Monday, October 24, 2011

California Dreamin'

Usually when Mark alerts me of an upcoming business trip, he's requesting my services as a dog sitter, so when he told me about an upcoming conference in San Francisco...and then offered to fly me out to join him for the weekend, I was immediately concerned for the dog's well being.

Or maybe not.

I had a few weeks to revel in the excitement of our upcoming getaway (and wrangle a kid weekend swap -- thanks, Mr. X). And as the big day grew near, I got my work-ducks in their work-rows, packed my purple boots and was on my way.

I hopped my flight, didn't miss any connections and even chose the correct train and ended up in the right part of the City by the Bay. Google maps told me to take a trolley up to the hotel, but the waiting line was prohibitively long and my amazing pocket computer's map said I was only 0.8 miles from my destination, so I hoofed it. Up a hill. I'm serious. This was a hill. No, really. A hill.

When I got to the top of Nob Hill, I took a moment to stop panting before entering the posh Fairmont Hotel. Mark was wrapping up his last session of the day so I headed back out (sans suitcase) and strolled through the neighborhood for a bit before I joined him for a cocktail reception. Our weekend had begun!

That evening we set out for dinner in a cab, but opted to return via cable car. I nestled into Mark as we climbed the hill in the evening breeze and savored one of those romantic movie moments that a young girl dreams about. A gorgeous night in an amazing city clutched in the arms of my true love...swoon.

The next morning after a cappuccino, we managed a 12-mile run through the city and along the bay coast. It was quite a treat to be enjoying new scenery, sounds and, well, smells. We made our way to the Golden Gate Bridge, turned around and eventually headed through more of the city so we could finish at the amazing Blue Bottle coffee shop for a much needed caffeine boost. Again intending to take the cable cars up to the hotel, we found a massive line, so opted to walk, weary legs and all. Then Mark had a brilliant plan: We should run the hill. Always up for a challenge, I gave chase and we trudged up Mason Street, much to the amusement of those making their way down.

As we cleaned up, Mark asked if there was anything I'd like to do while in the city. My response? Go to a thrift store. Mark suggested we consider seeing the massive redwoods. (I suppose a thrift store can wait.) We soon took off for Muir Woods to stand among trees that have seen a millennium and then some. Our legs fussed a bit, but the forest was awe inspiring.

We snuck in a nap once back at the hotel but had to make it a short one -- we had dinner plans. One of Mark's high school classmates lives in Oakland and promised to make us dinner. We arrived to a breathtaking view from their living room and fantastic company. Kathy and Tyrone proved amazing hosts and we enjoyed ourselves until way-too-late into the night.

The next day was a short one with little more on my agenda than coffee and to take Mark out for a thank-you lunch. At the same time, I was going to be a little selfish, wanting to be sure I could eat more than two menu items (Friday night's restaurant was surprisingly unable to comprehend my food sensitivity). Through the magic of Google, I found a completely gluten-free restaurant. When we arrived, it took all of my strength not to ask if each item was really GF. The menu was inexpensive, so we ordered one of almost everything, trying the various  fillings, toppings and breads inspired by Venezuelan cuisine. I was beside myself, eating without worry of being glutened. We ended up walking the two miles back to the hotel, which was a pretty good idea after eating half an acre of  corn[meal]. We also had several hours on an airplane ahead of us and our legs didn't fuss too much knowing we'd soon be sedentary.

We headed toward home with thoughts of a busy workweek on the horizon, but enjoyed a few more moments of relaxing together before we called it a weekend. I caught a vision of what it might feel like to lead a grown-up life -- one with getaways and vacations and adventures. I think after all these years of avoiding it, I'm ready to take the plunge into adulthood. Despite its challenges, it appears to have some decent perks.