Backtracking (Leaving the Redwoods, Napa and San Francisco)

J and I are pausing at a coffee shop this morning in San Luis Obispo (where the forecast is sunny and 70 degrees for the next seven days) so I can update my blog since I've been too interested in hanging out with my friends and lounging around for the past few days to do a decent job of it. After leaving the Redwood National Park Wednesday, J and I continued heading south, getting ready for a weekend of city life in San Francisco which would be our next major stop. It was dark by the time we got in the car, a bummer, because while we had gotten to catch the enormous trees before the sun went down, we hadn't made it to Elk Prairie, an area the park ranger had pointed out to us on the map, saying, "you will definitely see some elk here," at which point J's eyes really lit up because, damnit, he wanted to see an elk.

As we headed down the 101, J was driving, and I was consoling him on the elk issue while rummaging in our food bag in the backseat, looking for a granola bar when I heard him exclaim, "holy shit," and I turned back around to see an enormous - and I mean seriously enormous - elk standing just by the side of the road, with his huge antlers and bearded chest. It was totally dark by then so J flicked on the high beams so we could get a better look and make sure we didn't hit him, but unlike the deer we see regularly on the east coast, this guy was by no means scared of us, worried about our approach. He just stood there, munching on his grass, like, "What? What are you gonna do?"

I don't have any pictures because it all happened so fast, and you west coasters who see these guys all the time, yeah, I know it's not that rare or anything, but to us it was a major deal. So with the Redwoods and the elk, our first day in California was off to a roaring start.

That night we got off 101 and started heading down 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway) because we wanted to drive along the coast the next day. Because it was nighttime, driving that route was pretty pointless, so we didn't go too many miles before stopping in Fort Bragg, getting a room in the first inexpensive motel we could find and falling fast asleep.

And when we woke up and went for a walk outside.

Fort Bragg, CA

I don't know, you'd think maybe after days of this - days and days of spectacular ocean views you'd get jaded, and I suppose after a long while, after living here, people do, but I can't get enough. I definitely can't stop taking pictures, which is going to ensure torture when I go through the thousands I've taken on this trip once we're home in an effort to choose just a few to print and put in a photo album, but whatever.

Our agenda, after taking in the ocean air, was to drive down to Napa and visit a couple wineries before arriving in San Francisco. I'd been to Napa as a child but obviously didn't do the whole wine thing, so I was pretty excited.

Our route took us through Sonoma first.

Sonoma County

Nothing sounds better to me than spending days in both Sonoma and Napa, visiting spas, tasting a variety of wines and eating amazing food, but since we only had the afternoon J and I decided to narrow down the field, head to Napa and visit a place we'd heard of called V. Sattui.


V. Suttui winery, Napa

Just kidding about that last picture, but I do see how you can get pretty sauced visiting those wineries. We only stopped at two that afternoon, and at the second, a winery I do not recall the name of although we did buy two bottles of wine there (see? see what happens?) the guy pouring us the samples took a liking to us or something and started giving us tons of stuff that wasn't on the list at no charge. Needless to say, we felt pretty good about Napa.

Later that night we made it to San Francisco where we met up with our friends Alex and Natalia and some of Natalia's wonderful family in the city.

I met Natalia and Alex when I was a freshman in college and all three of us were living in Loretto Hall, a housing complex located on the campus of Emmanuel College, a small, women's college, that BU started using when they didn't have enough housing of their own. Because our dorm was so far away from everything else, and because that city is so cold, we all spent a lot of time in Loretto, and consequentially, with each other, and got to be great friends.


That's a picture of me and Natalia outside the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. She's cute, huh?

Alex and Natalia live just outside the city so staying with them was perfect for us. And J and I were lucky, because they were the most amazing hosts. Every night they pulled out the sofa bed and made us a comfortable, cozy place to sleep. They made us delicious breakfast (including Natalia's Columbian hot chocolate one morning) and dinner and acted us tour guides, driving us all around the city.

I can't even go into detail about all of it because we did so much and had so much fun. But just so you know, we visited Berkeley, learned about science in the Exploratorium, we went to see Beach Blanket Babylon, drank locally brewed beer, ate Italian food in North Beach, got all Zen at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge which was ensconced in San Francisco's legendary fog and visited the lovely town of Sausalito and Natalia, Alex and I recounted tons of Boston memories.

Yup. All that.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the trip.

Flower Conservatory, Golden Gate Park

Exploratorium, SF

Palace of Fine Arts, SF

Here's how foggy it was on the bridge:

Golden Gate Bridge

Here's J teaching Natalia some guitar skills so she can be the next Shakira:


And when she does become a total rockstar we'll be back to see her make her debut in some hot club because, no doubt, we'll be visiting San Francisco, beautiful San Francisco, again.