San Francisco

This past holiday season, more so than any other before it showed little mercy in way of rest or recovery. December is always brutal for us but this time it arrived far more ruthless and proved early on that it promised to be entirely consuming in every aspect imaginable. Not that we could help that. The circumstances this year especially heavy with the grief of my best friend's father passing in addition to the aftermath she was dealing with following the funeral where our door became a revolving host welcoming other friends from out of town too. The bunch of us managed to squeeze in some genuine "good times" in midst of fresh heartache. Like only old friends can do. Late nights out back by the fire bundled in wool blankets, endless snacking washed down with wine and whiskey cocktails in the kitchen (where we tend to gather by habit on such occasions) Last minute shopping in the rain, long drives and favorites songs of our youth on stereo. Sleep overs and disco dance parties with a house full of kids in the living room. All the best parts of a hard, hectic month where we decided (rather recklessly upon a cold Sunday hangover) just as we started to see light at the end of the tunnel - the whirlwind of December finally coming to a close, the always stressful push of our last orders shipping out in the same week that we host our annual Christmas party, and Arlo's birthday - that getting out of town for a few days never sounded better.

Up north made the most sense. Jessica and her wife were headed there already for a family gathering so a scenic road trip instead of a straight shot train ride made the most sense. We choose San Fransisco seeing how it was only a couple hours from her grandmother's house where we needed to drop her (and six bins of old family photos) in time for Christmas Eve and the idea of a big city decked out in seasonal gear was obviously appealing. And while the thought of three ladies and four boys wedged inside a giant van crowded with luggage, strollers, heirlooms and snacks sounds like a recipe for a holiday movie plot disaster, it ended up shockingly the exact opposite. The kind of road trip that tricks you into thinking you can take on the country at some point in that trusty Econoline so long as the music is right and the kids all this well behaved. Icing on the cake being wide open roads the entire 8 hour stretch reminding us of a time before non stop freeway constructions and clogged L.A traffic ailed every mile of every adventure we seek to secure. That, above all, was most possibly my favorite part.

In the city we checked into the Sheraton in Fisherman's Warf which is conveniently nestled within walking distance to all the great tourist spots which meant we were able to devour clam chowder all hours of the day whenever the craving struck, watch skateboarders (whom the boys claim to recognize as You Tube heros) slice around the streets, mixed with the homeless guys (whom the boys - at a certain point - had handed over "too many" of my loose dollars because of their new, sweet knowledge of the notion "without home" now in tact) and were able to wander around a gorgeous antique arcade, sip hot lattes in the freezing cold, hitch a ferry boat into Sausalito to have lunch at Pogios where Ben, Jessica's cousin resides as executive chef, return to the city to catch a trolly car to Union Square where we ran into Santa (yay!) made the long (painful) trek at a 90 degree incline all the way to The Fairmont to have dinner with Jessica's aunt and end a late, exhausting night at a warm welcoming bar called "Sweeny's" where we toasted the new year approaching and high jacked the jukebox before coming back to the hotel to collapse with sore legs and weary eyes.

The photos here, admittedly don't do the trip much justice. Like all of December, the real magic remains in the memories we made. And for that, all the rest we struggled through those few weeks, feels pretty damn worth it.

Post Footnotes:

- One of the main attractions was seeing the Full House house, which doesn't look anything like what we remember from the old sitcom. And poor Rex was heart broken to learn that Michelle (whom he was hoping might want to come out and "Play") is actually two 20 something year old billionaires existing in Google images who both reside in NY, and not in the cute white house we drove all the way there to visit.

- We didn't do Alcatraz because it never interests me, but one day I swear.

- Listened to THIS song too many times to count. Which Hayes was very grateful for.

- Found nothing but good things here

- Arrived JUST in time to experience the ricotta topped with fresh truffles served as the lunch special that day, in addition to all kinds of exotic Italian dishes prepared for us by Ben at Poggios

- Was sorely disappointed by the cold welcome we received at the General Store where I figured I might tie up the last of my shopping - or buy myself that cute white hat I've been eyeing - but was sadly turned off by the staff on site who are either legitimately disinterested in your presence, or just victims to the area's pretentious nature being embraced openly as acceptable means of civility. *I was scolded in the coffee shop next door, for taking a photo of my kid drinking a hot chocolate at the bar which prompted a stern warning from a dude with a beard in indigo over shirt who informed me that while I was "allowed" to take photos in there, I had to ask the Batista's permission if they were in frame (which they weren't, because, like I said - all focus on my cute boy downing his stupid overpriced hot chocolate in the single photo I dared snap with my camera) Needless to say, our time in that corner of the city was brief and could have easily been avoided altogether with sharper knowledge.

- Laughed alongside a grip of German tourists who all requested photos with Leon and walked away with same kind of delight that comes with snagging a selfie with your favorite celebrity. Of which I would argue Leon is still cooler than. But then again, that's mom talking. . .