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.

Although I’ve spent very little time there I’ve always loved San Francisco.  Especially on a lovely spring day it seems everywhere you look there are bright colors, flowers, greenery and art.

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.

That evening we made a bee-line for the Mt. Shasta area to see my dear friend Kate, but that’s a story for another day.