Saturday, February 25, 2017

Adulting 101

I'm just going to throw this one out there.

As of yesterday, for the first time in over a decade, after unemployment, an emergency room bill that was later put on my credit card, and all of the fun that financial distress entails...

I paid off my credit card.

Zero balance.

Frankly, the only times I've ever done that in my life have been when I've had some help from my parents. And this time, it was with no help at all, just a tax return, which I earned. 

Also paid off--my lovely new sofa. 

Just five years left of payments on Slyvie, and we won't even mention the mortgage. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

To the Shore

I've had this week off--oh, heaven--and unlike last year, there were no adventures in London to be had. But just because this year didn't take me to dear England, doesn't mean I can't have smaller adventures near home, and since buying Casa Meg, I haven't taken time for adventure as much as I should.

So on Wednesday, I sat down at the computer and perused Google Maps. I wanted to visit the ocean, but I wanted to see something new, too. I happened upon Bolinas, which, for all its proximity to San Francisco, I'd never heard of. I did some more googling, and I came across a three-year-old write-up in the New York Times.

Turns out the residents of Bolinas like it that way.

Turns out, whenever signs directing people off Highway 1 to Bolinas are erected, the residents will go out there and tear them down. They're not unfriendly, they're simply fond of their quiet lifestyle and lack of outside intrusion.

I had to see it.

I set out from Antelope at about 8:00, taking a slightly more meandering route to avoid as much of Interstate 80 as possible. Once I got in to Marin County, I had to stop a few times to capture the green. By June, this will all be yellow.

It took about two-and-a-half hours to reach Bolinas, but honestly, the journey is half the fun. The roads are twisty, Sylvie's favorite. The views are incredible and ever-changing.

Bolinas itself was not a disappointment. I started by walking to the beach access point. I was not alone--surfing in this spot isn't great, but that doesn't mean that people don't try. Other people were also walking, or sitting and enjoying the sight and sound of the Pacific.

I climbed down some rocks to an area where the tide had gone out, leaving dozens of starfish stranded. There were shells everywhere, and remains of crabs that had been found by enterprising birds.

 An intrepid surfer--surfing here is quite dangerous, as the shore is basically lined with large rocks.

There's graffiti along the sea wall, which obviously I love.

Unicorn Mermaid

Next, I wandered along the main street of Bolinas. I knew from the Times article to look for a few specific things, but there were also some surprises.

 The local bar is Smiley's, across the street from the one restaurant, the Coast Cafe, which said "Closed" but had paying customers eating, so who knows?

I found this odd and delightful little shrine right there on the side of the street next to the cafe.

The community has a thriving arts scene, and a decidedly progressive vibe.

I stopped to buy a cookie at the general store, and asked where the nearest public restroom was. It was in the community park, which is tiny, but well-loved. The bathroom was clean, as these things go. The park itself has a pizza oven, benches made of stone and of driftwood, and one tiny play structure in the shape of a boat.

Over the park's pizza oven:

This old church caught my eye.

The Grand Hotel, mentioned in the article. It was never intended to be a hotel, but after they found the sign and put it up for grins, people started wanting rooms.

There is a community "free box," where people can leave unwanted items and take others.

Another shrine, this one outside the town's tiny book store.

The town's bookstore has an honor system, and was designed to invite reading and enjoyment. I love this.


By this point, I had pretty much exhausted the wonders of Bolinas, and I needed to gas up my car. Bolinas does have a gas station, but it is over $4 a gallon, so I opted to head north on the highway to Point Reyes Station, a slightly larger town with cheaper gas.

I stopped in Olema, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of town, to take exactly two pictures and wander the uncommon mercantile of The Shop.

After finding gas for $2.67 a gallon in Point Reyes Station, I set out once more, having decided on a whim to head north on Highway 1, through Bodega Bay and onwards into nothing much.

I stopped once, in a turnout, because as I came out of some trees to this view, I gasped out loud.

Finally, the highway started to run along the coast at Bodega Bay, and I enjoyed the view while Sylvie zoom-zoomed around the twists and turns of the road.

I stopped at Sonoma State Beach to walk on the sand. It was windy and cold, and this particular beach is quite dangerous, but there is nothing more soothing to me than to listen to the waves crashing and smell the sea air.

The beach was mostly empty--I only saw maybe five or six other people, including some children playing in this little stream.

The afternoon was wearing on, so I decided to start trekking inland. I stopped in Guernville to have tea and quiche at a small cafe. Guernville is just as colorful and artsy as Bolinas, but that's where the similarities end. Where Bolinas is off the beaten path, Guernville is a stopping point on a small highway, and it welcomes visitors.

Getting back to Sacramento entailed a what-the-fuck-Google?! series of twists and turns through wine country, which wasn't unpleasant, except for the delivery truck I spent a long time stuck behind, going 45 in a 55 zone, while a pick-up truck tail-gated me. Finally, I was deposited on Highway 37, where traffic was a nightmare, and then onto Interstate 80, where it was also a nightmare in Fairfield and Davis.

Google had told me I'd be home at 6:30.

Google lied. I made one ten-minute stop at Safeway, and was in my door at 7:30.

California is truly a beautiful place, but of course, I'm always drawn to the coast. Here's to more adventures soon!