Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair

We rolled into SF around 3 a.m. Friday morning. After camping for a few days and the Tawonga situation, I was ready to transition to a city setting for a while. We found parking (five-ish blocks downhill from Anita’s place – as if we hadn’t hiked enough in Yosemite!), and walked up some infamous San Francisco hills to get to Anita’s apartment. Anita had told me on the phone that she had moved into a new apartment on Fell Street less than a week before we arrived. She said that the place was really cool and that I would like it a lot. She was right. I walked in and the décor was really artsy and colorful.

Anita's apartment in San Francisco

 
There was so much to look at. I had to get a few pictures…
 
                                                                                                   

blah blah blah I wish I knew how to put pictures in a row without writing text in between… if anyone knows how to work WordPress well, I am in need of some guidance.

Sweet painting

These guys were pretty into music…

A bunch of records, instruments, and art.

Anita’s room was especially cool…

wall painting in Anita's bedroom

 This wall is my favorite:

The view from the apartment window was pretty cool too. I was in the process of getting a picture of the mosaic on the wall across the street and happened to catch a tour bus rolling by, making for a solid San Francisco tourist picture:

Anita was in the Peace Corps in Paraguay for two years. She came back in April of this year and I had seen her once out in Montague a couple months back, but that was the extent of our visits over the past two and a half years, so I was really excited to have a weekend to hang out. As soon as we got into the apartment she regaled us with some funny stories of her life so far in San Fran. She told us of her job as a substitute teacher for foreign students learning English, which suddenly became a full-time job where she was expected to prepare them for a test she knew nothing about. Apparently they caught on that she was thrown into this situation without knowing much about it. She told us how they all have been struggling together, and that she got some not so great evaluations from the students. Her light-hearted self-deprecation always cracks me up and reminds me of the importance of not taking oneself too seriously.

Our first day in the city, Nate and I decided we should hit up a coffee shop and get some blogging done. Anita had to work until four that day, so her roommate, Delvin, told us he would take us to a sweet spot for some brunch and wifi. We went to The Beanbag Café, which coincidentally ended up being the café that Nate met his cousin at the last time he was in the city, four years ago, so that was kind of funny. When Anita got out of work we met up with her and joined some of the students from her school on an excursion to the Golden Gate Bridge. We walked halfway onto the bridge. It was foggy and windy and misting and really cold, but otherwise pretty neat. We even got to see some harbor porpoises and a crazy dude parasailing. It wasn’t clear enough to see a whole lot of the bridge but we got some cool pics:

Golden Gate Bridge

Anita and I tried to keep each other warm…
 

Since it was too cloudy to get solid pictures of the bridge, I went for flowers…

GGB in flowers

 And some closeups:

One more…

Later on Friday, we checked out a little dive bar on Haight Street. It was a cool little scene and we got to chat with some locals, but we were feeling a bit tired and decided it would be best to go back to Anita’s house and relax and play some music. Anita plays guitar, sings, and writes her own songs. I LOVE her music. Before she went to the Peace Corps I remember visiting her in NYC and she serenaded me in the bathroom while I took a shower. It was lovely. Almost every time I see her I get the privilege of listening to her play her music. I hadn’t heard her since before Paraguay and she had a whole bunch of new songs. Nate brought his bongos along on the journey and Anita’s housemates have a bunch of instruments, so we decided to have a little jam session. I even joined in for a bit on the bongos and maracas! I need to do this more often; playing music is FUN. Mostly I just sat and enjoyed Anita, though. I even got a video of Anita playing a Decemberists song (I don’t want to post her original music here as she hasn’t copywritten it yet). Here it is:

On Saturday morning we met the house snake, quite unexpectedly. Anita had mentioned that a snake lived there and as I was walking down the hall on Saturday I realized that this snake roams free throughout the house as she pleases. I’m glad that I became friendly with snakes in the past year, otherwise it may have freaked me out, as she is pretty big:

big snake

After that we headed to Oakland to visit Nate’s aunt Edie and cousin Gabe (of Camp Tawonga). They fed us some delicious bagels with various spreads and we relaxed for a few hours, which was really nice. It’s always nice to see family when you haven’t for a while, even if it’s not your own. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc; they all know how to make us youngins feel loved and taken care of, which I appreciate a lot. Edie even taught us some pretty cool stuff that we have been passing along to everyone we meet.

Edie is a physical therapist and she showed us some really good exercises to do with a foam roller. Laying for five minutes on a foam roller felt amazing on my back and I was blown away by how big a difference it made in how much of my back touched the floor while laying prostrate. We raved about how much we loved it enough that Edie decided to give us a foam roller and a couple half rollers. I highly recommend everyone try these. Here is a link to more information: http://www.power-systems.com/n-233-rollers-a-balancing-act-for-clients.aspx We have been making all our friends lie on the rollers and everyone is astonished by what it does to their backs. Seriously, it’s like $15 online for one of these things. Give it a try.

A shout out to Edie for being awesome and improving my back situation. It was a really nice, albeit short, visit, but it was a wonderful reminder of how even the smallest interactions with people throughout the course of one’s day can change one’s life. I’m definitely not going to forget Edie and her foam rollers, so thanks Edie!

Me, Edie, and Nate

After Oakland, Nate and Gabe and I went up to Redwood Cityto see Nate’s uncle Dennak (Gabe’s dad). Dennak had a house in the hills with an awesome view from a big deck that he and Gabe had built together. Dennak took us out to eat some delicious Thai food,

delicious Thai

and then we just relaxed at the house, did some laundry, and enjoyed a view of the hills and night sky from the hot tub on the deck. All in all it was a pretty awesome day.

Both Edie and Dennak gave us some solid advice for places to check out on our trip, and we ended up scratching Yellowstone, Wyoming, and Montana in favor of Southern Utah. They both told us that Southern Utah was weirdly beautiful and otherworldly, a description that was very enticing, so we decided to heed their advice and make the switch. Since then, every person we have told about our plan to go to Southern Utah has had a very positive reaction, and has confirmed that we’ve made a good decision.

On Sunday we headed back out to San Francisco to hang with Anita for a couple more days. When we got back into town we decided to check out Golden Gate Park. We never actually made it there because we spent a decent amount of time wandering around Haight Street, which was really lively at 5 o clock on a Sunday afternoon. We caught a happy hour deal at a bar and did some good people watching and enjoyed a cocktail. We also got some pictures of the city on our walk:

Nate on the Haight

There was so much art on the houses and buildings. I like this one a lot…

Forever 27

We also ran into some pretty interesting people. There was Burt with a “u” (as he introduced himself). We found him in a little park and he was unusually friendly so we chatted for a bit. He told us of how he came to SF some 40 years ago and has been here since. He also invited us to his house to check out a real Victorian and see some of the old dishes that he sells. We had other things planned, and we’d known Burt for five minutes, so we declined the offer. He said something to us before we went that has stuck with me though: he told us that he was really grateful for our generation, and that we were wonderful and necessary. I don’t often hear that, and it was really touching to have a stranger in the park let us know that the older folk love us and that he feels we are going to change the world. Very cool. Here is Nate with Burt:

Burt and Nate

We also came across a couple young dudes hanging out on the street asking for money. Nate gave one of them a light and I gave them a dollar. They said that they were taking up a collection for beer, but hey, at least they were honest. I really like the sign that one of them had so I asked if we could take a picture.

Too Sexy to Work

 They let me know that they were totally cool with a picture and were happy that I’d ask. they said they don’t mind if people take their picture as long as they give them a heads up first so that they don’t feel like zoo animals. They asked us about our travels and we mentioned that we were headed up to the Redwood Forest next. One of them told me that they filmed the Ewok part of Star Wars in the Redwood Forest. I told him I hadn’t seen Star Wars and he was pretty disappointed. He then told me that he’d heard that the Ewok village still existed and there were a bunch of hippies living there that would let us hang out in the village but only if we brought them bowls and beer. He then said that he couldn’t actually recommend we check it out because he had no idea what was really going on there, but had heard that people lived up there. I took that as a distinct possibility that it didn’t exist or was sketchy, so we decided not to look for it. My curiosity has been peaked though so maybe someday I’ll look for it.

We also saw a girl walking down the street with a bird on her head.

Terrifying!

We finished out Sunday night with a decadent dinner at Lavash. Delvin (who apparently knows what’s up with places to eat in SF), gave us a vivid description of the dinner he’d had recently at Lavash. He talked it up enough that we decided we had to go, so we checked it out on Sunday and Delvin was right; it was SO yummy. I highly recommend this place if you’re ever in the city: http://www.lavashsf.com/ I ate Zereshk Polo. It was one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth.

We had originally planned to leave the city on Monday, but Anita had mentioned that she was playing an open mic at the Hotel Utah on Monday night. After our Friday jam session, she and Nate had talked about playing together, so we decided to hang around and go to the open mic, as Nate was pretty jazzed about playing. We spent Monday wandering around Golden Gate Park, which is HUGE. Having just come from Yosemite, it was more difficult than usual to see the beauty of a city park, especially because there were big roads weaving throughout it. Nonetheless, there were some pretty cool things going on in there that I enjoyed.

Golden Gate Park

More wildlife too!

Turtle friend!

 and ducks too!

Waterfall!

Flowers

After the park we made our way over to The Hotel Utah to check out the open mic. We ended up hanging out for a few hours before Anita and Nate went on, and got to see a lot of really great local talent. One girl sounded just like Mazzy Star, it was awesome. Around eleven Nate and Anita went on, and I was excited as always to listen to Anita. I’d only seen her perform at a venue once before, and it was really cool to see how much people love her. She played a song that I’d heard her play a few years ago, and it sounded great with Nate on the bongos. It was a really great way to end our time in the city.

Overall, San Francisco was great. I really liked the artsy and creative feel of the city, and it I one of the more diverse cities I’ve been to (this coming from someone from Western MA), which I like a lot. I can’t get down with the weather, but aside from that the people, the food, the culture, and most everything else I experienced while there was pretty cool. I’ll certainly be back again.

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