California. Dear, sweet California. I wish I never had to leave, but at the same time I was so ready to be home. Too many emotions for this hormonal girl.
I went to California to visit my friend, let’s call her Lucy, last Memorial Day. We did the Golden Gate Bridge, some shopping, went to Half Moon Bay, ate at the Cliff House, did Napa Valley, and lots of other awesome stuff in there. This time was even better.
She picked me up at SFO on Thursday and we ate at the Cheesecake Factory in Union Square. We got all caught up on each other’s lives – she’s been having a hard time with anxiety, depression, and insomnia, and she wanted to know all about IVF. I had the most amazing corn tamales. Then we walked around Nob Hill for a while and left the city. I was exhausted so we had dinner and visited with her mom and stepdad, watched The Graduate (one of my favorite movies and a tradition between the two of us) and went to bed.
Friday morning we went into Mill Valley in Marin County. It is a wonderful place – feels like you’re in a quaint Gilmore Girls-style town, you’d never know San Francisco is just miles away. The Eucalyptus from all the trees floats down and the whole town smells wonderful. We went into an awesome Whole Foods and got lunch.
We went to Muir Woods and saw the Redwoods. This was the highlight of the trip. The weather was perfect: 70 degrees, sunny, clear. The trees are beautiful, overwhelming, heartbreaking. But more than anything, the feeling you get among them is unforgettable. My lungs could taste the difference in the air and I found myself taking deep, cleansing breaths. In a way, it felt like being in church – so sacred. Everyone, even the children, was quiet and respectful, and no one’s cell phones worked, so everyone was in the moment, focused, in a way groups of people never are.
I felt like if I could just stand there among the trees for long enough, I would feel whole again.
But then we climbed Mount Tamalpais, which sounds more impressive than it is because you drive up almost all of the 2,500 feet and climb for about 20 minutes at the end. When you get to the top you can see the entire bay area: Sausalito, Berkeley, San Francisco across the water, all the headlands, and the marine layer rolling in, completely obscuring the GGB and looking all spooky. The sun was beating down on us up there and it was about 95 degrees. We stood for a while and I gulped water and felt, for the second time that day, totally overwhelmed by what I was seeing.
We descended the mountain and stopped at Stinson beach, where it was foggy and about 55 degrees – so the temperature changed 40 degrees in about 30 minutes. Crazy! We got an ice cream cone and then headed down to get on the interstate. The roads are very twisty and turny and I got a serious case of car sickness on the way down. I kept thinking “This is how you’ll feel when you get pregnant, so it’s just practice!” I was sick for about an hour but then we started driving in straight lines again and I felt better.
Friday night we had pizza, Ghirardelli brownies, and very expensive champagne for dinner : )
Saturday we hit San Francisco. We started at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, then walked up to Ghiradelli Square. We caught a cab and driver was a bit of a handful – we said we wanted to go to Alamo Square to see the Full House houses, and he claimed ignorance of what Full House was. He said “I don’t watch TV – I watch the Universal Channel.” Whatever, dude – there’s no way you lived in San Francisco in the 1980s and since then, at some point, you didn’t find out what Full House is! When he found out we were from IL, he started lecturing us about nuclear power and “Obama-Bush” (because there’s been no change between Obama and Bush). The kicker was then he pointed out the Mrs. Doubtfire house to us, and I said “So they play Mrs. Doubtfire on the Universal Channel?”
We were happy to be rid of him and Alamo Square was awesome. I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to – the Painted Ladies are so neat to see and it felt like being on the movie set of my childhood!
Then we walked to Haight-Ashbury, which was neat to see but there’s really not a lot down there, in my opinion. We caught a cab to the Castro, which was AWESOME. I really loved the Castro. It’s no secret that I secretly wish I were gay. Unfortunately, I am not. I feel like gay people are a lot more likely to have my same values and worldview – I don’t know a lot of straight people who think the way I do, but a lot of the lesbians I know are on the same page with me. I fit in better with gays than with straights, in an odd way.
It was really neat to see all the history devoted to Harvey Milk – if you haven’t seen Milk with Sean Penn, rent it tonight. We ate at Harvey’s, which used to be the Elephant Walk, but was destroyed in riots and re-built. We walked the castro for a bit and I just loved the feeling there. Everyone felt uninhibited and happy and even the clerks at the Walgreen’s were a little more kooky than we get in the Midwest, but seemed happy to be selling us hairties and candy corn. I wanted to move there, and the best part is, I bet they would welcome me with open arms.
Sunday was a chill day – we slept in, had a mini-Glee marathon, and then drove into Napa. We briefly saw Chateau Montalena, and then we ate at Mustard’s. It was a nice, relaxing day. That evening we went to a yoga class. I used to practice and teach yoga 4-5 times a week, but that screeched to a halt when IVF got heavy-duty. It was nice to take a yoga class again, and it was Lucy’s first time. It’s always fun to experience things as a beginner.
All in all, it was an excellent trip, and I’m so sad it’s over.