On Friday, April 30th, we started the final leg of our journey. However we had to make some adjustments to our plans because of the snow. To get to our planned destination of Lake Tahoe we had to cross Sierra Nevada mountain range. And since it was snowing heavily in the past days all roads including interstates had a tire chain requirement in effect, and we had none.
However the situation worked out to our advantage. I was worried that we scheduled to little time for San Francisco and Silicon Valley area, yet we had to so many places to see and so many people to meet. So we canceled our hotel at Stateline, Nevada and booked on at downtown Cupertino instead.
We left Yosemite and took course towards Sacramento. It was a bit of a hook, but we had important plans for Sacramento. As we mentioned earlier we found a part of our long lost family. A lot of them still live in California and one of my Dad’s second cousins, Clare, lives in Sacramento. Also we like to visit state capitals as we can and visiting capitol buildings, and that’s what we did.
We meet with Clare in the old historic part of the town for lunch and had a good time sharing family stories. It’s so weird that we all “started” from a far town in a Siberia (even though most of us have never been there), had such different paths and ended up meeting in this country.
Afterwards we took a short walk around the old town and have said our good-buys to Clare took off in the direction of capitol. The building itself was pretty impressive and looked no worse than the main one in DC. We were lucky enough to get a great state stamp of the format that we’ve seen at some other capitals. We also had a chance to go by their famous governor’s office, but the governor himself refused to come out and meet us. Oh, well.
Cupertino & Silicon Valley
After Sacramento our trip took us to Cupertino. The ride was pretty much uneventful and we got to our hotel rather quickly without spending much time in traffic. The hotel turned out to be very nice and cozy. The service was great and as requested we got rooms on the top floor. Cupertino itself was not what I expected. The town was very green (lots of trees) and seemed like a place I could totally live at.
We were meeting our friend from Tashkent here who we haven’t seen for almost 20 years. Now she lives in the area with her husband and 3 daughters. We decided to meet for dinner at a local Outback that was 1 exit away and is located right across from Apple’s campus. During dinner we tried to catchup, but 20 years is a long time.
And after dinner I ran across the street to see something on the Apple’s campus, but it was too late and too dark.
The objective was the next day was simple. Get to San Francisco, while stopping at all the famous, at least to me, places that Silicon Valley has to offer. And that’s what we did. We started with Apple campus. Drove around Cupertino to make sure that indeed I could liver here, and yes, I still could.
On our way to Google’s campus in Mountain View we stopped by a computer museum where we actually saw the very first Apple computer built on a piece of particle board or something like that. There were a couple of mainframes there and some other things, but I expected more from it.
Google campus is more like Google town. It’s huge, with a lot of buildings. There are volleyball courts and there are bicycles laying all over the campus. Just pick one up and ride to where-ever you need to go. I could totally live here as well. There weren’t many people around, but I imagine on a work week day it’s packed.
And finally on our way to San Francisco we drove through Palo Alto, checking in into Facebook HQ and visiting Tesla Motors showroom and HQ. We also drove through the campus of Stanford University, but we didn’t really stop and walk around. Overall Silicon Valley is a large number of small towns that feels more like a single big city.