Thursday, June 09, 2011

Escape to Nature

After four days spent pursuing and consuming the myriad sights, sounds and tastes of the city of San Francisco it was time to escape the masses, the crowded street cars and the bustling sidewalks and get out of town.

Joe took the train to the airport and picked up our rental car, a shiny white convertible, swung by the hotel, grabbed me and we headed out for some driving site seeing, through San Francisco and north over the Golden Gate Bridge.

We started with lunch since neither of us had eaten anything by noon, so we stopped at Underdog, an organic sausage place over by Golden Gate Park, on recommendation from a friend who lives in the Bay area. Joe had a regular beef hot dog and I tried the chicken apple sausage which was tasty. The shop was tiny, like two table tiny and the walls were covered with all of the organic, green, hippie, Bob Marley, left leaning, pot smoking, local, commune stickers and posters, flyers from people looking for mandolin teachers, and filled with guys wearing little knit caps and carrying ukeleles and curly headed kids eating all natural tater tots. We scarfed lunch and headed out on part of the Scenic 49 Mile Drive.

The 49 Mile drive is spectacular. We drove along the coast, through Lincoln Park and stopped at Hole 17 at the Lincoln Park Golf course with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge that was so soothing and silent it stopped me in my tracks. Wisps of fog covered the edges of the bridge, but the sun was out, hitting the international orange towers so they glowed. The contrast of this peaceful little slice of nature in the midst of such a crowded, hectic city was perfect, and exactly what I needed after four busy days. After that we drove a bit more and headed up to the chilly windy Twin Peaks for a view of the entire city that is unrivaled.

Top of Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks was just plain cold. Blustery wind, but a clear blue sky with a enormous swath of the city spread out before us. We simply don't have these kinds of vistas in Kansas. This view is what makes San Francisco one of the most beautiful cities in the world, not just the country. See?

Today was all about nature, the peaks and valleys, the nearly Mediterranean climate, the mountains and curving roads where temperatures drop ten degrees on each shady curve. And to wrap up the day we drove thirty minutes out to Muir Woods to spend some time among the red wood giants.

This is serenity, here among these trees that have stood for thousands of years, the leafy ferns, the lush moss, the damp, earthy smell in the air. This is like church for me. We walked the slightly bumpy 1.2 mile loop out to Cathedral Grove and took photos, held hands and were quiet together, soaking it all in.

Tonight is our last night in the city, we head South tomorrow to San Jose and Pacific Grove for the more laid-back portion of our trip. I plan to walk on the beach, head to the aquarium, wander the quaint streets of Monterey, and eat at least one more bowl of clam chowder. Happy Wednesday!

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