best way I could describe it is that it is like taking a huge breathe of fresh air.

The views and stops along the way were like something out of a painting. The rivers all run down from the glaciers in the mountains and are a beautiful turquoise blue colour and are surrounded by beautiful lush green shrubs and giant trees. The entire journey felt like a mediation that both energised and completely relaxed me at the same time.

Noelle, Brian, Heika and I got to spend an amazing evening together the night before and it was really amazing to reconnect with these special souls. Noelle and I then got up, headed for the whole food market to pack our padkos and then hit the road.

I really do have to say that you are spoilt for choice as to where you may want to go when visiting this beautiful city as it really has so much to choose from. Seattle is currently one of the fastest growing cities with over 1000 people per day moving here.

We meandered along the glacial rivers and up into the beautiful mountains taking in the views of Diablo and Ross Dam. We sat up in the mountains and took in the beautiful landscape while enjoying a healthy picnic and catching up on our lives over the last 10 years.

We then ventured down the mountain and back. Noelle decided to take me on an impromptu detour through Arlington, Darrington. Noelle took me past Oso. I got to see White horse mountain and really was just blown away by the beautiful scenery.

Thanks Noelle for the most blessed day. It really was food for my soul and brought great joy to my heart.

Soulful Seattle 

I have landed safely in Seattle and it is like food for my soul.  I love this city.  Known as the Evergreen State, Seattle is one of my favourite cities in the world.   It is a city that grounds me and makes my heart smile

This is only my second time here but it feels amazing to be back.  The last time I was here it was winter and it was covered in snow and so now I am connecting with the beautiful summer city.   Flying into the city alone was just breathtaking with its huge trees, mountains and vast waterways.

As I stepped out of the Arrivals areas, I was greeted by my beautiful, powerful friend Heika.  It was extremely emotional as I have missed her so much and we have both had challenging life journeys over the last few years.

She whisked me straight off to the water and we sat on the deck of an exquisite Restuarant called Anthony’s in Des Moines. We sat on this beautiful rooftop deck and took in the fresh air and view of the Olympics over the Sound.  It felt like I was suddenly grounded again after the franetic energy of Vegas.

Water beautiful trees and a warm welcoming friend, what more can I ask for. We then took a drive along the coast back to Heika’s house and stopped off for a walk through a small forest onto a little private beach.  My idea of pure bliss.

Today I am bit exhausted so gonna just take it easy and will be heading up to Noelle and Brian a bit later to visit them in the mountains. I feel utterly blessed to have such amazing special friends all over the USA and I finally get to connect with them during this pilgrimage.

Majestic Grand Canyon

Today I ventured out on my first bus tour in years and headed to the Grand Canyon like a real tourist.  I was very sad that I couldn’t do my planned paddle and helicopter flight into the canyon and to the falls at first but with the heat reaching 115 degrees Fahrenheit it was simply not an option.  So in the spirit of going with the flow I hopped on a tour bus and headed to the Grand Canyon. A 6:30 am pick up outside my hotel by the tour company and I was on my way.

Heading out into the Mojave Desert towards the Grand Canyon all I could think of was CSI Las Vegas and chuckle a bit to myself. I could hear one of my Bookslags girls Carmen, saying don’t worry Captain Jim Brass is on the scene! I could see the series vividly with some murder in the desert. 😂

Laughing out loud when I thought of this had a couple of my fellow travelers look at me strangely. The fact that I was wearing my crazy Gold sunnies probably made them think I was a complete nutter.   The drive however was really enjoyable even if organised tours are not normally my thing.   Sometimes you gotta just be a tourist and do it.

We headed out through Henderson and boulder and stopped at the famous Hoover dam for some pictures and a timed pee stop! Portable toilets my FAVOURITE thing in the world.  I reckoned I would just hold it until our next stop.

We then headed to the smallest weirdest town I think I have ever seen. It’s called Dolan Springs and let me tell you if you had to blink you would miss it.   We then headed into the Joshua Tree Forest on route into the Hualapai Reservation and up to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Our trip included a visit to the Hualapai Ranch, Eagle Point/Skywalk and Guano Point.  Eagle point was really amazing to see the rocks that look like a giant eagle with its wings spread out.

The scenery at Guano point was incredible and a true reminder of the natural beauty across our planet.  It was extremely hot out there and tempretures soared to 115 Fahrenheit.  At that point I was only to happy to hop back on the air conditioned bus.

All in all I would say a really enjoyable day. A long day with very structured stops and a bit like herding cats at times but I must say that whatever way you get to do it,  I would highly recommend a visit to the Grand Canyon to just sit and take in the vast beauty.