March 16, 2013: Antioch and San Francisco
In a nutshell: We took a 6:45 A.M. flight to Oakland from Orange County, and the Southwest Airlines flight attendant dude who was spieling about safety was amazing.
“Please be sure to put on your oxygen mask before your child’s…. and if you have more than one child, just pick the child that has the most potential.”
My kind of humor that early in the morning. Southwest Airlines, you rock.
Courtney’s hometown of Antioch was hailed (to me) as the Hobbiton of California. Rolling hills of lush greenery and beautiful landscapes of forestry on the drive from Berkeley/Oakland into Antioch… this is why I love NorCal*.
*SIDENOTE: Most native Californians think that you’re always loyal to whichever region of California you were born in, but that’s not the case with me. Southern California (in my opinion) is overrated, and I love Northern California for all that it has to offer (and yes, the grass is always greener on the other side). And yes, I’m proud to say that I’m a Sharks fan.
Some highlights of exploring Courtney’s hometown and later spending the evening in SF:
- Met her parents, who are probably the COOLEST, most down-to-earth, and friendliest parents I have ever met. They’re the type of parents you WISH you had… hilarious, witty, entertaining, and always up for having a great time.
- Crepevine: Tofu scramble omelette? Totally a winner. The stores and eateries in that Oakland area reminded me of when I visited downtown Berkeley last year… loved it.
- A tour of the cute vintage homes and “old town” area of Antioch.
- Learned to navigate the BART (again) and MUNI (first time).
- Reunited with Laura and went to Bottle Cap (http://www.bottlecapsf.com/), Top of the Mark (at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins SF Hotel; had the most amazing wrap-around panoramic view of SF), and Rogue bar for some pre-St. Patty’s Day celebrating.
- The s’mores fondue at the Top of the Mark restaurant was probably the most delicious (and gourmet) dessert I’ve ever tasted.
- Saw the glittering lights on the Bay Bridge– totally worthwhile! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxYeZ9GOdpQ)
- Learned about the Lyft system (which apparently exists in all main cities, not just SF). It’s this neat ride-sharing option that actually seems safer than hailing a taxi, since the app gives you the freedom of rating drivers (and they also rate you as a passenger). No money exchanged; everything is charged to your credit card afterward. http://www.lyft.me/
- Passed through Little Italy, Chinatown, and various narrow streets in SF via a Lyft ride while thinking, “I love NorCal so much.” Nothing quite like those hills. I could never drive in SF, but most definitely could use BART/MUNI and the power of walking to navigate.
- Sour beer is actually pretty tasty.
March 17 – 20, 2013: Tahoe
My first time traveling to Tahoe proved to be a memorable experience thanks to the beauty of everything (and the entertaining company didn’t hurt, either). The drive up was fantastic, filled with beautiful trees, windy roads of snow, brisk mountain air, and beautiful blue skies. It definitely wasn’t a Vegas-esque type of environment (even though Tahoe is technically in Nevada), since there wasn’t much EDM going on, sadly. The days consisted of a lot of napping, eating, gambling (none on my part, though it was fun to watch), and Instagramming (#poundsign; #kiwibabies; #shadowmasterjay; #peglegdeb; #stoo; #c-luh, etc.). We stayed next to the Heavenly Village shopping complex, which was home to the most amazing store ever: The North Face. Not to mention the Patagonia store and other outdoor adventuring stores that make any snowboarder/skiier/traveler go, “AHHHHH.”
We also hiked down to Cascade Falls and meandered by Hagrid’s Hut (pretty much). The view of the open lake, some island with a cool castle on it (too bad we couldn’t catch a ferry out there and explore it), and the never-ending vastness of the snowcapped trees was breathtaking. No wonder everyone loves Tahoe. It would have been even better if we all had enough money to board, but alas, I’ll save that for NZ… 😉 After a flock of geese chased us away from our lunch, we found some trail that led us to snowy areas of a seemingly-private pond. The sign on the bottom of the hill clearly said, “No trespassing,” but we were directed to that trail by a CHP officer, so we technically were doing no wrong. We live life on the edge.
The drive back from Tahoe to Sacramento was the prettiest: Rain and thick layers of snow encompassing hills and the sideline forest areas. For a nature-loving person like myself, it was heavenly. And alas, the end to any vacation (in this case, an extremely short one) is always bittersweet. And I think Courtney, Michael, and Jay still have a running tally of the number of Lord of the Rings references I made throughout the trip…
March 10, 2013: UCSB Chancellor’s Reception at LAX Marriott
It was really neat to attend one of the 10 receptions this year (apparently, these were started back in 1994 by Chancellor Henry Yang). Only the top applicants and Regent Scholars of 2013 were selected to attend this reception. Thus, attending as an alumni made it all the more special. We mingled with all sorts of prospective incoming freshmen (half of which were Regent Scholars for other colleges, like UC Berkeley and USC, as well) and also spoke to their parents about why UCSB is a wonderful academic institution. There was just so much to say! It was refreshing and prideful when a 15+ min. video was played to a 1,000+ person meeting room (with hundreds of others still standing since the room was filled to capacity) about the diversity of students, wide array of majors, activities on and off campus for students, professional and personal resources, etc. If I can reflect back on my years at UCSB now and think about what an amazing impact it had on my life, imagine how I’ll (along with others) look at my undergraduate experience in 5, 10, 15+ years. I will always be a proud Gaucho, and this reception proved how successful you can be if you make/made the most of your years at the most beautiful campus in the world.
After all, there literally is no other college campus in the world that has its own beach AND is academically prestigious. So proud. It’ll also be neat to speak on a panel at the UCSB Communication Career Day in April… especially since it’s Alumni Weekend. Santa Barbara always has and always will have a special place in my heart.
Other productivity from last week:
- Signed up for couchsurfing.com (yes, it happened)
- Looked into more networking after work events/groups
- Continuing to plan out things I need to do before October (Google Drive, you are my life)
- More leads on jobs
- The Abbey in West Hollywood: Possibly the best club I’ve ever been to… sparklers in champagne, Cirque du Soleil-type performers who were doing flips on poles, no cover on a Saturday night, oh goodness. Need I go on? I even got up there and tested out a pole for myself with the pole dancers. Hence why my pole-dancing classes start in about two weeks (I’m not joking on that one). It seems like an insanely amazing workout.
And after all this writing… yes, I left my heart in SF. I always do every time I visit. It’s such a beautiful place with so much culture, and I feel like I never get enough time there. Such a tease. Thank goodness we’re flying back in a month…