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Arrival: Saturday, May 06, 2006
Sacramento
Before settling into my brother's home for an action packed week in Californina, we toured the State Capital Building then drove to old town, the quaint yet stylish center of Sacramento. Brain lives in Vacaville about 20 miles west of the city. Many upscale shops dot the 10-block area. Besides the expected tourist trap stores we strolled through a one-of-a-kind taffy shop and a fabulous tea salon then toured the railroad museum. After dining at an outstanding second story Mexican restaurant, we sauntered over to a downtown mall via a huge tunnel below the 10-lane highway that dissects Sacramento.

     

Day Two: Sunday, May 07, 2006
San Francisco
Everybody said, "take advantage of it." One of the few days of the year that chilly air or a foggy haze wasn't hanging over the city by the bay. After a 40 minute drive and a long church service, we showed up for our lunch reservation at the Cliff House. What a view? Our table cornered by two giant glass walls looked out over the Pacific Ocean. Afterward, we combed the beach then lingered in a museum. The end of the day agenda held a trip to the Golden Gate Bridge, a downtown adventure and a visit to Raymond's (another brother) 'under improvement' home before heading back to Vacaville.

     
     

Day Three: Monday, May 08, 2006
The Road to Yosemite
Four hours crammed in a car just to see Yosemite, worth it times twenty. A first view of the extraordinary sequoia trees, El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridalveil Fall coupled with the snow melt runoff banished any accumulated blues while gorging our overloaded senses. We found Paradise.

     

Day Four: Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Yosemite
Today, we climbed to the top of Yosemite Falls snaking ever upward over rocky terrain and watery ravines. We were awestruck.

     
  

Day Five: Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Yosemite: Sequoia Grove
The ultimate raison d'etre might be to witness the glory of nature, the density of stars, the giant Sequoia. Photographs can't do justice to the majesty of these living creations. The Grizzly Giant, limbs more massive than any other tree in Mariposa Grove, the Fallen Tunnel tree, the Clothespin tree, the Faithful Couple, the Bachelor and the Three Graces... sequoias are not just trees, they're companions.

     
     

Day Six: Thursday, May 11, 2006
Wine Country
Before the short journey to Sonoma and Napa valleys, we toured the Jelly Belly Factory. From there we proceeded to Benziger Family Winery, a biodynamic farm with the best reserve Chardonnay that I ever tasted, Valley of the Moon and V. Sattui wineries.

     

Day Seven: Friday, May 12, 2006
San Francisco Revisited
A second full day of Frisco and once again clear, cool weather. We cruised to Alcatraz Island from Pier 39. We ate crab cake at Fisherman's Wharf. We tasted sample chocolate at Ghirardelli. Jessie rode the trolley. We even met the governator in Chinatown.

     
     
     

Day Eight: Saturday, May 13, 2006
San Francisco: Muir Woods
Some of the tallest trees in the world, banana slugs and a leisurely walk exploring a valley that previous generations saved from destruction before eating at a local deli then strolling through Sausalito. Here's a different view of a very recognizable bridge. We ended our West Coast holiday with a Ka-boom.

     

Departure: Sunday, May 14, 2006
Up, Up in the Air
Adieu, auf Wiedersehen, never more shall we part. Flying over the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains.