Whenever I attempt to make grand, last minute plans - which is often - Toby is usually my voice of reason. Grand plans, no matter how spontaneous, usually cost at least a little money, and interrupt regularly scheduled life...which, honestly, is kind of the idea. So when, a couple of weekends ago, Toby and I were driving up to Santa Barbara to shoot a wedding and I suggested that perhaps we could just keep driving north until we got to San Francisco, I totally expected him to say no. Which he did, at first. But about half an hour later, he turned down the car radio and said, "There are hotel rooms in San Francisco that I can get for free through my hotels.com account if you're interested...".
So we went to San Francisco.
For the past three years, whenever I've hopped on a freeway and seen a sign for San Francisco, I've had a sudden, almost alarming urge to just keep driving, north north north, until I run into the bay. Finally being able to fulfill this urge was glorious. We had nothing packed, so we stopped by a store on the way up to buy a toothbrush and some extra shirts, as well as some snacks for the road. The simplicity of the whole trip was freeing.
We crashed in Daly City that night and the next morning headed across the Golden Gate Bridge to check out the Muir Woods National Monument, a park situated in the middle of a gorgeous redwood forest in Marin County. Because we got a late start, the parking lot at the monument had filled up by the time we crossed the bridge, so we opted to park in Sausalito and take a shuttle up the mountain instead. When we got there, the paths were swarming with people. There were signs posted reminding people to be as quiet as possible, but they went largely ignored. I made a mental note to return soon in the early morning hours when the forest would be void of screaming children and raucous families.
It was Toby's first time experiencing the redwoods, and, ever the knowledge-gatherer, he made sure to stop at all of the placards to learn about their growth and the history of the monument while I meandered along snapping photos.
I am astounded by all forms of nature, but there is something special about trees, especially ones that are as old and massive as the redwoods, which are over a thousands years old. Knowing that these trees were here hundreds of years before I was born and will probably be here hundreds of years after I'm gone puts me in my place and gives me a sense of peace that's hard to experience in our fast-moving, fleeting society full of screens and memes and noises. These trees remind me that world is much bigger and older than my tiny blip of a life, and that perspective is one that I carry inside me to get me through the rough days.
There were a bunch of trails branching off of the main path, as well as promises of campsites deep in the middle of the woods far away from all the people, but I had to ignore their call for the sake of checking out a few more spots in the bay area that have been on my list for awhile. When one goes on a spontaneous trip, one must make allowances for abbreviated experiences. So we got back on the shuttle and ate lunch in Sausalito, watching the sailboats skim across the water against the backdrop of the San Francisco skyline.
After we were done eating, we headed up into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area to take a look at the Marin Headlands, which I've been wanting to see for a couple of years now, especially after reading my photographer friend Roseann's blog posts from a session she did there a couple of months ago. It did not disappoint. We drove along the curving, dipping roads through green hills that provided glimpses of the ocean with each turn, and I briefly mourned all of the things there were to do that we wouldn't get to experience - a lighthouse, a hostel by a lagoon next to a beach, and trails upon trails, to name a few - but next time, next time, next time. And you guys...the light in this area is to die for. I don't know what it is that makes the air so fresh and clean and glow-y in and around San Francisco, but I want to bottle it up and take it with me wherever I go.
We also took a quick detour to Fort Baker so I could take some photos of the Golden Gate from a different angle, including from underneath it.
We crashed in San Francisco that night, and the next morning we at breakfast at The Station SF (delicious, I highly recommend it) and took a quick stroll to City Lights Books, (aka: heaven on earth) and the Embarcadero before getting in the car and beginning the six-hour trek back to Los Angeles. I'm already planning out the next trip in my mind. I love the Central Coast.