from the road

Days 36-37: Mountain View, CA

I’m happy to report that our windshield is replaced and we have safely arrived in San Francisco, CA. While I’m blogging, Harrison is button-mashing Mario 3 at Jordan’s start-up office, but more on that later….

OK, I am loathe to admit this, but the Bay Area really does have some nice summer weather. We’ve been enjoying walking in the sunshine and cool breezes with lower-than-swampy humidity. Seeing the current weather on the East Coast was a shock!

On Wednesday, we went for lunch and a tour of the Stanford campus. Our friend Ryan graduated a year before me from the MATESL program at Illinois and went out to join his then-girlfriend Stephanie, who is getting a chemistry PhD at Stanford. Like us, Ryan grew up in a mid-Atlantic state and went to Illinois for grad school, so we were interested to hear about his opinion of the Bay Area now that he has lived there for a year. His verdict? He and Stephanie like it a lot and want to stay!

We enjoyed a lot of fun parties with Ryan in grad school (Remember when I dumped the pretzels in the paella?), so it was nice to catch up with him after a year apart (though, let’s be honest, we g-chat enough that it feels like he’s still around!). And Ryan and Stephanie got married the same weekend as Muneer and Megan! I was sad to miss their wedding, so I’m doubly glad we got to see the new couple on WVT. Congratulations, you two!

With Ryan and Stephanie

Harrison had heard that the Stanford campus was the most beautiful in the country. I would agree that it is very attractive–flowers blooming everywhere and interesting red-tiled roofs. It’s such a different look from all the East Coast schools. Stanford campus
Harrison’s mom’s cousin Karla lives with her family in San Jose, so we made sure to let her and her husband Ken know that we were going to be in the area. The last time Harrison had seen his cousin Sam, he was crawling in diapers; now he’s about to leave for college at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts!

Not pictured is Karla’s sister Maria who left before I whipped out my phone for a picture. She was there though. I’m telling the truth!
with Ken, Karla, and Sam

It was so nice to relax in a home and eat a home-cooked meal after five weeks on the road! After dinner, we enjoyed a rousing game of Boggle, where Sam thoroughly trounced us all. with Ken, Karla, and Sam

But what about Mountain View where we were staying? Well, it has a very flashy and comprehensive computer history museum, which we visited on Thursday. I was very excited about the Babbage engine which we learned about in Media Studies!

Mica with Babbage engineThe museum is HUGE–tons of displays jam-packed with computer artifacts–like old versions of cellphones and the Apple II(e) that I played Oregon Trail on! Remember ACTUALLY FLOPPY floppy disks?!?

storage at the computer history museum

Harrison at computer history museum

The museum was definitely more than we could have hoped to accomplish in one visit, but I was glad we saw it. It’s very thorough and well-curated, unlike some history museums (*Cough*Museum of Western Expansion*Cough*).

Speaking of computers, we got to visit Matt at his and Emily’s place of employment. You may have heard of it:

Matt and Harrison at Google Maps building


Matt specifically works with the Google Maps team devising new enclosures for cameras. Isn’t that cool? Since I am basically the worst at efficiently fitting things inside boxes (making moving a REAL delight!), I am super-impressed at Matt’s engineering skills. I bet he’s a whiz at Tetris, too.

Harrison with giant android phone

We got a tour of some of the Google campus, which is just as cool as all the hype would suggest. Matt even showed us his mad barista skills and made Harrison a latte:

Matt at Google Latte machine…Maybe Matt should stay with computer enclosures and not jump into the field of latte art.

Matt's latte wormGranted, we went from one extreme to the other: the un-fun and un-fancy environment in grad school to the super-fun and super-fancy Google campus, but it was really encouraging to see companies who seem to value their employees and have come up with clever productivity models. Now, if we could only find jobs at these places!

Also in Mountain View, we watched Iron Man 3 with Chinese subtitles and got some kickin’ job advice and networking connections from Emily. Plus, we helped care for this very scary (and flea-ridden) cat:

`scary cat!Not nearly as cool at Matt and Emily’s two cats, Leon (“Little/Leopard” cat) and Winston (“Big/Brown” cat):

Leon & Winston sniffing my shoes


Thanks to our hosts, Matt and Emily, and to our friends and family for a great first trip to Mountain View! It was a non-scary introduction to the Bay Area, and I can see why you all enjoy it so much!

WVT with Matt & EmilyI may just get converted into a fan of California after all. Maybe. We’ll see.