|Me at Point Reyes National Seashore. Mount Saint Helena in the far right background!|
Not many folks know this, but I am a California Girl. I was born in San Luis Obipso, but left about a week after being born, so I claim Eastern NC as home. I've been back to California several times: San Diego, LA and San Fran and let me tell you, California is an amazing state that has so much history, culture, and self identity in each region.
My friend Becca asked if I wanted to tag along to with her to San Fran to visit her bestie, Brooke. Once I found out that I had some miles that needed to be used and my flight would be discounted $250.00, it seemed silly not to go. I often get asked how I afford this "lavish lifestyle". Well, for starters, it is not lavish. It is prioritizing and planning. Another big money saver is I travel where I have a free place to stay, that will save hundreds! Most of my trips are planned several months in advance and once they are, I take it upon myself to pick and choose how to spend my money until departure time and... I babysit. Lots of sitting with the kiddos. Babysitting is the best way to make good, quick cash! Since Brooke and her girlfriend Ashley were providing room and board, it made it that much more affordable. With flight included, I spent about $700.00 and did everything we wanted. Of course a drink, snack or cab ride was picked up by others here and there, but over all, we spent our own money. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but let me tell you again how my piggy bank plays a huge role in my travels. Yes, I am talking about your childhood style piggy bank. I know my self all to well, and if money goes in the checking account, it is gone. Money in the piggy bank is out of sight and out of mind. My lil' guy's NC Seagrove Pottery belly filled up $450 dollars in a matter of 3 or 4 months. Change also is a big helper. My niece and I took all my change to Coinstar and boom, $40 dollars! That is a meal, drinks, a cab ride, etc. The key is being resourceful and having some self control before the trip creeps up. From experience I know there is nothing worse than going to a fabulous place and not having the money to do what you want to do!
We worked our way back to The Haight to walk around a little before meeting at the food trucks for supper and the Giants game. I get that The Haight is historical and all, but it is def not my favorite part of town. I feel like it has become very touristy and that part of the city seems a little dirty, compared to the rest. Don't get me wrong- it is def worth the walk over and is very entertaining! After walking into several shops and making Becca try on an amazing black glitter leotard we decided it was time for drinks. Off to Cha Cha Cha we went for guacamole (that is for you B) and incredible sangria. I had been to Cha Cha Cha before on my last visit, so I knew this place was perfect for our needs at that moment. If you are ever in the area, go. Brooke came to meet us after our snack and guided us to Off the Grid it was between Upper Haight & the Golden Gate Park. Lined on a blocked off street were about a dozen food tucks with a large screen playing the Giants game at the end of the road. Trucks were whipping up Thai, Indian, Baked Goods, Burgers, BBQ & Chicken. It. Was. Amazing... and priced very well. Our buddy Kim came to meet and joined us for the night. From Off the Grid we head to the house to have a low key night in with a fire, tunes, red vino and Catch Phrase. Yes, Catch Phrase. If you have not ever played it or lets go as far to say, if you do not own it, click on the Catch Phrase link above and purchase. It's loads of fun and travels very easily. We played it for 2 hours. 5 of us and several bottles of vino. It is truly belly aching funny to see how differently each player interrupts their given word even more so how each player tries to describe the word.
Friday was take a road trip day. Around lunch time we loaded the car up and headed North to the Tomales Bay area.. Heading North meant several things:
1. We would drive across the Golden Gate Bridge
2. We would see Redwoods
3. We would see the Pacific Ocean for as far as the eye could see
4. We would eat fresh. local. seafood.
5. We would see Point Reyes and all her glory (I'm not sure why everything is a 'she', just go with it)
I was super duper thrilled about all 5 of those things and the minor things that came along with it: cows, boats, rolling hills and vino.
The drive took about an hour and half, which flew by because of the beauty that surrounded us the entire time.We drove through small coastal towns, in and out of forest, small mountain towns and every mile of it was breathtaking. Literally, I think my mouth was open at some points. The pictures just do not do it justice. Our original go to spot was Hog Island Oysters. Through word of mouth and fancy write ups Tomales Bay has become "famous" for its seafood, in particular the local oysters. In the Southeast I grew up on the rule, that you only eat oysters during months that have a R in the month's name. This rule is mute in Northern Cali. This article tells us about it. Hog Island is about as basic as you get when it comes to a restaurant. There are picnic tables outside on the water with bees and flies swarming- it was rather 'warm' that week for the area. The menu was simple. Oysters- served up about a dozen different ways, a cheese plate and several local beers and wines. While walking down the walk way, you sees a several large tanks with hundreds of fresh oysters resting. Brooke was the only one really eager to eat the oysters, while Becca and I just wanted to try one. I'm not and never have been a huge fan of the aphrodisiac. We decided to head to the Marshal Store to have a larger selection. This was a great decision. Chowder, oysters, beef brisket, beer and vino was ordered. We sat right in front of the cook who let us sample his homemade garlic butter bread- which was toasted on the grill he used to warm up oysters. Tomales Bay stared back at us while we enjoyed all the yum yum.
|Boast yard by Marshall Store|
|Entrance to Tomales Bay|
|Becca & I walking up to the point.|
We were all on a natural high coming back into the city and as if the day could not get any better we drove across the GGB as the sun was setting!
There is place called Asia SF. It's kind of a SF staple. For $45.00 you can have a great meal ( with way to much food) and get a drag show. This was my first experience with a drag show and what a show it was. The make up, glitter, outfits, music, lights, was so intriguing and oddly refreshing. These performers were so confident and comfortable in their skin. Granted they live in a city were just about anything goes, but they were embracing what felt right for them as individuals- despite what others may think. The show wrapped up about 11 then we headed downstairs for drinks and dancing then on to several more bars- which I'm having a hard time recalling.
Saturday was now upon us. Brooke had been telling us about this place called Luna Park in an area called The Mission. She thought we would love both. The brunch crew grew from the 4 of us, as a friend of mine from home, two of his friends and the younger bro of one of Becca's friend all joined. We sat around a table at Luna Park drinking cocktails with floating plastic mermaids swimming around, eating on delicious benedicts, burritos, sandwiches and enjoyed everyone's company for a couple hours. The Mission is awesome. There was such a great vibe in that neighborhood. It has been dubbed the 'hispter' part of town, but to me it was just a area with a lot spirit, expression, and the neatest stores and street art. Valencia St is the one we explored. We walked several blocks before and after brunch. I could have spent all day and a lot of money. Thrift stores, street sales and art work galore. There was a small playground with a wall full of graffiti and children running, laughing, playing paying it zero mind, as it was their 'norm'. If you are a man and you shave, I have found heaven for you: F.S. C. Barber. Old school barber shop with old school supplies. It was a beautiful shop with lots of dark wood and large windows. Paxton Gate, I never knew places like this existed. There was so much going on in this store, but it all worked together so well: fossils, plants, jewelry, insects, posters, taxidermy, and so. much. more. 826 Valencia has found their niche. They are a pirate supply store, with a true heart of gold. 826 also dubs as a non-profit for children. Teaching and encouraging writing. When you enter the store, it is almost as if you are on a ship. Dark paneled wood surrounds you and all the sudden you have entered a creative and magical place. Within these ship walls are charm, neat books, a learning center in the back, old school pirate and ship artifacts for sale and display only, an illustrator who will bring the pirate in your mind to life on paper, a fish theater where you can sit and watch fish do their thing and my favorite: a huge tank full of sand with hidden treasures. If a child finds a treasure, they can take it up to the counter, tell a pirate story and keep the treasure, what an clever way to get kids to use their imagination!
Plus with an endorsement from David Byrne, you know what you have going is a good thing: "Definitely one of the top 5 pirates stores I've been to recently"
Saturday just so happened to be the Saturday before Halloween, and we were set to attend a party at the San Fran Design Center. The party was for Brooke's work: George Lucas Films. Seeing as it was George Lucas Films, we were sure the costumes would not be a let down... and they were not. It was a family friendly event so there were peeps of all ages were all dressed up. From here we head to the Castro- which was mayhem, but some of the best costumes I've ever seen. There were lines and lines for almost every bar, but we found one, Moby Dick's without a wait- so this was our spot. From here we went to a karaoke bar where Brooke, Becca and Ashley gave an up beat version of a Black Eye Peas song. Once we were kicked out of this spot, we headed to the grocery store to stock up for late night. Kim hosted late night and the late night dance party, which mostly consisted of Becca dancing around alone. Around 4 am, it was time to figure out how we were getting home. The walk was semi do-able but not semi desirable. Becca and I walked out of Kims toward our home base. A nice man stopped and asked if were were ok. We were, but we just needed a ride. He offered, we hopped in. Mr. made it clear he worked for the City of SF and felt it was his duty to help us. 5 min later we were home!
October is Crush Season for Wine Country. Sunday morning nine of us at 10 am loaded up in a limo and headed to Sonoma. Becca and I drank water until we arrived. Then once that crisp vino was poured, we got back in the game. It was a little touch and go there for a while. Gloria Ferrer was our first stop. The views were enough to help nip that hangover in the bud. We sat for about an hour enjoying the wine and views. From here we head to lunch at Freemont Diner. It is not your swanky wine country spot, but it was so right on point for what we all needed. After this we head up to Imagery were we did a wine tasting, bought a couple bottles then headed into the outdoor wonderland for photo opps and bocce. Then it was time to head back to the city. The fog had joined us when we returned back to SF. Which was nice, we had yet to see the dense heavy fog and had def not seen it sitting on the bay under and around the bridge. It was just as beautiful and peaceful as the sunny days.
By Sunday night we were all pretty exhausted. So we decided a big Italian meal in Little Italy would help ease us into our slumber. We ended up at Cafe Divine and ordered pasta dishes. You really felt like you were in Italy in here. The tiles, curved glass bakery cases, 4 piece instrumental band and the espressos were all true to form. When we walked out the streets were cheering, it was the last night of the World Series and the SF Giants could very well win it! Things were tied up and we were in the top of the 10th inning, at this point, it was our duty to pop into Original Joe's and watch the last few minutes.Within 10 minutes of being in there, the Giants had done it. They had won the World Series. The city exploded. Literally. Fireworks lit the skies, cars blew horns, fans and visitors jumped up with screaming joy, small marts were blaring 'We are the Champions', and local news centers were all over the streets covering the proud moment. It was really neat to be apart of that celebration with SF. Monday was our get back home day. After a great breakfast with Kim in the Castro, she dropped us at SFO and we were on our way back to the East Coast. Hurricane Sandy hit while we were gone, which made getting back a little longer, but thankfully we made it home safe and sound!
Do your self a favor and get to San Fran. Leave your judgments behind and explore one of my favorite cities.
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