Ben went for a trip to California, spending almost a week in the Bay Area then a few days in LA. Ariana joined him in SF, then hosted him back in LA.
Before Ariana flew in Ben took a driving trip through the hills above Oakland and Berkeley, then down past San Pedro and past Richmond. Then over the bridge into Sausalito and back across the Golden Gate in time for a Yom Kippur "break-fast" dinner at Bryan and Ron's. This loop is documented on Picasa, to show off the geotagging feature there.
We stayed with friends Len and Vivi at their place in Palo Alto, where they now have a winery, Portola Vineyards. On Tuesday Ben got to help with one of the pressings. Portola Vineyards now had a photo page on their site that includes some of Ben's photos.
On Wednesday, Ariana and Ben took the two Portola Vineyard golden retrievers, Bianca and Sherman, down to Big Valley Redwoods State Park for a walk. They were happy to ride and happier to walk. That evening another dog walk, this time with Julie and David in SF, accompanied by their wire-haired fox terrier, Boswell. We saw the sunset then returned Boswell home and went out to Sutro's at Cliff House. Very expensive, but really excellent.
Thursday we went over to Hakone, the Japanese Garden in Saratoga. Very pretty, though we got there a little late so the sun was already disappearing behind the hills.
Friday we had lunch with Bryan on the bayside, then took a spin over to Sausalito, where we sampled a couple of wines at Bacchus & Venus, a very pleasant art gallery and tasting shop. They had amusing metal sculptures, shown below. In the evening we had a lovely dinner in the sukkah with Len, Vivi, Aaron & Benjamin, along with Vivi's parents.
Saturday Ariana and I flew down to LA and caught Point Break Live in Hollywod with Ariana's friend, Charlie.
Sunday evening we went up to dinner with Ben's Cornell apartment-mate, Al Seckel, who is now an authority on perceptual illusions (see his profile on TED). He and his wife, Isabelle, live in the hills above Malibu with their poodle, Melody, and new kitten, Carbon Credit. Al took us on a walk to see some very impressive fossils, and also 1000 year old indian site.
Monday I met with Jesse Dylan and his people to discuss his new project, Lybba. He's trying to make medical information more accessible and reliable, very laudable goals. In the evening Ariana and Ben went out to sushi with her friend, Kate, and Ben's cousin, Eri.
Tuesday Ben flew back to Boston after a very nice brunch at Foxy's, next to the hotel where he was staying. Flights on this trip were all on time, and the LAX-Boston flight was only 4.5 hours because of a good tailwind!