Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Amy and Shawn in SF -1

This last week end we had a wonderful visit from Amy and Shawn. Amy is my brother Bill's daughter and Shawn is her husband. Her birthday was on Friday, February 16, so we got to celebrate with her. They arrived on Friday afternoon after spending Thursday skiing near Lake Tahoe. Amy, who prefers to be called "Lucas" and will be in the rest of this post, is an avid photographer, currently shooting for fun and to learn, but hoping to work it into a career. She has some great photography equipment which she brought with her, so a good part of their visit here was to see the wonders of the Bay Area, and take lots of pictures. We did both and packed more into two and half days than you can imagine. Also, my apologizes to those of you who also read Lucas' blog. Some of these pictures were also posted on her blog, but they were such good pictures it won't hurt you to look at them twice.

First, THANK YOU BILL! (and you too Elaine) You have the most wonderful daughters and I can't begin to describe the joy they bring to the lives of Don and me. I love Kelly and her tribe so much that sometimes I forget that she's a niece not another daughter. And now we have Amy and Shawn as well. They bring such pleasure- and of course we had none of the work of raising them to such fine adults- we just get to enjoy!
But enough of that- and on to the adventure with the BIRTHDAY GIRL!

We started off with a birthday dinner for Lucas at one of Max and my favorites restaurants here in SF. We went to the Cliff House which sits, where else, but on a cliff overlooking the Pacific.

We were hoping for a great sunset, but clouds spoiled that just before the sun sat. Nonetheless, dinner was wonderful topped off by a shared dessert with a birthday candle to blow out.

Can you believe these absolutely gorgeous BRUSSEL SPROUTS?! Don doesn't like brussel sprouts- so if they're on the menu when we're out to dinner you can bet I order them. And this presentation is fantastic. Brussel sprouts in a balsalmic reduction topped with a fried, poached egg. I tried this at home (I gave Don spinach instead of brussel sprouts- don't want to press my luck and have him start to beg to eat out more often)- but I didn't get the egg right- so I'll try, try again I'm sure.

Saturday was a bit more ambitious. Lucas has been focused on healthy living in an effort to lose weight and just feel a better, so we wanted to include lots of excercise in the day. We started off by leaving early for Muir Woods, my favorite place out here. Not only is it great exercise walking the trails through those magnificient trees, it is also a spectacular site for taking pictures. We hiked up one of the less traveled trails up to the top of the mountain,

and since we stopped a lot to take pictures, we didn't get there until after 11:00.

To say we "stopped a lot" for pictures is really an understatement. We stopped so often I never even got short of breathe until the last "push" to the top. But the stopping let us look more closely- nothing blurred together- And Shawn is wonderful company - while Amy and Don talk (and talk and talk) photography- so I was really lucky on that count.

But that was great because at the top of the coastal ridge is the Mountain Home Inn which has a wonderful deck overlooking the North Bay. Lunch started at 11:30, so we sat on the deck with some drinks, enjoying the sun and the view until they started serving lunch.

After a wonderful lunch-

This was my lunch- not Don's- but who would have guessed- they had brussel sprouts! This time with lentils accompanying salmon. It was my lucky day!

We hike back down to the valley, taking a different route. The total hike was only about 4 miles,

On the way we saw a whole tree stump of lady bugs- and this of course gave rise to even more photography- I'm practicing using the "macro" setting on my new little "blog" camera- all the better to photograph food- or bugs!

But it was early when we finished, and we had more to do. Here are some of the more interesting pictures from the woods. Lucas took all of these so you can see that her desire to be a professional has real merit and promise.

OK, so Lucas didn't take this one, I did. But I used her camera and she did the posing.

Lucas did take the rest of these. I particularly like this one. It was a telephoto shot with a long exposure using a tripod.

This was a very interesting phenomenon that we found in Muir Woods. There was a swarm of Lady Bugs that were congregated on this post. It was quite a lady bug convention. There were also hundreds of others in the general area, but this post was absolutely covered with them. Lucas got this great picture using her macro lens.

From Muir Woods we drove up to an overlook on the cliffs above the Pacific, and we all exercised our shutter fingers while taking in the fantastic view. The first picture is the trail out to the overlook.
These two are the views we had looking north up the coast,

and south towards San Francisco.

From the overlook we drove down to Muir Beach and hiked down the coast a little to the rocky shore line. It was warm and sunny and the waves were pounding against the rocks. You might guess that more pictures were taken. These few are acually ones that I took. But I was having some trouble with my camera, so these are the only ones in this post from my camera.

Shawn, on the other hand, didn't have a camera, but did find his own way to enjoy the sun and the sound of the surf on the rocks.

And Lucas found a way to get his attention when it was time to leave.

From Muir Beach we drove back over the coastal ridge and then down into Sausalito where we went to one of our other favorite restaurants, Horizons, that sits on the water with great views of the bay, the Bay Bridge, and San Francisco. Still more photos were taken.

Finally after dinner we drove back up the hill, past the highway to the Marin Headlands. There is a high area above the Golden Gate Bridge that looks down on the bridge and the city beyond. It was dark - I sat this "photo shoot" out in the car". Not only was it dark but it was also cold and windy- and I was very full from dinner- and exhausted from the day- so I just leaned the car seat back and "rested" while Don and Amy and Shawn raced to the top for more wonderful views of this most fantastic of cities- and the scene was illuminated below us by the lights of the bridge and the cars driving on it. Lucas took some amazing pictures of the bridge using a long exposure and an eight inch wooden fence post for a tripod.

It had been a pretty good day for exercise, enjoying the out of doors, sightseeing, and photography. Back at the apartment, we uploaded pictures to my computer and admired our work over a glass of wine. The results included the good, the bad, and the wonderful that I have included in this post.


Lucas said...

UD & AM,
I LOVE the pictures you guys took! The ones of me and UD 'working' are really precious to me and I want some copies! Maybe just send me a disk sometime! Max, you did a GREAT job capturing the moments of the day! And UD, you made my photos look TONS better with your awesome photoshopping skills (I gotta get on that!) We had just the best time ever and will forever be grateful to you (and your enthusiastic energy levels) for schlepping us all over for 2 of the best days of outdoor sights and beauty!

And thanks to YOUR parents for having and raising you so we just get to enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Anonymous said...

I love you back and miss you like crazy! Can't wiat for the next visit! Keep us posted on Marianne!