Often—no, let’s change that—every day on holiday, Max will ask, “What was your favorite thing about the day?” Recently, I had to reply, “Not dying.” This was after taking the advanced trail through the Muir Woods. But we will cover more on that topic later. Let’s get started with our vacation recap of San Francisco, or as I like to call it, “Please baby Jesus, don’t let this be like the last time I was here when Shortbread blew her makeup off.”
The weather was pretty amazing. It was warm and sunny every day. This has not been my typical experience with San Francisco weather. Usually, it is overcast, and I am layered up for the chill, so this weather made the majority of the items in my luggage unnecessary. But then again, this doesn’t differ much from any other trip. Over-packers Anonymous, anyone?
On our first day, we did some light shopping, touring, and French fry eating. I was starving but we didn’t want to spoil dinner, so we popped into Burger Bar for a beer and some fries. Trust me, best skinny fries ever. Then it was time to head back to the hotel and freshen up for dinner. While we were waiting for Uber, a gentleman staying at the hotel stopped me, and said, “Excuse me. Can I ask you a question?”
I am pretty sure there was an eye roll involved before I replied, “Sure, if you have to.”
He asked, “Are my pants too big? I noticed you look nice, and your pants are not a big in the leg as mine? I am really nervous. It’s my first date, and I want to make a good impression.”
He had on a coat and slacks and a clean white shirt. I asked him to turn around and then instructed him to open his coat. Then I had him close it. Then I looked at it again. I had him button it up and turn around again. I must say he followed instructions well, and he was pretty attractive in a “straight baseball player” kind of way. (Now that I think about it I should have given him Liz’s number.)
At the end of the exercise, I gave him some parting advice: “You look fine—very nice actually. Please don’t be nervous about your pants. Have fun and no more drinks until dinner. Nerves tend to make us drink too much, and you don’t want that to be the first impression if you want to see this girl again.”
Just between us: His pants were a little big, but I didn’t want to make him more nervous.
Then it was off for a drink at the Waterbar. Yes, it is located on the water, and it has a bar. It also provides great people watching. But if you want to check out as many places as possible in a rather short timeframe, you need to have a drink at one place, and then go to another spot for dinner. For us, that meant dinner at The Slanted Door. It was delicious and packed.
On the second day it was brunch with Ken’s lovely goddaughter at Brenda’s. (She really is lovely. Upon seeing her photo, a friend asked, “Your goddaughter is Blake Lively?”) Brenda’s is a super popular brunch spot with some of the best grits west of the Mississippi.
Then we pointed the Mini toward the Muir Woods. Here is one thing I can tell you about the Muir Woods: They are truly beautiful and awe inspiring. This could be why a million plus people make the trek each year. And it’s probably why we had to park about two miles away. I felt like I had already hiked by the time we reached the visitor’s center. If you aren’t in shape, say from months of trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with your leg, yet you decide to take a more difficult trail to take in the ocean view—well, may the force be with you.
I felt the force—the force of my heart wanting to pound through my chest—along with profuse sweating and shortness of breath. After hiking up the mountain for what seemed like 25 miles (but really was maybe two), I thought perhaps this could be my final resting place. I was paler than Nicole Kidman. All I could see were more and more tiny steps and grooves up an even steeper slope, and it all started to stretch farther in the distance like something out of that classic Hitchcock movie, Vertigo.
Wanting to reach the top, I considered employing the butt scooch. It’s something I learned from my acting teacher when she had too much whiskey and couldn’t walk up the stairs ,so she had to go via the butt-meets-step method. But it didn’t sound very pleasant and neither did death, so I started back down the trail. Although Max was disappointed that he didn’t get to reach the top, Max also began to feel the force. His was the force of nature. I’ll just leave it at that. I may go back next year to see if some poison ivy might be growing in a particular location.
On a happier note, I feel like we covered more of San Francisco this go than all my previous trips combined. We explored from the Tenderloin and the Gold Coast to Lombard, Union, Fillmore, and beyond. We also explored Sausalito and even made some time for some culture at the de Young Museum. The views from the Hamon Tower are spectacular.
Now back to our culinary exploration of the city. We did SPGR in the Fillmore area for fantastic pasta, although the corners of my ravioli were dryer than the heels of my feet three weeks after a pedicure. But everyone else loved their dishes. Other delicious meals included dinner with more relatives of no known blood relation at Park Tavern. It’s a great space, and I had the most amazing roasted chicken ever. It ranks right up there with the $100 Thomas Keller chicken at Todd and Ceron’s wedding (featured inVogue!) And we discovered some delicious new wines. Image that.
On Sunday Max said he had a surprise. The last time he surprised me was with a marriage proposal at Cartier on Fifth, where I had arrived with acute food poisoning. So when he said he had another surprise, I immediately reached for a bottle of Imodium. But thankfully, this was not one of life’s milestone moments but rather a relaxing day at the spa at Cavallo Point, a former army post now turned world-class resort.
This was the perfect way to end a holiday: Lunch by the meditation pool, an excellent massage, and a wine tasting on the veranda looking at the bay. It’s heaven! I did not want to leave and neither did my Orlebar Brown shorts, as they somehow found the only loose nail in the city and attached themselves to it. Like I have always said, Mr. Jim just can’t have nice things. We finished off the day with dinner at Boulevard, and what was yet another wonderful meal.
So that was my trip. Now you know where to eat, where to relax, and which trail not to take through the Muir Woods. You also know when it best to tell the truth or maybe just a little white lie. (Mr. Too Big Pants, I hope you had a good date!) Happy Friday!