Twice this year I made the cross-country journey to San Francisco. On my first trip, Mario and I spent 4 days in the city by the bay to celebrate with our friends who got married. We decided to add a couple days to the weekend so that we could spend some time sightseeing and exploring. After the nuptial festivities were completed, we headed out to Golden Gate Park. Before arriving, I was expecting a nice walking area with some benches adjoining the Golden Gate Bridge. To my surprise, the park was a huge natural wildlife area. The central lake was replete with flora and fauna. Colorful winged birds, green breasted ducks, large turtles, and an array of colorful flowers and plants all called this park home. Having just flown from Boston where the temperatures were hardly finding their way out of the 20’s, this warm and lush environment was a soothing reprieve.
After hiking up the top of the hillside to take in the views of the city, we headed over to the Golden Gate Bridge. The bright orange color of the bridge against the shimmering blue Pacific Ocean appeared to me as a larger than life Crayola crayon box. The air was warm with a cool crisp ocean breeze, bikers and joggers were getting in their workouts along the ocean path and the city of San Francisco rose over the horizon behind us. Say what you want about California but its beauty is stunning.
The following day we rented a car for the day and drove over the Golden Gate Bridge up into wine country. We drove through Napa and Sonoma passing some of the most beautiful bucolic landscapes I’ve ever seen. Acres upon acres of rolling vineyards with young grapes awaiting to one day fulfill their destiny as a Chardonnay or a Merlot or one of a dozen other varietal wines blanketed the hills. We passed majestic estates of marble and stone welcoming visitors in to sample the local wines and cheeses. We drove further north along the windy roads through small farm towns taking it all in.
Eventually, we cut west and drove through a canopy of forest land. We weren’t north enough to reach the redwood forests but we must have been on the outskirts because the size of the trees and the plush canopy blocked out the sun in some areas that it felt like dusk had instantly set upon us. As the trees thinned out we approached the coast. Driving higher and higher along some of the windiest roads I’ve ever been on we turned a corner to be greeted with the awe inspiring enormity of the Pacific Ocean reflecting the brilliance of the mid-day sun. High up on the cliffs you got an incredible panoramic view of the ocean.
For the next couple hours we followed the circuitous cliff side road along the ocean back towards San Francisco. On our left side were the rolling verdant pastures where cows and sheep grazed while on the right side the Pacific Ocean whipped up sea spray as the waves hit the rocky coast. It was story book magical.