For Unto Us a Grandchild Is Born


It’s been a quiet month on the blog page, but not a quiet month in the Spiegler family.  Meet Miss Fiona Spiegler, born September 9, 2018.  The West Coast grandparents haven’t met her in person yet, but that will be rectified very soon. Did we mention she weighed in at nine pounds, seven ounces?  We are very proud of our son, Julian, and daughter-in-law, Liz, on bringing this beautiful bundle of joy into the family.  For those Tremors in the Cloister readers, this means the circle of life continues.

San Francisco: Golden State Park and Muir Woods


On the morning of our last full day in San Francisco we decided to explore the Golden Gate Park after securing our parking reservation for Muir Woods in the afternoon.  We walked through the beautiful Botanical Garden which had a large number of exotic plants from different countries, including New Zealand and Australia. We strolled over to the Japanese Tea Garden, but the uneven and elevated paths proved too difficult for me to navigate completely.  We ate our lunch consisting of a hot dog, chocolate covered ice cream bar and soda (very unusual foods for health-minded folks like us!) and headed off

Just outside of San Francisco, not far from the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, is Muir Woods, a National Monument. This is a beautiful setting full of redwoods, along with other trees and plants.  After walking together for about 1/4 mile, Fran took off to hike one of the trails while I sat and rested my knees at one of the benches provided in this scenic haven outside of the city.

After leaving the park we returned to our hotel and then walked to the Dim Sum Club for dinner. This was some of the best Chinese food I’ve eaten! One could tell that it was authentic due to the number of Chinese families eating there.

We were really blessed to have beautiful weather during our three-day stay in San Francisco. The fog only rolled in the night before we left for our next destination: Monterey Bay Area.


Hyde Street Pier: San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park

Enjoying our day out in the city, Tracy, Fran, and I made our way down to the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park on Hyde Street Pier. Tracy and Fran explored the old boats while I observed a number of people swimming in the frigid waters. There seemed to be a group of some sort who wore swim caps, but not wet suits, near the beach.  It seemed a little odd, but they seemed to be enjoying themselves as they swam laps in the water.

This is a different perspective of Alcatraz and the Coit Tower, as seen from the Eureka:

When we finally made our way back to the hotel, we bade goodbye to Tracy, who departed for Santa Barbara. We finished our evening with ice cream at Bobo’s Burger Bar across the street from our hotel.

San Francisco: Fisherman’s Wharf

After stopping at the Exploratorium, a cool place designed for the young at heart with hands-on activities, we made our way to Fishermans Wharf via a bike taxi.  That young man earned every cent as he pedaled his way to our destination! We had a late lunch at one of the restaurants there, then walked along the piers and street. Fran enjoyed seeing the colorful boats and the “Love Tours” van, which she thought was so symbolic of San Francisco.

And what is San Francisco without its famed cable cars?  Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to ride one on this trip.


San Francisco: First views and Coit Tower

We arrived in San Francisco in the late afternoon after stopping in Sausolito. Our hotel room had a nice view of the city landscape and the Golden Gate Bridge. After Tracy got settled in at his hotel, we walked to dinner at Helmund Palace, a cozy Afghani restaurant on Van Ness Street with an authentic decor and food to match. The food was very good and abundant–we couldn’t eat it all! This is a great place to dine if you ever visit the area!

After breakfast the next morning we called a taxi to take us to Coit Tower via “the crookedest street in the world”, otherwise known as Lombard Street. There were beautiful flower gardens and lots of tourist on this street, which made it a little more hazardous. We told the taxi driver that we wanted to see if he could navigate it, which brought a great laugh from all of us.

At Coit Tower not only were the views of the city great, but the murals inside were quite interesting. We had the good fortune to have a personalized tour due to my mobility issues with stairs. Our guide was full of stories about San Francisco and the tower itself, which were pretty insightful. She took several of pictures of us, capturing the views from various angles, and suggested a couple of places to visit near Fisherman’s Wharf.  So off to our next leg of our adventure!


On the Way to San Francisco–a Funny Thing Happened…


We are back after taking a couple of weeks to visit family on the East Coast, which is always an adventure in itself!  In the last installment, we were in Bodega Bay, land of “The Birds”.

Our trip took a little twist on our way to San Francisco.  Tracy needed gas, so he ventured back north to find a gas station closer than the one in Petaluma (the one in Bodega Bay was undergoing a renovation and was closed). Left on our own, we traveled down Highway 1 (or so we thought), admiring the countryside with abundant farmland and beautiful scenery.  Fran was wondering how all of this could be so close to the ocean without seeing it.  We found out when we saw a sign telling us how close to Highway 101 we were.  Apparently the correct road took a sharp jog to the right in the area of Valley Ford to cut back to the coast. We continued on the road to Petaluma unaware of our mistake until we saw the sign.  Oh well, too late now!

Petaluma is a small town with its own claim to Hollywood movie fame.  “American Graffiti”, “Peggy Sue Got Married”, and “Flubber” were all filmed here along with “Cujo” and “Howard the Duck”, among others.  We drove down Main Street to get to Highway 101, where our scenic drive ended with the freeway.  Looking at the map, I noticed an exit that would get us to Muir Woods, though in a roundabout way.  After getting rerouted on the GPS a few times, we finally reached Muir Woods to learn that you have to reserve a parking space ahead of time.  Time to reconnect with Tracy!

We finally met up just outside a shopping center where Highways 1 and 101 came together. Tracy suggested that we visit Sausalito since we were only one exit away. Leading the way on his motorcycle, Tracy took us to a unique place, Waldo Point Harbor, where “homeboats” are located. These are not really boats, but homes resting on cement blocks in the water. Most of the time this is not a problem, but someone who worked at a restaurant near the area told us that during the last heavy rain a couple of homes were lost due to their inability to float.  Californians seem to like taking risks in where they choose to live!

Bodega Bay

Traveling along the beautiful Sonoma countryside, we made our way into Bodega Bay late afternoon. We had learned earlier in the day that Bodega Bay was first used by the Russians as a base for their operations at Fort Ross, and it remained their main harbor even when the base camp was moved to the Farallon Islands.  It was then called “Port Rumiantsev.”

Did you know that Bodega Bay is the site where the movie, “The Birds” by Alfred Hitchcock, was filmed?  We didn’t! The location of our inn was the place in the movie where the socialite visited the general store and post office.  When she drove across the street, she visited the fishing store, which is now The Tides Restaurant (pictured upper right).  The original restaurant was quite small, but the new one has banquet facilities and a gift shop featuring “The Birds” memorabilia.  Pictures taken of the actors with signed autographs also decorate the walls there.

We drove to the town of Bodega, located just a few miles inland from Bodega Bay, and found the schoolhouse used in the movie.  It was built in 1873 with classes for grades 1-8 on the first floor, while the second floor was used as a multi-use room and community hall.  By 1961 the building had been condemned and sold on auction to the highest bidder.  In March of 1962 Alfred Hitchcock used the school in “The Birds”.  The school then sat vacant and condemned until  June of 1966, when a family purchased it and worked to restore it.  It is still owned by the same family who now has three generations living there. A sign outside of the home advertises “for more information:


Fort Ross– Russian Outpost


Fort Ross was established as a Russian outpost to hunt sea otters along the coast after overfishing them in Alaska. The settlers built the fort to resemble those in Alaska and Siberia, and when it was finished in 1812, they called it “Selenie Ross”.  The Russians brought Native Alaskans to the fort to hunt and to work for the company. According to the information inside the museum, “before 1820, they were conscripted into Company service and  paid according to the number of their catch. After 1820, they were designated Company employees with guaranteed civil rights.”

After the sea otters became scarce, Russia wanted to pull out of the venture. Baron von Wrangell, the manager-in-chief of the company at the time, was not willing to withdraw and attempted to seek Mexico’s formal recognition of the legitimacy of Russian’s claim to Fort Ross. “The Mexicans were willing to yield on this issue, but only in return for Russia’s diplomatic recognition of their own national independence as a republic. Tsar Nicholas I rejected this condition.”

Alexander Rotchev, the last administrator of Fort Ross who personally opposed the decision to sell the colony, faithfully carried out his orders,  attempting to sell to France, then Mexico. Both governments declined the Russian terms. Fort Ross was eventually sold to Captain Sutter in 1841.

Fort Ross is registered as a National Historic Landmark and is also the site of the first Russian Orthodox Church in the U.S., which is commemorated every July Fourth by the the Orthodox Church of America.


Fort Bragg




Fort Bragg is in the middle of the Coastal Hwy in Mendocino County, and according to the Mendocino Chamber of Commerce, “is the largest city on the Mendocino coast.”   The beach was one of three city dump sites beginning in 1906, with this particular site operating from 1949 until 1967 when it was closed.  Various clean-up programs removed all of the metals and other items in the dump, but the glass was tumbled and polished by the waves that covered the former dump site. There are actually three glass beach sites in Fort Bragg, with the other two south of “Glass Beach”.

We arrived in Fort Bragg late Friday afternoon and checked in to our inns, then met for dinner. Tracy wasn’t too excited about Fort Bragg as he had visited there before, but Fran and I were eager to see the Glass Beach and the coastline the next day. We drove to Glass Beach State Park around 9 a.m. Fran decided to take a walk south on the Coastal Trail before going down to the beach.  When I approached the beach, I noticed that it was too steep for me to get to it.  I decided to go north on the Coastal Trail towards Pudding Creek Beach. I was struck by the beauty of the waves crashing against the rocks and the wildflowers along the beach. I walked to the recently restored trestle that had been built by the lumber company and had been a part of the old Ten Mile Railroad.

Fran walked down to the beach, but was disappointed by the number of people picking through the glass and collecting it. The beach itself was not as spectacular-looking as on the brochures because of glass collection (which is prohibited).  On our way out of Fort Bragg we stopped at the Sea Glass museum where there were many items made of sea glass. We noted that there were also small bags of colored glass offered for sale to help replenish the glass on the beach!

It is a shame that tourists don’t respect something unique and beautiful so that others can enjoy it later.



After leaving Yosemite National Park we traveled on the freeway from Merced towards Sacremento, stopping to eat lunch at a rest stop in Turlock. The scenery along Route 99 was mostly agricultural, with rice paddies and fruit groves lining the highway.  We continued on our way to Marysville, then finally Oroville, where my brother Tracy and his family live.  The town of Oroville was in crisis mode last year when the reservoire, swollen from an extraordinary amount of rain over the winter, flowed over the emergency spillway of the Oroville Dam into the Feather River, creating damage to the main spillway.  At 770 feet, the Oroville Dam is the tallest earthen dam in the U. S.  Fortunately, Tracy lives above the lake, so his son and daughter, who live in town, stayed at his place to weather the crisis together.

We met Tracy in town at my niece’s (Lisa) home, and we had dinner together. It had been a while since we have seen Lisa, who has grown into a beautiful young woman, and who is a program manager of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Sacremento. We spent a few relaxing days at Tracy’s home with the exception of a blood clot scare for Fran. Fortunately the soreness was due to muscle strain, which meant our trip could continue albeit monitoring for the prevention of DVTs.  Tracy decided to join us on our trip since he was headed for Santa Barbara in a few days, and he added his own personal experiences to help us decide what we should see in the upcoming days.