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journal day 1 : Caspar to Oxford

This was a long day!
We closed the front door for the last time just after 9am, and near friends saw us off. (Angelou, the cat, expressed her disapproval by going invisible.)

Annie, Chad, Rochelle, Damiana, Michael, Judy

As usual on a departure day, the weather was superb, and we were all struck by the beauty of the place we were leaving. Through the redwood forest along the Navarro river, the sun played games with us through the trees. The vineyards and orchards of the Anderson Valley sparkled.

By the time we had climbed over the Coast Range, where the grassy meadows are already golden brown, we could tell that the day was promising to be a hot one -- luckily, we were going to get through the worst of it before noon.
The bucolic illusion lasted almost to Santa Rosa, where we grateful for our imperturbable wheelwoman Damiana

After a brief return to rolling hills and open space in Marin County, we whizzed across the Golden Gate and into San Francisco for lunch with Hawaiian friend Scott Crawford, fortuitously visiting in The City.

photo credit: Rochelle Elkan

On to the airport where we queued up in the new International Terminal to check our bags, then were delighted to see our Jumbo Virgin on the apron being readied for the ten-hour flight.

click for a larger version of this image
Ever the dedicated sports journalist, Chad kept up his researches until our row was called for boarding. Ten hours is a long time to be sardined in an aluminum tube with 400 of your closest friends, but aside from painful tailbones, our flight was smooth and uneventful.
We sped through the short night -- not enough of a night to demarcate a day, and that's why this "day one" goes on so long: a 40-hour day from midnight in Caspar to midnight in Oxford. The cloud cover that closed in shortly after California's Sierra Nevada mountains broke open just enough to show us the heart of London before landing -- a thrilling sight that brought tears to Rochelle's eyes. "We're really doing it!" she explained.
After easy immigration, bag retrieval, customs, and a seemingly endless trek through the bowels of Heathrow we found our Oxford busstop, where Chad couldn't resist snapping a portrait of the weary group.

photo credit: Chad Abramson

There was a scramble when the queue got moved, but we survived. After an hour ride along an uncrowded motorway, we wound our way into Oxford, got off at the High Street, and waited patiently for Something to Happen. After a short period of uncertainty and disorientation, a taxi appeared, and whisked us away to our B&B on Cumnor Hill, where we made our manners to Sally, the sweet landlady, then took to our beds at about 3pm, 22 hours, 8 time zones, and 5,500 miles away from Caspar.

In the evening, we took a bus back into the center of Oxford and wandered through the streets at dusk. There were goodly numbers of young walkers around although most of the shops were closed that late on Sunday.

The beauty and richness of the buildings, the obvious care taken in their design and upkeep, thrilled us. In Radcliffe Square we found a gilded gate fit for royalty, and an arched second-story covered bridge between college buildings. Michael teared up over the Bodleian Library.

On our way to the River Thames, we passed a lovely walled garden bounded by ancient buildings. The student action appeared to be at a pub by the bridge over the Thames.

After a brilliant Indian dinner, we walked and bussed home, got our email on the first try, and slept ... until the fire alarm went off at 3:53am. But that's a story for another day.

Travel along with us!

Michael Potts, webster
updated 2 July 2001 : 1:58 Caspar (Pacific) time
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