Gushing Confession

I just wanted to see what it would be like. I drove myself across the Bay Bridge to roam around near by UC Berkeley’s campus. This has been my dream school for some time. I drove around the campus with my windows down. I found a micro-brew nearby that’s open all day and sat at the bar for a burger, hoping to spy on some students. One sat adjacent to me at the bar, reading intently on his laptop screen. Ah-ha! I thought to myself, A student in his natural habitat! After opening conversation with this young man, I discovered he was a student at San Francisco State, but a local of the Berkeley area.

After my lunch, I went hiking at Tilden Regional Park, behind UC Berkeley campus. [I got pulled over for running a stop sign, and was let off with a friendly warning and a trail suggestion.] I imagined what it would be like to live and study here and frequent this park. The hills covered any suggestion that I may be in a metropolitan area. As I looked right and left off the trail, all I could see were trees and grassy areas inhabiting the rolling hills. With my earplugs in, I waved my arms around and skipped side to side, basking in the solitude of this park. I made it to the top and looked out over the bay. Up there, one can see the buildings in downtown San Francisco at the end of the Bay Bridge, The Golden Gate Bridge shining through fog and mist, and the San Rafael Bridge, all connecting masses of green land, together they frame the Bay. It’s simply beautiful- and I think about myself. Yes, standing atop this hill and soaking in all this scenery, I think about myself. I pretend the years never happened and I was a UC Berkeley student, having seen this sight dozens of times.

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Good Morning, San Francisco

I headed west out of Denver about a week ago. Driving through the snow, I turned up the heat in my car, allowing it to warm the floor board and my feet. The warmth made me sleepy. The gray sky didn’t help. I pulled over on the side of I-80 to take a nap.

Several hours later, I am headed north towards Salt Lake City, Utah on Highway 6. It’s a small two lane highway. A truck pulling a trailer chugs along in front of me. I decide to pass him. As my car crosses the rubble strips in the center of the highway- I feel the car become heavy. Every warning light on the dashboard  illuminates and my speedometer reads 0MPH. I keep on rolling down the highway, taking note that my power steering abilities are no longer engaged. I’m two hours from my destination. I call my parents, who inform me of some mechanics to call and hotels to stay at in Price, Utah. I do as they say. While car trouble in essentially the middle of no where is never a good thing, I’m happy to be on the road and adapting to circumstances. Everyone in Price is friendly- I stay at a Best Western and eat Taco Bell before falling asleep. At 8am, the mechanic called me to make sure I didn’t need a ride to his shop. After some inspection- the verdict is my car battery exploded, leaving battery acid all over the engine and perhaps shorting out- which caused all the lights to come on. One car batter and a car wash later, I was back on the road.

I picked up my best friend from Salt Lake City airport. We’ve been friends since the 6th grade. I believe that friends don’t have to see each other or spend too much time together to remain close. However, it is so nice to get to spend longer periods of time with a friend after years of only catching up over dinner. We sing in the car, we stop at every random road trip whim. We danced in the salt flats in Utah, witnessed “Wendover Will” the world’s largest mechanical cowboy in Wendover, and ate at a Pizza Barn in Elko, Nevada. We giggled and made funny voices. I felt silly. We told each other stories and talked about life. I felt comfortable.

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We stayed the night in Carson City, Nevada before hitting the road again in the morning. The drive out of the mountains was incredible, particularly the stop around Lake Tahoe.

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This photo was taken with my Samsung S3. As we descended west out of the mountains, our ears popped and water bottles crinkled under pressure. We arrived in Palo Alto Friday afternoon to greet my sister who had flown in for the weekend and some dear friends from college who now live in the Bay area. One main goal on my road trip west was to see the “Redwood Forest”, as referenced in the song This Land is Your Land. Photos don’t do these trees justice, but I can now say that- I’ve seen them! Five of us embarked on a long walk through Muir Woods, just outside of San Francisco. We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and into the wilderness. On our walk, I learned that the UN was founded in San Francisco. I stood inside a tree.

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20150328_155946It was everything I wanted- nature, beauty, adventure, friendship and family. A native of the Northern California area, Katy  made an excellent tour guide. After seeing the giant sequoia trees, we had some famous San Franciscan New England style clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl from Boudin and went on to Ghirardelli Square to eat free chocolate.

Sunday, we went to a famous San Franciscan establishment, the Starlight Room at Sir Francis Drake hotel in downtown. There, I saw my first drag show in a brunch buffet format- Sunday’s a Drag. Laughs, shocks and awes were had by all. The fabulous host, Ms Donna Sashet made the event feel like good wholesome fun- honestly. Overall, an extremely fun and unique experience. The buffet included chicken and waffles, I mean…seriously! These ladies know how to throw a brunch!

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After brunch, we walked up and down the hilly streets all the way to Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill, stopping only for popcorn and to admire a famous Catholic Church at which Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe weren’t allowed to be married.

20150329_154349We devoured some crab in the evening and had a good night’s rest. The following day- We saw the Mrs. Doubtfire house and went on a “Duck Tour” of the city- Another recommendation if you enjoy fun.

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Today is my last day in the city. Having deposited my friend and my sister at the airport, I sit in a Starbucks contemplating what shenanigans to get up to on my own. Tonight I will have dinner with my dear friend and roommate from college.

Road trip rides again in the morning– SOUTH TO SAN DIEGO!

This Moment Is Mine

The clock reads 4:22 AM and I feel dizzy as I get out of bed to silence the alarm. I gather my clothes from the dryer where they have been sitting all night and pick out a couple items to stuff into my packed bag. It’s now 5:00 AM and time to get on the road. The grass excretes water onto the edge of my jeans with each step I take. It’s wet, it’s early, and I’m cold. Mom waves goodbye and I take off into the darkness. I fill up my gas tank for $20 in the next town.

It feels like the first time I’m driving in the dark. It feels like the first time I’m driving in the rain. My car and I stay in the right lane driving under the speed limit. I fumble adjusting the windshield wiper, as if it’s my first time. The rain comes down harder towards me. In the dark, it looks like white streaks, splashing on the windshield. A giddy cry escapes my mouth. I’m all alone, in the dark, on the highway, marveling at the rain- like an alien seeing earth’s weather for the first time. It’s magical and the moment is all mine.

The clouds take a rest from rain. The landscape is dimly lit and filtered by gray clouds. I’m slowing down to drive through small towns between the miles of flat green pastures. I see a donut shop off the side of the road and pull myself over for a treat. “That’s 75 cents” says the man handing me a bag with one glazed donut. I give him a dollar and get back on the road. The donut is fluffy.

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My dad made me 6 MP3 discs to listen to on my drive. I’m singing along to the second variety mix as I cruise alongside train tracks. Hundreds of cattle graze to my right and left. Some force in my stomach pushes up onto my chest and my eyes water in response. I’m a tourist at home, ogling at cattle like its my first time. I even pull over to take their picture.

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This moment is mine. I sing along to Alabama’s Song of the South and stretch out my right arm to pretend I’m flying. Its silly and its personal, but I cried at the sight of cattle. How do you know you’ve been gone too long? That’s how….

The scenery gets more beautiful as I head north west through Amarillo. I make a road trip stop at the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum. For $6, I learn about the breeding history, lung capacity, color possibilities and ranching of American Quarter Horses.

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I drive for another hour and stop for lunch in a little town in New Mexico- Clayton. A sign reading “Food and Drinks” lures me to park on the main street and pop inside. It is a historic quaint hotel dining room. I eat one chile relleno before getting back on the road.

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The clouds begin to part, revealing cracks of blue skies. It’s the most beautiful color I’ve ever seen. I pass by a series of towns with large feed mills.

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I pull over to snap some pictures and keep driving through New Mexico. I gasp at the sight of mountains and the picturesque sky. I gasp.

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I continue into Colorado and only stop once for gas and once at a scenic lookout spot marked off the highway in the mountains. The air is thin and crisp. I step out of my car and snap a couple more pictures.

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After more than 12 hours of emotional scenery and driving, I arrived in Denver, where Lynn is now living and working. You may remember Lynn from my early posts in Houma in 2012. I’m with my mentor and dear friend. We will ride bikes and explore Denver. Currently, we’re sitting in a coffee shop that’s playing Third Eye Blind over the speakers. I savor my breakfast burrito. This moment is mine.