|Closing the loop
||[Sep. 9th, 2014|02:54 pm]
We are arrived chez weegoddess and J., fed, slept and caffeinated and reconnected to the networks which we had lost while in transit. All is well. The journey was - well, it was a journey, as they are. But that's another post. This is the post I was writing last time I was online, two days ago now, on the Edinburgh train, starting as the train was sitting on Newcastle station, where we were joined by survivors of the day's Great North Run. I'd thought I would be able to finish and upload it that evening, but was defeated by the hotel's very slow internet. The plan had been that one last post would complete the story of our previous trip to the States, before our next had quite, quite begun. Will the circle be unbroken? As it turns out, yes - indeed, so unbroken that the ends overlap, but here's that post, anyway:
What to do on our last day in California? Something special enough not to leave us wishing we'd made a different choice, because there's no saying 'never mind, we'll do that tomorrow', but something within easy reach of home base: tomorrow would be a long day, and besides, we had a dinner date with desperance and klwilliams. Luckily, sbisson had at some point recommended a visit to the Lick Oservatory on Mount Hamilton: we would do that.
For a start, it's a fine drive up. I remember a sequence of views over the Bay Area, but my notes are all about the wild flowers: there are no pictures, because the prettiest ones grow on the rockiest slopes, above the steepest bends over the sheerest drops. "Tell me when you want to stop for a photo opportunity," says durham_rambler, and I'll tell you why I can't." There were the red ones, the ones that might be wallflowers, the ones that probably aren't, the purple buttons and more red one.
Then there were the trees: the very delicate conifers with the enormous cones; and the ones with a growth of something that looked like mistletoe, sometimes a loose tangle on frail lichened branches, sometimes a dark mass, teardrop-shaped like a swarm of bees among the green leaves; and the one with pink leaves - or flowers - or catkins.
So we would have thought the drive worthwhile if there had been nothing to do at the top but admire the view. In fact, although the place seemed deserted, there was an interesting display in the secondary space (I don't seem to have noted any of the names and facts; I am a bad reporter), and we nosed around the complex and admired the white buildings and the blue sky. But just as we were about to say 'well, that was fun,' and go home, durham_rambler saw a lady about to enter the building, and since he has no shame he asked her "Is the Observatory open to visitors today?" (which it quite obviously wasn't). And since she was a kind person with an evident zeal for teaching (she turned out to be Mrs Lotus Baker, pictured here among the former staff of the Observtory) almost a soon as she had said no, it wasn't, she invited us in and showed us around anyway.
So here is the great telescope, discoverer of several moons of Jupiter, in all the panelled glory of its nineteenth century gallery - a suitably steampunk note to round off a steampunk wedding adventure.
After which we came down the mountain and landed in a thrift shop in Alum Rock: where I bought a book with Maurice Sendak illustrations, one of Ann Cleeves's early mysteries (which I read on the flight home) and Carson McCullers The Member of the Wedding (because klwilliams had been telling me what a good and important book it is. A good haul, and followed by a good dinner with good friends (at an Afghan restaurant, as I recall), a good end to our trip.
And now, here we are again...