My friend Jill picked me up from the train station at Santa Clara University and we headed back to her home in Sunnyvale. Jill and I were activity buddies in Boston. We were in the same Saturday morning running club there and met in a triathlon training group. She even carpooled with and raced along side me during my first ever Olympic distance tri. Unlike me, though, Jill has actual athletic skill: she placed third in our age group, while by the time I finished the race, they had already run out of bottled beverages and were tearing down the transition area. I missed my sports and hiking buddy when she moved to California several years ago, so I was looking forward to spending some time with her.
Also unlike me at the moment (ahem), Jill is employed, so she would not be available until the evenings to hang out. This was just as well on my first day in town, because I woke up feeling terrible (stupid train germs!) and ended up staying in and sleeping for much of the day. Much improved after my rest, I took a long walk to the closest Caltrain station in nearby Mountain View, where I caught the train to Palo Alto to meet Jill after work.
The next day was super exciting because I would be meeting up with another pair of friends: Lynn and Garrett, whom I met while on the Camino in Spain!
They had planned a day trip to Sausalito, which is over the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.
We used the ride from Sunnyvale to SF to catch up on things, then parked in a garage downtown and walked to the Ferry Terminal. I got really pumped up because there were all these great Asian food vendors. It had been just over a month and a half since I returned from Asia, and I had been going through major pan-Asian food withdrawal. I bought a steamed pork bun and a hot Hong Kong milk tea to accompany me on the ferry ride.
The warm San Francisco weather was blowing my mind. Hadn’t I just been wearing double layers of pants in Chicago a few days earlier? Even though the nights did get chilly, I was perfectly comfortable in a sweater as we sat on the sunny deck of the ferry.
Once in Sausalito, we headed to one of Garrett’s favorite restaurants on the water: The Trident, which was originally opened by the Kingston Trio in the ’60s as a bar-restaurant and music venue. They still have a lot of funky artwork and music paraphernalia. In other words, my kind of place :).
We decided to take a later ferry back to the city in order to have more time to explore. Sausalito is such a cute little town, and we spent a good chunk of time in a shop filled with framed black-and-white photos of everything from Humphrey Bogart to classic cars to Major League Baseball teams. Our return ferry left at the perfect time to get some beautiful sunset views of the Bay Area.
Since we wouldn’t really have enough time to do Lynn and Garrett’s renowned walking tour of San Francisco, we took the scenic route in the car through the city, a journey made substantially more scenic and long-lasting due to the discovery of several roadblocks: here, President Obama was in town.
My first ever backpack- and blister-free day of walking with Lynn and Garrett was a blast. I am so grateful for their unfailing support and encouragement on the Camino and for their continued friendship.
On my last day in California… I got lazy. I had considered taking a train into downtown SF to see a new Patttie Boyd rock art exhibit until I realized that it would take me three hours (between walking and trains) to get there. Yeahhh, no thanks. Instead, I took a leisurely walk back up to Mountain View, explored a bit (there was an optometrist’s office called Site for Sore Eyes that I thought was particularly clever), and worked on my blog. Jill met up with me for a fun Mexican dinner, and then it was time to head to the airport. In less than 24 hours, I went from this:
This coast-to-coast train journey was an incredible adventure. It made me realize that for as much as I enjoy international travel, my own country is just as remarkable and diverse and worth exploring. And I could not be more appreciative of all my friends, both old and new, who share it with me and allow me to see it in a new way.
Now… where to next?