One of the hardest parts of spending a whole year sick was that I couldn’t take any vacations or even weekend trips without having to worry about every little detail. What would I eat? Would I find something organic? Would I remember to take all my supplements? Would pain prevent me from doing things I wanted to do? Would I be a burden to whoever I was with? It was horrible and everywhere I went, whether it was New York for a weekend, or Birmingham for New Years, I was faced with obscene amounts of stress and depression. Since I healed my Candida this past spring, I have been dying to go on a trip and experience something new without intense feelings of sadness and longing to be normal again. This past weekend, I finally got that chance.
Since discovering the Grateful Dead at the age of 15, I have always wanted to visit San Francisco. Not only is it the mecca for hippie culture and the music of the 1960’s, but Northern California is just one of those places that everyone needs to visit in their life time. The stars just so happened to align, and my boyfriend was going to be playing some shows in the northwest. After being sick for a year and not being able to do anything, I had accrued so much time off at work, that we were able to make a vacation out of this. Thanks to JetBlue and my roommate’s Virgin America buddy passes, I was able to travel for $130 round trip.
I flew in on a Wednesday morning and met up with my boyfriend who had arrived in San Francisco the night before. We went to Brenda’s French Soul Food, which was one of the many restaurants on my list, and enjoyed an amazing brunch. Once we were done, we realized that our hotel was only a few doors down. We checked in, and then got to exploring. Day one, my main priority was checking out the Haight Ashbury district. We walked about two miles and arrived to the place where so many legendary musicians lived, played, and wandered. That day, it was my late Uncle Dave’s birthday, and he was the person who made me love the Grateful Dead. It was so important and special to me to be there on that day. As we approached 710 Ashbury Street, the home where the Grateful Dead lived in the 60’s, an intense wave of emotions came over me. Tears clouded my eyes as I walked up and saw the stoop where Jerry and the gang would sit and play music. Obviously I had a photo shoot there and took it all in. I signed me and my uncle’s name on the tree out front, and then we continued the journey. Next stop was the legendary Amoeba Music record shop. I had heard about this place years ago and was so excited to be there. There were crates upon crates of records new and old, and the walls were plastered with original, first print Grateful Dead posters. It was truly a beautiful sight. After basking in the glory of crossing things off my bucket list, we made our way across the bridge to Oakland, where my boyfriend was playing a show at Wormhole Wednesday.
Day two was dedicated to hitting all the tourist attractions in San Francisco. We walked around Union Square, Chinatown and North Beach. We worked our quads while climbing up the famous Lombard Street and were blessed with a gorgeous view of the city and the ocean. We then stopped at Ghirardelli Square to see how their chocolate is made, and then made our way to Fisherman’s Wharf. We strolled along the water, tried some clam chowder, and enjoyed the ocean air. By the afternoon, we ended up at Pier 33, ready to take the ferry to Alcatraz Island. On the ride to the infamous prison, the views of the San Francisco skyline were jaw dropping. I never realized their skyline was so incredible. We arrived at the prison and took a tour, learned about people who tried to escape, heard captivating stories, and even got to sit in the jail cells. It was an awesome piece of history to learn about. After getting back to land, we met up with my cousin for dinner. Its so nice having friends and family all over the world.
Exploring San Francisco was beautiful, but the real beauty began on day three when we picked up a rental car and made our way to the Redwood Forest. Our points of interest were Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The sights when the drive started to change from highway to scenic back roads were so beautiful. The smell of garlic overwhelmed us as we drove past the garlic fields in Santa Cruz. Every mile there was a farm stand selling fruit, garlic, and 6 for $1 Avocados. When we finally approached the foot of the mountain, everything completely changed. The air was cleaner, the sun shone brighter, and all you could see was nature. I will never forget driving up the winding roads to the Redwood Forest, blasting Pink Floyd, with the California sun shining on my face. We pulled up to the forest and spent the day exploring, finding all the best views, and getting awe-inspiring footage for my boyfriend’s music video. What an incredible backdrop for my person’s creative vision. As we left the forest, the sun was setting and the sky was filled with the most intense and gorgeous pink color I have ever seen. We threw on some Lil’ Peep and felt the presence of the pink-loving, fallen musician all around us. Next order of business was making a pit stop at In N Out before stopping in Folsom for the night.
On day four, we traveled to Tahoe City where my boyfriend would be playing the last show of his West Coast tour. We pulled up to Lake Tahoe and our jaws hit the floor. We had no idea the type of beauty we were going to witness before arriving and all we could say was “Oh my fucking god.” The sights of beautiful Lake Tahoe with snow-capped mountains in the background was easily one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. We stood there in awe and soaked it all in, and then hit the famous Moe’s BBQ joint. Later that night, my boyfriend played a show at Wormhole Tahoe. The venue was a fun little Mexican restaurant/bar on the water. The vibes at this event were some of the best I’ve ever felt. The promoters were incredibly accommodating and hospitable, the sound was absolutely excellent, and the crowd was filled with beautiful, sweet people who just wanted to have a good time. It’s amazing that we can travel all the way across the country and be treated better than we are in my boyfriend’s home town. There’s just something calming and pleasant about the West Coast attitude.
The next day we began the journey back to San Francisco where we would hit some more tourist destinations. We ended our trip with the most spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge from a mountain top in Sausalito. Actually, spectacular doesn’t begin to describe it.
I’m so grateful that I was able to experience something new. I’m so grateful for my person and that I have the means to adventure when I can, when so many don’t. I’m grateful that I have my health almost 100% back and can go on trips and not have to worry anymore. I’m grateful for the messages I received from friends telling me that they’re happy for me, and that the smile on my face in the pictures from my trip made their day. The smiles were so genuine. I’m so grateful to be back to smiling on a regular basis. I truly can’t wait for my next adventure.