The views from our SF home base were pretty fabulous. I don't need to return for the accommodations, though the boys enjoyed their time at the Fort Mason Hostel. I had some lovely conversations, we had a room all our own looking out on the windswept cypress, the Bay, and Alcatraz, and more than the basics were covered, but next time it will be worth it to me to find something a little more private and, is comfortable the right word? Maybe.
We had a short list and tight timing for out last hours in the City. First stop: Tartine. The lemon poppyseed tea cake was photogenic, but everyone really went for my apple bread pudding.
10 years ago, Jeff and I found ourselves on a rocky hilltop overlooking the city during our brief stay in SF just after our wedding. There's a photo on Jeff's work desk of me here, and we had hoped to find this place again. We didn't know where we were the first time, and were lucky to recognize the rocky outcropping the other day when we were at Mission Dolores Park. With a map and a good guess at where we needed to be, we wiggled our way up and around to Corona Heights Park. Jeff recreated the shot and took a mental photo of me a decade on. But mainly we were paying attention to the fact that we were now a family with two young boys scrabbling around on the top of a peak in the middle of this beautiful city.
We spun through the California Academy of Sciences in an hour. Not nearly enough time to take it all in, but just long enough to traumatize Lake in the Rainforest exhibit. He is now officially terrified of butterflies. :(
I was pleased that we could go up to the roof, a rolling surface dotted with round skylights and covered in living plants. From up there we also gained a great view of the de Young and its new tower. Our time was so tight that we, sadly, weren't able to do the climb... Next time.
At noon we were at the house of artist, Lisa Neimeth. I had contacted her from home about finding some time to visit. It was so nice to be in her yard on a beautiful day while the boys played in the tree house and Lisa and I got to chat. As a working artist and mother to two kids, now 12 and 16, Lisa and I both agreed that she was, in many ways, about 10 years along from where I currently am in my life as a mama and an artist. I was grateful she let me ask questions and approach her for advice and stories of her experience. She shared many valuable things in that brief hour. I really appreciate the connection. (I have a feeling she won't be the only person I seek out for this sort of conversation.)
From Lisa's we headed south, Santa Cruz bound. The road spilled out in front of us and I felt free of the pressures of the city to make sure I'd seen and visited all I'd hoped. When we reached Bean Hollow we pulled off and went down to the beach to absorb some of that unmistakable magic that makes this part of the West Coast seem so special. I could sense a shift in Calder and Lake as they freely explored the shoreline, pushed stones through the pebble beach, piled my lap high with kelp, and generally opened up and let go of the city. It was nice to notice that they needed this, and I'm happy that they have easy access to this sort of open(ing) experience back at home.
And in just a few miles... Santa Cruz.