Thursday night I’ll arrive in San Francisco and I’m as excited as if it were my first trip to a foreign city. Having just finished a long personal story about my fifteen years there, it will be an especially poignant time to visit. Twenty-five years have gone by since those potent days and I’ll be traveling in new ways and seeing through eyes connected to a writer’s mind.
Part of the time I’ll be staying with friends, part of the time in a hostel. You read that right. I’ve never even been in one but in the name of adventure, I’m giving it a try. Most people travel budget class when they’re young, saving the luxury digs for when their tired bones need a bit of pampering. True to my life’s odd trajectory, I’m doing it all backwards. The Adelaide is close to Union Square and maybe it was the address that first appealed: #5 Isadora Duncan Lane. The place is all Victorian charm on the website and has happy reviewers telling tales on travel sites across the internet.
A dorm with 5 other women. “I’m older, a bottom bunk please.” My bunk has a light, a curtain, a locker for gear and what sounds like a very decent breakfast. Not the modest type, I have no issue with undressing for a shower in front of tiny trim travelers and am flexible enough to not pout over a less than freshly fluffed towel. Wi-fi, computer room and lounge to write in. I have earplugs. It will be fine.
The last “rented room” I stayed in was on a business trip from LA. It was a two-bedroom apartment with a doorman and very discreet entry. The limo took us to our meeting and after wowing our client with a presentation that was (admittedly) fabulous, we celebrated by going to Gumps. $800 later, my friend had his gorgeous but useless tricket wrapped for travel, we treated ourselves to a very expensive lunch, picked up our bags and were dropped at the airport. This trip will be very different.
When I pick up my rental car, it will be from a private owner. Relay Rides has a business model I happily jumped on board with. While my 2010 Honda Fit is a deal at $35/day, you can rent a Tesla for around $300/day in some US cities. Canadian drivers send a copy of their driving record, along with a scan of their passport and driver’s license to create an account. I also had to take a selfie with both documents next to my face to prove they were really mine. I could only laugh thinking about some young techie trying to figure out if that was really me behind the glasses and curly dark hair.
After picking up my dear friend Irene Smith in the Haight-Ashbury, we’ll drive two hours north to Harbin Hot Springs in Middletown, CA – Napa, in other words. A clothing optional retreat center, this is NOT why we’re going. She’s speaking at the first ever “Conscious Dying Summit” at the Oneness Institute. I’m her driver, her guest, her entourage. It will be an interesting weekend and I hope to craft a magazine article from the experience. If nothing else, it will be great blog fodder. After that, I’ll visit other friends in the Bay Area and then head to LA. More close friends and a weekend in Yucca Valley, close to Joshua Tree National Park, two hours due east from LA. I’ll be camping with my Buddhist friends and engaging in a Dream Yoga workshop.
Writing from the heart, staying open and being flexible with what life brings you. These things help sustain me as a person and a writer. As we get older, our patterns and expectations can get rigid. These can cause us to experience life through filters full of unnecessary bias and judgment. I’m traveling with a tote bag and carry-on. No checked baggage. Lighter on the outside means lighter on the inside as well? Stay tuned!