A late summer long weekend in California.

A couple of weekends ago now, Paul and I traveled (separately) to the San Francisco Bay area to attend a wedding and briefly visit a small smattering of friends and family as time allowed.  Though we didn’t get to see everyone we wanted to, and though getting out there proved challenging (at least for me!), it turned out to be a relatively relaxing and very enjoyable trip, which took us from Santa Cruz to Santa Rosa, and places in between.

I mentioned getting there.  Paul and I were traveling to SFO from different locations on the east coast at similar times, so that we could arrive close enough to one another that Rodin would only need to make one airport run to get us.  In the end, that was true—Rodin only had to drive to the airport once on Friday—but it was because there was only one person to pick up on Friday night. Paul was scheduled to leave a couple of hours earlier than I was, and so missed the worst of the storms that worked their way up the eastern seaboard that evening; I, on the other hand, was delayed for three hours in Philadelphia before my flight got cancelled around 9 p.m. and rescheduled for the following morning. I ended up spending the night on the floor in the airport, freezing cold and pretty darned uncomfortable, with several of my fellow strandees (who were, bless them, amazingly friendly and reassuring, despite the situation we found ourselves in), and arising, groggy and exhausted, to get on our new flight and nod off for six hours (during which we were offered nary a bite of food, not even a solitary pretzel or nut), before landing, finally, in San Francisco at 10 past 10 in the morning.

The problem, of course, was that I was sick from travel, completely destroyed from lack of sleep, and gross; and the wedding was in Santa Cruz at 12:30. Paul picked me up in Rodin’s truck, dressed and ready to go, with a cup of coffee and a croissant for me to tentatively nibble as I regained appetite and consciousness, and whisked me back to Rodin’s place in Mountain View, where I showered and dressed as fast as I could. (Even after several days of backpacking, or a week of camping, I don’t think a shower has ever felt so good as that one did.) We immediately got on the road over the hills to the coast, and arrived by some miracle just around the time the wedding was set to begin. And, mercifully, things were running a bit behind schedule, so we had time to avail ourselves of the restroom and gobble down a granola bar a friend offered before the ceremony got underway.

The ceremony was simple and beautiful, on a hill overlooking the town and the fields and the water, much of which was represented by mist. Daisies delineated the aisle, and the family friend who officiated offered a truly heartfelt and touching service. The bride and groom were happy, comfortable, and lovely, and we blew bubbles their way as they exited along the daisy path, which bubbles floated on the breeze and off into the live oak trees.

The granola bar wore off and my energy began to flag; we caught up with friends and I drifted in and out of coherence and conversation until the meal—a delicious luau lunch—was served. We met other friends of the couple, and enjoyed ourselves immensely; and I rejoiced in the supremely basic pleasure of my first full meal in 24 hours. I managed to track down a cup of coffee to further buoy me. After toasts and cake inside, Paul and I scurried off to fuel up the truck and hopefully grab a nap by the side of the road before the evening festivities got underway. But a combination of our mutual exhaustion, the lack of finding time or a place to nap, and the chilly weather made us realize how flagged we really were, and what a bad idea it might be to try driving back over the mountains in our tired state after dark. So we said our goodbyes and headed back to Mountain View.

Back at Rodin’s place, we were able to meet some of his friends who had gathered for a movie night before we collapsed in a general heap on the bed and went immediately to sleep, completely unperturbed by the celebrations taking place in the next room. We slept soundly and deeply for ten glorious hours.

In the morning, we had some deliciously strong Rodin-made coffee, and hung out awhile, before taking Rodin and Laura out to breakfast at a great local diner. We then packed up again, and Rodin drove us to the airport to pick up our rental car. We spent the afternoon looking up friends in the city, where May and Cliff took us to eat dosas followed Bi-Rite ice cream in the park. By five, we were on our way to Santa Rosa, marveling at the Bay Area’s microclimates, fog, mist, trees, hills, water, and beauty.

We sped from the foggy vales of Sausalito to the sunny fields of Petaluma, and then along smaller roads up hillsides through smells of eucalyptus and pine. Paul’s relatives live on a hilltop near Mark West Springs, and we were soon opening the gate and driving through. We were treated to wine on the patio and introductions all around, and we shared a lovely dinner together. The next day, Paul and I went off on an excursion to the redwoods at Armstrong Grove, and a drive along the Russian River to the coast, where we explored a bit near Goat Rock Beach before wending our way back along the river again. We returned home in the late afternoon and took a swim before another of Paul’s relatives arrived for dinner.

Our last day was set to be a long one: we both were scheduled to depart from SFO around 11 p.m., so we wanted to relax as much as we could, and not be too rushed in getting the car returned and everything. So we had a lazy morning by the pool, ate lunch out with Paul’s aunt, and then headed west again to the coastal highway, which we spent the afternoon following all the way down to the city. We stopped in Tomales, where Paul had an espresso and I had a delicious little cup of raspberry ice cream. Tomales Bay was astounding, and the mist creeping over the hills near Stinson Beach was ominously beautiful. We descended into Mill Valley around dinnertime, and found a pizza place with outdoor seating, where we enjoyed a tasty and relaxed meal before pointing our rental car towards SFO again.

We made it to the airport and through security with plenty of time, and were able to brush our teeth and wind down with a bit of reading as we waited for our planes. Fortunately, both our return trips were relatively smooth—as smooth as redeyes can be—and my friend was there to pick me up at the airport when I arrived, tired and ready for a shower, in Ithaca. From there, it was a few short days before I wrapped up my research, returned all my library books, packed up my things, and returned to Albany, on my way to our autumn lodgings in Maine, where we have our own fog, mist, and ocean—different, but lovely all the same.


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