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Here we are at Allison and Terry's place in Vacaville. We've just had a good 11-hour sleep and should be fine to do things today!
Our flight from Los Angeles arrived at San Francisco right on 14:00. When we got off and left the gate we turned left and the security barrier was right there and I spotted Allison right away waiting on the other side for us. Brianna and Hailey were there too.
We went downstairs to collect our bags, which we managed after the carousel we were told would have our bags (number 11) stopped working and we were moved over to number 9. While we waited we told Allison that The Wiggles had been on our flight from Sydney and she was excited because the kids had watched them on TV just that morning. Terry had been supposed to be there as well, but was busy signing the paperwork for a brand new house that they had decided to buy just the day before!
Allison drove us to Vacaville in her van. The kids were very quiet and a bit shy - Allison said it was amazing because on the drive in they hadn't stopped talking. As we drove I was amazed at how different the countryside looked compared to last time I'd been here - and realised it was because the grass on all the hills was green instead of brown. I commented on this to Allison and she jokingly said, "We usually say it's the 'Golden Hills of California' - not brown!"
We arrived at the house about 15:30 and basically just veged the rest of the day. We gave the kids the Caramelo Koalas we'd brought and Allison the Fantales and Tim Tams. When Terry came home shortly after we handed out the other presents. The girls loved their koala toys and wanted to wear their new koala T-shirts straight away.
Then we looked through Allison's newly remade scrapbook of her trip to Australia in 1988-89, and talked about random stuff until dinner. Allison made spinach and mozzarella ravioli with salad and fresh baked sourdough bread - yum! I'd missed a proper lunch on the flight so was starving. Then we looked as their half-completed wedding album scrapbook and chatted a bit more until 20:00 when it was the girls' bedtime and we turned in for the night too.
I had a pretty good sleep - only really woke up once and lay there for half an hour or so before falling asleep again. And now we're up to face the day!
After breakfast (Basic 4 cereal and Allison's home made pumpkin muffins) Allison drove us to Safeway where we bought shampoo, cereal, plastic bowls, and some Cherry Garcia Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Then we went to CostCo to get film for my camera. Michelle wandered around wide-eyed inside the CostCo building which was basically a huge warehouse full of stacks of crates of stuff that people could buy in bulk. I took some photos with the digital camera in there.
Junk food aisle in CostCo
When we came home and Terry had returned from church, we loaded up the van and took off for the drive to Mount Diablo (3849 feet). After driving on some freeways we started the climb up several miles of narrow, winding road to the top. We stopped a couple of times for photos as the view steadily improved. By the time we got to the top we could see over the Berkeley Hills all the way to San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as almost the whole length of the Bay. It was slightly hazy, but not too bad, so it was well worth the trip.
Landmark sign on Mount Diablo
At the car park on top of the mountain there were about 20 Minis parked when we arrived - clearly some sort of car club gathering. They left soon after we arrived, but we saw them again parked at another lookout partway down the mountain.
California poppies on Mount Diablo
We drove down the rest of the way and stopped in Concord at Sun Valley Mall for a late lunch at a place called Fresh Choice, where it was all you can eat salads, soups, bread, and a few other things. It was pretty healthy seeming (for American food!) and all good. Michelle ate sourdough and some dark rye bread and went back for more of both. By the time we were finished lunch it was after 15:00.
Then we went for a look in the mall at all the shops. There was an ice cream shop where they mix custom ice cream on a frozen marble slab with various bits in (e.g. nuts, choc chips, lollies, fruit) while you wait. It looked cool but the only one we saw mixed had only one thing (flaked almonds) mixed in.
After walking the length of the mall and back we drove home again, feeling a bit tired. We've almost settled into the new time zone, but should be better tomorrow. We've made plans to go into San Francisco on BART and spend the day there.
For dinner this evening Allison made taco salad - basically all the ingredients for tacos in bowls plus corn chips, which you can assemble yourself on your plate in whatever combo you like. Now it's after dinner and the girls are going to bed. And soon I'm going to have my first Ben & Jerry's of the trip.
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