Heads Carolina, Tails California

Muir Woods
We awoke to the last day. It was obvious we were on the way out – a suitcase of dirty clothes and two boxes of wine were packed, and we both had that feeling in the pits of our stomachs – that feeling that reality is fast-approaching. The final day of a vacation is never fun – you have to pack, finish up “business” like checking out, turning in the car, checking into your flight, blah blah, and then you have to get home and unpack all of your loot and start real life all over again. The silver lining in this final day of vacation was that we did have a decent amount of time to get some more action in. So we got ready, packed, and went down to eat the last meal from the B&B.

B&B french toast

They must have known that french toast was my favorite because that’s what I got for the last meal. But this wasn’t your regular ol’ french toast with a little piece (or fatty piece) of plain bread topped with maple syrup. This was homemade bread with roasted apples, a pecan crunch in the middle, homemade caramel syrup, topped off with confectioners’ sugar. French Toast Sundae, to be exact. No cherry on top though – that may have been a bit overdone. Jim told us that he makes sure his guests don’t eat the same thing any day they are here, even if they are return guests. Which means – no more french toast sundae unless I make it myself. It was indeed mighty tasty. We ate it up and then loaded all that stuff in the tiny car (poor planning in that area…should have gone with the ford focus instead!) and came in to check out. Jim gave us some recommendations for the rest of the day – rec’s that didn’t include wineries, thank goodness! They take pictures of you on the mac cam before you leave – maybe so they can hunt us down if they find out we stole a doily from the room, but probably so they can remember you for next time and to add a special touch to their already unique style. We will be back, Jim & Jamie. We will.

Muir Woods entrance

And we’re off. Headed southwest this time and up to Muir Woods which is outside of San Francisco. A great recommendation because it also led us to the Golden Gate Bridge which we hadn’t driven on during the trip in. Another trip of winding roads with cliffs right off the gravel – enough to make Chris close his eyes a couple of times! I’m totally opposite in that regard and I was over-excited every time I saw a large drop or was up at the top of the mountain. We almost didn’t go to Muir Woods once we drove up there – it’s a popular place and there was no parking within a mile of the entrance. And we didn’t have all kinds of time to lollygag. On the second time into the main lot we got lucky and scored a spot. Good thing – this place is awesome. Those trees are HUGE! We spent 30 minutes or so walking around and clicking our camera and then were back on the road to San Fran.

chris at muir woodsmuir woods treesme in tree at Muir Woods

On the way down we stopped at a fruit/nut stand that was positioned conveniently at a lookout stop so we snapped a few more pics and grabbed some blood oranges and seeds. The seeds made for a nice snack for the rest of the drive. We tried to turn off on a lookout right near the bridge but kept missing it. Chris managed some pics out of the car; we both were able to see most everything on the way into SF. That bridge is large and in charge.

nut stand

Since we didn’t get to the lookout, we used the rest of our time to drive through downtown SF for a bit. I’d been to SF over 10 years ago, and Chris had been even longer ago than that, so we really were going for the first time. It is a gorgeous city. I love all the hills and ups and downs. I probably would not love that if I were driving a 5 speed. I had this vision of rolling down backwards – which would only be cool if there were no cars behind. We even found Lombard St and drove down that. What fun! They weren’t lyin’ when they said that street was crooked. I felt bad for all the people living on that street – they must have people walking around their “yards” all the time. But then again, they also knew what they were getting into when they decided to live on “The crookedest street in the world”. Those dummies.

Lombard St

Finally it came time to face the facts – it was over. Time to check in and get on that stupid plane. At least this time we had a direct flight. We’d made the mistake and checked the weather – it had snowed 5 inches in Chicago while we were gone. Madness. I do love that city, but I absolutely hate March with a burning passion. I wish we could skip March – I’d be much happier. You see, in Chicago, March is the month where the winter really should be gone but isn’t. And I say it should be gone, because it’s gone and practically Spring in the South where I grew up. So that’s what I’m used to, ok? I remember my first birthday in Chicago – I was wearing my down coat while trying to enjoy a Cubs game. And that was the end of April, mind you. Crazy Chicago. I do love it though.

lots of wine

Which brings me to the close. For you country music fans, you may recall this blog title as being the title of a Jo Dee Messina song. When I like country music, I do like her. This song was her very first single, and I love it. It brings me back to a question I asked in an earlier post as I was beginning to fall in love with Napa. And now that vacation is definitely over and now that I’ve been home for almost a week, it seems a good time to think about this again. Was it just vacation la la land? I don’t think so. Even when in Spain, Mexico, Fiji, NC, wherever – I am always happy to come home to Chicago. Always. Even in the dead of winter. We are at home here, and we’ve made our own lives here – our own careers, new friends, favorite restaurants and bars, and for Chris, his favorite comic book store and vinyl shop. But this time it was different. That last day in Napa and SF, I continued to be awestruck by the sights before me. And I didn’t want to go home. And when I got home, I wasn’t excited. Even after looking at the skyline on a day when the sun was shining, I kept searching for the patch of green and the rolling hills that I’d seen the week before. Maybe it was Napa. Maybe it was just the urge to leave the city for the countryside. A countryside – that maybe doesn’t have to be the California countryside.

The problem is this – while I know that I am destined to live outside of the city one day, I don’t want to leave it altogether. I want to live in a place with a city, a large city, somewhere closeby. And I think that’s what appealed to me in northern CA – the countryside and greenery of Napa with the lovely beautiful city of SF an hour away. And the weather didn’t hurt.

So while we’ve always planned to move back to the South, do we have to? If we took our friends and family out of the equation I know what my answer would be. But today, today I say:

“Heads Carolina, tails California.
Somewhere greener, somewhere warmer.
Up in the mountains, down by the ocean.
Where? It don’t matter, as long as we’re goin’
Somewhere together. I’ve got a quarter.
Heads Carolina, tails California.”

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