Category Archives: San Francisco Bay Area

Reflections of life in the Bay Area

Dallas and I decided to go to Durango, CO to visit with our friends and pet-sit for them and their friends over the holidays.  In the month that we were living in the bay area, we were able to get by working random jobs found on craigslist.  We also could not have stayed as long as we did without the hospitality of Dallas’s sister, Sherilyn, and step-mom, Sandra.  We also were warmly welcomed by Dallas’s friend Linus and his family, his cousin Tommy and his girlfriend, and his Aunt Lisa (who makes excellent banana bread) and her husband John.  I am very grateful for Dallas’s friends and family and so glad I could meet them!

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Apparently, I have really nice feet. Who knew??

Dallas was lucky to find a part-time job as an assistant for a man who had just had foot surgery and needed help running errands, picking the kids up from school, and general help around the house.  He was just able to start driving again the week we left California, so the timing worked out pretty well.  I found gigs as a foot model for ankle jewelry being sold on Amazon, and spent another three days as a background runner for a Dick’s Sporting Goods commercial.  Sandra also gave me some work, as she needed help tagging assets for one of the biotech companies that employs her as their facilities manager.  For the amount of time we had in the area, we did pretty well.  Living as a temporary resident of the bay area, I was able to observe and take note of a few unique characteristics.

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Biking around downtown San Francisco, everyone is in a hurry.  There are also lots of traffic lights (and tons of traffic).  I got to practice my track stand and acceleration from a stop countless times on each commute, while other bike commuters rolled on through most of the lights.  This never happened in Portland.  I wonder if the difference is that there is more enforcement of traffic laws applied to cyclists in Portland, or if they are just better educated since there is a higher percentage of bike commuters there.  San Francisco has more tourists, and many more people riding around on rental bikes, but it is clearly the commuters who were riding on city streets and disobeying traffic signals.  I also noticed that the bike share program, which was recently initiated in the bay area and is expected to be one of the largest in the country after its planned expansions, is getting plenty of use in the city.  In Redwood City, however, where there is a hub of bike share bikes, I didn’t notice anyone using them.  It is definitely promising to see so many people commuting by bicycle, and so many bike lanes in the area, but it has a ways to go to catch up to Portland (which, doesn’t even have a bike share program, yet).  Most of the bay area is accessible by bike, but (especially as you get further from the city) there are plenty of inconveniences and obstacles for cyclists to endure in order to avoid autocentric areas and unsafe roads, heavy with multiple lanes of fast-moving traffic.

Another noticeable thing about the bay area is the smog.  We actually lucked out with pretty sunny weather every day that we were there, but some days you could see a tan haze hovering over the city.  This is apparently normal, especially in the summertime.  Every time I went outside, there were numerous planes in the air.  Sometimes you could see ten or more planes in the sky around the airport, which wasn’t too far from where we stayed with Sandra.  This, plus all of the traffic on the roads, probably leads to some pretty unhealthy air quality.

While I really enjoyed my time in the bay area, I’m glad that we didn’t stay long enough to get caught up in whatever the big hurry is around San Francisco.  Everywhere we turned, everyone seemed so rushed and stressed out, and most drivers seemed angry.  I’m sure it’s because the cost of living is so high, people have to work so much just to pay for their home, food and gym membership – they probably don’t have any time to spend at home, eat good food, or work out.

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A view of the city from Coyote Point Park in San Mateo

On a positive note, San Francisco is one of the greatest cities in North America.  There is literally anything you can imagine available at your fingertips.  There are numerous selections of restaurants and markets for any kind of food you could want – plus, there are courier services that will deliver the food to you if you don’t want to leave your condo.  Pretty much anywhere is accessible via public transit, and there are transportation options for everyone – trains, subways, buses, streetcars, electric trams, ferries, cars, and bikes.  As for entertainment and recreation, there are museums and theaters that attracts all of the big names in art, music or acting and there are parks and gyms for any kind of activity you would ever want to do.  For water sports, you can go swimming, sailing, kiteboarding, kayaking, rowing or windsurfing on the bay, along the Pacific coast or on one of the lagoons (we witnessed part of a rowing regatta in the lagoon behind Sandra’s house two days before we left).  There is excellent road cycling and mountain biking just outside of the city.  AND it seems there are job opportunities everywhere – San Francisco seems like the place to be if you want to start up a company or are involved with any kind of technology.

Dallas and I took a one way flight to Durango, but we left our bicycles behind so we do expect to be back in the bay area to pick up where we left off on our cycling adventures.  Until then, we will definitely be borrowing mountain bikes and skis, and doing a lot of trail running with other people’s dogs!

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Trying to be good travelers

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What happened on Dallas’s last day of riding before he reached San Francisco remains a mystery for now, as I have given him ample time to update us and cannot wait any longer to update our readers on where we are and what we’re doing now!  Not that it’s very exciting.  We have paused our bicycle touring again to spend time with family in the bay area and to figure out our next move.  We have been considering a variety of options, which I wasn’t going to reveal until we made a final decision, but maybe writing it all out and sharing the possibilities with everyone will help us come to a conclusion in a more timely manner.  So, here they are:

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Option 1: Go sailing!
We have been fortunate enough to meet up with David, a sailor who owns a hand built 40 foot catamaran sailboat and is looking for crew for some segments of his sail around the world.  He is very much like us in that he has been traveling and working random jobs wherever he stops, literally going wherever the wind blows him.  We started talking to him via e-mail after the website, findacrew.net, matched our profiles.  He was in Alaska for the summer, but never made it far enough north to see us while we were in Skagway.  We finally caught up to him in San Francisco where he is anchored while working on replacing the hatches, and we had the chance to go sailing with him around San Francisco Bay last week.  I have to admit that sailing across the ocean would be my number one choice, since I started my journey two years ago with the hopes of combining bicycling and sailing, and still I have yet to actually sail anywhere.  However, the boat is a work in progress, and David has not done an ocean crossing yet.  I have no doubt that he is taking all the appropriate safety precautions and am confident in his sailing ability as a captain, but we are still not ready to trust our lives to a small sailboat that is untested on such a long journey.  If David decides to head south first, to San Diego, before going west, we do want to join him.  Hopefully we will know more about his plans by the end of November.

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Option 2: Bike South
We can always hop back on our bikes, but it’s going to get a lot colder before it starts getting warmer.  It only makes sense to go south.  We could bike to San Diego, and potentially crew on a sailboat from there, or keep biking south.  There are a completely different set of risks associated with this plan, but we would get to work on our Spanish.  Dallas was hoping to have saved up some more money before getting into South America, since it may be hard to find legitimate work outside of the US.  If we do go this route, we could spend the next year or two bicycling around South America.

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Option 3: Work seasonally in Durango, CO
Out friends, Anna and Brendan, from Sockeye, live in Durango, Colorado.  We really enjoyed getting to know them while we were all living in Skagway, and we even got to witness their wedding in July!  They have extended an offer for us to live with them for the winter season.  Durango Mountain Resort is hiring people for the ski and snowboard season, and it would be a good way for us to earn some extra income before leaving the country.  It would also be cold, and would delay our departure from the US for a little bit longer.  Although, we would get to be a little closer to friends and family for a little bit longer.

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Option 4: House sit and work odd jobs through the holiday season, and then bike south or sail across the Pacific.
Thanksgiving is approaching quickly, and it would be nice to stay close and accessible to family throughout the holidays (and so I can attend my cousin’s wedding).  While we’re already in the country, we may as well stay a little bit longer so we can afford to visit with family.  House-sitting is a great way to stay somewhere, rent-free, and lots of people need house-sitters during the holidays (including our friends in Durango).

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We recently discovered a very cool website that connects homeowners to trustworthy house-sitters while they are away for extended vacations or business trips.  The website is called trustedhousesitters.com and we have just started exploring the possibilities of living in beautiful homes in all parts of the world, watching over the house and sometimes caring for pets and plants while the owners are away. There are several websites like this, but trustedhousesitters.com seems like the best so far.  Membership is required in order to apply for house-sitting jobs, and there are ways for previous homeowners, employers, or others to leave references on the house-sitter’s character and caretaking abilities.  There’s even a section for a police check, so you can show that you have no criminal record.  We see the site as a great tool for helping us find places to stay without the commitment of a lease or the cost of rent, while also providing homeowners or pet owners a piece of mind, knowing their home will be in good hands.  If we do land a gig through this site, I will update our readers with a more detailed review.

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We have been entertaining all of these options, and are open to other wild and crazy suggestions that people may throw our way.  Don’t hesitate to comment on this section!  It may not affect our decision, but it’s good to hear what y’all think.  While in the bay area, Dallas and I have been lucky enough to stay with his sister, Sherilyn, and her family, his friend, Linus, and his family, and his step-mom, Sandra.  We are working temporary jobs until we move on to the next locale!

“A good traveler has no plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu