Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Oh Say, Can You See?

Trina and I have just returned from a visit to California. State Motto: "See what you've been missing". And there's so much not to see. That's because California is constantly covered with fog. And not just any fog.

There was Pea Soup in San Diego. Gray Mist in Malibu. Obnoxious O2 in Oxnard. Hydro Haze in Hermosa. Sea Smoke in San Francisco. Even London Fog at Saks Fifth Avuenue. There is fog everywhere.

We took a trip up the famous Pacific Coast Highway. It was magnificent. Or so we’re told. We didn’t see a thing because an incredibly thick blanket of fog rolled in off the ocean. There were waves crashing, Sea Lions barking, Harbor Seals howling, and Sea Otters ottering. We could hear them all but never got a glimpse. Trina came armed with her MagnaChroma Z280 Camera, and a suitcase crammed with digital photographic gear. But sadly, it never saw the light of day. There was nothing to photograph except that thick goopy sky. We stopped at a gift shop and admired the breathtaking sights by looking at the postcards.

It was more of the same in San Francisco. They get so much fog in San Fran, they have pet names for it, depending on where you live.

The infamous Castro Creeper is known for spreading through the Castro District, choking the locals like roaches caught in a cloud of Raid. We hiked up to Coit Tower, a well-known lookout with spectacular views of The City by The Bay. Well, you couldn't prove it by us. We couldn’t see the Bay, Alcatraz, Chinatown, or anything else. We rode a cable car back to the hotel, zooming through murky streets lined with stores, restaurants and homes. But who knows? Maybe they took us on a tour of the city dump. We were in a fog. Again.

Undaunted, the next morning we drove out to see the legendary Golden Gate Bridge. It was a magnificent sight. At least we imagine it must have been. Somewhere out there, completely hidden in the haze, was that mighty American landmark.

Next stop, Napa Valley. Thin wisps of fog rippled in our wake as we guided our rented Suzuki Sidekick ever Northward. Finally, the Fog broke. We could see! Row after row after row of grape vines. We had discovered a wino’s oasis, an alcohol-based air hole, a break in the dismal California fog bog. We stopped at several famous vineyards and sampled their finest wines. It was a moment of clarity (or was it Claret) in what was otherwise a vacation void of vision. Our time in Napa was a wonderful respite from the hazy horizons that hung over our journey like the specter of gloom. But after several glasses of Napa Valley’s finest grape juice, I realized that everything suddenly looked foggy again. Rats! Too much Vino… At least Trina was our designated driver.

We sped back to San Francisco, anxious to board a plane going anywhere. Anxious to sail above the fog that followed us everywhere. On our way back to the airport, we had to cross the Golden Gate, just as the sun was going down. I know it was sunset because the fog had miraculously lifted.

We could see the bridge, the bay, even Alcatraz. It was a moment to savor. So Trina hauled out her MagnaChroma Z280 and took about 600 photos, snapping away merrily, until the fog rolled back in again. We left before dawn, taking the redeye back home to Pennsylvania. Naturally, our flight was diverted to Richmond. Too foggy to land in Philadelphia

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