Showing posts with label San Francisco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label San Francisco. Show all posts

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Bandits on the Road

Trampas, New Mexico, USA. 

 Amy had read of bandits on the roads in Mexico so it was with some trepidation that we decided to begin our journey driving north from Oaxaca to Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. That was over a month ago. We went, and returned the beginning of October with relatively few incidents. One week of our sojourn transpired in San Francisco. The most troublesome occurrences of our trip happened in the States. 

We drove so that we could load some of our essentials from storage in Santa Fe into our car. I have been wanting a desktop computer. The new iMac is wonderful. We don’t have a formal address in Oaxaca to mail order it, so on the way north we stopped in Mexico City at the Apple store. I deliberated buying it on the spot, or on the return. I did not want to buy it in the States because there are charges for bringing new electronics like computers into Mexico. To make a long story short, I ended up buying it and later discovering in the USA I would have paid 400.00 dollars less. It turned out we breezed through the border both times without hassle. 

The best part of our travels in Mexico was undoubtedly five days in Mexico City. It has a fabulous wealth of art and culture. We stayed in a wonderful hotel downtown that welcomed us with luxury and safety. Our time was relaxed and more or less untroubled; except for being cheated once by a taxi driver.

When we reached the outskirts of Santa Fe and stopped along a road next to a hiking trail through the hills, the smells of the high desert and intimately familiar terrain brought a flood of feelings into my bones. The wealth of over 40 years of lived life there came back all at once.

Dear friends extended to us hospitality. 

The trip to San Francisco was planned because both Amy and I have both had deep and meaningful visits to the city, but never together. We arrived to beautiful weather and rented a car for a week. The next day clouds blocked the sun and it stayed that way until we left. Furthermore, after visiting a wonderful museum on our first day, we came to our car in the parking lot only to discover a smashed window and glass all over the back seat. This was to temper our trip. 

Our remaining time in Santa Fe was spent with friends and going through the objects we have stored. It is mostly artwork of value, art materials, antiques, furniture, clothes and miscellany. 
I spent over 1000.00 USD buying art supplies impossible to find in Oaxaca. Amy also bought supplies.

Our return trip went smoothly and we crossed the border at Del Rio, Texas into Acuna, Mexico with ease. No encounters with bandits, just busy roads crowded with big trucks pulling trailers. 

Sunday, June 08, 2014

See Things Differently

Golden Gate Bridge, viewed from the Sausalito side
There is something about travel—new places bring new vision. That is, when we leave what we are accustomed to and set forth into the unknown, we will be surprised and see things differently. For some, this is dreadful . . . and for others, like me, it is necessary. My mother has not been away from her home for thirty years. She reads five books a week, watches the birds outside of her dining room window, smells the roses that are freshly cut and brought indoors from her garden, and sleeps whenever she feels like it. All comfortable to her so that she stays relaxed.

When I went to San Francisco last Tuesday, I took only sandals and a few light clothes to pack in my suitcase with art supplies. When the plane landed, the temperature was cool and moist, and because my favorite hotel is near the Pacific by the Golden Gate Bridge, it was even cooler, and foggy. OK, I was a bit cold, and wondered why I did not pack shoes. Even so, I love the place so much that during the next several days, wearing sandals with socks, I set about going forth to places that stimulate me and also hold memory from my last days with Naomi before she died. 

Painting of Muir Beach, oil on board, 12x9 inches
Wednesday, after coffee at my favorite java joint along Ocean beach, down the hill from my hotel, I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge toward Sausalito. It was cold and foggy but I knew that likely, the sun would be shining warmly on the other side. Sure enough, across the bridge, the clouds dissipated, and I was cruising through the hills in picturesque brilliance, arriving at Muir Beach. Flowers bloomed along the rugged coast and I set up my easel to paint in the early afternoon. I had the place to my self and worked undisturbed for a couple hours, listening to the breaking waves, smelling the sage and scented earth, feeling my primitive earth connection, and letting the spectacular scenery fill my eyes. While painting, the joy of giving freedom to impulse through art holds me to one place, and rather than be bored, I am struggling to express and give birth to art.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Candle Burning At Both Ends

Heidi Of The Mountains took off to Mexico for a week with a few girlfriends, and now it is my turn. 

San Francisco is just a few hours away by air and it holds special significance as being where I spent the last months of my oldest daughter's life with her. After Naomi's death in 1999, I would go back every spring and find the same places that now hold her footprint and summon my memory. I stay in the same hotel—The Seal Rock Inn, by Sutro Park, and it feels like home. Golden Gate Park is nearby, and I know it like the back of my hand. Each morning I go to a coffee house that is a local landmark, along Ocean Beach. I may stop and watch the surfers in wet suits, some of them kite surfing. 
Sutro Park, looking down to Ocean Beach

The Thinker, at Legion Of Honor Museum

Windmill in the Golden Gate Park

As usual, I will go across the Golden Gate Bridge, driving north to Sausalito and then over to the redwood forests. I like to go to Muir Beach, where Naomi and I visited, and I set up my easel and make a painting on the hillside by the coast, where I can look out over wildflowers to the little cove and see the Pacific Ocean waves frothing white as they churn toward the shore.

I always go to art museums, and check out the current exhibitions. And there is a sushi restaurant I always return to, and the Japanese chef is at the bar . . . it is a family business . . . and I notice how everything is the same; the wooden tables, the view to the street, the sushi bar with it's delicacies in view, and the same guy, aging little by little, year by year, but cordial and smiling as ever.

The hills along the Pacific Ocean near Muir Beach
When Naomi was with me, we were like candles burning at both ends. Each day we sought magic and healing, and though she was dying, I could see how she relished the moments she had left. For me, always next to her, every moment had a special poignancy, so when I go back, now, years later, the poignancy comes from touching familiar places that summon all my feeling from memories.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Impatient Friend

The sight of my sturdy green suitcase, waiting to be filled, resting by my front door, suddenly filled me with gladness. It had been in storage too long and now was like an impatient friend, beckoning to adventure. Just the sight of it reminded me of Paris and Rome, Nairobi, Bangkok, Berlin, Chicago and Auckland, and many places in between. A thrill passed through me. 
This trip is not so exotic, but more of a pilgrimage. After my oldest daughter Naomi died in 1999, for many years I would return to San Francisco in the spring to remember her and the life we lived there during the four months prior to her death. Those days were powerful, as we were constant partners, blazing through the days, burning the candle at both ends. Life seemed magnified by death—and so it is when I revisit places we visited during our last months together before she hastened on ahead of me into the next world.

The hotel I stay at in San Francisco, The Seal Rock Inn, is where Naomi and I lived. It is across the street from Sutro Park, where you can stand and see the Golden Gate Bridge. The first year, when I returned alone, a small shrine had been set up in my room as a gift by Cecilia, the manager of the front desk. The staff remembered Naomi. The Seal Rock is a family owned hotel with homespun values, and as I returned year after year, I counted on seeing Kate, an old woman who cleaned rooms. She was slow, but valued and we always had conversations. She read my book, A Heart Traced In Sand, about Naomi and our journey together. The last time I visited, Kate was 70 years old and still rode the bus to work and back home. That was four or five years ago, and now, I wonder, will she be there?