With the graduation of my youngest from High School, Hubby suggested we take advantage of the opportunity of having both daughters around and available one last time, by taking a long weekend vacation trip together as a family. Deciding on a destination was easy. When he suggested San Francisco it was met with approval by all, so SFO it was.
This was a great ’empty nester’ practice test run for me, traveling light; ie: carry-on. I set forth to acclimate myself to the mindset for the freedoms of being an empty nester. Since my husband travels quite a lot for work, I need to be able to pick up and go if I want to join him, and I do! We decided in advance we’d be doing lots of walking, maybe some shopping, eating only amazing food, nothing of which required any fancy dress .
With those parameters in mind, the girls and I headed to the airport with our carry-on bags, our TSA mandated ziploc quart bags, and an abundance of excitement. (Hubby was flying in to meet us from his business trip)
We were on time at the gate, patiently waiting our turn to board, when I hear my name on the P.A. system. I don’t know about you, but when I hear my name over a public address system, my first thoughts leap to trouble. A little concerned, I walked up to the gate agent to find out why I was paged. Low and behold I was thrilled to be asked if I would like to fly 1st class with my daughters!
Well, HECK YEAH! And sell me a lottery ticket while you’re at it, because I never win ANYTHING!
Tell you what, first class for a 4 hour flight is just the perfect way to start a mini-vacation. Oh yes, yes it was.
We arrived in SanFran just around dinnertime. We met Hubby at the hotel (Westin St. Francis) which was beautiful and a perfect central location, right on Union Square. We dropped the bags off in our room, freshened up from the flight, then headed down to the concierge to ask about places to grab a bite to eat. As I said, we were looking for good food, not fancy food. A hole in the wall would do nicely, and a hole in the wall she recommended. A short walk and we were at The Old Siam Thai Restaurant.
Now, as most here are familiar with, my youngest is gluten intolerant, not celiac. That gives us a little more freedom in our food choices and places we choose to eat, but asian is always challenging with it’s soy, buckwheat, oyster sauce and flour based noodles. Thai, however, is a lot of rice, rice noodles and fish sauce based dishes, not soy. That gives us a little more room to play with. The waitress there was extremely helpful and despite the language barrier (their english was not the most proficient), she dutifully checked for wheat and soy in all our dishes. She explained how best to order and helped us select a tasty meal that was by far the most reasonably priced of the whole trip. If you like Thai, which we do, this is a great find. I can’t say if a celiac can eat there or not, but if you intolerant, my daughter did just fine here.
After dinner we did a little walking around and I found myself breathing deep breaths, just inhaling that wonderful coastal air. After so many years landlocked, it’s hard to describe the soul satisfying comfort of that clean, slightly salty smell that comes off the ocean.
Have you ever had that moment when you realize that there was something missing, something in the deepest recesses of your soul you craved, but wasn’t aware of that emptiness until it hit you in the face? I grew up on the sands of Oregon’s beaches. Cool, crisp, sweet and salty air is as much of my childhood associations as mountains are. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it, until there it was, saturating my sinuses. I’m sure many a tourist travels to SF and they have never even made that association. I’m sure they are overwhelmed or mesmerized by the lights and bustle of the streets. I, however, was too preoccupied with the sea air, taking deep draughts of that soul satisfying breeze.
As we wrapped up the evening back in the room, I opened the window and let that wonderfully damp, brisk, bay breeze lull me off to sleep, dreaming of bare toes dug into the sand, accompanied by the roar of the ocean in the background. Don’t misunderstand, I know I was in the city, with big city obligatory rumble and roar of the city sounds. But this is different than any other big city to me, this is home…west coast home.