It’s a warm and sunny afternoon when I emerge from the terminal at San Francisco airport on the first stop on my ‘Long Way Home’ trip that will take me around the world. Feeling like a true traveller I jumped on a bus to take me just north of San Francisco to the home my friends Erin and Jon. It had been a long day already, but I had that spring in my step that you get when your excited about the road ahead.
The lady next to me on the bus seems as excited as me when I told her this is my first stop on my trip around the world. Saying that seems to really engage people, there’s something about the idea of going around the world that seems to draw people in. “It sounds wonderful.” She tells me, and as I say the words I’ll admit it felt kind of fun being someone who was embarking on the kind of adventure that others get excited about.
When I met up with Erin and Jon it wasn’t long until we’re sitting in a brew pub called the Third Street Aleworks ordering food and winter ales with the curious name of ‘Bad Santa.’ They tasted real good, so good in fact that I was drinking them like a Welsh Rugby player despite the fact that I rarely drink.
Pretty soon we were joined by other friends, Matt, Panda, and Heady Nuggs, with others on the way. We were getting noisier as the ‘Bad Santa’s’ continue to flow like waves to the shore, and it quickly became clear to me that this was likely be a long night, and as it turned out, that was to be the last moment of clarity I had that day.
Two pubs, several ‘Bad Santa’s,’ and a game of Shuffleboard later we were standing outside in the crisp Californian air talking about going home. The beer had warmed my blood and relaxed my muscles, and as I watched my breath like smoke in the air, I thought to myself that the ‘Long Way Home’ had gotten off to a great start.
We had planned to spend the next day in San Francisco, the weather was perfect for a trip to the bay. However, I was laying on the floor of Erin and Jon’s little house now understanding why the ales I had drank were called ‘Bad Santa’s.’ I could move, but only very slowly, and only as long as it didn’t involve getting off of the floor. Our plans to go into the city were postponed until the next day.
I always seem to be time poor when I’m in San Francisco. I’m left feeling like this is a city I would really enjoy if only I could spend enough time there. Nonetheless we did take the time to walk most of the way across the Golden Gate Bridge, make a visit to the de Young Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in Golden Gate Park, and watch night fall over the city from the famous Alamo Square.
Back in ‘Wine Country’ where Erin and Jon live, we did a little wine tasting and spent time just hanging out with their friends at the local brew pubs where I enjoyed the fine beer at a far more pedestrian pace than that of my first night.
My last evening in Northern California was spent at a nearby beach watching the sun disappear behind the crashing waves of the vast Pacific Ocean. It’s funny how the wonder of a sunset never seems to grow old, every one is unique and beautiful and seemingly able to hold your gaze for the longest time.
I stood and watched, listening to the waves, mesmerized by the amazing show that while ending for us was just starting somewhere else in the world.
The next day I left Erin and Jon and made my way to Los Angeles. My original plan was to spend time there, but in the end it was just a brief stop before I took to the skies again.
I’ve never been particularly nervous about flying, but this time there was a hint of nervousness in my excitement, like how I would imagine a diver might feel ahead of a particularly high dive. Maybe it was just the thought of flying through the night over the ocean, or maybe it was the sense of leaving the comfort of somewhere so familiar. Whatever it was, as I flew into the darkness over the sprawling city of angels I looked out of the window and hoped that some of those angels might find a little time to fly with me.
Everything west of here is virgin territory for me. In a sense this is where the adventure would really begin. My next stop on this journey home will be the tropical Polynesian Cook Islands in the South Pacific.