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We had somehow missed out on our annual meeting up with Rudolf Schulz in Chile – he had just left when we arrived. So I was looking forward to today as we were meeting up at his brother Meinhard’s place in San Francisco. Rudolf must have been intimidated by the jam-packed event roller coaster that we had been on since arriving in California and had originally suggested visits to two botanical gardens and one private collection – while we had hoped for a day to chill out and catch up with various things. I had made one request – to photograph Dudleya farinosa in habitat, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. Terry Hewitt had told me that the Dudleya in the centre of the Echeveria bed at Holly Gate had come from that location, so I thought that it would be nice if I could take a picture of its family members there. The weather forecast was not good, so after a beer and down loading and sending some emails, when the weather had cleared a bit, we set off.

S1254 is for pictures taken as we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge (GGB), and at the vista site that gave a great view of Downtown San Francisco across the bay and the prison island of Alcatraz in the middle of the water. From here we spotted a road that went up the adjoining hillside that promised a good view of the bridge and a good natural setting for the Dudleya.

S1255 is for pictures taken at this location – a mix of scenic shots over the bay and D. farinosa growing on the rock wall facing the bay. The problem was that unless we had an array of mirrors, it was not possible to get both the Dud AND the Bridge in the same picture.

Scouting around Rudolf found a rock out crop that could be reached by driving on to a higher parking spot and then making our way down the steep hillside to the rocks (S1256). As we took in the scenery and looked for the best spot to look for plants, it became clear that there were three showers heading across the bay towards us. The light (or rather lack of it) became a challenge – impossible to get good depth of field on close up shots and the search for a plant in a suitable location for the double whammy shot became a more pressing challenge. In the event, I ‘staged’ the shot, just as other Cactus Explorers had done before me, by moving a rosette from the base of the rock, in deep shade, to the top of the rock outcrop with the GGB and bay in the background. I managed to fire off three shots before the rain, hail and sleet moved in. I had my shot, so didn’t hang around much more after that. Hope we didn’t catch a cold – Rudolf was just getting over the tail end of his.

Quite chilled, Eunice drove us to Sausalito, where, on the harbour, we found a small restaurant that served Clam Chowder, before returning to Meinhard’s for some wine and another quick internet session. Don’t forget to switch your firewall back on, Meinhard. Great, relaxing day – thanks Meinhard & Rudolf!

Eunice’s SatNav suggested that it would take an hour to get back to our lodgings at Joe and Eloise’s in Fremont. It took 1:45, due to traffic at rush hour, so that once again we arrived fashionably late. Dinner was ready and we enjoyed another fine evening of conversation, putting the world to rights on numerous issues, but, for a change, not cacti. The American hospitality continues to amaze us.

Tomorrow we head north, towards the Giant Redwoods.

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