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June 11, 2006

Diving and an SF hippie festival!

The Travel Channel

To get out from the crowded bay area Øystein and I went down to from Monterey to go scuba-diving yesterday, and tonight we joined Martin from Øysteins internship company to go see a hippie festival in San Francisco.

Monterey is a very nice place about 3 hours drive south along the San Francisco peninsula, just across the bay from Santa Cruz where some of the other guys went last weekend with Denise, a travelling nurse also living at Park Place.

When we first got down to Monterey we parked at the Coast Guard Pier, where we found about 2-300 other divers preparing to get in the water, mostly scuba-classes with beginners. Thats got to be very close to divers hell, as so many inexperienced divers in the water kick up a lot of mud and sand and make the water go all foggy. So we dove along the pier and aside from plenty of sea-stars and kelp we didn't find much of interest on our way out, but going back we were approached by a pair of sealions that swam and played around us for a short while. It was truly awesome to see such skill in the water! The fun was somewhat dampened by some bad luck as I lost my snorkel while wading ashore, but it didn't last long so when I went to look for it the first person that I asked was actually standing on it, and was able to fetch it for me :-)
Also I must say that dry-suit diving in medium temperatures like these are just great! Warm and nice and ready to go as soon as you get the suit off! This means that when we got up we just put the gear straight in the car and went for lunch at a cafè without even having to modify our clothing. Lovely!

For the next dive we drove a bit further along the shore to a place called Lover's Point. There we climbed down a set of cliffs to get in the water and went diving through the most amazing colored kelp-forests! Some other divers also tipped us that a 8" leopard shark were lurking in the area, but unfortunatly we were unable to find it. It would have been so cool to see a shark underwater!
Strangely enough scuba-tanks in the US are usually just filled to about 160 bars, meaning they are just about half-full compared to what we use in Norway. Because of this we didn't get all the way where we wanted to before running out of air, so when we surfaced there was still a 300 meter surface swim back to shore that completely drained my strenght. And after the dive it was getting a bit late, so we started heading back to Mountain View almost right away, just stopping for lunch at KFC on our way. When we got back I was completely exhausted from the days events, so I just ended up staying in the couch and watching the discovery channel for the rest of the evening until bedtime.

At least we had nothing planned for sunday, so we got to sleep in good this morning. A bit later in the day Martin called and asked if we wanted to come in to San Francisco for the 29th annual Haight-Ashbury street fair that was going on, so we drove downtown just in time to walk through the fair full of hippies and other wierd people just before it was shut down. And we even got to enjoy a beer "legally"in the streets! This was because the event is so well established that the police don't mind public drinking in the streets around the fair as long as people don't turn violent, so if you behave then they leave you alone. Then afterwards Martin led us over to Zeitgeist, which is a somewhat shady biker-hangout in The Mission, but the place had a good atmosphere and they serve the best burgers in the area. So we just hung out there for some hours drinking beers and trying their excellent burgers, before heading back to Mountain View to call it a night.

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