San Francisco, CA
May 24 - 27, 2014:
We woke the morning of the 24th reluctant to leave our evergreen paradise but eager to get to our next destination. When I thought of where we were headed, I pictured a cool, foggy abyss; a city resting on rolling hills with a big red bridge rising high in the sky and lights twinkling through the misty overlay. With that in mind, it was a bit easier to pack up camp, hop in the car, and begin our journey down out of the mountains. We happily hurried back to the West Coast, en route for the one-of-a-kind, SAN FRANCISCO!
We approached through Oakland's rolling foothills and eventually ended up on a large round-a-bout bridge which landed us right in the world's most treacherous traffic. No lie, we sat on that bridge for 3 hours, inching forward maybe every 10-15 minutes or so, just completely, utterly stuck - which would have sucked if not for the reason that with every inch of progression made we could begin to see what lay ahead. Stretched out before us, stacked tall and reaching wide, out-skirted by a beautifully blue bay and full of the mystery of a city I had yet to know, we rolled in to the smokey, golden, misty hills of San Francisco.
So many people!!! SanFran needs better engineers...(bradley...)
Ah!!!!! Too much excitement!
San Francisco, my friends - artsy and ambiguous, culturally diverse, funky fresh and crazy as f*ck. It really was love at first sight. Every street is a new adventure and the essence of the city is just pure MAGIC. The people are poetic, the food is finger-licking fresh, and the heart of it all is gay and happy and carefree. The streets crescendo with elevation and then just as suddenly drop you into a mystical charm at the turn of each corner, lining themselves with an array homes and buildings that are architecturally astounding and so intricately detailed by the hands of time and the spirit of imagination. Parks and gardens are nestled all around as necessary escapes from the chaotic rhythm of the city, adding some softness and depth to create a whimsically wondrous place. The entire time I felt lost in an absorbing infatuation, inadvertently falling in love with every single moment.
As soon as we arrived, we met up with my long-lost best-friend David Lee, one of the first people I met and instantly loved at UCF - The goofiest, funniest, most animated, amusing, point-blank, tell-it-like-it-is spic in the city (I could go on and on about this guy). If you know him - You love him! He scooped us up out of our wide-eyed enamor and took us to Fort Mason Park where we caught an epic view of the Golden Gate Bridge in the twilight of the afternoon. It was my first time seeing her, and I was taken aback while simultaneously feeling propelled into disbelief at the sight of her. Distant and luminous, I couldn't wait for a closer look. We lounged the afternoon away on blankets and ate orgasmic pizza (which was literally it's name - and totally lived up to it's reputation). We got to know his friends - Julian and his bull dog, as well as Ben and Sebastian and the girlfriends Jordan and Karen. I was amazed - Everyone just plays and dances to music and hangs in the parks, talking and laughing and acting like they don't have a care in the world. It's like a perpetual music festival in each of the many parks San Francisco has to offer, adding such a young, lively, exciting vibe to the city.
We headed back to David Lee's place in the heart of the city and I took the most amazing shower of my life. His shower was the best shower we encountered - mainly because of the super-sonic, futuristic shower head - but also because I hadn't showered in days. The perfect water pressure and the steamy warmth seemed to cleanse me all the way down to my soul. Yea, I know, but all drama aside it really was that good. Later that night, we ventured out into the nightscape of the city, ready to receive what David and his friends called "The Treatment" - although I'm still not totally sure what exactly "The Treatment" entailed. They liquored us up pretty good at Ben's (incredible) pad which overlooked the harbor from the financial district and proceeded to lead us to the Tenderloin District where we took lots of shots, got dissed by a local bartender for requesting a pickle back shot (wattup with that?), and were told that the bar we ended up at only served liquor after midnight - no beer, which perpetuated our drunkenness even more. All I remember by the end of the night is strolling the streets aimlessly, buying an entire pizza, having to drunkenly map quest the way back to D.Lee's because he was lost in his own city, and passing out on the floor...It was a great first night.
Needless to say, the next morning was S L O W. We finally revived ourselves and went for a late brunch (around 2 PM) at Mymy's and DAMN! Brad had the corn beef hash & I, the banana blueberry walnut soufflé pancakes - with a side of bacon, of course. All I can say is the flavors that flourished my pallet that meal will never be forgotten - One of the many delectable discoveries in SanFran. From there, the boys took us on a grand tour of the city - lucky us! We all packed ourselves like sardines into Julian's mini cooper and took a drive to and through Mission Drive. There was some kind of festival going on so all the crazies were out in full force...We decided to watch from afar and travel on. The tour continued to Dolores Park which was probably my favorite park - along with the rest of the city's because EVERYONE was there. Mexicans selling inflatable toys, dudes from la playa selling truffle chocolates, naked people standing around with socks on their ______, it was a trip of a park to say the least. We laid back with some mimosas and people-watched the afternoon away, one of the most memorable afternoons of the whole trip. Eventually we moved on to Cole Valley where Sebastian lived, and explored the grooviest area of the city I had yet to see! A cute, quaint neighborhood right on the brink of Haight & Ashbury, it served as the hippy (/homeless) mecca of the city. Cool vibes and interesting characters, I was soaking it all up. We had (probably the best ever) burritos at some hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint and settled in to Sebastian's personal movie theatre watching movie previews in his surround sound space pod of a bedroom. One of the previews was for the movie Gravity, which we ended up falling asleep to when we finally made it back to DLee's apartment. The perfect introductory day to the city!
Brunch at Mymy's
But the next day was even better! We woke up and just walked. We walked out of David's apartment and onto Van Ness Avenue, stopped at Bob's Donuts and bought a donut bigger than my head, made our way down to the infamous Lombard street (the crooked street lined with gardens and beautiful homes) walked to the Fisherman's Wharf and explored the touristy world for a bit. Had a delicious bloody mary and ran into the Bushman - Literally. Kept walking and drooled our way past the Ghirardelli Chocolate factory, made our way over to Crissy Field and then there she was - in all her Golden Gate glory! She was like a gravitational force, drawing me closer and closer until I was right on top of her. I saw her from every angle that day - every height and depth, up close and from a distance, and through it all she remained the same - a noble, magnificent mass of metal. I stood gazing up at her totally eclipsed at the sight - incredulous, distinguished, remarkably momentous and worthy of all her fame. I was obsessed. I took a million photos, then stood and stared, then took even more photos, and stood and stared some more. The boys kept losing me as I drifted behind them in a silent enchantment, bewitched by the beauty and so totally thrilled to be exactly where I was - in my own little world. We walked all the way up to her, under her, and on to the other side of her which dispelled our pathway into a million little trails tracing the coastline of the city and enclosing us in thistles of grass and flowers and weeds in the golden glow of the afternoon. The sun had started to set by then, blinding us as it began it's descent. We found many abandoned bunkers along the way, for what purpose they once served we had no idea, and walked all the way down to the city's beach, which was nothing like what I expected. The sand was dark and gritty and the ocean was FREEZING - yet there were people sunbathing and playing and frolicking in the waves. This FL girl was VERY confused at why they found this landscape so enjoyable, but they were happily frolicking nonetheless.
It was then that we realized what we had just done, and began to contemplate our strategy for getting back home. Eventually we stumbled out of the trails and right into Chinatown, humorously exactly where we wanted to be at that moment! We devoured huge helpings of bentos and drank enormous mugs of beer, which successfully brought us back to life from our day of wander and amazement. We realized we were EXHAUSTED and rode the bus home, where we collapsed instantly and again, fell asleep watching Gravity.
I got an it's it! San Francisco's very own - yum!!
Our final day in the city, David had to work so we took one last luxurious shower, packed up, and headed out to see the last few bits and pieces of the city. David sent us up to Twin Peaks to see the city in it's entirety, and we were blasted by the cold, harsh wind - Hello San Francisco! We rolled back down the hills and through neighborhoods that were idyllic, to say the least - a place I would LOVE to call home! I persuaded Brad to bring me back to Haight & Ashbury so I could get my groovy, hippy chic shopping fix in. After a few hours of bopping around and eating some authentically divine Indian food in between, we took our final departure out of the city - through Golden Gate park and over the Golden Gate bridge.
The feelings that ensued me as we cruised North out of the city and back into the forest were interesting. I felt such a reluctant arrest in my heart and my soul. I'd never been so utterly sad to leave a city, and I felt like no matter where we went next would be a displacement. Brad did all he could to cheer me up by alluring me with ideas of all the adventures that awaited us ahead, but I just had the biggest, fattest frown on my face. My brow was shoveled and my heart felt heavy. I soooo did not want to go! The only thing that made me feel better was promising myself I would return just as soon as humanly possible - Oh, and eventually all the treehouse-esque homes and farms we discovered in the deep, jungly woods just North of the city, too. Sooner or later, I was able to shake the forlorn feelings that gripped me as we left, but I knew I had left a good part of my heart behind. It's still there, waiting to reunite with the rest of me when I get to return one day.
If you've never been to San Francisco - and there is any part of you that loves the carefree, misfit, free spirited pull in life - GO! It is a breathtaking contrast of dark and light, right and wrong, sunny and dreary, perfectly overlapping and filling a void you may not have known existed. I'm serious, no matter who you are or what you're in to - add it to your bucket list!
We drove up the coast and marveled as the sun made it's descent over the ocean as we drove up Highway 1 in hopes of continuing the amazing discoveries. It boggles my mind how much open space and untouched coastlines there are just an hour north of San Francisco - the most crowded city possibly ever. My daydreams stole me away that afternoon, thinking of the yoga studios and B&B's I could run away and create in these wild, unknown sanctuaries. Or even just a little cabin to escape to - Ahhh, what a wonder it is to dream ~
Our journey up the coast continued, and all the sadness felt upon my recent departure was washed away by the dramatically unforeseen beauty of the Pacific Northwest. We stopped for the night at Fort Bragg State Park, and soundly fell asleep after a nice warm fire and an ice cold beer. The Lost Coast loomed ahead, summoning the adventurers back into the wilderness.
And back into the wild we went. Stay tuned.
xoxo, Tent Girl