California II; San Francisco to Big Sur

I drove into San Francisco after dark. I didn’t have cash for the toll, of course there would be a toll, I was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge! I didn’t think this through- I ended up running the toll. I had cash in my car for tolls earlier in my trip but as I drove further west I found tolls with credit card payment- I also don’t typically drive those roads. I arrived to my hotel and was ready to call it a night. I had so much wine earlier. I’m not a very big day drinker, so I was pooped.
Little did I know poop was going to be a major theme with San Francisco. I was excited for the following day, I had an appointment at a Korean bath house. This would help me to detox after so much wine. I had scheduled a body scrub per recommendation from Jocelyn, the girl I met in Seattle from New Orleans. She had never been but all her friends swore by it. I’m so happy they did. Before my appointment I had time to kill. I had read about the Japanese garden so figured I would have another Asian inspired day.

San Francsico, California, USA

I left the hotel for brunch, and had a great sandwich just a few blocks down, it was filling. I noticed I was not in a great part of town so I called Kim. I feel safer on the phone. As I waited to cross the street I noticed a man bent over, with no pants or underwear on. His butthole was facing me. It took a couple of seconds to realize what I was looking at. I was horrified, what is he doing?! He was pooping. RIGHT. IN. THE. STREET. I could not believe this. Aiden, Scott’s roommate in Wyoming had mentioned this, I didn’t think I would see it in action though. Flabbergasted, I continued my journey to find a nice part of town.
Eventually I made my way to the end of the cable car route near a Westfield outside mall. I still wasn’t in the best area. The line to ride the cable car was obnoxiously long and it just wasn’t worth it to me. I was no longer on the phone so I googled the Japanese garden, it was in the Golden Gate Park. Perfect! I jumped in an Uber share and was on my way, only to find out by another passenger that I would be nowhere near the golden gate. He suggested to go to the de Young museum as they have a free tower with 360 degree views of the city to include a glimpse of the bridge. It was a pretty, bright, and clear day so my chances were good. The Japanese garden was a short walk from the museum. This park was very big, and very comfortable. I felt like I finally found the good part of town.

A picture of Japanese architecture and perfectly manicured gardens.

I went to the museum first and then to the tower. I was able to just barely see the bridge. The whole city was clear to see but the bridge was surrounded by fog, go figure. I could see the orange peaks popping out above the clouds. I took some other pictures of the city and decided I’d have to get pictures of the bridge later that night, maybe for sunset. And onward to the Japanese gardens; I stayed here for a little more than an hour.
I was impressed with the story of how this garden came to be but disappointed that the city of San Francisco would not let the family back in after the war; a Japanese family had created this home but after WWII were no longer welcome. The city kept the gardens and made it into a park. I was very impressed with the horseshoe looking bridge right by the entryway. Many people were climbing over the bridge- I never did. The garden was smaller than I had anticipated and I was worried I’d miss my appointment so I didn’t spend a lot of time exploring. I ended up sitting down for tea and mochi ball ice cream instead. Then it was time for my appointment.

A Korean bath house

An ornate beautiful couch with 2 huge vases on each side- inside the bath house lobby.

This was a new experience for me, a bit intimidating. I knew I would need to get naked in front of other women, and I was fine with the thought, but of course I was shy when I was actually in that moment. That moment of getting naked passed fairly quickly and I was absolutely comfortable again. This is a spa for women only, and everyone there is completely naked except the people working. I was so happy to have experienced this particular spa; It was Pearl Spa by Aveda.
I first rinsed off in a shower, with soap but no shampoo, my hair was to be washed in my scrub. Then I made my way into the hot tub. There were about 4 other women in there, all younger than me. After the hot tub I was instructed to go into the ice tub- Brrr!! I did it and then immediately ran to the steam room. I sat in the steam room alone for about 5 minutes. I was excited to be wrapped in warm steam, until the lady came in and told me I needed to submerge myself in the ice tub again! “Just 10 seconds.” Once I was out it was time for my body scrub.
This was a little strange as the provider of my scrub was in lacy black lingerie- an older lady. She started my scrub with me face down. Even though she was wearing rough, pumice-like, mittens it was still relaxing and enjoyable. The body scrub itself was a unique experience but I already want another. She scrubbed me for about 30 minutes- face down, face up, and both sides. I was in very revealing positions but was never uncomfortable.
When my scrub down was complete I made my way upstairs to the mud clay room. I had the room to myself and stayed for about 5 minutes. Then I tried out the Himalayan salt room where I laid for another 5 minutes. After this I had completed everything there was to do. I wish I had booked more services. I wanted to spend more time here, again very comfortable and so freeing. I blow-dried my hair and made my way back to the hotel. I needed to throw on some makeup and get to the golden gate bridge!

The Golden Gate bridge

I originally planned to go to Crissy field but was recommended to go to Marina Green by a local. There was an issue with the Uber app but the driver still let me ride. My drop off location kept me pretty far from the bridge because I had to get out with the local girl by her apartment. It wasn’t far enough to call another car, so I walked the rest- I didn’t make it in time for sunset. It was more like ‘blue hour’, if that’s a thing; I still had some light. I took very few pictures (cellphone only) and walked around the harbor. I could see Alcatraz, too. Then I Yelped a place to eat- Causwells looked good.
I arrived just in time, immediately after being sat there was a wait. I sat outside and had deviled eggs and a beet salad. With the breeze coming off the bay and no sun, it got pretty cold. I went back to my hotel ready to plan my last day in San Francisco. I would walk the bridge! I didn’t have too far of a drive to my next California stop- Monterey. I would easily be able to do the bridge and still catch sunset on the beach.

The Golden Gate bridge disappears into clouds after sunset.

My body had other plans. I was up at 5am… and it wasn’t to catch the sunrise. My stomach was turning and I was in the bathroom for at least 4 hours. Miserable. I’ll spare you the details; I DEFINITELY had food poisoning. What a bad start to an otherwise well-planned day. I ended up driving to Crissy field I felt absolutely horrible still but I REALLY wanted to get some pictures of this iconic landmark. I found an outside store near the bridge and ran inside for some Gatorade hydrating gummies; my body was fully dehydrated after the long morning.
This helped a little bit- I was able to shoot a couple pictures, maybe spending 30 minutes max here. The bridge was completely exposed- the weather was beautiful. There were lots of cyclists and others stopping to take pictures. By the time I found a good spot to take photos from my stomach was turning again and my meter was about up. (I am definitely not proud of the pictures I took here, but they are all I have for now.)  I quickly went back to my car where I could better moderate my temperatures and get comfortable. Then I was back on the road.

Monterey, California USA

October 21, 2018
Luckily I made it to my hotel, no bathroom breaks on the road. My hotel allowed me to check in an hour early, perfect!  A soon as I walked in I was in the bathroom- I MADE IT! I was exhausted after being sick all day so I decided to give my body a rest. It was an easy choice considering all the fog. I had hoped I’d make time for the laundromat but I slept until 19:00 instead. Then I ran out to CVS to get some medicine, soup and crackers. Finally I was able to keep something down. I watched some TV and went back to bed. Needless to say I slept well.

Big Sur

A panoramic that shows the Bixby Canyon bridge (left of the frame) and the Pacific Ocean (right side of the frame).

I couldn’t waste my second day, I woke up around 10:00. Even though I was still sick and frequenting the bathroom I braved a trip to Big Sur. I planned to do 2 hikes- one full mile loop and another leisurely .5 mile loop; easy enough. My body decided otherwise. For starters almost all the trails were closed due to fire erosion, I was happy to be able to make it to Big Sur, the Bixby Canyon bridge was being rebuilt for close to a year and just reopened last month! Most of the trails were still closed and the ones that were open, I assume were crowded. Only 2 were open but all the lots were full.
I continued on to Nepenthe Restaurant, my friend Savannah (back home) had recommended it. The original plan was to be here for sunset, instead I arrived at 13:30. This place was crowded. It is a well-known restaurant with incredible views. I was finally seated- a little over an hour after my arrival. It was a perfect amount of time for me to catch up on my writing. I was uneasy about my options but my waitress suggested the burger as it would be mild and shouldn’t upset my stomach with a side of fries. She seemed like she might be a mom and was very caring when I explained that I was sick but was looking forward to eating here.

I went with her suggestion and had no issues whatsoever. I forgot to mention the tables location, I was seated right on the edge of the deck overlooking the ocean. It was a great backdrop for my lunch considering it was the highlight of my day. It was so good to have real food. After lunch, I drove back to Bixby bridge to catch the sunset. It was only 16:30 when I arrived and the sun wouldn’t set for at least another 3 hours. I took a nap- still exhausted somehow. I woke up around 17:30 and took some pictures while I awaited the sunset. By now there were many people in the area. I had a great spot in my car alone, but I wandered a bit, I even went down the slope that said ‘stay off’ to get away from the crowds; it was worth it. For not feeling well, I made the most out of my Big Sur/Monterey stay. I hope to come back to the Nor Cal coast again, hopefully I’ll be able to hike in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park then.

click here to read the final post for CA ’18:
California Part III, to include: 3 Rivers to Sequoia, Yosemite, and Mammoth.

(This was my second time ever visiting CA. I waited entirely too long from my first trip- 10 years prior, in 2008 I stayed between Fresno and Laguna Beach to include Santa Monica and Los Angeles, it was my first ever solo trip anywhere).
I didn’t wait that long to make my 3rd trip back. Less than a year from this road trip I did it again. I drove across the country in 2019 to Dana Point. On the way I stopped in Joshua Tree for a few days, Palm Springs, and also traveled the remainder of US-1 from Dana Point south to San Diego to see some friends.
I’ll write about my 2019 trip once I finish wrapping up the 2018 recap. Stay tuned.  

Leave a Reply