I’m taking this opportunity today to write about a wonderful weekend I recently spent with just women; and, to thank the ladies that made it a trip I’ll remember with delight for the rest of my life.
The ladies included my daughter, Amy; my sister, Bonny; Bonny’s daughter and my niece, Laurie; Laurie’s daughters & Bonny’s granddaughters, Beth and Mollie; and very close family friend and neighbor of Laurie and Bonny, Judy.
San Francisco, California – I swear, we saw every bit of it!
Many years ago – in 1970, to be exact – Bonny and her family left Minnesota and moved to Camarillo, CA due to her husband’s job transfer. Though through the years, there have been regular visits, letters (snail mail back in the day), emails and phone calls, there has not been much opportunity for we sisters to spend any length of time together.
As time went on and Laurie became a mom, and her daughters became young adults, Bonny, Laurie, sometimes Beth and Mollie, and good friend, Judy, began taking trips together – just the girls! And, to fun places, no less, like New York and New Orleans, just to name a couple. I would hear about the trips and be envious. (The envy in spite of the fact I do an annual girls’ weekend with Amy and dear friends we consider family, each year; but, that is another story.)
So, it was time for Amy and me to join forces with our California relies and have our own girls’ weekend with them. San Francisco was chosen as our destination because (a) Mollie lives there and could be our tour guide – AND, oh what a fabulous guide she was; and, (b) San Francisco is a city with much to offer tourists for things to see and do.
Amy and I left Minneapolis on a 5:55 pm flight on Wednesday and joined Bonny and Judy, who drove to San Francisco from Camarillo that afternoon, and Mollie who, as I said already, lives in the city. (Laurie and Beth were not able to join us until Friday evening.) We had time for a quick glass of wine before heading to bed that evening as we wanted a good night’s rest before embarking on a very full day of sightseeing planned for Thursday.
A side note here: Mollie was delighted to have us visit “her city” and to welcome us gave each of us a gift of San Francisco/California treats: chocolates in a tin depicting a San Francisco scene (mine was the Golden Gate bridge), flavored and very pretty macaroons made in San Francisco and packaged in a cute gift box, and an individual serving size bottle of champagne or Proseco…a very thoughtful gift and so sweet of her to think of us in that way.
We were fortunate to have Judy’s Trailblazer which had a third seat that eventually accommodated all seven of us, for our tour bus. Mollie expertly drove us all over the city following a schedule of stops that she had carefully thought out. We saw views of the city from Twin Peaks; drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and stopped at lookout points in Golden Gate National Recreation Area in Marin County; trudged up a hill to look at the Painted Ladies houses;
drove down the crookedest street (not Lombard) in San Francisco, plus drove down the beautiful Lombard Street which is also very crooked and steep; ate clam chowder in the famous San Francisco sourdough bread bowl on Fisherman’s Wharf; bought chocolates at Ghiradelli Square; walked through the grounds of the Palace of Fine Arts built for the 1915 Worlds Fair;
drove through the various neighborhoods – Mission District, Haight-Asbury, Tenderloin, Japan Town, Embarcadero, Castro, (not necessarily in that order); rode a trolley car to the Castro area and had late afternoon martinis at a bar called Martuni’s on Market Street.
Back to our hotel – tired, but happy, for cheese, salami and crackers and some very tasty guacamole and chips provided by Mollie.
Fell into bead and asleep before my head hit the pillow.
It was a full, wonderful day!
Back in the car by 10:00 am – saw Mollie’s studio apartment in the Mission district; took a cable car ride in the Nob HIll area – praying the cable car brakes would not fail on those extremely steep, hilly streets;
got a glimpse of Chinatown from the cable car; and had a wonderful lunch in the Union Square area at Neiman Marcus where Mollie’s husband, Carlos, graciously served us an elegant meal of lobster bisque, yummy popovers and Proseco. I felt very pampered at lunch, and the people watching (the other restaurant patrons that likely frequent Neiman Marcus) was great!
Friday afternoon after our delightful lunch, we drove across the Bay Bridge to Berkeley. We spent some time driving through the streets of the famous UC Berkeley campus and picked up Laurie at the train station where she arrived to join us from Sacramento after attending a work conference there.
Friday evening we dined at the Tonga Room located in the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill. It was fun to see the very elaborate, ornate lobby of the hotel. Beth, who lives north of San Francisco a few hours, joined us at dinner.
After dinner it was on to the Top of the Mark – another Nob Hill landmark – for after-dinner beverages and a spectacular view of the city at night. Nightcaps followed at the Japanese bar where Carlos holds down a second job as a bartender.
Exhausted by bed time – which with the time change for Amy and me translated to 2:00 am MN time.
Another full, wonderful day!
All seven of us finally together, we rode BART to Fisherman’s Wharf and from there took the ferry to Sausalito. Time for one very strong Screwdriver drink on the short ride across the Bay, nice skyline view of San Francisco, plus a close-up look at Alcatraz.
Once in Sausalito we hit a couple of shops including one that sold charm bangle bracelets (Alex & Ani brand). Bonny generously purchased each of our group a bangle with a San Francisco charm depicting a cable car, the Golden Gate Bridge and the skyline. A perfect remembrance of this fun trip and our time together!
We stopped in a local bar on the street for yet another beverage and some lunch. This is where the day got very interesting. We proceeded to the rear of the bar where there was a small outdoor courtyard. At one of the tables in this courtyard, sat a couple of older gentlemen playing chess. Soon, an elderly woman named Joan, appeared and struck up a conversation with us. We invited her to sit with us. Joan said she was 80 and told us she sometimes plays chess with the two guys. Obviously, all three were locals who are regulars at this bar.
Joan claimed she was some sort of national chess champion for 7 or 8 years (perhaps not currently, but many years ago?). She also proceeded to tell us she worked as a spy in the 1950s. With a somewhat surprised voice, she said she had never told anyone about her spy activities before – I felt honored. If her stories were made up, she had us fooled.
I was somewhat disappointed that Joan had to depart before we could hear more about her spy gig. She was entertaining her God-daughter for dinner. In fact, she invited us to join them for dinner, but our transportation back across the bay being the ferry precluded us from accepting the invite. It would have been an interesting evening, I’m sure. I must say, however, I was a bit concerned about the dinner since she said the roast was in the freezer – and it was already 3:30 pm. Dinner was likely going to be very late by the time the roast was thawed out!
Back to the City on the ferry in the late afternoon, and on to our hotel for some girl talk, wine and more cheese and crackers.
We spent the evening just visiting, laughing and enjoying our stories.
Amy and I had to leave our hotel on the airport shuttle by 9:00 am to catch our flight back to Minnesota. After hugs all around and some tears (me), we said our goodbyes and left our California gals.
I think a fun time was had by all. Personally, I enjoyed getting to know my grand nieces, Beth and Mollie, better, and catching up with Laurie and Bonny. Bonus was gaining a new friend in Judy.
I am grateful I had the opportunity to take this trip with the California ladies, and thank each of them for their part in making the weekend special.
For any of you that were not part of the weekend, but still reading here, I strongly encourage you to plan periodic getaways, if you’re able, with your peeps. A relaxed, fun time away from daily routines provides a perfect setting for re-connecting and re-freshing!
Love to Amy, Bonny, Laurie, Beth, Mollie and Judy!