Apr 20, 2006

the vacation...so it went:

day 1:
ORD -> LAX, morning. we arrived to a sunny day, a doughnut, and my aunt and uncle happy to have us stay with them for the weekend. we spent our time with them eating tons of mexican food, drinking, sightseeing, driving up and down scenic roads, shopping and playing pass the pigs. we also visited a nomadic art exhibit on santa monica pier, ashes and snow. it was an unbelievably amazing experience, you really must go if you have the chance, as the exhibit has no plans to grace US soil again. next it is on to tokyo and then europe. also on santa monica pier, i enjoyed the largest margarita ever. good times, LA.

day 3:
LA -> san luis obispo. we started the day off with brunch with an old friend, catching up and sharing our lives. then off to the pch, with dooming clouds, cooler air and then rain. we drove through beautiful santa barbara, which we both agreed will begin our list of possible retirement spots. san luis obispo greeted us with more rain, a wine reception at our bed and breakfast, bubble gum alley, a delicious vegetarian dinner, and champagne.

day 4:
san luis obispo -> san francisco. clouds and fog didn't stop us from enjoying the drive and the views. we visited a tiny town called harmony, with a population of 18. we met some loud and smelly elephant seals at piedras blancas, we saw the tourists at hearst castle. due to intense rains, there occurred a mudslide just south of lucia that deterred our route onto a tiny untraveled road up the mountains to get to 101. though we were sad to miss monterey and carmel, we witnessed some of the most gorgeous views and had a wonderful heart pounding adventure along the way, trying to stay on the road. it rained some more. we arrived in san francisco to the hotel des arts, ate dinner in chinatown, and had drinks to celebrate our arrival at a nearby bar, recommended by a friend.

day 5:
san francisco -> wine country -> san francisco. it rained. there was mud. but there was also wine! and more wine! to celebrate our three year wedding anniversary, we drove up and down the lower parts of napa and sonoma, visiting hess, ravenswood, sebastiani, viansi, and one or two others. wine country was beautiful, even in the rain. the car in front of us paid our toll on the golden gate bridge. we landed back in san francisco in time for dinner, visiting foreign cinema for the best...dinner...ever. perfect anniversary experience. even in the rain.

day 6:
san francisco. finally some sun! we went shopping on haight, ate a painfully delicious burrito, and met up with our friends, jeff and anna. they showed us some sights, up hills for incredible views. i started to come down with the cold hubb had discovered himself a day or two earlier. our friend jeff invited us to a sushi dinner, where i drank much sake to escape my sore throat. a crack addicted homeless woman walked in to the restaurant asking for money. the homeless in san francisco are much more aggressive than i am used to. we watched a poetry reading outside of the 16th street bart station. you can read about that here as well. jeff brought chalk to make the audial experience more visual. it was amazing and i forgot that i was sick...

day 7:
san francisco. ...until i woke up the next day feeling like death. so i ate an orange, drugged up, and went shopping on hayes, which made me feel much better. we visited the de young, which was hosting an arts and crafts exhibit which made me fall in love with the era yet again. and forget that i was sick. until we made it to the end of the exhibit. so i fled golden gate park with some tourists from florida who paid my cab fare, and spent the rest of the day in bed at the hotel. then hubb came home and we got some thai soup. it was delicious thai soup.

day 8:
san francisco. i was feeling much better (on our last day on the west coast.) we drove across the bay to bolinas, a little artist town. rumor has it that they don't like visitors, so they take all of the street signs down to hinder tourists finding their way. but we found it and enjoyed the beach, mountain views, a bookstore with no employees. just a cookie jar and a note "most books $1, good books $2, really good books $5. great books $10, outstanding books $20. leave your money in the cookie jar, make change as needed." an honor system store. refreshing. we ate day old muffins and picked up interesting rocks. we ate burritos in the mission. we shopped, we drank, we ate pizza. then hubb and i boarded a plane from SFO -> ORD, exhausted and snotty and already daydreaming about our next visit to the west coast.

i'm almost free of congestion, and i'm happy to be back, but i'm in love with so much of my vacation and can't wait to visit the left coast again. soon. there are so many more wineries, shops, museums, and tiny towns on the coast that i have yet to see. hubb and i came back to chicago with some wonderful memories, a little bit of knowledge about a city we'd never visited before, and a love for cities and towns that touch the pacific ocean. and tons of photos and now a blog post to document and remember every detail.

this experience both reminded me of and taught me a few things. to appreciate minimalism, tradition, and antique methods. (bathing in clawfoot tubs, for one.) to experiment, and to be open to adventure. to let go of schedules, preconceived notions, plans, but to always be prepared. to really enjoy the little things, and ignore could-be obstacles. to make the most of it, to walk one more block, and to know when to quit. and to just have fun. i forget that sometimes.

oh, and today...happy 20 year anniversary to my best friend, gina. 20 years of friendship, silliness, seriousness, and growing up together.

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