Sealions, plague ridden squirrels, jetlag. But no whales or writing!

Just back from VERY sunny San Francisco and had forgotten how bad jetlag is! Apart from our trip to South Africa (sameish time zone so no jetlag) this summer, I hadn’t been anywhere more exotic than the european continent for (gulp) 13 years and so I haven’t had jetlag forever! I will now be more sympathetic to my lovely husband when he gets back from working in the states… that’s if he gets away without taking me and our son because we had a fab time.  

Husband was in San Francisco working so my son and I did a reccy of the city on an open top bus tour (just as overpriced as London) the first day. Going over the golden gate bridge on an open top bus was the only time it was cold for our whole trip. Although overpriced the bus was worth doing as we worked out loads of places we wanted to visit and we found these guys at pier 39

My husband has been to San Francisco for work loads, had dinner on pier 39 and didn’t know that the sealions hung out there sunbathing….so it was worth taking us after all as he may never have seen them if we hadn’t told him about them! They are mostly male Californian sealions, jostling for top position. They are hilarious, noisy and fishy…

My son also loved going over the gg bridge on the bus and we got great views.
We then spent some time with my husband’s best friend who lives out there (he’s American), going to Alcatraz and walking down through golden gate park to the Pacific ocean at the aptly named ocean beach.

 The waves are phenomenal and I don’t think my pictures really do them justice! They were covered in surfers,braving the great white sharks (apparently at their highest numbers in October) and  doing very tricky looking manoeuvres. My husband’s friend has tried surfing and  says it’s really hard to get standing up.  Not my thing I don’t think.

Where we live you get waves that look like white horses sometimes when it’s stormy, but all of these were classic! You can see the shape of horses heads as though they are galloping to the shore  I took photos to use for descriptions in my second novel as it features wave horses, but the photos don’t quite capture the drama. I find photos quite helpful aids to getting descriptions right in creative writing, and used photos from magazines for two of the main characters in Dunn.  I kind of knew what I wanted  Aidan and Sophie to look like but found the photos helpful for keeping a consistent visual picture in my head whilst I was writing.  

Anyway, I took the photos in this blog on my phone but I’m thinking I might like to do a photography course some time…..
My son and I also went out on a 5 hour boat trip looking for whales, but as I suspected they had all headed off to their breeding grounds or were hiding!! Still we had a lovely boat trip and saw tonnes of harbour porpoises, pelicans, and sealions on buoys!  The naturalist guide (not a naturist before you all think  how inappropriate that our guide was in the buff!) was really informative and we covered 57 miles looking for whales. But they were having none of it! Definitely recommend San Francisco whale tours. They tried hard!  We’ve been spoilt for wildlife this year with our amazing safari so mustn’t be greedy. As my son said, porpoises are cool too!!! Though they are camera shy so no photos. 

My husband was working when we went on the boat (he hates boats) but he took a day off and we went on a whole day (14 hour) bus tour of Yosemite with a very funny guy called Patrick who played a lot of relevant music to go with each bit of the tour. Again very informative and would thoroughly recommend bay area tours. Apparently the name Yosemite is a mixture of two names given to a native American Indian tribe that lived there until Europeans arrived and gave them all smallpox (actually this tribe were driven off because when their chief was captured by Europeans he learned how to gamble and lost the right to the land to another tribe, but that doesn’t go with the infectious diseases theme of the next bit). The name closest to Yosemite means killers…. ironically. Anyway, there’s no smallpox there, but apparently the squirrels have plague!!! Yep, who knew. Bubonic plague is still present in the U.S. I am an ex-microbiologist and I thought you only got plague in deepest Africa and Asia! Nope there are a few cases every year linked with people camping near squirrel burrows or handling dead/ sick animals….. don’t play with American squirrels kiddies. And there was me thinking that the great white shark infested waters were the scariest non-human part of California. I think you are statistically about as likely or more likely to get bubonic plague as you are to be bitten by a shark, though at least plague is still treatable whereas having something bitten off by a shark who thinks you’re a sealion in your wetsuit is not!!! Needless to say I’m not sure I will be trying to get a place in the escape from Alcatraz triathlon any time soon, predominantly because San Francisco has some wicked hills and I don’t do hills on my bike.

All our Yosemite photos are on the camera still, but that was a mind blowing place too: towering rock formations with people walking tightropes between them or hanging off ropes and climbing them in 30c heat! I’ll stick to running and swimming in non-shark-infested waters thanks. 

Back now with extreme jetlag after bumpy flight (lovely husband swapped seats with me so I could have a business class bed for half the flight) and in a bed and breakfast in Walton on Thames waiting to do a half marathon along the Thames towpath tomorrow.  After that I have no races until January/February/April and NO HOLIDAYS booked.. .. have now got expensive tastes and park resorts in Clacton (suggested by husband) is not going to cut it!!! So I’d better get on with trying to land an amazing book deal that gets me enough money to quit work and swan off to Costa Rica (haha bloody ha). I have ten to eleven weeks left to wait for my rejection from the first agent, so I’m going to tailor my synopsis and cover letters to a  few others and send them off. The other agent I really like the sound of  has a week turn around so I’m not quite ready to approach them as I have around ten chapters of my final polishing draft of Dunn left to do…. 

So that’s next week’s job along with trying to finish off the polishing draft, writing the next bit of longhand and planning out my half marathon/marathon training paces based on tomorrow’s base line half marathon time….no goal for tomorrow, but aiming at 1.40 for Brighton half in February so let’s see how far off 1.43 (this year’s time) I am after the summer’s hamstring issues and lots of beer and pizza in San Francisco….. quite a way I reckon! 

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