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SF to NY to CLE and back again

16 Jun

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It only took a few years of gentle cajoling from the East Coast, but we finally booked tickets and flew to New York. It was the first visit for both of us and honestly, the longest vacation we’ve taken in over 8 years. Hey! Work is addictive and hard to stop!

I was born on the East Coast, but moved to Washington when I was 7. I haven’t been back since, with the exception of a short trip to Washington DC when I was in junior high. All my memories of the East Coast are infused with weather though, lots of snow, freezing icicles, hot thundering summer storms, fireflies, salamanders and summer smells. The first thing that struck me on this trip was how different the foliage and green is on the East Coast. So different from the Pacific Northwest and Bay Area that I am now used to, but it felt familiar in a distant way.

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We had a few things planned for our trip: I had a few client and shop visits, we knew we wanted to visit the new Whitney, walk the Highline, see Eataly and drive up to Storm King, otherwise we left our week open after gathering lots of recommendations for eating and wandering from friends and neighbors. My favorite parts of our trip was exploring neighborhoods we hadn’t anticipated spending much time in. We spent a rainy afternoon in Greenwich Village, ducking into a few wine bars and record shops, and another afternoon in Dumbo wandering when the sun came out. We spent one of our last days wandering through Greenpoint after brunch an old friend, and ended the afternoon with a drink and a good view at The Wythe Hotel. A few days we walked 8-9 miles, but it rarely ever felt like that.

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We stayed in Brooklyn for the week, but tried out two different neighborhoods– we stayed with Intern’s sisters in Ditmas Park for a few days then stayed at a great airbnb in Fort Greene for a few days. We only encountered the tourist hoards when we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, and briefly saw them from safer distances. Oh, except for the time we spent in Eataly (at my insistence) that place was insanely busy and overwhelming, like Disneyland for food. We managed to run ourselves around every day until midnight, though I know we just scratched the surface of everything. We played the game, “what if we lived here?” in nearly every neighborhood, pondering what our lives might look like. (Note: Don’t worry mom/friends/worriers, we’re not moving, just talking!) It was hard to sleep at night, I think my brain could not turn off after nonstop visual overload, but I couldn’t wait to do it all again every morning.

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We also made a  quick stop in Cleveland on the way back home to visit friends who have not-so-gently been harassing us to come visit them for the last 2 years. Thats what they get for abandoning us, or I mean, moving away from San Francisco for professional opportunities that far outweigh the opportunities here. Whatever. We loved seeing two of our favorite people in the home they’ve built together. They played eager tour guides, and gave us a walking and driving tour of Cleveland, but we were really just happy to hang out with bare feet and a glass of wine catching up. The rack of lamb didn’t hurt either.

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Taking back the pauses

2 Jan

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This December felt like a complete blur. Even today, on my twelfth day away from work, production and my inbox. I haven’t taken very much time off this year, but I’ve been able to enjoy a good break from work after an intensely busy holiday production season. Time off (and the weeks leading up to it) have included a few colds in our household, and a lingering cough for one of us. Because of my somewhat susceptible and germ-fearing neuroses, I was quietly convinced I had whooping cough. I got tested though, and it came back negative. Turns out, I was just exhausted and sick, nothing more.

In case anyone out there is curious, the pertussis test feels like a wasabi-coated q-tip is slowly being threaded up your nose and down your throat, then slowly removed. All while you breathe deeply and your eyes water intensely. If you’re anything like me though, that news probably won’t dissuade you from following your germaphobic emotional journey to the doctor to soothe your middle of the night fears.

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Changing cities

15 Aug

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In July we took a trip to Seattle for a mix of family and business. First family, then business. We spent a few days on the Eastside visiting my family in surprisingly hot summer weather. We had happy hour among blackberry bushes slowly trying to reclaim my mother’s backyard. We watched hummingbirds in her flowers and got chased inside every night by giant mosquitos. The area around my childhood home is still wild and undeveloped, it is deeply green and in such contrast from parched San Francisco right now. We drove a few miles down the road to visit a new-ish local farm in the pasture of a former dairy. As kids and then later as teenagers we’d drive by this dairy on our way to the river or the falls, and had to hold our breath as we passed this stretch of country road. Now the cows are gone, the dairy has been converted to another use and that farm-y smell is long gone.

We spent a few days north of Seattle visiting Intern’s family for a big family reunion and got caught up with all the aunties, cousins, new babies and family friends we haven’t seen or met in a long time. Our usual cooking lessons with Intern’s ammi were brief, the weather was hot and there was a big party to prep for. Our free mornings and evenings were spent digging through old family photo albums, hearing stories, and finally getting a good laugh and a hearty dose of some awkward photos of those uncomfortable teenage years that have until this trip, been hidden away with purpose. Other people’s teenage years are really endearing to look at, I felt so much love for my young lanky Intern and his sweet sister, during the baggy clothes years of the 90s. SO. MUCH. LOVE. I don’t think Intern enjoyed it quite as much as I did.

I spent some time at my mom’s house looking for two Rome books I wanted to bring home, and in the course of searching, found a few old boxes of mine full of high school and college photo albums and journals. I flipped through a couple sort of hastily, it brought up a mixture of nostalgia and uncomfortable embarrassment for me. I was suddenly feeling old but also feeling like all of that feeling was still recent in my mind. Reading old journal entries was just too much for me, I stopped rereading after a few very earnest entries, one about my first time voting in a general election, and another about an apparently very drunken college party… that was SO FUN. Hopefully older, older Kate will appreciate how much younger Kate documented her life in journals, cause right now it just causes me to cringe. I stacked all those journals down at the bottom of the boxes and repacked them again– I think it will be a few more years before I feel ready for a good trip into the past.

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We said our goodbyes to family and spent some time in Seattle working and visiting shops before taking the train down to Portland for a few days of the same. Our conversation kept rotating around the same subjects: could we live here? Does this city have what we want and need? The purpose of our trip wasn’t to evaluate Seattle and Portland for possible livability– we have no moving plans, yet we couldn’t stop. Portland has always been the city that we’ve pondered and put in the maybe category. It seems to be some of Seattle, some of San Francisco, and a lot of other things too. Seattle has changed since our last visit, and even more since we left it 5 years ago. Portland has evolved too, as it will continue to do. San Francisco is racing in different directions of course, in good, bad and strange ways. Instead of accepting this, Intern and I have been busy dissecting it, like we are searching for something specific.

Cities aren’t the same once we leave them, and they don’t stay the same, even if we stay put. Our wise Portland friend Kanna reminded us so expertly, “That’s the thing about cities, they change, that is what they are supposed to do”… or something like that. What she said was succinct and so perfectly simple, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. We love where we live, and can’t imagine life in the suburbs or the country, because we believe life there moves too slowly. We crave change and movement, but at the same time we’re living in our chosen city and constantly questioning and critiquing the changes around us.  Why is it that we can’t come to terms with the very thing that we love about cities?

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A significant birthday

21 Jan

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A couple days ago, I turned thirty. Thirty was not a scary milestone for me, but it did feel significant. Nothing abruptly changes or ends at thirty, but there is a transition-y feeling lingering in my mind. Ten years ago I turned twenty, and I can barely remember what that felt like. Twenty-year-old Kate was vaguely planning to go to law school after college, not move to Italy, have a huge life transition/crisis, get a design degree in San Francisco and work for herself. Nope, I was a different person then, thinking of a very different life for myself.

A much older someone recently told me to remember the feeling of being thirty, because 10 years from now, forty will feel twice as old. Nice, right?

I’ve always secretly felt eager to be a little older. Maybe its a holdover from being the youngest child, or usually finding myself the youngest among friends. I still feel it, I like being a little older. I feel more sure of myself and my work every year, I feel more confident in knowing when to say no and when to say yes to experiences, people and opportunities. Dare I say, thirty feels pretty good?

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To celebrate and reflect on another year of growing, working and being a full-time grown woman, Intern and I took a few days off mid-week and drove to Healdsburg for a few days of fun and relaxation in wine country. We biked, we napped, we read books, we picnicked and wandered. I didn’t worry about anything for three full days!

Thanks-break

3 Dec

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For as long as we’ve lived in the bay area, I have wanted to experience the hot springs in Sonoma and Calistoga. Its so close to us — but we never make time. This past week, we decided to keep Thanksgiving plans low key, so we could take some extra time off to really relax. I had it set in my head that hot springs would be the only way to calm down and recover from the past few months of work-stress. Intern was a bit  doubtful about the curing properties of hot mineral water… but I felt pretty certain.

After all the hustling and juggling of the past few months, its hard to slow down. I have a hard time giving myself permission to give a break, even if that means “taking a break” while also doing two other things at the same time. Not an effective method for achieving relaxation. Intern and I made plans and shook on it, we’d take 2 days off. The magical part of our plan was that it actually happened. No work crisis, no last minute meetings, no reason to postpone our trip. The morning we’d planned to head out to Calistoga we found a last minute deal on a hotel, so we packed our picnic and an overnight bag and got on the road.

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The drive to Calistoga from San Francisco is just under two hours. We visited a winery for a pre-Thanksgiving picnic lunch, then dumped our bags and threw on swimsuits to test out those restorative mineral hot springs. Works like a charm. In two days we packed in a good amount of healing water and relaxation. We drove back the following afternoon to make our traditional Thanksgiving meal.

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