I left my heart (and lunch) in San Francisco

posted on: Tuesday, April 30, 2013

June, 2010
San Francisco was easily one of the best and the worst vacations I've experienced in my humble (almost) 30 year existence. The first six days were pure bliss. The city is an architectural dreamland. Edged in ocean and surrounded by teeming redwood forests and some of the prettiest coastline imaginable. This city, she has everything. Food, culture, nature, design and history all wrapped up in that little cluster of districts on the bay. This city? She is goooood.
As for the bad part? Well, it has little to do with the place itself and everything to do with an ill timed flu bug. Wes caught it two days before we left, and at just shy of two years old it was his first serious bought of vomiting we ever had to deal with. It was nerve racking enough as it was let alone being stuck in a hotel room in an unfamiliar city. I caught it the next morning, our last day in the city and with tickets to fly back to Ohio that evening. Thus resulting in a nerve induced panic attack about having to travel while sick and with a sick kid, and well, you get the idea. On our way back to the airport I puked on more streets in that poor city than I care to admit. Once we got there I ended up spending the entire day getting bags of IV fluids and xanax pumped into me in the airport urgent care.
The moral of this story? Always always, always, under whatever circumstances necessary, take Abby on vacation with you. Because she handled our poor sick kid while Josh took me to urgent care. I have no idea what we would have done with out her that day. She's a saint.  And so, while those last two days are ones I'd sooner forget, I think from here on out I'll focus on the first part of that most memorable week.

Our hotel lobby.
We stayed at the glorious Galleria Park Hotel whose art nouveau interiors inspired some ill fated paint colors in our bedroom once we got home. Sorry about that, Josh. But gosh, it sure is pretty when they do it, huh?
Breakfast at Dotties and a milkshake from Ghiradelli Square.
Haight Ashbury where we dug around the endless stacks of music at Amoeba Records and watched a drug deal go down in Golden Gate Park. Oh, sweet memories ;)
Then there was the Castro where I first became mad with jealousy at San Francisco's over abundance of insanely expensive/gorgeous, perfectly manicured residences. And also giggled immaturely at establishments with names like the Sausage Factory and Moby Dick.  
We found the BEST playground in the Castro too. If there's one thing San Francisco is not lacking, it's good playgrounds and parks. Because believe me, we found them ALL.
Also not lacking? Good food. Case in point; the Ferry Building and farmer's market. Oh heavens, do not go there on an empty stomache. Or do, because then you can eat your way up and down every aisle and visit every booth until you make your self sick. And it will be 100%, totally worth it.
Some other "Do's" if you're in San Francisco:
DO meet up with old friends living in the mission district and go for vegan mexican
DO follow up your vegan mexican lunch with with very un-vegan milkshakes at St. Francis
DO go back to the misson the next day just for crepes at Ti Couz (now closed, what?!)
DO visit City Lights Bookstore and eat amazing sandwiches at the little french place around the corner.
DO NOT bother trying to do your hair, ever. It's too windy for that nonsense.
Also, DO nerd out over the gorgeous Beaux-Arts style City Hall. Because, I mean, look at that beauty!
While you're out and about and have a rental car for the day, you might as well drive down the crookedest street in the city for posterity's sake. It's a little underwhelming, but whatever.
And if you're a product of the 90s you would be remiss if you went all the way to San Francisco and did not find the real life "Full House" house.
This high school is right across the street which lead me to surmise that this MUST be where DJ and Kimmy Gibbler went to school! I mean, really, that is the only logical conclusion one could come to.
And if you're feeling really, super, duper touristy...
you can go smell the sea lions at Fisherman's Wharf.
I will say, Wes actually still remembers this, so I'm glad we went. It is pretty cool to see them all lounging around the pier sleepily sunning themselves, bellies in the air.
Now, let's get to the good stuff, shall we? My favorite parts of this trip were the places a little ways off the beaten path. For this you will need to rent a car and head north. North past the Presidio, over the infamous golden gate bridge, through Sausalito and on to a magical little place called Muir Woods.
Muir Woods, home to towering redwood trees and their equally daunting counterpart, the banana slug. The woods are an eerie and serene place. It feels almost other worldly once you distance yourself from the other visitors a bit and find yourself in the silence of cathedral grove looking up at the outstretched branches of these majestic old princes. They seem almost miles away from your vantage point below. Miniscule is not a strong enough word to describe how you might feel in that moment. It's a place you won't soon forget and if you haven't been, it's my recommendation that it would make a wonderful addition to any nature lover's life list. 
Also, as an aside, if you're not familiar with who John Muir was or the impact he had on our country and our park systems, I recommend looking him up. It's incredibly inspiring and we Americans owe so much to this Scottish born ex-pat.  
After this, if you're inclined to have one of the best days of your life, you might consider jumping in your car and heading over to Stinson beach. This is especially exciting if you happen to have a little boy with you who has never seen the ocean before. It will make your heart swell watching him dip his little toes into the salty, cold pacific for the first time and run away, laughing, from the waves.
Now, should you want to have a truly peak life experience you'll need to hop on the Pacific Coast highway and follow it all the way to Berkeley and back again. If you are a Common Rider/Jesse Michaels fan, we actually did this while listening to the entirety of Classics of Love:
Ashby to eighty
Eighty to the bridge
Bridge down to one
Route one carry on

We ate the night up
And we shot the big coast
'Cause the shoreline makes
A heart open like a rose
If you're not a Common Rider fan, I humbly suggest you get on that. Immediately.
 Sometimes I really can not believe what a beautiful country we live in.
Then, just when you think you have seen it all, you spend a day at the Golden Gate Bridge and Alacatraz and you have to wonder if this is really real life? How can a place actually, be this beautiful?

until next time, San Francisco, thank you for the memories.

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