You know how people always ask things like, ‘What’s the best $20 you ever spent?‘ I finally have an answer! It’s my oversized, over worn, obnoxiously yellow, cat-hair-filled San Francisco zip-up fleece jacket.
It’s my go-to just about every night at home (just ask my family). And I wear it most of the year, as we often keep the house somewhat uncomfortably cool (except for in summer when it’s somewhat uncomfortably warm … call us environmentalists?).
I love my San Francisco fleece for its comfort, but it’s got a story behind it too … one that dates back to the summer of 2007.
And it starts with a quote from Mark Twain, who famously said, ‘The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.’ I know, it’s pretty overused, and maybe a little cliche by now, but I wish I’d listened! Because in 2007, my family and I were right there with other out-of-touch tourists from the East Coast buying jackets on the streets of San Francisco to stop shivering in August.
Then again, I’m kind of glad, cause more than a decade later, this fleece is the single-most durable piece of clothing I think I’ve ever bought … for a mere $20 and commemorating one of our best family vacations ever.
My family’s enchantment with all things ‘out West’ started in 1991, when my parents began snow-birding in Laguna Beach, CA to avoid our harsh NY winters. The reason I remember is that I was pregnant with Jamie at the time, somewhat uncomfortable and sleep-deprived when our phone kept ringing at 2 am. Long story short is that it was my mom – confused about the time zone difference, waiting until later in the evening to try to reach me, then getting angry and frustrated that I wasn’t running to pick up the phone in the middle of the night!
Anyway, my parents fell in love with California and my dad would often call us when we were out shoveling snow to say, “Sorry to tell you this, but I’m sitting out by the pool.”
It took us awhile (I’ll tell you why in a future blog), but my own family of four followed my parents’ lead by heading across the country for several wonderful vacations. We visited them a few times, also sightseeing in nearby La Jolla, San Diego, L.A., Pasadena, Huntington Beach and more. And we went on our own to hike around a bunch of spectacular national parks in Utah and Arizona.
And, of course, there’s San Francisco … where we did the typical tourist things. We drove and walked around ridiculously steep city streets, including the curviest street in the US, Lombard Street. We took a boat trip out to Alcatraz. We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and hung out at Golden Gate Bridge. And, we ate at Chinatown (which, like many snobby New Yorkers, I imagine, we didn’t think measured up to NYC’s).
We also hung around the famous pier, shopping for trinkets (most notably, for me, my prized little Gumby and Pokey set and SF trolley car, which we didn’t for some reason get to ride for real). But we enjoyed the company of the sea lions all around. And because Otis Redding’s Dock of the Bay is one of my all-time favorite songs, things were extra magical for me.
Most magical – and maybe least typical – of all, though, is that every one of us really loved San Francisco, start to finish. I don’t think I’d be alone admitting that some of our family vacations have been less than idyllic. That, too, is a story for another blog. Suffice it to say that a certain member of the family (namely, Jamie) didn’t quite like our vacation destination choices. I’ll share her escapades soon. In the meantime, I’m happy to report that I don’t have any such experiences to share for this particular vacation, with 16-year old Jamie and 11½ -year old Dan even getting along!
I’m on the couch now, with my two cats, in my yellow San Francisco fleece. Until next blog …
Share your favorite vacation memory … or best $20 ever spent?