Two years ago, tomorrow, Danni and I left on an adventure across the globe, all by ourselves, to go see Cameron. It is still one of my favorite trips and I think of the fun time the three of us experienced together often.
Cameron was attending Texas Tech University and was doing a study abroad. She left in early September, all by herself without knowing a soul, flew to London, where she joined other college students to study.
She attended Kingston University, southwest London, about a thirty minute train ride outside of London. The university was founded in 1899. She stayed in a dorm with three other dormmates–boys and girls. A few of them did not speak English. She luckily had a bedroom and bathroom all her own.
One should constantly be growing and learning and I believe I am. I have grown into a person who loves life. I love so many things around me. Waco is one of those things.
Sometimes I feel like I not only have found my words but also my eyes.
Or do I now see Waco for the beauty it is because I now write and I am always looking for stories?
I see beauty all around me in the simplest things. I write about all those things on my blog and also, occasionally I get to write about those Waco things for the paper I write for, The Hometown News and for The Groove Entertainment Magazine.
When we were in San Francisco, last week, not everything was roses. Wednesday, we had a day. I suppose you could say it was one to remember. And while it was not perfect, it was still fun and after all, we were in San Francisco.
We started the day off with coffee and macaroons, so how bad could that be?
We headed to Fisherman’s Wharf and up past TheCannery. From there we walked up the hill to Ghirardelli Square. We were trying to find a place to eat lunch, outside of course. (my favorite!)
We settled on a great sidewalk café-type-seafood place, Lew’s Fish Shack, on Jefferson Street.
We watched people, rested our feet, talked about our morning and enjoyed probably the best lump crab meat crab sandwich ever. When we were finished, we ubered to Crissy Field.
We were told this was the best place to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Crissy Field, or Crissy Beach, is an old air strip that is now a public beach and wildlife preserve, and just so happens to be butted up to the Golden Gate Bridge.
In every big city I travel, I have a fascination with a piece of architecture-generally one building or structure. The Eiffel Tower, The Empire State Building, Big Ben, and The London Eye. (London gets two favorites because it’s that amazing!) Even Waco—I love the Alico Building.
I found my newest building-love. I have a new fondness for this magical bridge. It seems magical to me because it’s always hiding in the low clouds or the fog. Mystical. Mysterious. Eerie.
I was always looking for it no matter what part of San Francisco we were in. If I could see the bay, I would be asking, “Can you see the bridge?”
And when I got a glimpse of her red beams, I would get so excited. I was hoping the weather would clear up so I could see her in all her glory.
We were told that clouds roll in over the hills. Like they get stuck. The clouds form there right over her, hiding her beauty.
This makes the bridge even more appealing to me.
Back to the story…we get out of the Uber and because I am so excited to get out and start taking pictures, I stupidly left my phone in the car. I did not realize this until he had driven away and we had begun our walk closer to the Golden Gate Bridge. I had already started taking pictures with my camera before I noticed.
I was a bit freaked out. My phone is an extension of my hand. Truly.
Mark nicely stayed back, near the road, in case the driver came back. Danni and I started the long walk to the bridge, all the while I am freaking out.
So this was not as enjoyable as I had anticipated and dreamed of. I couldn’t wait to take selfies with the bridge behind us. I was so mad at myself.
Danni was brilliant and got on the app, logged in under my account and magically got ahold of the Uber driver. (maybe the bridge has magic after all?) HE HAD MY PHONE!!! The day was saved, although I did not get my phone back until we returned to the hotel after 11:00 p.m., that evening.
Going all day without my phone. I did it. I survived. We should probably all go one day without our phones every once in a while, just to prove we can. Of course, I had no choice.
The end of the story…we had to walk forever to get to an area where we could get another Uber. And I complained the entire time. It was approximately a two-mile walk. And I had knee surgery in March. And I had already been walking all morning. And I didn’t have my phone.(excuses!)
That day, our Fitbit’s showed we had I walked approximately 20,000 steps.
Back to the beauty of the bridge…don’t hide your beauty behind your clouds. Let your beautiful self-show.
One of the best things from our trip to San Francisco and Napa was the weather and the natural fall colors, even in the big city.
It’s no secret that I love fall and all the feels of fall. The temperatures, the colors, the smells. It’s also no secret that I live in Texas and we have very few of these feels.
“Life is either an adventure…. or nothing at all,” said Helen Keller.
Helen Keller didn’t have the ability to see or hear but she still knew what adventure was. She was a smart girl.
Our adventure started in San Francisco and it was full of all the glory of fall. The trees were beautiful and even though it was a large urban city, it was full of streets and neighborhoods that were tree lined and full of color.
Our view out our hotel was stunning because we saw the bay, the wharf and all that entails. And these trees.
Our window opened wide and when we were in the room, it was open. I would have slept with it open, if it were up to me. You could hear all the street music (this reminded me of Paris and New Orleans). You could even hear the sea lions barking and that was lovely. You could feel the cool air. You could smell the sea.
The neighborhoods were full of touches of fall, both manmade and natural.
The storefronts had pumpkins and Halloween décor.
We walked up (most everything was up!) the hill to Ghirardelli Square where the stores were lovely and the smell of chocolate was even more lovely.
There was a fountain in the center of the square that had been emptied and the water had been replaced with pumpkins–of every size and color. It was a sight for these fall-loving eyes.
In the streets and on the sidewalks, there were beautiful fall colored leaves. That had fallen. (duh!)
I would love a bouquet of fresh fall leaves. They really can be almost as pretty and vibrant as flowers. They probably wouldn’t have the same lovely fragrance though, would they?
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”- Albert Camus
Napa was also full of these colors, and the cooler fall temps. In the perfect rows of grapevines, in the rolling hills that seems to be like a fall patchwork quilt. And of course in the trees. All the sights mixed with drizzling rain and cool temperatures, I knew I was no longer in Texas.
Our view out our patio in Napa was another lovely sight. Grapevines, that were changing colors, and a statue of a grape stomper.
One day, Danni and I were sitting on the patio and I saw something moving. I wish we had binoculars but we did have my camera with a zoom.
A sweet little jack rabbit. His big ears were swishing when I first saw him. In our family, we love bunnies and see them as a sign of peace.
This was a very peaceful place.
The wineries that we visited were all full of natural vegetation that was feeling the autumn temperatures. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of all the fall beauty.
It was everywhere. Even growing up the ancient walls of the wineries.
“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.”- John Burroughs
Yes, the weather definitely played a part of our experience in California. It was almost another character to the story. When we stepped off the plane in Dallas, it all came back, hitting us in the face-like a bad pie. It was like walking back in time into August all over again.
Thanks for welcoming us home, Texas. I love you, but I am not sure why I live here in you.
Love and blessings~dd
This is not the first time I have written about fall leaves. To read more of my love for these beautiful shapely gifts from God, read here.
Saturday was one to remember. As the popular saying goes, “Best day ever!’
Our group of 17 boarded our private bus and headed to our first winery. The drive there was simply incredible. I’m really loving the weather here, the fall colors and even the drizzling rain can’t be complained about. It seems to make it that much more dreamy. That much more not-Texas-like. It feels like fall. It looks like fall. It smells like fall and I am in love with every aspect of this place.
I love everything that is old; old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines.” Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield
We drove through Napa Valley and into Rutherford and I couldn’t help but take a million pictures of the grapevines, the fall trees, and the hills lined with both. The fiery reds and brilliant oranges. The golden yellows. (Can you tell I was happy with the colors of fall in this place?)
Our driver told us the week before was in the 90’s so I felt blessed to have this weather. If it looked and felt like Texas, I don’t think it would have seemed as dreamy. We were all in awe of the beauty.
Our first stop was at Mumm Napa.
It was a quaint little vineyard with shiplap and succulents so I was happy. Extremely light and airy-and I’m not speaking of the wine. The grounds were beautiful and the view of a hill, lined with rows of grapevines, was breathtaking. (I’m sorry for all the adjectives!!)
They had a gorgeous long table set up for the seventeen of us with three champagne glasses each. The rustic barn wood table completely finished the loveliness of the whole experience.
We tried three sparkling wines and I loved them all. (Duh!) A dry, a rose and a sweeter version.
The whole experience, I thought at the time, couldn’t be topped, but I was wrong.
Louis Pasteur said it best. “Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.”
After shopping and shipping wine home, we jumped back on the bus and headed to what soon would top Mumm Napa.
The next stop was my favorite of the day. Not neccesarily better–just different in a lovely way.
More lush grounds, rolling hills, lined with rows of grapevines and a beautiful house built in the 1800’s. The grounds surrounding the house were perfectly manicured and the entire thing looked like something you would see in the countryside of London.
And another beautiful, long table filled with empty wine glasses.
This was Flora Springs, named after a lady named Flora that lived to see her 100th birthday. (Perhaps all the wine??)
We sat outside under a red barn-like structure that was open and in the fall air. And it began a misting rain, although we were completely sheltered from the mist. We started with a wonderful Sauvignon Blanc and then moved to the reds.
We had lunch served to us that just might have been the best sandwich I’ve ever had–fresh French bread, ham, turkey, and all that goes with plus pasta salad and grape leaves filled with something delicious and fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese. For desert, a simple chocolate covered strawberry. Perfection.
Was it the meal or perhaps the experience of the surrounds?
We were able to tour the cave-like area where they store the wines in barrels. Lots of information, lots of pictures and lots of wine. And lots of laughs.
The experience at Flora was my favorite but there was one more winery to visit that was equally dreamy.
Off to another and it seemed every time the 17 of us got back on the bus we were a bit louder than the time before!
Francis Ford Coppola. Heard of him? He is not only known for some pretty awesome movies but also some pretty awesome wine.
Coppola owns Inglenook Winery. A very dark, ancient, European-looking winery that was fairytale-like, and once again, the grounds were an unbelievable perfection of all the fall colors and the drizzly rain made it seem even more so like something in London.
We toured and drank (I mean tasted) and drank and toured (I mean tasted). More barrels, information and gunite-lined caves full of wine barrels.
And again, the most beautiful long table, this time with charcuterie boards full of yumminess-everything needed to accompany delicious wine.
All three wineries, equally beautiful, romantic, dreamy–with impressive wine, but yet all three different and offered a completely different experience.
Good wine, good food, good fun with good people. Perfect day. Best day ever. A day to remember.
Feeling happy and exhausted this morning as I sit outside on our balcony, looking at grapevines that are the prettiest colors of fall, I write. Finally.
Confucius say, “Whereever you go, go with your heart.”
We had trouble with our wifi in San Francisco and I am sad I have failed my thirty-wonderful days of writing challenge by missing Wednesday through Friday. I will make this up( to myself) by writing through November a few days.
As I predicted, I fell in love with the city of San Francisco. Mainly the wharf area and North Beach.
We took the pups to be boarded, picked up Danni and off we were…to the airport.
Sadly, Cameron and Alex were not able to join us on this trip. As sad as I am and as much as I will miss them, they have their own lives they lead.
Alex is in his college roommate’s wedding. Him and Ben were also both Delt’s and I really am upset we are missing the wedding because we love Ben and I would love to go to Fredericksburg. (Napa, though!!)
Cameron is in grad school, graduating in December, and has decided to be all-grown-up and responsible-acting (I am actually very proud of her!). She has class, homework, volunteering and her internship. The therapeutic horse ranch where she interns is having a huge fundraising event Saturday and Cameron had to be there.
So it is Mark, Danni and I. We are being joined by 15 others on Thursday and heading to Napa.
This happens to me quite regularly and I believe that is why I love to travel so very much.
Yes, getting away is nice. Seeing new things and having new adventures and eating new food. That is all wonderful and a wonderful part of traveling.
But I truly fall in love with places.
I read a quote by a writer that seems to artfully describe what happens when I travel. Patrick Wiltse sums it up beautifully.
“As you immerse yourself in an area over the course of a walk, you form a relationship with that area and your world expands, adding a new piece to the ever growing mosaic of the earth that has passed beneath your feet.”
When we visit a city, we like to walk the city. Take out and explore. Find places to eat and places to sit and watch people. I am known as the outdoorsy-type. And by that I mean– I like to sit outside and have drinks, relax, talk and watch people.
I believe when you actually connect your feet to the city streets you become a part of the city, you learn more about it and the people. You blend in with the city. (unless you are really looking like a tourist!) Become one. You merge with it.
A piece of my heart stays there in the new city I explore. I yearn to go back.
This has happened with New York, Paris, Rome and many places in the U.S., but none more than London. I have been blessed to travel to London two times and I will go back. God willing.
This produces a syndrome called vacation depression.
Do not laugh. This is real.
As we travel to a new city this week, a city we have never discovered, I fear this place will take another piece of me. I have always wanted to go to San Francisco but have never been.
I am excited about all the sights and sounds and tastes of this place.
The legendary Chronicle columnist Herb Caen said, “A city is not gauged by its length and width, but by the broadness of its vision and the height of its dreams.”
Caen also said, “One day if I go to heaven… I’ll look around and say, ‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.'” (Now I haven’t traveled there yet, but I am pretty sure I won’t agree with that quote.)
Oscar Wilde seems to feel the same way. “It’s an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco. It must be a delightful city and possess all the attractions of the next world.”
But the most famous San Franciscan quote has to be by Mark Twain. “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”
Waco. Wacotown. It has a new place on the map. The map of destinations. People are actually traveling here. To see Waco. It is getting recognition. Some good. Some bad. But we, as Wacoans, are getting noticed. And everyone knows Magnolia is playing a large part. Baylor, good and bad, has also played a part in the notoriety.
People from all over the United States are traveling to our small urban town and exploring what we have to offer.
I was blessed, as a journalist, and as a fangirl, to be invited to the media event last year, when Magnolia Market opened. I was able to interview JoJo and was blessed to bring Cameron, my daughter, along to photograph everything.
I also was lucky to be a guest photographer and Instagramer, called a baton photographer, for the ilovetexasphotoInstagram account. I did this in March, less than a week before I had ACL replacement surgery. I hobbled along Waco, photographing my favorite places. I then blogged about the experience and all my Waco-loves and you can read about those three days here.
I started thinking, all these people are coming to Waco to visit the silos and Magnolia Market. Then what? There is far more to do in Waco. But do these visitors to our town know about these cool spots to visit, eat and drink?
So I wrote an article for Culture Trip, an online travel magazine, based in London. Yes, London! I wrote the article for Culture Trip Texas, a hub of the larger magazine. You should use this as a great source when traveling. There are articles about every major city in the world-including Waco!
I was looking at Pinterest last night and I was shocked to find my article for Culture Trip had been pinned 1,8K times!
This was a ohhh-mmmm-geeee moment for me!
Tomorrow, for Day Seven of my thirty-wonderful days of writing on my blog, as part of the #write31days challenge, I will link more Waco articles that I have written.
I write for a small newspaper and a small entertainment magazine in Waco, and I love it. I get to write about Waco. I get to write about charity events, businesses, and people that inspire me, in Waco.
I love my job. Waco and writing and writing about Waco make me happy. I try to write positive, uplifting pieces that help people.