San Francisco Birthday Extravaganza

My 37th birthday was last week on the first day of Spring and true to form, I was seeking an adventure to celebrate the occasion. I’ve never really been much for physical gifts, I’d much rather build memories and have experiences so this year I planned a San Francisco weekend getaway with my boyfriend. Juan and I met at the airport after work and hopped on a plane directly to San Francisco. Once on the ground there, we picked up our rental car and made our way to our hotel in Union Square. The traffic was a bit of change from Portland (remind me to never complain about Portland traffic again!) but we eventually arrived safe and incident-free. We checked into our hotel amid the sounds of club music pounding next door. Luckily the desk clerk was sympathetic to our desire for sleep and agreed to put us in a room as far away from that side of the building as possible. We quickly dropped off our luggage in the room and found a nearby sushi place for dinner. Once we had our fill, we made our way back to the hotel and shortly thereafter, fell fast asleep.

The next morning, after a continental breakfast of bananas, waffles, toast and coffee, we called for our car from the valet and made our way to the coast for our journey down Highway 1 toward Big Sur. Our first stop was at Gray Whale Cove where we had to precariously cross the highway from the parking lot to get to our intended viewpoint. We walked down a steep path to the edge of the cliff to take in the view of the ocean below. A photographer was photographing his subject under a tree just down the way from us. We soon continued our journey to Pigeon Point Lighthouse where we explored the area around the lighthouse, the overlooks beyond and got up close and personal with some bees fast at work with some flowers nearby. After a quick stop at Greyhound Rock, we continued south toward Monterey Bay but not after first making an impromptu stop at the Davenport Cliffs where we enjoyed the view of old, eroding pier pilings amid a sea of wildflowers. Once in Monterey Bay, we began a challenging quest for scallops, apparently not an easy thing to come by outside of dinner hours. After we found the ever elusive scallops, we drove to Pebble Beach where we were surprised to find is actually a town (and not just one beach). After paying an entry fee, we drove around until we found a nice overlook to explore. We soon realized that due to time, we had to skip a few places on the itinerary and make our way toward Big Sur. We ended our southern trajectory at Bixby Creek Bridge where we watched the sunset before heading back to San Francisco. Exhausted from our three hundred plus mile journey, we grabbed some take out from the Thai restaurant next door and ate in our room before falling fast asleep.

Sunday, after checking out of our room and getting our car, we began our “Amazing Race-esque” adventure throughout the city. We began by driving over the Golden Gate Bridge to Vista Point before driving back over and stopping at Presidio where we explored the old concrete buildings by climbing through, over and on top of them. When we were done there, we drove to Baker Beach for a quick stop before fueling up and heading to the Moraga Steps after a traffic jam-induced abandoned plan to see the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate park. After we climbed up and down the Moraga steps, we headed to Twin Peaks for a chilly (and somewhat foggy) birds eye view of the city. Once thoroughly chilled, we made a quick stop at the Castro Theater before driving through the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood which both of us agreed was deserving of a second visit with more time set aside for it. We had lunch in Ghirardelli Square before walking through the Fishermans Wharf to Pier 39 for a view of Alcatraz and the infamous seals that liked to rest near there. We had just enough time after that to drive down the curvy part of Lombard Street before hightailing it to the airport to return the rental car and catch our flight back to Portland.

Thoroughly exhausted, the following day (my actual birthday), I invited some friends over after work for food and drinks to celebrate as a group. I received cute pug cards, flowers and wine. Do these folks know me or what? By 10:30pm, everyone had gone home and after working on photos from the trip until far too late into the night, I finally called it a night myself. It was a good birthday and I’m thankful for everyone who wished me well and/or showed up to celebrate this year. I feel really lucky to be able to have these kinds of adventures and to live in this part of the country, so close to all sorts of amazing places. Now that I am somewhat caught up on sleep, I can begin planning for next year’s adventure and enjoy the journey leading up to it.

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