Summer Vacation Just Got a Lot Shorter

This past week I took my first grown-up vacation.

Actually, my first grown up vacation could arguably be the time I planned and paid for a trip to New York all by myself the summer after my sophomore year using money I earned ate my internship. So let me rephrase: This past week I took my first vacation from my grown-up job (and in the process shaved a few precious days off my allotted free time for the year).

I have to say, when I left on Wednesday, it was a little odd to realize that office life would continue without me and that not everyone gets vacation at the same time anymore. However, my thoughts soon turned from the desk I left behind to the destination ahead: San Francisco.

Joe and Robert and I arrived at Daryl’s apartment in the Mission on Thursday evening. Daryl is Joe’s friend from Wash U who moved out to San Francisco after graduating last year to work on WordPress Open Source projects. He now lives in a super awesome recently renovated vintage apartment full of high-tech gadgets and works on the top floor of the tallest building in the neighborhood (or at home in his pajamas). Pretty sweet deal.

Unfortunately, Joe wasn’t feeling especially well when we arrived, so the rest of us settled him on a couch in Daryl’s room and ordered Mission Chinese (click the link and check out their menu: it’s worth your time even if you don’t live in the Bay Area. There are ninjas). I got the oxymoronic “vegan thrice-cooked bacon,” which turned out to be an incredibly spicy noodle dish, and we all split some smashed cucumbers (I was envisioning a cucumber version of mashed potatoes, but they were actually more along the lines of half-finished pickles). Daryl also mixed up some amazing gin cocktails involving lemon, lavender simple syrup, ginger beer, and lots of mint.

The next morning we packed up and headed out to the car to begin our drive down to the Santa Cruz area for my cousin Elicia’s wedding…only to find that we had gotten a $62 parking ticket the night before. Welcome to San Francisco!

Parking ticket notwithstanding, we drove down and made it to our hotel in Ben Lomond just in time to get dressed and head over to the park for the pre-wedding mini family reunion.

Both the ceremony and the reception were lovely, as the pictures below attest, although I have to say that when I first saw Elicia in a wedding dress I couldn’t believe they weren’t just playing dress up!

The morning after the wedding, Joe and Robert and I got up early to go on a zipline tour through the redwoods at Mt. Hermon. Elicia and her boyfriend fiancé husband(!) are guides on the canopy tour, so she hooked us up with a pretty sweet deal. It was amazing sliding from treetop to treetop over a hundred feet off the ground and watching your shadow flicker over the (non-redwood) tree-tops below. The highlight of the experience, however, was koala-hugging (both arms, both legs) a tree 80 feet up in the air.

Once our two hours of adventure time were over, we met up with assorted family members at a field nearby for a brunch comprised of wedding leftovers. It was a good chance to eat and get final hugs in before we hit the road back up to San Francisco.

Back in the city, Robert and Joe let me drag them along to a Cindy Sherman exhibit

at the SF MoMA, which was very exciting for me. Cindy Sherman is an iconic photographer who I have studied and discussed many times over the years, so it was a wonderful art nerd moment being able to finally see her work in real life. I was not disappointed in either the content or display of the exhibition.

Next it was Robert’s turn to choose, so we went to Gordo’s for a burrito before dropping him off at the BART station so he could catch a train back to the airport. Joe and I had a few days left still, so at that point we set off in search of our dinner. Thanks to Joe’s expert perusal of my Urbanspoon app, we found The Beast and the Hare, which I could best describe as a “Portland restaurant,” meaning that it was small and trendy with a seasonal menu and focus on local ingredients. The best part of the meal was dessert, when our (honey Jack Daniel’s flavored) ice cream took a while to come out (which we hadn’t even noticed since we were talking). To apologize, they gave us a whole other dessert (beignets with orange caramel sauce) for free. Another very sweet deal!

The next day Joe and I took a day trip up to Muir Woods for even more time in the redwoods (although this time we were sadly confined to the ground). At one point, a German woman with a small child walked boy and Joe and I both just froze and eavesdropped for a few minutes. It was adorable. They were looking at a tree cross section with the years of significant events (beginning with the tree’s birth in 909 A.D.) marked. The woman was pointing out and explaining these dates, but the little boy just wanted to know, “Wenn war ich geboren? [When was I born?]”

On the way back, we encountered a lovely chorus of car horns honking their way through the tunnel leading up toward the Golden Gate Bridge, much like FBC bikers yell their way through tunnels back in St. Louis.

The next day was our last in the Bay Area and we spent most of just wandering around and relaxing, and caught some great street art on the way (including a full-on bunny sculpture).

We started by lying out on Ocean Beach for a while (in our jackets) and I enjoyed a delicious plantain burrito from Cuco’s while watching the waves. Then we took a jaunt over to Fisherman’s Wharf for our obligatory dose of tourism. Just a few hours there was enough commercial tourism to have provided a large enough dose for an even longer trip! We did, however, get to see both the sea lions and bush man, who sits on the sidewalk hiding behind branches he holds in front of him and jumps out to scare passersby (and demand money in return for this service).

Our view of Lombard Street.

Big hill!

We got caught behind a segway gang.

Joe made a friend.

This about sums up the whole tourism experience.

The trip capped off with a lovely dinner with Daryl at Beretta followed by incredible cocktails at a nearby bar where Daryl’s friend bartends. We also had a little photo shoot on Daryl’s roof.

 

All in all, the long weekend passed far too quickly. Being back in St. Louis and the office grind isn’t so bad though, because Joe and I have finally moved into our new apartment (hence the lateness of this post). More about that coming soon!

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