San Francisco, Here I Come!
“Adventure is out there, it’s heading our way So grab your scarf and goggles, let’s fly! I’ve mapped out our journey, we’re up here to stay. A sunset is our home. A moonbeam we will own. My Spirit of Adventure is you!”~Michael Giacchino
I was excited about my road trip to San Francisco for lots of reasons. I have had ‘Visit SF’ on my bucket list for a long time. I thought it would be with my hubby or even a trip with our kids – but I was thrilled to be going on a road trip with fellow blogger, Mary Lansing of Along Comes Mary!
The reason for this trip was a quest to meet and interview another blogger, Evan Sanders of The Better Man Project. He had just launched his book by the same title and invited many of his followers to a launch party in Palo Alto, CA over the weekend. It happened to be a free weekend for me and I thought I could take my son up and look at colleges along the way. As I began planning the little trip, I crowd-sourced the idea on my So Cal Lady Bloggers Facebook Group to see if anyone knew of a B&B or hotel that was blogger friendly, thinking I might get a good deal. I also contacted a relative that recently moved to a suburb of San Francisco and has offered me the use of her guest room. As I casted out my net, I snagged a few interested blogger buddies and a road trip/meet up was born!
The Spirit of Adventure
The spirit of adventure takes over in me when I think about travelling. I love exploring and letting vacations unfold. I like to have a light structure and be open to all the possibilities. I love meeting up with and visiting with friends and family along the way. When Mary and I set out, we talked and talked the whole way. We really got to know each other. One thing we have in common is that we take after our fathers. Our dads have always had the type of personality with which they made friends with everyone easily and always ran into people they knew everywhere they went. It was uncanny to my family that this happened to my dad on so many occasions. The same is true of Mary’s dad. It doesn’t seem like a big deal now when we are able to keep in touch with distant relatives and old friends on Facebook and with email, but long before that became an option – our dad’s had that friendly comaraderie with people all over the world. They left lasting impressions and their friendly and easy-going demeanor was always approachable. We both want to continue the tradition. We enjoy making friends along the way on our journey through life. Having the spirit of adventure and openness to possibilities running through our veins is one thing that made our spontaneous trip to San Francisco so much fun! This got me thinking. . . one of my core beliefs is based on being open to the possibilities that can be life changing—and believing that these possibilities may bring a greater sense of joy and fulfillment to my life.
In Evan Sanders’ book, The Better Man Project, he mentions how he thinks he should have been born in the “cowboy era” when things were much simpler. He says, back then you could . . . “Jump on your horse and go. Didn’t matter where, you could just go for miles. If you needed to get away, there was always a new frontier waiting to be discovered. But most importantly, you could be at peace.”
“The cowboy symbolizes the free life, closely tied to the out-of-doors and nature. The impact of land, the grass, the rivers and streams and gushing springs, the color of the sky and the clouds, the climate and the weather, these things are characteristic of the real and the mythical cowboy cultures.” ~David Dary, Cowboy Culture
I had this “cowboy” feeling going on around the time that I heard about Evan’s party in Palo Alto. I felt the urge to go on an adventure and I wanted to get away. I felt a need to let go a little. Too much routine was getting to me. I actually went to Google maps and entered Palo Alto, CA. Where was it? How far a drive was it? What was it near? I checked my bank balance. Could I swing it? I had just told my hubby that we shouldn’t spend too much on Valentine’s Day and I knew a hotel or airfare was out of the question. But sharing the cost of gas and only having my own expenses to worry about was doable. The call of the road was beckoning me!
Sometimes when I get this feeling, I will take a long drive by myself. I like to take the top down on the Jeep and drive up the coast. I will find a place to park and go for walks on the beach. Have a picnic. Shop. Explore. Alone. I like to get some solace now and then. Be introspective. Recharge. Listen to my heart. Let go. Surrender to the wind.
Bonding and Forming Lasting Relationships
This time, I felt like connecting with others and forging new relationships. I really felt a call to venture out to connect and reconnect with friends. I had the urge to spend a weekend networking and expanding my community. I was in the mood for “girl-time” and boy did I get it! I lost my voice from talking for three days straight and I enjoyed every minute!
I wanted to surrender and get away from the every day. I wanted to make the most of my time and have fun, too. I made my mission for the trip to use the time getting to know people and letting them get to know me. I opened myself up a bit. I actually enjoyed being me and I made the most of it. This was a chance for me to be the “pure me” – not the mom, or the wife, or the planner, or even the blogger. Just me and my rental car, my iPhone and my debit card! It was a blast!
I want to thank my husband and sons for being so very supportive of my ideas and my spirit of adventure. I know they all like to travel and would have loved to take a trip to San Francisco. They were very understanding of my reasons for my need to get away without them. We are a very close family but we respect the need to do things on our own at times. That goes for the mother, too! I am blessed!
It was a big risk! I went on this trip with someone I had only met a few times and barely knew. Since she is a blogger, I checked her out by looking at her online presence. I knew very little about Mary and she knew very little about me. There turned out to be a big age difference, but when we tried to guess each other’s age, the gap seemed much closer. This was a good thing. We found that we have much in common and we got along famously. We connected on many levels, but the most important factors we found to have in common is our love for blogging, our love of travel, and our love of 80’s music! By the time we arrived in San Francisco, we had eaten lunch at Pea Soup Anderson’s in Buelton, gone wine tasting in Solvang, searched for garlic ice cream in Gilroy, and become great friends!
The San Francisco Treat
We stayed at a wonderful new Bed & Breakfast in South San Francisco. Just kidding! We stayed with a family friend of mine (my husband’s cousin) and her husband and their two young sons. Their hospitality matched that of the best B&B’s around and we were particularly impressed with the wait staff. The cute little boys not only carried our bags, provided turn down service, brought us coffee and snacks, but also snuggled in bed with us! It was a heart-warming experience. There was a lot of trust, a – lot – of – trust with bringing a stranger along with me to stay in the home of a family friend!! That was the biggest risk of all. I thank my lucky stars that it turned out as great as it did! (I did have a back-up plan. It would have been costly, but if Mary and I didn’t “click” I planned on checking in to a hotel.) But, luckily, she fit right in and has become an extended member of the family. Our gracious hosts made their guest rooms comfortable and our stay was an A+ experience thanks to them!
Over the weekend Mary and I spent a significant amount of time connecting with friends, making new friends and interviewing bloggers. We also did some sightseeing. We went to breakfast at the Squat & Gobble in the Castro District and the food was amazing! We spent the afternoon taking pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge and driving around the city. We went to the Walt Disney Family Museum at the famous Presidio and we saw the Snow White Exhibit. Our friendship grew during this day as we shared these experiences together. Mary and I took lots of pictures and we were fortunate to be in one of the most famous cities in the world on a gorgeous sunny winter day. A few times along the way Mary asked me, “What do you want to do right now?” Which I kindly responded, “I’m doing it!” Truthfully, it didn’t matter exactly where we went to eat or what site we saw next – I was on a trip having a great time, making a friend and being one. That is all I wanted to do and I was so happy I got to do it!
Palo Alto Party
Our host, Maryann, joined us as we headed to Palo Alto that evening to meet with two other blogger friends for dinner. Five ladies in a small booth at the well known old-time diner, the Peninsula Creamery was quite a sight to be seen! After dinner, we walked over to the Coupa Cafe for coffee. We talked and enjoyed getting to know each other even better over coffee. It was here that we experienced the “girl power” of a weekend get away! Blogger, Susan Cooper of Finding Our Way Now came to town on her own ‘girl’s weekend” with her long-time friend, Deborah. The two drove from Sacramento to attend the launch party.
Susan says that she is an adventurous soul. I was glad to get the opportunity to spend time with her. She brought her camera and tripod. She took lots of pictures and was quite interested in meeting Evan and joining in the fun. She made the trip seem like no big deal. It felt like it was what we should be doing. Both Mary and I have felt a connection with Susan via our blogs. It was nice to spend time together. We didn’t have to do much discovery about each other. We just “fell in line” in a conversation that seems to be forever ongoing!
“I find great excitement when taking a new path in a new direction, often offering new lessons to learn and share. I have learned that life’s lessons are just that… lessons that we must learn from, appreciate and share and most of all, remember to have fun along the way.” ~Susan Cooper
After coffee, we went across the street to the bar where Evan’s big party was taking place. We were on a quest to meet the writer and get an interview about how he went from blogger to published author. It was fun being at a party for someone having never met the guest of honor (except for via social media!) It was a fantastic party and a great venue. There was a big turnout for Evan’s celebration and we met some of his biggest fans, followers and even his family. Evan gave us a lot of attention and honored us for coming so far to meet him. The next morning, he gave Mary and I even more time to ask questions when he met us for breakfast to complete the interview. See my post Meet Evan Sanders.
The Last Day
Sunday morning was spent hanging out in the kitchen of our host family and making plans for the day. It was a bitter-sweet farewell as we were just getting comfortable with our new found friendship with Maryann and Alec and their wonderful sons and we really liked being in San Francisco. I wished we didn’t have to leave so soon. One or two more days would have been terrific!
From the breakfast interview with Evan, we went on a side trip to Silicon Valley to meet with another blogger buddy. Our dear friend, Maribel of Stroller Adventures would have loved to attend all the activities in Palo Alto and San Francisco but she couldn’t coordinate it with her two small children in tow. I suggested that Mary and I meet her some place where the kids could have some fun while we have a chance to hang out together. The important part was to make a connection and spend time together. All the blogging and social media connections that we do could never measure up to a face to face meeting. Warm hugs, smiles and face time! Now Maribel’s kids call me “Auntie Melissa!” That is golden to me! It was worth the effort and all it cost was some time.
On the drive back to Los Angeles, Mary and I had ideas to stop at more places and have even more adventures! We would have loved to take a pit stop at the campy restrooms at The Madonna Inn that we have heard about or go wine tasting at the beautiful winery at Bella Luna in Paso Robles. We talked about sharing a sunset in Ventura with my good friend, Joy of Facets of Joy. We talked about other friends of ours that live in the Bay Area and how we could definitely take another trip together some day to visit them. We did stop for dinner at Woodstock Pizza in San Luis Obispo. It was the last leg of the trip. Mary had heard they had great gluten free pizza and they did! By this time I was tired and starting to show my age. (No, I can’t keep up with Mary!) Luckily she had the energy to drive the rest of the way home. I was sad that our little adventure was coming to an end. But somehow, it seemed like a beginning. Yes, it’s a new beginning! We will have more adventures together. We will call them our. . . Blog Ventures!
You don’t have to take a road trip to enjoy the feeling of getting away. You can make changes in your life by accepting it the way it is. Surrendering does not mean giving up… it is about acceptance. When you accept your life the way it is, you can free yourself.
“When you feel like you’re fighting your life instead of living it … clinging to the past … afraid of the future … not feeling what is in your heart … to put it simply, you feel stuck. When you can’t steer your life where you want it to go, don’t give up — learn to surrender.” ~Gary Zukav
Gary Zukav believes that surrendering is one of the most difficult things that you can accomplish in your lifetime. Surrendering is about accepting your life just as it is, without any resistance. When you resist your life, you resist what you can learn from it, and what you can gain from it. Open yourself to new experiences, open yourself to loving yourself in all experiences. Just the way you are.
Don’t Give Up
Surrendering is not what most people think. It doesn’t mean giving up — it means acceptance. When you accept your emotions and experiences, you begin to create a more powerful life for yourself. Surrendering doesn’t mean letting go of your responsibility. You must do your part — only you have the power to change the direction of your life.
Evan Sanders believes in never quitting. Evan says in his book, that standing for never quitting is a very measurable aspect of his life. He knows when he is quitting something. Not following through on commitments. Giving up. Giving in. He says he wants perseverance to be at the heart of his character. Love. Passion. Never quit.
I am so glad I took the time to get away on this Blog Venture! It was time to refresh, renew, surrender and open myself up to new things while accepting myself and what I am capable of doing. I hope it inspires you to be spontaneous and to enjoy the things that make you tick.
The best things about you are there all the time!