California, Here I Come

“Driving down the 101… California, here I come!”

Another summer, another trip to California.  On the flight over, I couldn’t get the song “California” by Phantom Planet out of my head.  I was just way too excited to be back in Cali.  The moment I stepped off the plane and into the 60 degree weather, I knew once again, that I was back home.

Business Can Be Fun

The first part of the trip was spent near San Francisco in meetings with my Uncle and Dad.  As an intern, I didn’t have much to contribute to the conversations, but enjoyed meeting the amazing people that run California-based companies.  These people are so cool.  For example, the first company we visited had their office located on top of a Starbucks in Palo Alto.  Sick.

After grabbing some incredible burritos (the food in California is like nothing else), we stopped by Zombirunner.  This is T.H.E. store to go to if you’re an ultrarunner.  The owner is a legend, Don Lundell.  In 2001, he ran the “Grand Slam of Ultrarunning”… four of the most intense 100 mile races in the span of four months.  I just walked around in awe of all of the gear, shoes, and nutrition that they had.  Oh, and they even had their own coffee shop in the store!

Cruising San Francisco

Tuesday was an awesome day.  Around 5:30am, we all got up to run on the Bay and watched as San Francisco slowly came alive for the day.  We then made our way downtown and found a sweet breakfast place called Breaking Bread.  This is where my Dad and Uncle left to go to more meetings and I was on my own to explore.  I made my way to the Bay and walked around the market.  Lots of fresh food and good conversation.  Hmm… where to?

Although I really wanted to avoid the crazy train system, I hopped on the F line and took it up to Pier 39.  This place was packed and reminded me of Disney World with all of its crazy shops and places to eat.  At the end of the Pier was a nice view of the Bay and the infamous Alcatraz.

Entrance to Pier 39

At this point, I was getting a little hungry and decided to have “lunch” at Ghiradelli Square.  So, I made my way up the streets and toward the smell of chocolate.  The chocolate shop was so intense and I really thought I was going to come out of there with bags of chocolate, but I ended up settling for a Mint Bliss milkshake from their ice cream shop.  I have never had a more expensive or more rich milkshake in my life.   Alternating scoops of mint and chocolate ice cream with dark chocolate fudge and whip cream.  It was so rich that it took me 45 mins to finish it, but at least I didn’t need lunch anymore :).

With a full belly, I looked for a place to lie down.  Luckily, there was a park right on the bay looking out to the Golden Gate Bridge.  Of course, it was perfect weather outside (no surprise).  This was me for the next hour.

Chilling in the California Sun

Next stop was the San Francisco Office.  Why are the people that work at Greenpeace so cool?  I have no idea, but Mary Sweeters (head of the Greenpeace Semester) absolutely made my day.  She not only introduced me to practically everyone in the office, but scored me some sick Greenpeace posters.  Ones that I have been wanting ever since I saw them hanging in DC back in May.  At the office, I also got to talk to one of the activists working on the Arctic campaign against Shell.  We had an awesome discussion about the campaign and the future of the fight for the Arctic.  Eventually, I had to go (but trust me, I didn’t want to at all).  Mary Sweeters… you are awesome.

Let’s Redefine Sketch

Well, Golden Gate Park wasn’t the most friendly place in the world hah.  I entered the park through the main entrance.  Big mistake.  I stumbled into Camp Sketch. These people were trippin hardcore and doing all sorts of nutsy stuff.  Someone had their eyes on me and I heard a slurred “Hey, buddy.”   Dude, don’t you even think about getting near me.

I escaped the first round of crazies, but found the whole park to be a maze filled with “little surprises”.  Overall, this place wasn’t what I expected and of course, my phone died and I had to make my way through the park blind.  I got really lost, but finally stumbled to a nicer part of the park that housed the Cal Academy of the Sciences, statues of important people, and an art museum.  It was actually a really interesting place and I finally got a chance to recharge my phone and call my ride.

Tucked in the middle of the Golden Gate Park

For supper, we ate at the “only sustainable sushi restaurant in North America” — Tataki.  This place was co-owned by someone at Greenpeace and had incredible sushi.  Rainbow roll for the win.   What a day.

Training With A Reward

Wednesday was a full day of ISV training.  Don’t ask what ISV training is, I don’t really know.  What I do know though is that Salesforce knows how to treat people to dinner.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The training took place in an epic skyscraper in downtown San Francisco.  Once we found the office, I noticed that one of the trainers had a 100.2 sticker on his Mac.  Hmmm… this might be interesting.  A quick Google search told me that the 100.2 sticker was for the Western States 100.  The Western States is the “Boston” of ultra-running, so I was obviously excited.

After a full day of training on a subject that I truthfully did not understand, I had an opportunity to talk to the trainer about his sticker.  It turned out that he has been putting his name in the Western States lottery for a couple of years now and is hoping again to get in this year.  Although he’s relatively new to the sport of ultra-running, he has really dove headfirst into the sport and not only has a coach, but a massage therapist too.  He has also been to Colorado to explore the mecca of trails there and crewed for previous years of the Western States 100.  We went on and on talking about everything from nutrition to races to athletes (such as Anton, Scott, and Dean).  It was nice to talk to someone really into the sport of ultra-running.

So… supper.  Not only did the restaurant have top notch food, but it had a nice view of the Bay and overlooked where U2 filmed part of Rattle & Hum (specifically the song All Along the Watchtower).  U2 is my favorite band, so this was obviously exciting.  Our meal was so good and started off with over 10 full plates of appetizers before proceeding to an entree-sized salad, main course, and dessert.  If we hadn’t been there for over 3 hours, then I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish everything.  And of course, the sunset was incredible.  Every sunset in San Francisco is special…. the fog rolls in over the mountains and over the city each night.

View from the Restaurant

Overall, the first part of my week in California was incredible and I knew the actual vacation would be even more spectacular…

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One thought on “California, Here I Come

  1. Pingback: Exploring California | Running For The Wind

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