Urban Alchemist, A lovely little artist-run collective in Park Slope, Brooklyn recently came across my Etsy Shop and wanted to carry my work. So I put together these sparkly creations you see here, wished them luck, and shipped them off into the world.
The day was bright blue, sunny and warm as we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco. It was a perfect spring day in the city, everyone out in summer dresses and shorts strolling the streets, eating at outdoor cafes and generally looking beautiful, young and hip.
We had afternoon drinks (a lavender lemonade mimosa for me!) and a big salad at a sunny outdoor table in the Marina District. I told The Photographer that I would have been happy to drive into the city only to sit at that table in the sun and have a delicious drink with him and watch the city folk saunter by. It was perfect.
Once rejuvenated we walked over to the Palace of Fine Arts. This amazing structure was built as part of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition to exhibit works of art presented there. It was originally only intended to last for a year but was so beloved that a group got together to preserve it. It has since been renovated multiple times in order to withstand the test of time and survived a few attempts to have it demolished. We wandered around snapping photos and laid in the sunny grass with the tourists for a bit.
The original motivation for coming into the city was to meet up with my dear friend Fiona. Fiona and I became friends when I lived in Arcata, CA a few years ago and we rarely get to see each other these days. We met her at a fantastic restaurant in the Mission District called Gracias Madre that serves simple, delicious, vegan mexican food. I had a plate of beans and rice with sauteed greens and fried plantains and it was one of the best things I’ve eaten in quite some time. It was great to catch up with an old friend over a perfect meal.
Fiona took us to see the amazing murals in Clarion Alley. Originally created as part of the Clarion Alley Mural Project in 1992, the narrow alley features a wide array of amazing murals and street art. The project was created with the two goals of social inclusiveness and aesthetic variety and this is evident in the art that is featured. It ranges from silly and fun to serious political and social commentary on police brutality, racial tensions and gentrification. The evening light was golden and the art was immensely inspiring and beautiful.
The Photographer and I headed out of the city at dusk and spent the night in the parking lot of an office building in Sausalito. The next day was one of my favorites on the trip. We began the day with what we decided was a very “civilized” breakfast in Sausalito at a street-side table in the warm morning sun, complete with pots of tea, paper thin pancakes and the days newspaper.
Then we hopped back in the van and headed up the coast, driving narrow back roads through rolling green hills, farmland and eucalyptus. Our next stop was the amazing little town of Bolinas. I almost feel bad writing about it here as the residents of Bolinas are famous for their desire to stay off of the beaten tourist path. As evidence of this there is no sign marking the existence of Bolinas because its residents tear it down as soon as one is erected. I love that!
Bolinas is a supremely inspiring, gorgeous little community. The folks there have built the most unique and beautiful homes for themselves, the little downtown is sweet and the beach is lovely. The community held meetings and conducted surveys for two years in order to come up with a set of guiding principles by which they wanted to govern their town and this intentionality is visible everywhere you go. I almost didn’t want to leave.
We continued on our way up the coast and made a memorable stop at The Marshall Store, an unassuming oyster shack just off the highway on Tomales bay. We were so taken by the long outdoor bar table set on wine barrels as we drove by that we decided to turn around and make a stop even though we had just left Bolinas not long before.
I’m glad we did because we had a divine and leisurely few hours there. We ate oysters on the half shell (for those of you that know me this is a huge thing!), smoked salmon, and shared a cold bottle of white wine. The sun was shining, the water bright blue, sail boats moored in the bay; all in all it was lovely.
We decided early on that we wanted to allot a few days to spend driving the notoriously narrow and winding roads of Highway One between Fort Bragg and San Francisco. I’m so glad we did because this ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip.
Part of what makes this section of coastline so magical is that it isn’t easy to get to. The road is almost comically curvy and narrow at times and the only way to get there is to hope you don’t get carsick and take it slow. Because of this there is hardly anyone there. I, being a small town girl, loved this!
We drove through many tiny, slightly run down towns that looked like they hadn’t changed much in the last fifty years. Crumbling old buildings weathered by salt air and time. Rolling green hills, eucalyptus, climbing nasturtiums, falling-down split cedar fences, wildflowers and cliffs.
One of my favorite things about this section of the trip was the local architecture. I wanted to buy, or just knock on the door and ask to move into, almost every other house we passed. I have been building a “dream house” in my mind for a few years now and it was like the people of Northern California had somehow seen my blueprint and then improved upon it. There were so many dreamy houses built of weathered split cedar shakes with whimsical details, domes, spires, stained glass and curved roofs. And to top it all off many of them had big vegetable gardens, old barns, acres of land and separate little outbuildings (one of my all time favorite things!).
We spent the better part of a morning exploring a really lovely secret beach that I had been to years before. You have to know that it’s there to find it, leave the road at an old Inn, hike through a meadow of wildflowers and climb down a cliff. Many years ago a building (the story I heard was some kind of factory) crumbled into the sea, and as a result the beach is full of many colored chunks of sea glass, shards of pottery, and rusted, twisted pieces of metal that have fused into the rocks. The tide pools, aquamarine water and wildflowers weren’t too bad as well.
The town of Mendocino was one of my other favorite stops. We spent a morning writing in a sweet coffee shop and an afternoon riding our bikes around the neighborhoods in a heavy mist ogling dreamy houses and gardens. We had drinks at the divey local bar where the regulars dogs sprawled on the beer-stained floor and begged for a head scratch from the patrons, then devoured delicious seafood for dinner. The next day was bluebird sunny and we parted ways for a few hours and wandered around, cameras in hand, each in a bit of a sun-struck happy daze. Bright colors, ocean, sunshine, camera in hand-what more do you need?! I was in heaven.
Next up, big city adventures in San Francisco.
Greetings faithful readers. It’s your (sometimes-not-so-faithful) blogger here. I have returned triumphant, relaxed, and a bit more freckled from our grand California adventure. Okay, to be honest I’ve actually been home for a little while now.
I know, I’m sorry, I should have said hello sooner. But, as usual, life has continued to be full and beautiful and endlessly non-stop-busy. That time of year has arrived where balance becomes a hard thing to find. As soon as the rains cease here on the soggy coast and that big sun starts making regular appearances it seems like there are never enough hours in the day for all of the things I want to do: outdoor adventures, time with friends, warm evening dinner parties, family time, and of course work (of both the day job and the self-employed variety).
I am also in the (very exciting) process of transferring over to newer, better technology! I recently acquired a new fancy pants camera which I adore and I am learning how to use a Mac and Lightroom. Hence I have yet to get a great system dialed for processing, editing, and sharing photos. Don’t worry though, soon enough you’ll be hearing from me all the time.
Now, on to the exciting stuff! Our trip was all I could have wanted and more. It was full of beautiful places, visits with friends, good food, sunshine and lots and lots of photo-making. Here are just a few of the words that came to mind as I looked back through my 1,023 photos today (now you see why it took me so long to get to this!).
Marinas, BOATS, docks, salmon, surfing, health food stores, fresh fruit, dream houses, split cedar fences, windy roads, dive bars, art, bikes, old friends, amazing views, quiet coves, eucalyptus, meals cooked on the side of the road, sunny coffee shop mornings, inspiring small towns, abalone, nasturtiums, OYSTERS, white wine, music with the windows down and sun streaming in and cows on green hillsides above a placid blue-green sea.
Included are some photos from the first leg of our trip, between Manzanita and Arcata, CA. I’ll be posting more in installments very soon. Really, I swear.