After my solitude in the woods and and some blissful & peaceful alone time, I was so excited to be staying with my best friend from high school. We opened a bottle of wine and attempted to catch up on the past five years. It was a perfect start to my stay followed by BBQ and California beers at a neighborhood spot with a courtyard out front. Seating was communal, so we squeezed into a picnic table joining some others watching Game One of the World Series. Sports, especially baseball, have never been my fancy. But, as noted previously, I love when people are passionate about something- and sports people are all sorts of passionate. This crowd was enthusiastic, but mellow. Our table mates were quick to chat us up, commend us on the pound of pig on our shared plate, and proceeded to offer reasons why I should move to the best coast. Half way through our meal, three very burly men maneuvered through the patio carrying a a black body bag over their heads. They laid the body bag down on a nearby table, unzipped it, and threw a whole hog into the smoker directly behind us. This kind of dedication to slow roasted, root for the home team, drink local beer kind of BBQ spot was definitely hitting all the right places.
The following day I marched up to Gold Gate Park to enjoy the de Young art museum. I love how Gold Gate has so many trails, trees, and seemingly infinite secret little spots; I’d imagine everyone in the city has their own favorite hide away there. One of my favorite parts of traveling solo is my very leisurely meanderings through museums, zoos, and the like. I can read every plaque, sit on those benches scattered bout, and zig and zag to wherever my eye pulls me. The de Young has a really incredible observation tower with 360 views of the city. I sat staring from every angle across the city while watching groups of people come and go taking selfies with the city behind them. This is when I officially knew that this would be my next city.
Kelly had to be out of town for the weekend and I was suppose to be on my way to Southern California, but I just wasn’t ready to leave yet. She was so gracious to let me crash through the weekend and do some more exploring. That evening was the first home game of the series, and the energy in the city was pretty extreme. I spent the afternoon and evening in the North Bay. I bounced around a few restaurants/bars but came back to the spot where I began the night. There I sat with the bartenders, ex-employees in town visiting, ex-employees that have moved on to different restaurants, visiting friends and girlfiends, and old roommates of ex-employees. They allowed me to be scooped up into the beautiful little mish mash of a group and to spend hours sitting in front of their bar chatting. For better or for worse, restaurant people and those silly little families they create, will always be my favorite people. We talked about famed Vermont beers, compared Burlington and SF, and chatted about Middlebury when a girl joined who had studied at the language school there. It was a beautiful and lively bunch. Our little rag tag group thinned out to eventually just me and two other guys. They were so sweet to continue showing me around to some of their other favorite local spots. We parted ways so quickly at the end of the night we didn’t even exchange information. Those sorts of nights are my favorite parts of traveling like this, people are so kind and generous, and being able to meet people who are crazy about their city and happy to show you around is the greatest gift really!