Golden State of mind

Golden Gate

I’ve spent a surprising amount of time shuttling to the West Coast in the last decade — mostly because, well, it’s beautiful. And fun. And amazing.

We’re headed back to San Francisco and Yosemite National Park to take lots of pictures, haunt delicious restaurants and generally relax. I long to breathe mountain air. I don’t really know what we’ll be up to and don’t have many expectations . . . if I’m out and away and standing in the trees or by the river or near the sea, I’ll be happy.

Like a responsible blogger, I intended to schedule posts for my absence — but I decided, you know, I should take a break. It’s important to pause, step back, think. So write meg! will go quiet until the week of June 2, but I’ll look forward to seeing (reading?) your smiling faces when I return. (Or follow the fun on Instagram.)

See you soon!

Five things on Friday

Spencer - Niagara

1. Today is my husband’s birthday! He’s not generally the make-a-fuss type, but I totally am — and this is his first “married” birthday. So on this, the auspicious day of Spencer’s birth, I’d like to acknowledge how kind, thoughtful and hardworking my guy is — for me, for the family, at work, for friends. He’s always ready to lend a hand or critical eye, and he’s taught me so much about rolling with life’s punches and smiling anyway. I love him for that — and so many other reasons. Happy birthday, Spence! ❤ And thanks for always letting me have the last of the salsa. I love you!

2. If I hear “All of Me” one more time, I’m going to scream. I didn’t really have an opinion of John Legend one way or another until we started listening to a local radio station at work, and said station apparently has a penchant for torture. The song played six times — six! — in the span of my eight-hour work day on Wednesday, and I was ready to jump through a window. My hatred has become a running gag with coworkers . . . only I’m not kidding.


3. I started Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, and y’all applauded my decision. I’m 3% finished and the book is, apparently, 800-ish pages? So great progress, I’d say. The great thing about reading on my Kindle, as Trish has pointed out in the past, is I don’t have to feel that sagging weight of a too-long book pressing on my shoulders. I pay less attention to how much I have left to go (a guilty habit) and more just getting into the story. I’m enjoying it so far, though I probably have a bit until I meet the infamous Jamie!

4. Thanks to your suggestions, I’ve spent far too much time looking at comfy chairs on Wayfair (affiliate link). I’m pretty much in love with this one and this one, but we have a month until we’re in the house — and I don’t want to move that sucker twice. Plus, um, we have no space for a chair right now . . . like, at all. So I’ll have to settle for daydreaming.


5. Speaking of daydreaming . . . in a few weeks, we’ll be in San Francisco! I’m so excited to return to California and relax. After the stress of winter and spring, I’m ready to just hang out. We’re driving to Yosemite, too, and will actually spend three days there . . . versus the four-ish hours we had in the valley back in 2012. I plan to buy a backpack, recharge all my camera batteries, grab some water and sunscreen and just go. I bought new sneakers, too! Real, non-sandal shoes! It’s going to be marvelous.

Happy weekend, friends!

The cities of my heart

Left my heart in . . .

It’s been exactly a year since Spencer and I wandered the streets of San Francisco at the tail end of our California vacation. In some ways, it’s hard to believe it’s been that long . . . but in others, so much has changed in 12 months. Good things, bad things, great things — and just thing things. I feel like I’ve done a lot of living and changing and growing in a year. And like all travel, I didn’t come home the same person I was when I left.

California has a special place in my heart. My dad went there on a college trip — his first time away from the East Coast — and promptly became enamored with San Francisco. His new love for the city ran so deep that, when my parents married shortly thereafter, he returned with her on their honeymoon. I grew up hearing stories about Lombard Street, that crooked one, and Alcatraz. The Golden Gate Bridge. The cable cars.

When Spence and I were trying to choose where to go on our OMG-I-won vacation, California came immediately to mind. And we had a fabulous time and ate awesome things. I know I babble about Yosemite, but that’s only because I loved it so deeply. I felt the same way after I visited London for the first time in 2007 — and then when I returned in 2009, and in 2011. (And since I’m apparently on an every-other-year schedule, I’m due for another English excursion.)

We all have a place that feels like . . . home. It may not be the town in which you grew up or have family, or really a place with any ties that bind. But you arrive and set your suitcase down, breathing in the cool or salty or humid air, and something about this destination just feels like it. You see another world and you change.

What’s the difference between a place you love to visit and a place that burrows into your heart? A sense of tranquility, maybe. I’ve visited many amazing towns, taken in the views and felt like a better person for having seen such beauty. But only a few places actually imprinted on my soul, for lack of a better explanation: London and San Francisco. Daydreaming about either place is my go-to having-a-bad-day fantasy. If my Flickr photo files were tangible objects, they’d be worn and threadbare from handling. I look at those pictures more than I’d care to admit.

Part of my attachment is, of course, due to where I was in my life at the time. In 2007, I was a freshly-minted college grad on a big trip with her family. In 2009, I was fresh out of a break-up and ready to take big chances. In 2011, I was in love again — and better this time — and going abroad with my parents and sister before Kate and I both became engaged and strengthened our family to a unit of six. And last year, in 2012, Spence and I were on our first trip together: just the two of us.

When I flip through my favorite shots from each of those trips, I’m remembering less of what I did and more of how I felt. That’s why I travel: to feel both closer to and farther away from myself. To allow myself to experience child-like wonder before a waterfall, or to try an exotic food I could never find at home.

I travel to come away with stories. Ones I can tell for the rest of my life.

Which cities or places hold a special place in your heart? Do you remember more of what you did, or more of how you felt? What’s a city you’re dying to see? (And if you have city recommendations, here or abroad, I’m all ears. I love travel suggestions.)

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Mono Lake, California

Mono Lake IV

Mono Lake

Mono Lake II

Mono Lake III

Mono Lake V

So this place was awesome.

En route to Yosemite National Park last year, we made a stop at Mono Lake: a large, shallow lake formed at least 760,000 years ago with no ocean outlet. Without a route to the sea, high levels of salt accumulate in the lake — and the water becomes alkaline. Brine shrimp and flies thrive in this unique environment.

It’s a lake, y’all. In a desert.

Though we didn’t have much time to explore, I would love to go back and see Mono Lake’s famed tufa towers. And then we can, um, “detour” over to Yosemite . . . because seriously, you can’t have too much Yosemite in your life.

For more Wordless Wednesday, pop over here and here!