Sunday, June 26, 2016

A View of the Bridge

Yesterday I went back to the Bay Area, through San Francisco and into Marin County to be specific, with the single goal of doing the hike I skipped last weekend in order to preserve my leftover lobster sandwich. I made the right call because we're having another beautiful weekend in Northern California, it was a lovely day for a hike, and getting to eat that sandwich twice made me so happy! 
In case you don't know how to get to the Golden Gate Bridge,
it's on U.S. Highway 101.

Traffic on the bridge on a sunny Saturday was quite heavy, and the walkways on either side were packed with pedestrians, but I wasn't interested in joining the mob. I crossed the span, exited Highway 101 after the viewpoint parking area (which was totally backed up), zig-zagged up a steep hill, parked in a dirt lot, and ended up with this view:

But that wasn't my end point either. I took off down an unmarked trail, through the brush, across the road, and up, up, up.
No one else was on the trail...
and this was the payoff:

After the first few minutes of snapping photos and being amazed that I seemed to be the only one at this spot, I noticed a family who had been picnicking a few feet down in a clearing in the brush, two young kids playing while parents were semi-snoozing -- we were the only ones up there. After snapping a bunch of pictures, I headed back down the trail and passed the only other people who seemed to be making their way up that day, a father with two teenaged daughters. The girls were scampering up and didn't look too strained, but the dad was red in the face, dripping with sweat, and very clearly wishing he was sitting by a pool with a cold beer. I knew exactly what he was going to say to me when we passed each other, and when he predictably asked me, "is it worth it?" I said to him, "I knew you were going to ask me that and I have my answer prepared, it's absolutely worth it and you're very close to the top." I'm sure he made it, I hope he agreed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


I've never done a post title in all caps before, but this one deserves it. Living in Seattle, it's easy to forget that there are other places in the country besides the Pacific Northwest which are awesome, and California is definitely one of them. This month, I'm rediscovering Northern California from the home base of my parents' house in my hometown of Sacramento. So far I've been to Oakland twice, visited friends in Portola Valley, driven through San Francisco twice (haven't had time to stop yet), and meandered along miles of gorgeous coastline on Highway 1.

The Pacific Ocean was my main destination last Sunday. I left the home of friends in Portola Valley (northeast of Mountain View), traveled north, then west, until finally a ribbon of blue was in my sights; I was on a mission. Well, two missions - the first was just to see the open ocean, which we don't really see from Seattle since we're looking at the estuary that is Puget Sound; the second was to go to Sam's Chowder House and eat a lobster roll.

My friend Jeremy, who used to surf these parts when he was a Californian, gave me a tip on this place and told me to splurge on the lobster roll, the ordering of which begs the question, when is a sandwich worth $26.50? The answer is, when it's the lobster roll from Sam's Chowder House. When I first arrived at the joint on Sunday, it was just before 11am, and being Father's Day, there was a huge line out the door -- about 50 people were standing there waiting to get a table. It was hot and I wasn't actually that hungry, having eaten a late breakfast before leaving my friends' house in Portola Valley, so I decided to drive to the beach access down the road a little further and walk back along the coast to the restaurant. I ended up going for a really long walk, then walking back to the restaurant, at which point I was finally a little peckish, the line was gone, and I was shown directly to a table facing right out the windows. I barely glanced at the menu, gave my order, and was served this:
There was enough succulent lobster on that thing to choke a dolphin. It was huge and delicious and I managed to eat half of it, and was pretty excited about having the other half at some later point, but I had to make a [not-so-difficult] decision. See, I had planned on going for a hike after lunch - I had a trailhead mapped out, it was part of my master plan for the weekend, and I was looking forward to this particular hike. But it was hot out, and there was no way I could leave my leftover lobster sandwich in a hot car for a couple of hours and risk it spoiling. It was an easy decision. I'll be here all month and I can go back and do the hike; I'm not going to be able to get another lobster sandwich like that for a long time. Later that evening when I was enjoying my leftovers, I knew I'd made the right choice.