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|Wednesday, 6 August 2003|
|written by Teresa|
When I’m here in the States, I often refer to England as ”home” even though I don’t live there anymore and whilst we were in the UK, I found myself referring to America as “home”. What I’ve come to realise over the last couple of months is that both are true and while England may always feel more familiar, returning to our little camper was definitely coming home.
During our six weeks in the UK, Sterling has been deprived of many of the staples of the American diet and has been attempting to make up for lost time since we got back. He has been deprived of root beer, popcorn, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Reese’s peanut butter confectionary (except for two peanut butter cups that he took with him for emergencies), pancakes of the American variety etc. Next time we go, we’ll be better prepared.
Our camper waited for us in the town of Gilroy which claims to be “The Garlic Capital of the World”. The entire area is suffused with the gentle aroma of the raw bulb as though essence of garlic were the perfume of choice for the entire population. I can only assume that colds must be a thing of the past in this gastronomic haven where it is possible to buy any edible item infused with the only flavour of import, even ice cream.
While we were away, a colony of ants had taken a shine to our little camper and we returned to find them in the process of moving in to their newly found accommodation. Being well behaved and polite, they had found a tiny gap in the door and had made this their egress, thus avoiding any chance of accusations of breaking and entering. I suspect that we only just returned in time as they were clearly in the throes of establishing a nest but were thwarted in their endeavour by our arrival. I am glad to report that we seem to have re-established our claim to our home but not without a battle.
We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge on our way north and it lived up to all expectations. It’s rusty coloured paintwork and sweeping spans drifted in and out of sight as the coastal fog swirled around it’s upper reaches whilst giving the entire structure a look reminiscent of scenes glimpsed through the Vaseline smeared lenses of early Hollywood. The dense skyline of San Francisco crowds the adjacent shoreline, hugging the hills, swathed and dimmed in the moisture-laden air.
Our initial intention on returning was to go north up the coast towards Oregon but various forces persuaded us to head in land. Not least of these were the condition of California Highway One and our experience of the rolling of the camper as the frequent camber changes on the narrow road made the driving somewhat hair raising. We are now in the process again of deciding whether to pursue a larger truck complete with utility body and no doubt there is much research and discussion ahead.
In the meanwhile we settled for a few days in a state park in the Napa Valley where Bacchus holds sway and the vines create a crisp geometry across the land. The valley itself is surprisingly beautiful, the distinct green of the crop carpeting the floor, nestled between the pine clad rolling hills on either side. The fruit thrives in temperatures reaching the high nineties and the numerous wineries await it’s ripening so they can begin this year’s flurry of activity.
Our last stop before heading into the mountains was at Chico, unremarkable except that it is home to the Sierra Nevada brewing company and the chance to try their various brews straight from the tap was an opportunity not to be missed. The restaurant and taproom attached to the brewery do justice to this flagship of American microbrews and most of the beers were delicious although I have to confess a personal disappointment that the IPA was cloudy and in my opinion left something to be desired in the taste department. I had expected absolute perfection from this pinnacle of fermented malt beverages but maybe it’s not always possible.
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