“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
There's no place like home, but it sure is nice to get away — especially when home is as hot and humid as ours has been for so long. Mr. Clark and I just got back from five days in San Francisco and it was heavenly, if for no other reason than the highest temperature we encountered was 68. It was windy and cool to the point of being crisp; we actually had to wear sweaters most of the time – imagine that!
It was a business trip for Mr. Clark, which meant I had a good bit of time by myself, which is fine. I do things I would never do with Mr. Clark, like taking cheesy tours, browsing really tacky souvenir shops, visiting old cathedrals and cemeteries, taking lots of “arty” pictures and sampling tourist cuisine. (Mr. Clark is a more experienced traveler who likes to research his destinations, so when I’m with him we do things the travel bloggers recommend and try to hang more with the locals.) This trip started with a night at a hostel in the old keeper’s house at a lighthouse just down the coast from the Bay Area. This was a dream come true for me — a real bucket list item — as lighthouses are one of my favorite things. The lighthouse (Point Montara) and the hostel sat atop a high cliff with a little trail leading down to the beach and rocks below.
It was windy and beautiful and we slept with the window open, so we could hear the surf all night. And, in spite of having to share the thin, hard, way too small for two old people, plastic hostel mattress on the bottom bunk of a much too small bed, in a very tiny room, we slept like babies. We didn’t even mind that we woke up stiff and sore the next morning -— it was all just so coastal and quaint.
One of the first things you notice in California is that everyone is thin and fit and most of them have a (recyclable, of course) cardboard to-go cup of coffee in their hands. I guess this is because it is chilly and there are coffee places everywhere. The little town near the lighthouse (Half Moon Bay) where we stayed was no different. I counted six coffee houses within two blocks of the main strip mall, which had two coffee houses of its own. If you’re looking for a glass of sweet tea or an All-You-Can-Eat buffet in this land of super health you’re out of luck, but if it’s coffee you want, no problem!
From the hostel we went to the complete opposite accommodations-wise. The next night we cashed in some of Mr. Clark’s business travel points and stayed at a fancy hotel called The Mark Hopkins, located at the top of Knob Hill, the highest hill in downtown San Francisco. Our room was on the 14th floor and had a fantastic view. And the bed? Like a huge, feather-filled cloud. I don’t suppose anyone has every woken up stiff and sore after sleeping there.
That evening we walked “The City” (as people from there call it) and had a wonderful time taking in all the sights, sounds, tastes, smells and scenery San Francisco is known for, then slept like babies, again, in that grand bed.
The rest of the trip Mr. Clark was in meetings so I walked the entire “What to See in San Francisco” tourist map on my own, photographing and snacking my way through every quadrant. I don’t know how many miles I hiked, but I enjoyed every step. It’s a friendly city, low key and easy to navigate. The people are easy going and the atmosphere isn’t the hustle and bustle you’d expect. There are a lot of foreign tourists and it’s interesting to listen to their languages and see how they are dressed. And as I mentioned, there are plenty of coffee places. It’s strange to be in the middle of the after work rush hour, right downtown, and be surrounded by a sea of people all carrying a cup of coffee….
Traveling, even a short trip, gives me a fresh perspective and I always return home feeling refreshed and renewed. Now, if only we could get a little break in this heat, I’ll make it on through to sweater weather here just fine!
Lorin Sinn-Clark is a writer for the Barrow Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.