It was time for us to say goodbye to Vineet and goodbye to Hunter and move on. So, to finish off, we start this post with a photo from each of them, sort of how we remember Vineet and Hunter from our visit.
Vineet working from home, doing yet another conference call from his laptop.
And Hunter, if not running around like a mad dog, he was curled up in a heap.
Around 9am we were packed and ready in our SUV and driving north along road 101 through San Rafael towards Vallejo and Vacaville, our first stop of the day for... shopping.
Hans took the first driving shift through fog (of course as San Francisco is known as "Fog-town") and drove to Vacaville. Ben MacDonald, Hans buddy who he visited last Monday, had recommended Vacaville Premium Outlets as a discount shopping destination for the people of San Francisco.
Once we got there, we were working our way through the various outlet mall parking entrances when Hans accidentally ran a red light. Whew - we got lucky, nothing was coming as it was still quiet at 10am but it gave us a small fright.
We then saw another car do exactly the same thing, driving against the red light. The road markings and lights at that spot were quite difficult to follow so Hans didnt feel as bad.
Now shopping is not our usual style but we do love U.S. Nike outlet stores for buying our favourite sneakers at much better prices than back home. So we bought 2 pairs each.
Hans got a pair of Nike Pegasus, same as what he already had, but instead of paying $160 as he did in Australia, he paid U$48 here. For exactly the same shoes but in a different colour.
The highlight though was finding official Australian soccer team supporter jackets for $29.99 each. In Vacaville, California? We had to buy one each.
And as we queued up to pay for it all, they played "Send me an angel" by the Australian 80s group Real Life. What's the connection?
We followed our success at Nike with a visit to a nearby sports store for hiking poles, which looked fine and again were much cheaper than we saw in hiking stores back in Oz.
This was followed by a quick snack of some fruit and water before we hit Walmart for hiking food supplies, and wine!
We had missed Walmart and even though it gets bagged by Americans and others, it serves a purpose and is a Traveller's Friend.
On the road again we headed further east, driving through Sacramento, which from what we could see was not worth a visit as it sits on a dry plain where two rivers meet. Maybe it has nice parks by the rivers but we did not bother stopping.
The freeway I80 continued about 30 minutes drive past Sacramento and started climbing to a little town called Placerville, where the mountain road starts.
Time for lunch and we were delighted to find some diner joints in Placerville including a Mel's Diner. We were particularly looking for a diner to stop, and had to stop there as Carrie had recommended it to us.
The original Mel's Diner in San Francisco featured in the movie American Graffiti, so there were lots of old photos and memorabilia of the movie on the walls to keep us amused while we waited for our food. The server and staff were all busy for Sunday lunch.
A very young Ron Howard was looking at us from the old American Graffiti posters.
Mel's Diner's menu features about 30 different types of burgers and sandwiches and servings as usual were generous. Quite yummy but seriously filling together with bottomless coffee too we left a bit stuffed.
The decor is exactly what it should be in a diner with plenty of booths and stools at the counter.
Di took over the driving as she is not a good passenger on windy mountain roads. Up up up into the mountains with a 55mph speed limit when most of the time 40mph was your average speed so we had time to notice the scenery (and the signs warning for deer - oh dear not again!)
This little hamlet called Strawberry was so cute that we had to pull over for a quick photo break. It reminded us of the drive from Mariposa into Yosemite National Park.
More climbing before you finally push through to the other side and are met with this view of Lake Tahoe and surrounds. Another photo break because it was truly stunning.
South Lake Tahoe where our motel, Blue Jay Lodge, is located just inside the California state border - this is our motel.
And when you spin around from the very same spot, this is the view the other way - the tall buildings are casinos and are located in Nevada (ie: the end of our street). Harrah's Casino is to the far right.
We just had to walk to the stateline, marked with this silver post symbolizing a hitching post for the old Pony Express, which came through here from St Joseph to Sacramento.
Behind Di is the entrance to Harrah's casino which inside was like all other casinos. We checked out their eating facilities, but did not hang around.
Instead we headed down to the beach at Lake Tahoe. Lovely space but all fenced in. Yes, the public are welcome but when an attendant is on duty you have to pay to get in.
We are so glad this does not happen in Australia. No attendant at 5.30pm when we were there so we wandered in and enjoyed the views.
We did feel the water and we did not think it was very cold. In a month's time we expect it will be quite a different story as this is definitely an alpine town.
Di tried the water a second way - tasted fine.
A slow wander back to our hotel and we knew we didn't need much for dinner so opted for a family run outdoor taco stand that is next to our hotel.
2 soft tacos each at $2 a taco was a bargain and delicious. And all we needed after our big lunch.
Back to Blue Jays Motel after a pretty big day.
A side note about our motel - it's cheap and cheerful and cost less than US$90 in total for 3 nights (with continental breakfast) but...it has some quirks.
The usual shortage of power points and some signs of DIY electrical work but also a wet carpet from steam cleaning. When Di went back to the office and mentioned it and asked for a dry carpet room she was told there were none.
Hans was given a different story. We could have another room with dry carpet which had 2 beds but had to promise we would share just 1 bed.
We laughed and stuck with the wet carpet and kept a fan going for a while. It will probably be OK tomorrow when we return from our hike. Not a big deal, and for the price, we suppose that you have to accept some compromises.
Quiet evening in our motel room followed, planning for a strenuous hike tomorrow and for the following day. A glass of wine supplemented the planning. Good night.