Tag Archives: photo diaries

san francisco photo diary

1 Aug

When we were in Big Sur, my aunt’s brother Jim, who lives in Berkeley, offered up his house as a place to stay anytime I needed one after he found out how much I love San Francisco. I assured him that I would be taking him up on that offer. It ended up being sooner than even I thought, since my mom decided to capitalize on it and ask if we could crash there during our annual summer weekend in the city. It turned out Jim wasn’t even going to be there that weekend, so it worked out perfectly for everyone – we saved two hundred bucks by canceling our hostel reservations, and he had someone around to feed his cat, Polly. Polly is TWENTY years old and still the cutest cat I’ve ever seen in my life. She was a natural in front of the camera. 

Jim also has the most awesome house and a seriously legit fruit and vegetable garden. I could do nothing for the first ten minutes after we got there but walk around taking pictures and seething with jealousy.

After we unpacked our stuff, we went to the San Francisco Art Institute to see their Diego Rivera mural. The school was unexpectedly one of the coolest places I have ever been. It had a ton of student galleries, random little gardens, old staircases, sunken offices with tall skinny windows, and an awesome rooftop with cool architecture and the best view in the house.

Every time my mom and I come to the city, we have lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf first thing (we always go to the same place, the Crab Station), walk around the shops that line the Embarcadero (I always buy at least one if not three pairs of cheap sunglasses), and go to Ghirardelli for a hot fudge sundae. We’ve done all the touristy things the city has to offer a million times and usually try to find things we haven’t done before, but I’m big on traditions.

On the way to Union Square, we saw these women in their sixties who looked like they were sisters dressed in matching leopard-print cowgirl hats and coats walking arm in arm for blocks.

The last dying breath of my shoes.

When we got back to Jim’s house that night we saw something we hadn’t noticed before – the most bizarre house I have ever seen. It was unbelievably creepy in the dark, but I wanted to wait until daylight to take pictures of it so I could capture every strange aquatic detail. I am dying to know who lives here and if it’s just as weird on the inside. Our descriptions of it ranged from SpongeBob to Atlantis to The Little Mermaid.

The next day, we hiked the Land’s End trail to the ruins of the Sutro baths, which used to be a huge fancy bathhouse that burned down in 1966. It’s right on the water and I imagine it was pretty incredible back in the day.

There was a cool little cave off to the side of the ruins.

And then I took a bunch of pictures of my lovely mother in the foggy morning light.

And then she took a bunch of pictures of me trying to control my hair to no avail on the Golden Gate Bridge.

We walked to the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero and went cheese tasting at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, where our waiter looked at us like we were crazy for only ordering one glass of wine. It was really good wine. And the cheese was out of this world.

Then we went to Chinatown and went in about 4,000 varieties of the exact same store before stopping for dinner at this hole-in-the-wall place called A-1 Restaurant, where my life was changed by some pork buns.

We ran into Jack Kerouac Alley before realizing it was right next to the bookstore we had discovered a few years earlier that my mom had been planning to stop by again – City Lights Books in North Beach. Upon picking up a book entitled The Beat Generation in San Francisco or something to that effect, I realized that this innocent little bookstore my mom had stumbled upon and decided she liked was a major hangout of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, and the whole gang back in the day, as was the bar next door, Vesuvio, and a coffee shop nearby my mom had also been planning on visiting – Caffe Trieste. I spent the next twenty minutes wondering around in a trance, touching doors Jack Kerouac had touched and weeping with excitement. (Just kidding. Kind of.) Afterwards, we stopped by the Beat Museum, where I had a great chat with the guy working there, and then had chocolate-hazelnut gelato at Steps of Rome, where all the waiters are buff Italian guys who barely speak English.

Original signs hand-painted by poet, founder, and friend of Kerouac's Lawrence Ferlinghetti

On Sunday, Kyle drove down from his parents’ house in Watsonville to join us on a Bansky hunt of epic proportions. If you need proof as to why San Francisco is better than LA, San Francisco has at least four Banksys left instead of one (there were supposed to be six, but we couldn’t find two of them), and the first one we found was protected by glass.

We stopped at Caffe Trieste for some coffee (Mom), cafe au lait (me), and double espresso (Kyle).

When in doubt, pinky out, right?

What? A Banksy? Where?

Oh! A Banksy!

We were super bummed about this for a minute (okay, I was), but then we realized (okay, Kyle realized) that vandalism on top of vandalism was super meta, and then we felt a lot better as well as super smart. (PS, the sign the Native American is holding says “No Trespassing.”)

As I dragged my mom and Kyle back and forth all over the city, we stopped by Mission Dolores so I could cross it off my list. I love missions.

Another tradition of ours is going to the Haight-Ashbury district and then to nearby Alamo Square, commonly known as “the place where you can see the Full House houses.” Kyle had never seen them before, so it was extra-exciting. My mom proceeded to take a bunch of pictures of us that range from embarrassing to just ridiculous.

At this point we were all starving, having eaten hardly anything all day, so we headed back over to North Beach and gorged ourselves on the San Francisco pizza at Viva, then walked around for a bit before Kyle and I had coffee at The Revolution Cafe in the Mission District.

Best San Francisco trip yet. I’m trying to make plans to go back in September, I can never stay away for long.


slo/big sur photo diary

14 Jul

Lunch at The Spot on the drive up; strawberry-stained fingers and driving on the beach in Pismo; Dad ordering a Trenta-sized iced green tea at every Starbucks stop; soy lattes and beautiful weather in San Luis; reading at the mission; crocheted cactuses at The Wild Donkey Cafe; a view of the mountains from the Apple Farm; Phoenix Books (on Monterey between Osos and Morro, stop by if you’re in the area); sockiboos drying; hiking to the gorge; sleeping in my bathing suit; miles and miles of California coastline; grilling and s’moreing every night; reading Kerouac; river hair and sunburned legs.

“And at first it’s so amazing to be able to enjoy dreamy afternoon meadows of heather up the other end of the canyon and just by walking less than a halfmile you can suddenly also enjoy wild gloomy sea coast, or if you’re sick of either of these just sit by the creek in a gladey spot and dream over snags – So easy in the woods to daydream and pray to the local spirits and say ‘Allow me to stay here, I only want peace’ and those foggy peaks answer back mutely Yes”
-Jack Kerouac, 1962