whale watching

San Francisco

In February I spent a long weekend visiting my brother, Kyle, in San Francisco.

He’s a transportation planner with the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. After I landed, I took public transit (of course) and met him at work. Above is the view from the floor he works on.

That night we went to Oakland for a Shabbat dinner (my first) at Steve and Sierra’s, longtime friends of Kyle. We sat at a long wooden table that Steve built by hand, under strings of white lights, eating Steve and Sierra’s most delicious food, drinking good wine with the most interesting people while Joni Mitchell played in the background. It was, basically, my ideal dinner party.

The view from Kyle’s deck the next morning.

It is so easy to visit a city Kyle lives in. He seemingly knows everything. Like where we should get pastries (Arizmendi Bakery).

And where we should get coffee (Philz Coffee).

He explores, constantly.

After breakfast, we hiked Bernal Hill. San Francisco is one of my favorite cities and I’ve been several times. It’s nice to visit a place and not feel obligated to do all things touristy and instead, spend a morning discovering a treat such as this.

Next up, a farmer’s market to nibble on samples of oranges and nuts.

beauty found while walking the streets

Kyle at one of his favorite burrito joints. (He was ignoring the fact that I was taking his picture. Again.)

826 Valencia, a nonprofit founded by author Dave Eggers, dedicated to supporting students with their writing skills—it’s right down the street from where Kyle lives, and I’ve long loved its mission. Oh to be able to take my kids to writing workshops at a place such as this! Bonus: the storefront is a pirate supply store. My kids made out well.

Kyle and I had separated at this point. He had gone back to work to get his bike. I, of course, got lost. But along the way I passed the gorgeous Women’s Building, which I wanted to see anyhow.

Finally, after several phone calls to Kyle, I found his place (he shares the third floor with two roommates).

Kyle bikes. A lot. When living in Brooklyn, he regularly biked to Manhattan for work. Biking with him is something I’ve always wanted to do. But I’ve also always been nervous. I haven’t biked in years (transporting three kids while on a bike isn’t easy). I’ve never biked in traffic. But he had a bike for me. And a helmet. And he promised to go slow and watch out for me (which he oh-so-patiently did). I was a bit of disaster at first, but only got laughed at by bystanders twice. And then, I loved it. We biked for miles through the city and all the way through Golden Gate Park, ending at Ocean Park.

A coffee break (I like a travel companion who likes coffee).

And then, a quick bike ride to Lands End for a glimpse of Golden Gate Bridge.

That night we had south Indian.

The next morning our aunt Janeil who lives in Sacramento picked us up and we drove to Half Moon Bay for whale watching with the Oceanic Society. It was so great to see her.

We boarded our boat, Salty Lady.

And Kyle and I got so, incredibly, seasick.

(Janeil fared much better.)

our captain

I managed to take a picture of some otters on a buoy while gripping a rail on the boat and singing “Alouette” softly to myself over and over in an attempt to not throw up (I don’t know why that song, in particular, helped, but it did).

blessed land

That night Kyle and I had dinner at Dante’s Weird Fish. The food was good. Really good. The conversation was good. Really good. It was a perfect endcap to a great trip.

The next morning I said goodbye to Kyle, as he had to go to work. He suggested I try Tartine Bakery. It resulted in, what I’m pretty sure was, my first use of “OMG” on Facebook. I now understand the line.

Then, I wandered.

I took transit back to the airport. While waiting for BART, I saw a bouquet of white roses lying on the tracks. I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Who did they belong to? Why were they thrown? What love fell apart because of them? So I took a picture. Self-conscious, I looked around me. The guy standing next to me was taking a picture of the same bouquet with his cell phone, too.

I love this city.

And then, I flew home.

Thank you, Kyle, for a most lovely trip. And thank you, Andy and Mom, for help with the kids therefore allowing it to happen.

“San Francisco has only one drawback—’tis hard to leave.” —Rudyard Kipling