northern california

NorCal (Northern California) - Tech Mecca, Beautiful, Expensive

I had initially scheduled the trip out to the Bay Area to work remotely at my now previous company’s office. I had the flight booked already, so I was ready to go out and explore, enjoy, and catch up with old friends. Special thanks to Blaise and his roommates for letting me crash at their pad in Mountain View. If it weren’t for them I would have much less money because holy shit things are expensive out there. 

Fyi, I'm not affiliated at all with the companies linked to in this article. 

August 15, 2015 - Mountain View, Palo Alto

In any case, the first night I was there my friend and I went to a really great little restaurant called Lyfe Kitchen. I totally recommend it if you’re health conscious and all that. After that, some Thai tea hit the spot, sans “bubbles” for myself. 

August 16, 2015 - San Francisco

The next day I went into the “City,” San Francisco that is, and met up with some old friends for food and beer. Just so you know, people living outside of San Francisco in the bay area call it the “City.” No-one says “San Fran” evidently, which is disappointing because I really like saying “San Fran.” 

The restaurant we went to was called Jasmin’s Cafe. It was a pretty cool little place that had Korean and Mexican food. I opted for Bulgogi because I had no idea what the hell it was, and it turned out to be delicious. Btw, Bulgogi is marinated beef. We then headed over to Zeitgeist, a very chill beer garden. It kinda felt like I was back in Austin, for one because it was anomalously warm that day, and two because it had an eclectic crowd more on the tatted up and pierced side. In other words, it didn’t feel like the kind of place a Lamborghini driving Yuppie might frequent, but who the hell knows, it’s San Francisco! I had 3 King Leopold Belgian Stouts. They were delicious but strong, so I had to walk around for a few hours before I knew I could drive home. Ahh and nothing like paying for parking in a garage. 

Tip: just park your car on a street up by Golden Gate Park, then walk, take Uber, or rent a bike. There are “2 Hour Limit” warning signs everywhere, but when I asked a local they said they’d never seen anybody ticketed or towed. I guess the police have bigger things to worry about. I tested this out on my last day there, and my rental car was just fine. 

August 17, 2015 - Santa Cruz

The next day I decided to cruise across some mountains over to Santa Cruz. Initially, I thought about surfing, but then I remembered that I needed to save money, and it was not warm. I had just come from over 100-degree heat in Austin, so anything below 80 degrees felt fairly brisk. It turned out to be pretty rad anyway, as I found some great marking by the main beach. The main beach there, as far as I could tell, was called Main Beach. Neat right? 

Tip: Bring your own towel if you’re going to the beach in a touristy part of a place. 

I didn’t bring a towel and went into a few shops looking for one. I did find a few, but they were all 25-30 dollars, so I said screw it. 

I took some pictures of the sea and sea lions then went down to the water. 

sleeping sea lion

Main beach is cool. There is a boardwalk with restaurants and shops, and right behind the beach is an amusement park with rides and games. I walked among the amusement park people, then went across some train tracks with a sign overhead that said not to walk there because it was an active track. I don’t advocate doing it, but I definitely did it. You gotta be careful, as there are some gaps there that drop straight down. It would be bad enough to lose a sandal, but even worse to lose a life or limb. Anyway, I went this route so that I could hit up Seabright Beach. I brought my GoPro and tried to capture some Sea Lion footage, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t get any. Ho-hum. 

 

August 18, 2015 - Los Altos, San Francisco

The thing about being in Silicon Valley is that you really don’t escape the tech industry. I mean, it’s pretty much the ancient Rome of tech, so it’s understandable. Case in point: I went into a cool little coffee shop called Red Berry Coffee Bar in Los Altos to get some work done. There was a large table in the room on the second floor that had a number of ladies in their 40’s-50’s, and what were they talking about? Business, tech, funding, etc. etc. It was like they were having a board meeting for an awesome company already in existence. And you know what? They very well could have been, because Silicon Valley motherf$cker. 

That night I went into the city by train and took Uber once I arrived over to a place called Lion Pub. It had a very cool ambience, and it was great being able to catch up with an old friend/colleague whom I adore. I had a basil gimlet x2, and it was f*cking amazing. 

August 19, 2015 - Pacifica, Cupertino

My new roommates told me that Pacifica was beautiful and that it had an extravagant Taco Bell. I decided to go, but not for the Taco Bell..I gave up that heart stopping addiction a while ago. 

It was gorgeous. I parked for free next to a pier and golf course so that I could walk to Mori Point. It was overcast and cool at first, so if you go I recommend bringing a jacket. In fact, that calls for another tip.

Tip: Bring a jacket if you’re going to be in or near San Francisco, or if you’re right on the Pacific. It can get cool here my friends, and I'm not just talking about the hipsters. 

When you walk the trails, you’ll notice some that veer off and follow the coastline much more than the wider trail. There is also a sign that reads “Unmaintained trail, proceed at your own risk,” or something like that. So of course I had to take that trail. I don’t recommend it if you aren't into walking close to drop-offs into jagged abysses, but it really afforded some damn awesome views. 

Mori Point is rad, but you can keep on going past it (I started hiking north of Mori Point) and catch some really stunning views. 

Mori Point Pacifica

 

That night I went in and met up with some more homies from the old days in another life at another company in Cupertino. After that, it was time to send Blaise off to New Jersey/Iceland. I wasn’t literally going to ship him anywhere; that would be pretty weird, but it makes me wonder if he would be game if I asked him to give it a try.

August 20, 2015 - South Lake Tahoe

When I was about 14 or 15 the family took a vacation in our blue minivan over to NorCal. 

As part of that trip, we went to Lake Tahoe, but man I was in my “I’m too cool and morose for anything beautiful” stage, and just wanted to listen to Metallica in my headphones, which is what I pretty much did. 

Because I completely missed out on Lake Tahoe the first time around I decided to take a road trip. Let me tell you: it’s dark chocolate caramel for the eye. I snapped a LOT of pics there, and though I wasn’t planning on it, I took a dip in the clear crisp water. If you have a chance to go, go. I stayed on the cheap at the Hard Rock Casino & Hotel, which turned out to be pretty damn decent. I didn’t gamble or drink, but instead just kind of walked around a bit through the casino maze. Sometimes all that is needed after a day of driving and running around part of a lake is a good salad and a comfortable bed. Hell, the bed doesn’t even need to be that comfortable at that point.

 

August 21, 2015 - San Francisco

I was considering going over to Yosemite, but since two people had recently gotten the plague there, I decided to go back to the city, because honestly you never have quite enough time there. Also, WTF, the plague?

I was going to go to the Twin Peaks to get some good views of the city from high up, but it was overcast so I threw that idea out and went over to Golden Gate Park. This was another attraction of the city that I had been to, but really never experienced fully. It’s pretty great and reminded me a lot of Oslo for some reason. I guess because it was very green, overcast, and chilly. 

I parked on the east side of the park, and walked most of it, but got off on 36th and went up to Balboa to get some things done at a coffee shop called La Promenade Cafe (http://www.lapromenadecafe.com/). It’s pretty sweet, with a cool atmosphere and bookshelves with…books. 

I’ve been to NorCal a number of times, but this was probably the best trip because I had time to just explore and experience it without being a morose teen or there on business. 

You can see all notable pics from my NorCal trip here

I hope your life is stupendous right now, and if it isn’t, you keep your head up and see things with proper perspective. 

- Jeremy Nickel