Hikey Hike: Alamere Falls from Palomarin Trailhead in Point Reyes National Seashore

While my East Coast readers may have been shivering their patoots off yet again (it being winter, after all) yesterday, I’ll have you know that we, too, in Northern California were enduring extremes. Temperatures were a whole TEN DEGREES colder than the previous day, dipping dangerously into the low 50s. Alas, there was sun forever yesterday, and the outdoors beckoned, so we set forth on this hike along the coast toward Point Reyes. A hefty jaunt at nearly eight miles out and back, the hike was tempered by only a 500-foot gain in elevation across the trek. Unfortunately, I was only armed with my phone, but I hope the few shots I took will give you a glimpse of why this hike was particularly special.

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January is Confusing

This wasn’t the blog post I had planned to write, but there are bigger fish to fry this weekend, so the more extensive photo posts are still postponed. But I had an interesting thought today. I schlepped through the muddy woods surrounding our apartment complex on my way to yoga class; it was a sparkly clear, if not downright chilly day. As I emerged from the woods, I descended through a somewhat fancy SF neighborhood, and was greeted with this amazing sight:

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You see, San Francisco is a confusing place in January, a city of contrasts. Although it’s only my second January here, I can say it’s the best month for “fall” foliage in the city. While almost no street tree is native to the region, let alone the continent, the unique microclimates of the city cause the deciduous trees to finally slump into an autumnal slumber.

But, wait. Just half a block away, I encountered this:

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Yup, blooms. And on my walks in other parts of the city where trees lost their leaves back in November, new, bright green leaves have popped open. All this when we’re in the throes of the coldest days of the year. (And yes, the coldest days of the year here mean the highs max out in the upper 40s while the lows drop to about 10 degrees lower. Hey now, I slept under the COMFORTER last week!) On the whole, last “winter” was much warmer and drier than this one has been, but I haven’t minded having to bundle up that extra bit. And my new office is substantially cooler, meaning I can actually break out the sweaters I bothered to move with me, though making sure to iron out their inevitable hanger nipples, having languished in my closet for well over a year. But underneath it all, since it seldom dips all the way to freezing here, and often warms up well into the 50s, the trees never slip into that torpor that is characteristic of winter in much of the rest of the country.

So yes. It’s a strange time in the city. There probably won’t be that 70-degree day that happens in most other months of the year. The fog moves in retrograde from the Central Valley to the ocean. It can be exquisitely sunny for a day or two, then plunge into a week of soaking rain. Through it all, though, I can’t say I miss the snow and cold of winters I’ve once known, however scarce they may be these days around my old stomping grounds.

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Dormant

Mt. Hood (image via Creative Commons)

Not dead. Just in a deep sleep. Life is silly and gets stupid-busy. Blog suffers. But there’s fodder. Over six months ago, I spent over a week in Oslo, and have posted nary one photo. Readers, push me to update! More very shortly.

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I’ve Been Up to Things (or, Phone Camera Dump, Take 1)

As it turns out, this has actually been quite a busy summer, which surprises me a lot. I hadn’t really planned it this way, and, let’s be honest here: summer in San Francisco is unlike summer anywhere else. You might not believe it (unless, of course, you’re one of the many I’ve harangued on this matter), but through the magic of meteorology, geography, oceanography, and the like, the San Francisco summer is characterized by cool temperatures (daytime highs in the upper 50s to low 60s), ceaseless wind (averaging about 20 mph in the afternoons), and persistent, dense fog (which even has its own twitter account which is definitely worth following). So, to me, a native New Englander who had spent his entire life in the northeast’s lazy, humid summers, there wasn’t a whole lot to look forward to.

Except, that’s disingenuous. An hour’s drive (half that in many instances) in any direction will bring one to a very proper California summer: dry heat, abundant sunshine, and most likely, wine. Also, a good third of the city will usually see the sun on most days throughout June, July, and August. But all of this is beside the point. I was busy. Thus, no bloggy. But, I’m here now to change that with more eye candy in the form of a phone camera dump. You see, I take a lot of spur-of-the moment photos with my phone’s camera. They aren’t of the best quality, and usually they are kind of silly. But sometimes I manage to capture a pretty special moment. You’ll likely see all of those in this series of photo dumps I hope to unveil in the coming weeks.

First up? I’m choosing a little of this and a little of that. There will be posts about Norway and Boston, but this is all about the in betweens. So, without further ado:

The cauldron boileth over. A typical summer day when the fog lurks over the western portion of the city, but peels back to just beyond the central hills, on which our apartment sits, witnessing the constant battle between sun and fog.

A typical summer morning up on our hill. The wind dies overnight and the fog just hangs until, hopefully, the sun can manage to burn it off. It’s far less nefarious in the mornings than in the afternoons, when sheets of fog sail down the side of our hill on gusts of wind.

The view from about 1/2 mile away from home looks down toward the Golden Gate, the gap in the Coast Range mountains named long before the bridge of the same name was built (though here you can see the tips of the bridge’s two towers poking through the fog layer). Often during the summer, a vacuum effect causes the cool, moist ocean air to be sucked in through this gap, while the rest of the city remains cloudless.

An impromptu daytrip brought us to the Point Reyes National Seashore, where we took in the Point Reyes Historic Lighthouse. Though the Northern California coast is generally enshrouded in fog during the summer, Point Reyes was surprisingly mostly clear on this July afternoon.

Over Memorial Day, David and I discovered the wonders of the Russian River. And while this vista shows one of the many reasons why we love this region (the river itself is actually less than 1/2 mile away from where I stood), our favorite spot is down river a few miles and up in the redwood-covered hills of Guerneville.

Just a taste of what’s been going on. More to follow soon!

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Twelve Years Ago

A little over twelve years ago, I met this guy:

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Twelve years ago today, I kissed him, and set forth on an amazing road. The road has taken us to the ends of our country:

On top of Mt. Washington

Hitting the beach in Key West

With our favorite little man at Halibut Point

And to other continents:

In the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

An unexpected sailing trip on the Oslofjord

All this mush is to say: Happy Anniversary, David! I love you!

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One Year Later

Today I’m celebrating a somewhat dubious one-year anniversary. One year ago today, David and I left the Bay Area for the first time after a sort of scouting trip—looking for a place to live, and for me, exploring not just San Francisco, but California for the first time. In those five or so days, we did some pretty remarkable things:

  • Rented bikes and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge down into Sausalito and rode back into the city, all the while surviving the ire of the “serious” cyclists who just assumed we were just tourists
  • Dipped my big toe in the Pacific for the first time:

Oops.

  • Joined a wine club at Savannah-Chanelle Vineyards with the promise of 4 bottles of wine waiting for the next time we would visit from our new home
  • Ate a meat cone:

I mean, can you beat that?

But at the end of the last day, after nearly signing a lease for a somewhat dumpy, yet affordable place in the East Bay, we left empty-handed, with only a giant beer at the shitty airport bar to console us heading into the long red-eye home to Boston. Things appeared grim.

And to be honest, as I’ve made clear in other blog posts, I did not take to my new home so easily. We moved in the middle of summer, which means anything but warm sunshine in San Francisco. I was unemployed for four months while job interviews remained elusive. I caught a pervasive homesickness for Boston, for MIT, for dear friends and family. But all of this overshadowed all the good that was happening: meeting amazing new people day-by-day, exploring landscapes too strange and beautiful to properly document without being there, live. Drinking and eating my way into a stupor with these idyllic lands’ year-round offerings. I couldn’t deny that there was something so alluring about where I landed, and that I truly wanted everything to work out.

Over this past year, I’ve explored over 250 miles of this amazing California coast, from Santa Cruz to Fort Bragg. And there’s so much left to see: giant Sequoias, Yosemite, Big Sur, Mt. Shasta. And things are finally starting to feel right. Like, this IS home, actually. I expect to be socked in by fog in the morning as I roll my way down to work, and I expect the brutal 700 ft. climb back home to be made even worse by the relentless headwind shooting down the slopes. I know the best bike routes to avoid annoying cyclists and I know the bars where I can get a $3 pint during happy hour. And it may just be that the pieces of the career puzzle are, one-by-one, falling into place.

This May 31 is looking rather brighter than last.

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I saw a lot of the sidewalk today

Normally I’m proud to hold my head high as I walk around. I could never understand the people I saw with their eyes on the ground, missing all the beautiful things to be seen around them.

Today I got two rejection letters for jobs I had applied to recently. Rejection letters that told me these potential employers weren’t even interested in having me in for an interview. One of these positions I was unequivocally qualified for and excited about. This is pretty shitty on a normal day, but today is my birthday. Now, my birthday has never meant that much to me; I really don’t expect much of anything except some tasty food and maybe some beer with friends. But I tried hard to shake a lingering funk all morning, only to be kicked while I was down. People are suffering far worse fates than I, and I’ll get over this soon. But, man I feel like garbage.

I left work early because I could barely hold it together, much less concentrate on anything. I walked home all 3 miles and 700 ft. up with my eyes on the sidewalk, hoping I could wait until I got home to let the tears fall. I probably missed a lot of beautiful things.

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