During my college years in Wales, I met a friend who epitomized the adventurous life. Jaymz, with his American accent, cross-country bike trips for spring break, and eventual global boating life, inspired me at an impressionable time. “Live a life of adventure! Be careful what you let tie you down…”
His words, quite unbeknownst to him, played like a background theme to my big life decisions. I moved countries, stayed flexible in my career, didn’t get too attached to places or houses or towns. Even in marrying a man with, amongst other notable qualities, a moveable career (everywhere in the world, people need to eat), I heeded that advice. Through the years, Jaymz and I kept lightly in touch – he passed through Denver
and stayed with us twice in two decades, once towing a boat, once with the advice, “Ever thought of being an Air Bnb?” (be a what? This was years ago, and as usual, he was on the cusp of what was trending in alternate ways of making a living).
Jaymz’s words rang most true when Colin and I sold our house in Denver and moved to a tiny, 673 square foot condo to liberate time and money so we could return to a more unfettered life. Catching up with Jaymz in San Francisco in the little red trailer on our hit-the-open-road sabbatical was a natural.
We offered the idea of meeting for coffee – Jaymz, friend indeed, offered for us to come and stay. We could easily park outside his place; he assured us that the hills were doable (we’d been warned), though if we weren’t up to it, he’d grab a hammock and join us at our campsite outside SF. We jumped at the chance to stay in the city.
Approaching the bridge, we could see the famous mist bowl over the city, and as we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, the temperature dropped 30 degrees. Not for the first time this trip, we changed from shorts and t-shirts to fleece-lined jeans and sweaters. Living outside means you are always adjusting to the weather and we changed clothes more often than a Victorian at a polo weekend.
Jaymz lives in the Presidio, an old, venerable part of San Francisco nestled amongst old growth forest on one side, and looking out over the Bay on the other. The grand houses with sweeping entrances and rich wood interiors are federally owned – not bad for government housing, so to speak. Jaymz had discovered a good thing there a decade or so before, and over the years had cultivated a shared home of easygoing, kindred housemates. They welcomed us, doted on Katie, and accommodated the little red trailer in the driveway for three nights. Our deepest thanks goes out to them as well as to Jaymz.
As savvy and creative with ingredients as he is with technology, Jaymz orchestrated a swordfish dinner from scratch. His girlfriend joined us, fresh from Hawaiian outrigger canoe practice, and we all stood around the big butcher block kitchen island, catching up on friends and life and pastimes. Jaymz had a marketing job, four boats… we talked about how tying down can creep up on all of us, and I wondered about where his next adventure might take him. I felt like we had caught him at a crossroads. Sometimes next adventures take time.
Colin and I spent the next day on our bikes. We dropped Katie off for the day at Banfield for her yearly checkup and a flea/tick prevention treatment (welcome to the wet coastal west, where protecting your dog means a pesticide bath), took the
subway back into downtown, and cycled the city. Seafood lunch on the water, dragon gate in China Town, and up the hill, past the fresh fruit and vegetable market that takes food stamps (love it), and into the rainbow-drenched Castro District. Some of the hills were brutal, but what would a ride through San Francisco be without them?
That evening, the three of us and Katie piled into Jaymz’s old jeep and headed back over the Golden Gate Bridge to the harbor in Sausalito, where he kept his little sailboat moored. We spent an invigorating hour sailing in weird weather from doldrums to wild wind, snacking on hummus and truffle cheese when the two extremes averaged out, and loving every minute on the water.
The day before had been all about the city – today, a rare sunny day in San Fransisco, we’d see the shoreline. Back on the
bikes, Colin and Katie and I wound our way through crowds of tourists and graduates with their families, cycled (halfway) over the Golden Gate Bridge – crossing #3. Katie in her I’m-cold,-I’m-a-desert-dog orange fleece and running booties, kept up alongside, attracting smiles and comments, “Ohh, look at
that, a dog in booties!” Her cute factor proved advantageous – people noticed her and cleared a space for us to bike through, while the poor dogless bikers behind us, anonymous and banal, got no such courtesy. Nice job, Katie.
We ended at the marina, sharing a sandwich and chips on the water in front of a National Parks Visitor Center. The pattern of unique gifts and great books continued with this little shop and we mooched around amongst postcards of the bridges, clever tea strainers, and handmade cards featuring dogs of San Francisco.
That night we hung out at the house and in the morning, we bid our dear friend and host adieu. It was Friday May 26th, and we were headed north again, this time looking to outrun the crowds for the Memorial Day weekend ahead.