Golden State of Mind

Adventures in Northern California: A Photo Journal

April 2015

Everyone knows how much Jason and I love to seize any opportunity to travel and explore. When a big pitch came up out of his San Francisco office, it was the perfect chance for us to get away for a few days and go on some adventures outside of NYC. And adventure we did — but first, brunch!

San Fran always boasts the greatest new restaurants and we were eager to try a few new spots while we were in town. Brenda’s Meat & Three came highly recommended and it did not disappoint. The only thing better than the food was the service. If you haven’t been, put it on your list!

After brunch we grabbed a rental car and hit the road.

The Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937 and was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1964. It stretches 8,981 feet from end to end with the main length spanning 4,200 feet.

We wound our way up the northern coast through Marin County until we reached the Point Reyes Lighthouse.

True to their West Coast reputation, the locals were friendly and welcoming.
Point Reyes is the windiest place on the Pacific Coast and the second foggiest place on the North American continent.

Do you ever have one of
those days where you’re in such an awful mood, you can’t even stand to be around yourself? This was one of those days for me and — much like the downy layers of my bed on any given Monday morning — I struggled to hoist myself out of the bad-mood nest I had burrowed down into.

Sometimes I’m too
stubborn to change my own attitude, even when I am fully aware of how miserable I’m acting and want to turn things around.

I find that a distraction serves as a much appreciated pivoting point for me to alter my outlook. This is where my camera and my very patient fiancé come into play.

When I’m taking photos, I’m too preoccupied with white balance to be concerned with all the white noise in the back of my mind. Through the lens of that camera, I find myself completely enthralled by the precise moment I hope to capture. In that instant, I am hyper-aware of my surroundings and in that moment of being present, I regain clarity and balance.

Less effective strategy for boosting my mood? Having my own picture taken.

But alas, my sidekick is unwavering in his support and is always there to help guide me back to the brighter side of life. And really, what wouldn’t that smile light up?

“Realize deeply that the present
moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.”

-Eckhart Tolle

The next afternoon we linked up with some friends and headed to Off The Grid’s Picnic at the Presidio for some Sunday fun.

For those who know this lovely little lady pictured center, you can imagine what a wonderful day this was. Not only is she hilarious and charismatic and talented, Sami Freeman is the kind of girl that glows from the inside out.

We exchanged comically parallel life updates over spicy paloma cocktails in the sun and it was glorious.

Her light is that bright, warm, contagious kind that serves as a constant reminder that the here and now is such a tremendous gift and thus aptly referred to as the present.

The Baths were constructed in 1894 by German inventor and silver mine millionaire, Adolph Sutro.

After our picnic, Jason’s long-time cohort and fellow adventurer, Wayne took us to see Land’s End and the Sutro Baths off of Point Lobos.

Sutro’s dream for the Baths was to provide a healthy, recreational and inexpensive swimming facility for thousands of San Franciscans. A classic Greek portal opened to a massive glass enclosure containing seven swimming pools at various temperatures. There were slides, trapezes, springboards and a high dive. The power of the Pacific Ocean during high tide could fill the 1.7 million gallons of water required for all the pools in just one hour. The Baths could accommodate 10,000 people at one time and offered 20,000 bathing suits and 40,000 towels for rent.

After our scenic detour we headed back to the East Side to explore Chinatown at Magic Hour.

San Francisco’s Chinatown, established in 1848, is the oldest in North America and hosts the largest Chinese community outside of Asia.

As the last of the day’s light was fading, we packed up our cameras and set out for dinner.

We settled into our table in the charming backyard garden at A16 and stuffed ourselves with copious amounts of burrata crostini, Neapolitan pizza, chocolate budino tart and perfectly paired wine selections.

It was one of those evenings where time seemed to slow, offering ample opportunity to savor every bite, every story, every laugh.

In reveling in the golden glow of the present, I became keenly aware of and thankful for the simple things that make life such a remarkable treasure. Things that are too often taken for granted — a partner who shows you grace in your most intolerable moments; friends that help you find your footing just by letting their own brilliant light shine freely, illuminating the world around them; a lens to capture the priceless moments spent in their company.

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” — Henry David Thoreau