Exploring the Bay Area

The last five days have been a whirlwind of visiting friends and exploring the Bay Area. A shift from the empty Northern California coast, and I was surprised by our reaction to the frenetic energy of the big city. I always am, but seem to forget! Portland doesn’t have that giant city feel that San Francisco, New York, and L.A. have, and I feel like a small-town Idaho kid wandering around gaping at horseless carriages!

Under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Under the Golden Gate Bridge.

One thing I noticed was that my focus to write was gone. Not sure why, but a few days in the city and the words just jumbled together. I have a few rough drafts sitting unfinished with threads leading everywhere, yet the ideas not quite coalescing into anything I feel good about publishing. Soon…

The famous Golden Gate Bridge, with San Francisco behind it.

The famous Golden Gate Bridge, with San Francisco behind it.

So for now, here’s a few snapshots from this week. Frenetic energy or not, it has been a fantastic time! Here are a few highlights:

  • Enroute from the coast, a trip to Wild Flour bakery near Bodega Bay. Best. Cinnamon. Rolls. EVER. We grab four giant rolls, plus some scones, to share with buddies in the Bay Area. Nom nom nom nom nom.
    Scones, cinnamon rolls and amazing bread. We got about four of everything. Gluten free we ain't!

    Scones, cinnamon rolls and amazing bread. We got about four of everything. Gluten free we ain’t!

  • Meeting Dave O, aka Graphite Dave, of Sprinter-Source.com fame. When we first got our van, an accessories company said, “Read his stuff. All of it.” So we did. This guy knows everything about vans and has written an amazing amount of helpful information. He’s our Sprinter Hero. And a super nice guy in person too. Oh, and his van is badass.
    Hanging with Graphite Dave, master of Sprinter-Source.com.

    Hanging with Graphite Dave.

  • Feeling cooped up in Oakland. Best way to fix that: a run! Charging past graffiti in the park, up rip-your-lungs-out steep hills into a neighborhood where private security details eye me like I’m wearing an orange jumpsuit. Views of the Bay Area stretch out in the distance and I instantly feel better. I love running in cities that I visit – such a fun way to explore.
    A cheery graffiti face on a bridge pillar seen on a run in Oakland.

    A cheery graffiti face on a bridge pillar seen on a run in Oakland.

  • Seeing old friends! Staying with friends Megan and Chris in their rad new home and hearing all about their adventures. Catching up with my friend Brian and checking out his awesome company, Makani Power, which makes big flying kites that operate as wind turbines with a lease tethered to the ground. So cool seeing what brilliant engineers can come up with. Dinner with Ryan and Kelly with their cmon-can-babies-be-that-cute new daughter. So great to see y’all!
    Great seeing you Brian, Megan/Chris and Ryan/Kelly/Kennedy (in the too-cute pink sleep suit).

    Buddies in the Bay! Megan is wrapped up like a nun to stay warm. And apparently I only take pictures with my hands in my pockets. Or maybe it’s just cold!

  • Back on the road bike! Haven’t been riding much lately with the cold weather and twisty Highway 1 as the option, so it’s fun to get out. Head out from San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge, dodging both tourists and glaring Lycra-clad locals, then heading up into the Marin headlands for a fantastic loop with a view of the bay and the city. It must be amazing to have that kind of riding straight from downtown SF!
    Mid-ride across the Golden Gate Bridge on the Marin Headlands loop.

    Mid-ride across the Golden Gate Bridge on the Marin Headlands loop.

  • After a night walk in the picturesque Mill Valley looking out at the valley sparkling below, listening to cars roaring by on a not-so-quiet road alllll niiiiight looong. Still figuring out this “where to sleep” thing. Van life isn’t always easy!
  • Exploring a different view of the Bay - through the pillars of the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Exploring a different view of the Bay – through the pillars of the Golden Gate Bridge.

  • Mountain biking! Hooooray. A coastal mountain bike shred looking out over the bay in China Camp State Park. Chelsea sees 19 turkeys along the way, and I scare about 16 bouncing deer. And drop my backpack down a 100 foot incline and do a little “hiking.”
    A coastal mountain bike ride at China Camp State Park in Marin County.

    A coastal mountain bike ride at China Camp State Park in Marin County.

It was a great city visit. That said, we’re on this trip for access to nature, so we decided to head south to get back to it! Writing this from Santa Cruz, with access to redwood-shaded singletrack for biking. We’ll be here for over two weeks! Seeing some great friends down here and then it’s our holiday location with Chelsea’s family.

Marin Headlands looking into San Francisco.

Marin Headlands looking into San Francisco.

I’m hoping for more room to write and relax, plus add a few adjustments to the van. I’ll be adding some LED lights, a muffler for the spaceship-loud heater, and another sliding drawer in the back. And perhaps learning to surf!

Cheers from Central California,

Dakota

P.S. I added an Instagram feed to the right sidebar. Check it out, or follow along @traipsingabout. I’ll add quick snap shots in there between posts.

5 replies
  1. Pam Fulton
    Pam Fulton says:

    For not feeling inspired to write while cruising the big city scape, you certainly managed to get quite a few thoughts on the page, or was it mostly the pics that made it seem that way? They say a pic is worth a thousand words, so you got an extra 12K in that post. Love the flavor that oozes from your descriptions, it’s like we’re right there in your pocket (along with your hands, apparently) experiencing everything along with you and Chelsea. Looking forward to hearing about Holidays on the Road and how a Christmas tree fits into the van. Did you leave enough room for the angel on top?

    Reply
  2. Dakota
    Dakota says:

    All the pics! Had fun playing with photo editing on those.

    We picked up a 10 foot Christmas tree, which restricts our parking garage options, and road toll operators hate us. However, the Winged Angel of Adventuring up top gets us free coffee at rest stops, so we’re pretty stoked. 😉

    Reply

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