Tuesday, April 28, 2009

the city by the bay

We've recently returned from the most awesome spring break trip. It was a blast visiting friends and family and we were able to see and do so much with the kids. I am still marveling at the fun we had with our big kids. So wonderful to be at this new stage and making family memories. I am behind on blogging about the trip. Those of you who know about our epic journey are well aware of the number of things we did in 10 days and 2, 630 miles. I can't wait to tell you more about it. First though I am going to skip ahead and post about this past weekend.

While we were traveling on spring break across the state of Texas enjoying family time, Dave mentioned to me that he had a business trip to San Francisco in late April. It was a couple of nights away and he'd love it if I could join him. At first I laughed...when you have three kids, getting someone to shepherd them through a couple of school day activities is almost impossible. But grandparents are willing and I think they are the last of the great heroes in parenting. My mother stepped up to the plate and offered to run our crazy life for a few days so I could escape with my husband.

San Francisco was a place where we spent a lot of time in the 1990s. We lived in Monterey, California for almost three years and drove up and down the coast constantly for business and pleasure. It was an awesome time of life. The tech industry was going gangbusters, I worked in a publishing group that developed children's learning software, and Dave was being paid by the Navy to attend post-graduate school at NPS. Life was good. We lived in a little cottage only six blocks from the Monterey Bay. We could hear the seals barking at night and we didn't need screens on our windows because Monterey seemed to be almost pest free for most of the year. Northern California has a special place in our hearts.

So, the chance to escape with Dave and be a couple traveling without the wild family antics sounded pretty good. Time alone is rare. We've been married almost 19 years (in September) and we are still building our relationship. Trips like these are just the type of fun that can solidify an already good thing. Needless to say, my mother did not have to push us out the door!

First, I must say that packing a carry-on suitcase and a purse is liberating. I didn't have to pack for anyone else. Everything I needed was with me and I could move quickly through the airport. What a revelation for someone who packs for the whole family and any emergency that might happen unexpectedly with the kids. I think this is the lightest I have ever travelled and I loved it! Dave has this mastered since he is a platinum flier, but I was new to the concept since I am always having to check with the kids. Other than wishing I had one more sweater for variety, I managed to carry everything I needed. SF is a bit of a funky city so you can wear quirky combinations and fit right in...love that about SF.

We flew out Thursday afternoon, got our rental car, and headed to the Marriott near Union Square. Great digs and the location was perfect to walk around. That night we got dinner at Scala's, a nothern Italian restaurant. It had beautiful architecture and great lighting. We decided to share our meal family style so we could order and try more items. It was oh-so-perfect and romantic. After the late dinner we jumped on a street car and cuddled close on the chilly night enjoying the sights.

On Friday morning we hiked over past the Glide Memorial Church to find Dottie's True Blue Cafe. Problem was that Dottie's must have been incredible and had a long line to prove it. Dave had actual business to attend to that morning so we walked back toward the conference center and ate at Mel's Drive-In instead. Huervo Rancheros and fresh OJ were awesome there. I didn't feel guilty eating them since we had walked a big loop that morning. The Glide is one of my favorite parts of San Francisco. It's not a glamorous area at all. You will see homeless people everywhere (Think The Pursuit of Happyness) and it's a little dicey safety-wise. Back in 1994 or so I visited that church for a day and got to worship and work there with a group of designers. We were there with Graham Nash to help with a fundraising effort and to view the good things that congregation was doing to help families in need. It was a very powerful day for me. To be working side-by-side with some of the superstars of the design world to do something positive and hands-on was almost surreal. I feel blessed to have been part of a conference of people like that during the tech boom.

After breakfast Dave split off to go do business at his computer security conference. I was thrilled to have the chance to revisit the MOMA there near the Moscone Conference Center. After being there for only an hour or so I realized how much I love being at a museum surrounded by masterful art and thoughtful statements. All my years of art and architectural history came flooding back to me and I felt completely at home in that environment. Honest truth is that feeds my soul and for years I have neglected that fact. I came away inspired and happy.

Dave met me at the museum and suggested that we head over to his conference for the final keynote speech. He snuck me in -- security is tight at a computer security conference -- and so I got to see the MythBusters, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, live and in person. Very cool! They were talking about how their problem solving process works and discussing how to work with opposites in the tech environment. If you watch the show you quickly realize that they are very different people and debate a lot. They showed some very cool outtakes and other projects. They created a huge decoder machine and did some funny stuff with that involving the audience. I got a few very bad pictures from the audience. They whisked them away back stage so all of us would not storm the stage and crush them. ;-)

Friday afternoon we headed down to the newly renovated Ferry Building where a lovely marketplace has been set up. Our seatmate on our plane flight had suggested an Asian fusion restaurant down there called The Slanted Door. It was very popular with all the beautiful people, but they let us eat there anyway. Again we shared some glorious dishes and enjoyed the view of Treasure Island and the Bay Bridge.

After dinner we took our car and headed south to Redwood City to see the blues legend, James Cotton. at The Little Fox Theatre. Fabulous music and true blues playing at it's best. (The man had 25 harmonica harps to use during the concert!) For a moment we felt rather local again. I imagine we were the only tourist in the room and we had found a gem of a concert to attend. It was a blast.

On Saturday morning we were up before the crack of dawn to catch our flight. Please note for the record that we had enough time to enjoy a full breakfast and leisurely make our way to the plane before heading back to reality. What a gift to have had those two days together. Traveling has always been a huge part of our romance and relationship together...really from the beginning...so having a chance to renew that was magical.


Claudia said...

Good for you guys! And traveling with just a carry-on - WOW! You two have always been good at nurturing your relationship!

Thanks for providing the foodie play-by-play, you know that's what we want.

Ann said...

a. I decided not to comment on the more romantic parts for the benefit of my audience. ;-)

b. I put the foodie stuff in to prove that we DID NOT go to fisherman's wharf for food because we were all over that tourist stuff. ;-0

c. That traveling with just a carry-on was downright sexy...though I do think that the FAA regulations on toiletries are unfair to women. Seriously, how can we fit our sunscreen, contact lens solution, and other necessities into one little baggie?

Elizabeth Lucas Wilson said...

What a fabulous trip, Ann! Gosh, I love SF! So glad you had such a good time. We discovered Scala's last year and will definitely make that a regular part of our future SF excursions.