Visiting Uncle Sam – 7 – Half Moon Bay and Napa Valley – Accidental Adventures

On Thursday, I drove all the way to Walmart, Mountain View with the lunch mate friend of mine (who is from Hyderabad division of our Company) and we spent almost 3 hrs there. But I ended up buying only a luggage set, which I needed. I am not a great shopper. I might give company, but unless and otherwise I am in dire need of it, I generally dont buy it. I cannot say the same for the electronics though. But here , I am restricting myself, coz I wont be carry everything if I buy them 🙂

Next on TGI Friday, 8th October, I almost decided that I will be seeing the Half Moon Bay beach (any one of them) and then may be try to ride to Pigeon Point Lighthouse down south on the Cabrillo Highway 1, along the ocean. Got the details, maps printed out and then slept well, without any idea of what was on store for me that Saturday.

I went for breakfast around 9 am and there was a colleague of mine, from the same building as I am in Bangalore, and her set of friends. There were almost 10 of them and she asked me if I wanted to join them for Santa Cruz. Since I have already been to the boardwalk and the weather was also very hot, I declined the offer and told her that I have got a car myself and am planning to drive to a Half Moon Bay beach and I wouldnt mind if anyone is willing to join me. Since it was on the way to Santa Cruz, people joined me and suddenly I had 4 people who were willing to try out the beach with me [they werent that enthu about Santa Cruz]. Ok!!! Now I have got company :).I warned them that I wasnt a great driver and that I had been driving here in U.S only for three weeks (and almost three of them are good drivers in Bangalore) and they were like ‘Dont worry we are there just in case of any problems’. Ok! as long as I have someone who has the technical know how of the cars and can help in times of crisis I dont mind driving far far away, would I 😉 ?

So we started of around 10.30am and went on the highway / freeway and reached a beach called Miramar Beach near Half Moon Bay. It was a bright sunny afternoon, but the Pacific Ocean was sooooo cooooold. We walked almost more than an hour and a half on the beach. It was so so nice. I love beaches. They say that the Pacific Ocean in West Coast area is always very very cold…Because of if proximity towards the north pole. Every time a huge wave hit us, my legs were frozen. And there was this one big splash at an unexpected time which got me almost fully wet. I remembered my sister very much there. She loves playing in such waters. She is a water fanatic, I would say 🙂 And there was one more thing that she would have loved.. Jasper !! the big Water Retriever that we saw playing in the ocean. He was so happy going and getting his toy from the ocean. And we started playing with him. And guess what, he started showing off.. His boss (a very cute lady) would throw the toy (in shape of a bone) into the water as far as possible and he would go and retrieve it and then instead of going to her, he would come near us, keep down the toy and splash water all over us .. He was such a cutie….We played with him for sometime and then around 12.30 or after that, we decided to start to Napa valley, just like that. No one had any address or any idea of where it was, except for one person who knew that it was near Vallejo.. Ok.. Great… As long as we have gas (adhavadhu namma oorla petrol …acho acho!!!) and we know the return address, we can go anywhere, cant we ?

So we started on the CA Hwy 1 towards SFO… We rode almost along the ocean.. the view was amazing.. I couldnt fully enjoy it a lot as I had to concentrate on my driving too..But trust me inspite of that, you will definitely appreciate the view…. that too near the Pacifica Beaches…it was so god damn nice.. And suddenly the road was winding and we were going uphill and I could see the ocean on the left and then right.. Oh My God!!! My first every climb !!! I was sweating from inside (dont ask me if that is possible…) The deep curves, the roaring cars from the opposite direction, the single lane, the speed of 50 mph..and then from the winding curves, it was the plain valley…wow…as if it was a big carpet of golden yellow laid for you to drive.. Man.. it was so so good… I didnt know where we were going, what place it was, which area it belonged to..it was just awesome.. I drove there…I am so so proud of myself. and not alone…I was taking the responsibility of 4 more people and that was when they were saying that I was driving well.. They wondered how I got accustomed to the left hand driving so soon ??? and then asked me the penultimate question .. “What car did you drive in India ???”… I replied, “None, I know driving – the theory and a little practicals. I have never driven in India as such”… I couldnt see their faces, remember I am the driver here ;). But you know, I can guess from their tone, their expressions of Exclamation..:D I really scared them now.. They were like “Man, how is that possible.. we are ashamed of ourselves… we are driving in India for past 5-6 yrs..and we are so scared to rent a car here”.. I said, “I didnt have to do the unlearning part for my consciousness to not drive in the left lane…. It was a start anyways.. Now if I got back to India and I wanted to drive a car, I will find it difficult.. so relax”.. I am not sure how much they felt good..But I felt better… We wound up all the way to SFO (not inside the city) and then towards the Bay bridge to Oakland 😉 eppudi…. Kadaloaram neendhinean, malaiyoadu parandhean, gugaikullum olindhean… vayalveliyoaram thavazhdean… ellam seidhean en car in thunaiyoadu… We crossed Berkeley and then came Vallejo almost around 1.30 or 2 pm I guess…. The rough address that my GPS gave me took us to the town. Then we decided that we will have our lunch there and then decide what to do for Napa.. We knew it was somewhere nearby..but enga.. no one knew..

We had a good lunch in a Thai restaurant.. It was so nice and fulfilling. From there, I got the idea of checking the yellow pages for any Ads on Napa.. And luckily I found the Napa Town Center address and fed that to my GPS, which wouldnt help me without an exact address. Atleast let us go to Napa town and then we can find a winery there. Thank God, it took us to the Napa Town Center, which was in the Downtown area (We could see the Wine Train, which takes the route to all the wineries in Napa Valley) and then checked out in the Visitor Information Center and got to know that most of the wineries close by 4 pm.. Oh Crap!!! it was already 3.15 or so. I wouldnt be able to make it to the Francis Ford Coppola’s Wineyard (Its like a big Castle :(.. seri vidu paravaa illai..But there was other wineries which would be open till 5 and some till 6 pm. Since I am driving, I didnt want to take the risk of the 5 pm ones…So we chose the one Peju Winery which closes by around 6 pm.. Without wasting time, we took the map and then left off to the Peju Winery…. It was a single road in one of the Highway/Freeway ( I dont remember the number now..its 29 or something)…vagudu edhutha maadiri poyikitte irukum..Here we hit a very long traffic line.. May be because of the too many vineyards that were there and people going and coming out.. whatever.. It wasnt the zzzzoooooming traffic here… Near Napa Valley College, there was this traffic signal and the traffic line was there for almost 1 mile… We were going inch by inch and in one point, we literally stopped…when we were talking.. dhooom….our car went ahead of itself…some one hit us from behind.. ada kanraaviye..dai nikkara carla yeandaa idikara…it was with such an impact that my car went and hit the guy in the front, but luckily for him the traffic moved a bit so he moved..so there was a very very less impact..we were in a shock and didnt know what to do.. The guy who hit us asked us to stop and get down.. I was like , “nee ennathuku enna nikka solrea..I tell you man , you get down first.. stupid fellow….nikkara car la idichadhum illaama.. action verayaa..vaadi vaa” Pinnala poyi paathaa..bumper la oatai.. ada paavi.. and the bonnet got hit too so now it wasnt closing properly.. enna nalla neram.. first time US la oru vandi oaatarean..adhula idhuverayaa… naan dhaan poyi yaarayaavadu idichuduveannu bayandhaa.. ivan mundhikitaane…hmmm…. then we argued with him and called up the road assistance.. nalla velai..ambulance, vellai sattai poata uncle with the siren ellam varalai.. story la rombha periya twist aayirikum… edho kettadhulaiyum oru nalladhu dhaan poa.. We got all the details , (insurance number, car number, his contact details, policy number blah blah blah…) and after almost 40 mins of calls and checks we started again to the winery…

Aana onnu.. ivlo nadandhuche.. ennaku konjamaaavadhu bayam vandhirukunumla.. I was not scared.. I was so amazed.. I was wondering why !! Is it because I didnt do anything wrong ? or was it because inspite of the initial jerk I had to be responsible coz I was the only person who could drive there… whatever it was…it made me go ahead.. I thank God for that.. I needed that strength at that time.. That wasnt the time to feel scared.. I didnt even needed water .. they were like pushing me to have some and be relaxed.. I was like “Guys,…come on I am relaxed”… I just wanted to go ahead…. From there we headed to the winery and reached it by 4.45 pm…It was not a huge one, but a nice one…They generally dont take you in the vineyard..they are all organic.. They take you through their artistic showroom where they display the different wines, the cellars, and gift shops. If you wanted to, you can do the tasting too… In my group, no one was willing to do the wine tasting.. I was like, “Will you give me in a small spoon, I want only one wine to taste in a spoon to see how it is”… The lady was , should I say, bewildered. Actually, I wasnt kidding her.. I really wanted to taste, but only in a spoon limit….they didnt have that facility so I left it off.. time for my photo session…. inga anganu ella edathuleyum photo eduthean..and they started closing by 6 pm…that was when we left that place..

The ride back was slow again till we left that long route, because of all the cars getting out of the valley… In that whole road..you dont see anything but vineyards.. Adhukunu oru ooraiye oathuki irukaanunga.. paavi paya… We werent in much of an hurry.. so again rode in the specified speed limit (50/60/65 based on the signs) and then came via Bay Brige… its so heavenly @ night…. All lit up and the fog over it.. God.. ennatha solla….my fuel tank was showing almost empty by the time we reached SFO Airport.. we decided to go to the Hotel and get the gas in the nearby gas station (adhavadhu petrol pump) there… We made it finally @ 8 pm to our hotel, dropped a guy who was not feeling well and then went ahead for dinner in the nearby restaurant and filled up the gas and came back to rooms by 9 pm.

I have driven in all sorts of places (towns, downtowns, bay area, city etc etc) in one day….and what a day it was.. Every one felt that it was quite adventurous..for them it was additionally because they were travelling with a person who knew the basics of the driving and drove the car to such an extent for the first time in her whole life… howzzat.. 🙂

The only mistakes we mostly did was , we did miss out on the exits given by the GPS and we made it recalculate hell lot of times (vaayi irundha adhu azhum) and then at times I was going a little less than the speed so people had to over take me and they gave me a nasty look .. big deal..all that was kutty kutty stuff..compared to my experience in driving….

What to say.. I loved the trip..I will cherish it because it gave me so much of confidence that I could do something like driving , here in US…. I am definitely going to drive in India too (I know that there is gear there..but hey, I know the theory paa.. and I have driven max of 25-30 kms totally in India till now.. big deal..Should I be scared or the people !! 😉 )

Come back for more adventures (I wish)

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2 thoughts on “Visiting Uncle Sam – 7 – Half Moon Bay and Napa Valley – Accidental Adventures

  1. Oh yea ! I forgot to include that part. He did own up his mistake (did he have any other choice with such a big line of car lined up behind him ! )He also offered us 1000$ and let it go..Some of them were tempted..but since the rental was in my name, I strictly wanted to follow the rules of reporting.. already time supera workout aagudhu idhula idhu verayaa..

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