Day 24: San Francisco, CA by Wookie Kim

I woke up in a sketchy RV park. I was in no mood to hang out and cook pancakes. So I decided to hit the road and hope that something was open in Mendocino at 7 a.m. this Sunday. I found a family-run grocery store that had a breakfast bar--except everything was still cold or frozen. Turns out I needed to pick my food, pay for it, and then cook it using the microwave at the front of the store. It wasn't the tastiest meal, but it got the fueling job done.

And with that, I was off for San Francisco. The city has a weird place in my heart. I've spent most of my life living in, or being around, the east coast. That has meant that I've grown to become a person with a certain personality and vibe. At the same time, every visit I've made to the Bay Area has made me rethink whether I shouldn't just pick up and move west (actually, I've had similar feelings with respect to Portland and Denver). There's just something about the west coast lifestyle that I think matches my personality and passions. Most apparently, west coasters seem to weave outdoorsy things into their daily lives in a way that east coasters don't (or can't) do. And leading a healthy, balanced life appears to be more of a priority. The grass is always greener on the other side, though, so I have no real way of knowing whether this is just something that I'm sensing as an outsider.

I'd last been to the Bay Area in October. I was ready to be back. And I was ready to run in the Marin Headlands, a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. When I visited last fall, I had the chance to run with Larisa Dannis, a high school classmate of mine who has been tearing up the ultra running scene lately. She had shown me a few of her favorite trails. I wanted to be back to explore more of them. Larisa was unable to join me on my run, primarily because of the intense mid-day heat. But I arrived at the Tennessee Valley trailhead and decided to set out for Muir Beach via the Coastal Trail.

I begin by descending the Tennessee Valley Trail towards Tennessee Cove. I didn't quite reach the beach, but it looked beautiful as I turned off on the Coastal Trail.

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Unsurprisingly, the Coastal Trail eventually took me out to the coast. It was a hot day, but the sky was remarkably clear.

I'd planned for today to be a rest day, but I knew that the heat and the hills would prevent that from happening. Still, I kept my pace as easy as I could under the circumstances. Soon, I made it to Pirates Cove, which was just over the first major hill.

I continued and made it to the hill that overlooked Muir Beach. Behind me was the beautiful beach at Pirates Cove. Looking forward, I could see plenty of people taking advantage of a perfect beach day at Muir Beach.

I decided not to descend into Muir Beach. It was hot, and that would add both time and effort, things I didn't not want to expend at this point. I had things to do, people to see! So I backtracked to the Tennessee Valley trailhead, toweled off the dirt caked onto my sweat and sunscreen, and made my way into San Francisco. A few miles into my drive, I'd passed through a tunnel and had my first view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Each time I cross the Golden Gate Bridge, I'm reminded of the summer of 2006--the summer I biked 4,400 miles from New Haven to San Francisco. It was the best summer of my life, and the partial inspiration behind this summer's trip. I've compared that trip to this trip several times now, and I've realized that they are distinct in a variety of ways.

I made it into San Francisco, and immediately began meeting up with family and friends. I stopped to see my cousins and Abby, their new baby. I met up with other friends for afternoon beers at the Crafty Fox Ale House. I had dinner with more friends at Thep Phanom. And then I ended the day by cooling off with more beers at Toronado.

And just like that, the day was gone.