The Day Before We Hit the Road

img_20190623_115201028-1Sunday was mostly a get ready for the trip day, so we went to two very exciting and exotic places: Trader Joe’s and Target! Gotta stock up for the driving. Did you know that Trader Joe’s now has Takis? The world is complete. One amazing reason people live in the Bay Area is that no matter where you go, the views are spectacular. For instance, above is a picture of the panorama from the dog park. It’s hazy, but that’s San Francisco back there. I’d probably walk my dog more if I were looking at that when I did it.


In the evening, we went for a wine tasting on the Oakland Urban Wine Trail in Jack London Square. Eight wineries have tasting rooms within a few blocks of each other. Mahru is a member of the Brooklyn West Winery so that’s where we headed. The people were friendly, and the business is so new that Mahru knows the wine-maker and some of the staff. That made it feel cozy even though it was crowded, especially for a Sunday night right before closing (at 6 p.m.), and Bijan was allowed to come with us. I am not a wine critic just a wine drinker, but I really enjoyed the cabernet and tempranillo, which is Brooklyn West’s signature wine. I sure liked the sound of the name. Apparently, Brooklyn Basin is a depression of land on the waterfront that used to be industrial and now–you guessed it–is another upscale “urban community.” Yawn. Not only is it a little trite at this point, but when I look around and see all the tent cities and people living under bridges, it’s also just another example of how crazy Bay Area real estate is despite efforts to create “affordable” housing. Define affordable around here.

Anyway, we got some takeout sushi at Sushi Go Go, a small, local chain whose schtick is that all their outlets are in gas stations. We ended the evening chilling in the back yard and are now excited to get our Jucy and hit the road!

P.S.: Connectivity on the coast will be spotty, so I am not sure if and when I will be posting again, but don’t worry, I will make sure you don’t miss a bit of the trip.

First Full Day

A blue heron helped kick off our hike.

We were so busy yesterday, I didn’t have a chance to write, but I”m still feeling the effects of our hike. Did you flatlanders know that there are these huge mounds of land called hills and they are harder to walk up? Yes, it’s true. Yesterday we went to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and did a 3.5 mile hike into the hills about the beach. It was beautiful and only took a couple of hours. So strange how crowded the Bay Area is, but the open spaces feel so free. Mahru’s dog, who you met yesterday, loved the hike, too. We think he found a rattlesnake just inches off trail in the brush. We heard it, but didn’t see it. That’s fine by me.

Just cool enough for a hike (which means a little too cool for me) but gorgeous views.

img_20190621_163637698_hdr-1.jpgAfter lunch, we stopped at the Columbia sportswear employee store and did some “I don’t need this” shopping by which I mean I walk around with things I like and then put them back because I don’t need them. We were really killing time until the East Brother brewery opened at 4. We each had a light, lemony pilsner called Bo Pils. Perfect for after a hike. The brewery is in a Richmond  industrial park and has some picnic benches outside, so we sat in the East Bay shade and relaxed. We got there right at 4, when it opens, but there were already a couple of people there. By the time we left, it was filling up. There’s no food, so a revolving list of food trucks parks outside. Yesterday was Thai. We didn’t eat any, but Mahru said she had and recommends it.

Then, we headed back to Oakland to get ready for an open mike and poetry slam. Once a month, MLK Cafe, an Ethiopian restaurant that also serves burgers and pizza, hosts the Root Slam. The community is welcoming and the artists obviously find great inspiration and support though the organization and events. Plus, they can write and perform! Just listening to other people’s stories and views makes it worth the trip. The food is pretty good, too, but shout out to my own neighbor, Eden, who makes the best Eritrean food ever. By the time we got home from that, I brushed my teeth and crashed.

P.S.: So far, the traffic is not nearly as bad as I imaged it would be. Maybe my bar was very low.

Guess What I Found? West Coast Part 1

So, loyal readers (all 4 of you), remember the lead up to our Costa Rica trip? Remember the drama of my lost passport. Well … I found it. It was in the secret top compartment of a backpack I haven’t used since we went to Morocco two years ago. That never even occurred to me. Oh well. Good stories came out of it and it all ended well. And now I have my souvenir stamps and Chinese visa back.

Here I sit at O’Hare as my flight to SFO gets pushed back more and more. Please explain how once a plane is in the air, it can change its flight time. We were told that there was an earlier delay at the plane’s last stop, but apparently the earlier delay is a current delay or the arrival time wouldn’t keep changing. First 11:45, then 12:22, then 12:15. We took off at 12:50. At least I don’t have to be anywhere on the other end. Plus, I downloaded some books and a bunch of Jessica Jones episodes.

Bijan the cattle dog

I have already forgotten what my friend and I were going to do today, but I know it involved driving back and forth from San Francisco to Oakland a couple of times. Hmmm. That will be more fun as rush hour approaches, although I bet it’s always rush hour on the Bay Bridge. Perhaps this trip will remind me why I don’t want to live in the Bay Area again.

…Finally made it. No surprise, there was traffic so by the time we got to Oakland, it was already 5 p.m. We took a quick trip to Berkeley Bowl West, but didn’t really explore there. I could eat really well if that were my regular grocery store! Then we picked up Bijan at doggie day care, made Greek salad and hummus and spent the evening chilling and catching up. So far, so good!

Ugh, I’ve Been Lazy

OK, I’ve been less that inspired these last few weeks. It’s tough to get motivated when your big, summer road trip is on the back burner and it’s 55 degrees and drizzling. You’ll be thrilled to know that I’m back! My trip to the Bay Area and Pacific Northwest begins Thursday and I will be writing daily (or almost daily).

So far, my friend has us scheduled for a couple of hikes, a poetry slam, and a picnic with the foster parents of refugee children. And that’s all before we leave Oakland. I think our first night on the road will be spent camping at Point Reyes. Can’t go wrong there.

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First stop: Oakland

There was some possibility that my friend’s foster child would be on the trip with us, but he is still in Niger as far as we know. That grand adventure will begin after I am home. I must say that I am a bit relieved by that. A 12-year-old refugee boy who speaks no English probably does not need his introduction to the United States to be two 50-something women driving him up the coast in an RV so we can hike and talk nonstop.

The plan, developed entirely by my friend, has us driving up Hwy 1 through California and Oregon for 5 days of camping and then cut over to I-5 to get to Port Townsend, Wash., and Seattle for some chill hanging out time. Then, I will fly home from there leaving my friend to make the drive back solo (unless you count her dog). I feel a little bad about that, but I am sure Steven will be tired of bachelor life with my dog by then (hahahahaha…oops…I meant…Absolutely..I will surely be tired of bachelor life).

Ceding Control on a West Coast Jaunt

oakland2porttownsendUsually I am writing about my decisions or my future decisions about travel or how we decide what we’re going to do and where we’re going to do it, but much of my next trip will not be up to me. I did decide to go to Oakland, Calif., to see a very dear friend who is having a party (I love a good party!); therefore, the timing was not up to me. Then, we toyed with the idea of different road trips from there, and while I was leaning toward heading up the coast, she cemented it. So off we will go to Port Townsend, Wash.

I had a hand in most of that, but I am going to leave the rest of it up to my friend because she is bringing her dog and–surprise, surprise–most likely a foster teen (14 hours in a van with a teen?  – soooo pleased I won’t be there!). I am happy for her because she has been in the application process to be a foster mom for some time and she is very excited. Since I work with high school students all school year, I like to keep my distance in the summer, but it’s part of the adventure. Maybe it’s a good thing that my driving experience will be one-way, since I am flying back out of Seattle to cut some time off the trip.

My friend has already rented a Jucy, a vehicle I had never heard of; it’s a mini-RV, complete with beds and a little kitchen. I’m told they are very popular in Australia. 

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Two friends, a teen, and a dog–should be fun!

Close quarters, but better than riding all that way in her sedan. (I was wondering how that would work and she was one step ahead of me.) I’m going to leave the details of the itinerary up to her, also, unless she really wants my input. I’m practicing relinquishing control (Steven, add snarky comment here  Moi?  I NEVER have snarky comments – especially about the idea that you might need some control over things… ), but I also think it will be fun to follow the travel plans of someone else and experience travel from someone else’s perspective. I know there will be hiking, good food, and friends. What more do I need? (Prozac? Lexapro? Thorazine? – oh wait you were talking about for the trip?  Nevermind.)