Did I ever tell you that California is where my people are from? Well, it is. It is the land of my people. I love California in the way that you love a place that feels simultaneously both like home and like an ideal vacation locale. Growing up, my brother and I spent many or most of our summers in the San Francisco Bay Area with our grandparents, doing fun San-Francisco-Bay-Area-type things and escaping the doldrums and humidity of Tennessee. The beaches, the mountains, the exotic foodstuffs – I loved it all.
This trip to San Francisco, though, was the first time I had spent in the city without any family around. While it was a business trip, I still felt that in some way I was finally seeing the city on my own terms. Going out at night, for example, or getting around on foot — these are not Grandparent Activities.
In between all the conference ballyhoo, we attempted to enjoy the city as much as possible, starting with Chinatown Christmas, and also including some time in North Beach, home of my favorite bookstore; taking in the landscape at Ocean Beach and in Golden Gate Park; shopping in all the fabulous stores we don’t have in our small university towns (some time, if I am in the mood to give Too Much Information, I will tell you about getting fitted for new “foundation garments” at Macy’s); and a side trip up into wine country and down the coast on California Highway 1.
I ate a dinner that’s sure to be on the list of the best meals of my life at our hotel restaurant, Luce (and I felt very guilty about the lamb later, but that’s an issue for another day); I drank not one but two twelve-dollar Manhattans; and I found the perfect snuggly winter scarf for all the cold, blustery weather we won’t be experiencing here in New Wye. All in all, it was a completely wonderful trip, conference nonsense be damned. Almost like that old song, I came back from California with an aching in my heart.
Below you’ll see a gallery of my favorite pictures — it’s a new thing I’m trying with the photos. You can click on the thumbnail to see the entire photo, and click again from there to see a larger size.