The day started off with a packing frenzy. Had to open my bag three times to accommodate forgotten items and the it now looks like a particularly round pig. Checked out from the hotel (albeit having a nasty habit of sometimes hiding my pillows and complaints when they were not able to do room service 0830 AM it was OK. Not good, but OK) and headed towards the Marine Headlands.
Was driving happily along US-101 when the Hertz Neverlost (tm) thing went "proceed to the route" and positioned the car on its on-screen map somewhere near the eastern border of the State of California. Frustratingly enough it kept doing that for the rest of the day. Sometimes coming to its senses immediately, sometimes requiring somewhat longer to recover. Very strange.
Marine Headlands is such a beautiful place. Spent what was left of the day on a beach (should look up its name) that was a such a peaceful place. Strangely, the fact that it was pretty crowded did not change that impression. The ocean, cliffs on both sides of the beach and rolling hills in the background. Beautiful. There were surfers in the water but for some reason (being lame?) they didn't do much actual surfing, I only saw two guys manageing to stand up for a couple of seconds.
The place was also a paradise for dogs and those were present in all shapes and sizes. From a tiny chiuaua in lila outfit two a rather large rotweiler. Made acquaintance with most of them, took as many pictures as I could (yes, Margus, your new lens is perfect for dog-shooting) and exchanged smiles and a couple of words with the owners.
At some point I felt tired. Just bloody tired, hungry and homesick. Farewell to California it was, then. It managed to grab me for the last half an hour when a huge grey waterbird (could not make out what exactly it was) flew across the road just in front of me and landed in a pond nearby. In an attempt to get closer to it I discovered a dragonfly heaven and was stuck for some photography. The light was very harsh (it was close to midday) but there's a hope for some imagenary. Got one of a big dragonfly munching away on a smaller one, lelt's hope my hand didn't shake too much.
Then it really was it and after a futile attempt to find a parking space in town for some food I headed towards the airport.
You've got to love the San Francisco International Airport. It's international terminals are big and airy. It is never too crowded, there are plenty of places to charge your laptop and even food both in and outside the security gates is tasty.
So it is done now. Gave the car back to Hertz, checked my bulgeing bag in and am sitting at the gate. Even the US Government knows that I'm about to leave the country.
Time for conclusions, then.
The car, Mazda 6 from Hertz, was good. The steering felt strange till the very end and it was surprisingly sensitive to side-wind on one occasion on the coast. However, the gearbox was very good, ergonomix spot on and fuel efficiency reasonable. What did they do to the poor v6 under the bonnet, is unclear, however. If felt like it was missing a pair of cylinders: below 4000 nothing was going on and even above that there was no real shove. All in all, it was OK. The navigation system was also good despite the hickups and I actually prefer its graphics to the one from Garmin.
Travel arrangements were terrible. There's no other word for it. Jüri and Bertrand were forced to spend a night in Frankfurt, also courtesy of Estravel. Maybe next time I'll just go and book the whole trip through the internet myself?
People were generally very kind and the meetings I had were very useful. I'm proud to work with these guys.
Weather was not so good. The rain on Saturday and the cold cloudy wind in Washington should have not been there.
Photography was good. How good exactly, shows when I get home to my big monitor and can do some sorting. In general, I think that the second time on the Big Sur yielded some spectacular images. The Washington zoo was cool, too. What is obvious, though, is that my 10D is not cutting it any more. It's slow on bursts (the Lexar card, despite being a 133mhz one, is also of the slow sort), takes far too long to start up, the screen is too small, the sensor magnification is limiting (you shouldn't have to lug an additional ultra-wide zoom around every time there's a chance for some landscape-worthy light), minimum ISO is 100 instead of 50 and above 400 only black and white images can be produced due to the noise. It's time to start saving for the 5D or whatever will have replaced it by the time I get the funds together. The fact that I now own sensor-cleaning equipment (Sensor Swabs + accompanying liquid) is pleasing: some of the shots from Washington were ruined because of dust on the sensor, this will not happen in the future, I hope.
As a summary, I'd say that (although am not home yet, any of the airlines could still loose my bag or I could still be late to the flight home despite 5-hour delay) the trip was a success. Both personally and for the business. This blog will now revert back to it's normal, more photography-oriented self and your's truly hopes to start publishing on humararchitecture.blogspot.com on a more regular basis once the jet-lag has worn off.