When the going gets tough, head to somewhere you know you’ll be happy! Or in our case, be lucky enough to have that on the cards anyway! San Francisco… the Cape Town of North America… you could not have showed up on our itinerary at a better time. The Prius driving, dog toting, hipster capital of the world. Wow. I did not expect to come across a city so full of hipsters that even I would be tempted to grow a beard just to fit in. Shaun tried desperately to get his 10 chin hairs to grow but all the Bob Martins in the world could only get those bad boys to grow while simultaneously dipping his chin in fertilizer. He did however have the headphone wearing computer staring look about him as he was buried in work while we were there, a good thing too or we would have gone out to far too many awesome restaurants and only worsened our now distinctly diminishing travel funds. Running out of money (as we always seem to do at the end of January, travelling or not) sucks rather more harshly when you find yourself in Napa Valley. This is not a place for you if you are travelling on a budget. We are doing what we must but it would be a lie to say it is not stressful and downright hard. Why do I mention this depressing tidbit you might ask?.. just so that you know we are not floating along on our 6 month trip on a bed of $100 notes and being fanned with enormous cheques. Shaun and I are already discussing how we will redo this trip when we are grown ups (and taking daily swims in our money like Scrooge McDuck). Mail me if you want tips on how to do America in style, we have some great ideas 🙂
But trying to be the ‘family focused less money driven’ travellers that we are (or lets face it we wouldn’t be doing this trip to begin with), we found ourselves a sunny apartment near Golden Gate park in San Francisco and thoroughly enjoyed the outdoor city vibe that ‘The Bay Area’s’ got going. The city is open, full of parks and beautiful old-school buildings. Obviously, the bridges are something special, and those along with the ‘cable cars’ and other public transport that runs on electric lines is something unique to this city. Riding on the cable car feels like you’re on a roller coaster in the middle of a suburban street – it’s awesome! I was thankful for the automatic car we were driving because doing hill starts on those hills in a manual, would give me some proper wiry grey hairs. There are laws on ‘curbing your wheels’ when you park, totally understandable when you look down the hills, and going to the twistiest street in the world also happened to leave us standing at what felt like the steepest!
In true Wuth fashion, we decided to undertake the impossible – keeping a 3 and 4 year old happy, quiet, and in their seats for a 2 hour (near black tie) performance of Beethoven’s ‘Mass in C’ by the San Francisco Symphony and Choir. It is comical how badly it went, starting with our seats being next to the orchestra and looked upon by thousands of others. We were virtually on stage for 2 hours. Lincoln wasn’t so keen on the idea. And he was tired. Great combo. The trifecta was that we couldn’t secretly feed them to keep them happy because everyone could see us! Anyway, to cut a long and embarrassing story short, I ended up carrying a very tired, just pre-tears Lincoln out in the middle of the second half and in the middle of one of the soloist’s performances. I wanted to die. We will freely admit that it was ambitious, even for us, but the performance was magnificent!
Lincoln seemed to take a real liking to the floors in San Francisco and made a habit of falling off his bike and or scooter and or flip flops on a regular basis. How he isn’t covered in bruises baffles me. Lola is ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ to Lincolns ‘The Fast and the Furious’. She thinks it’s Sunday, everyday. Strolls are gentle and when we take them biking she often circumnavigates the same lamp post numerous times, looking at all the flowers, testing a grass patch for mud and seeing if her bike will fit between poles. Lincoln is now so fast on his bike that when we head to the park one of us has to be dressed for a run. We sprint next to him for at least half the way and yell at him to move over when there are oncoming pedestrians. It can be very perilous when gaining on a runner who has earphones in, it becomes a game of chance, will they stay on their side of the path or veer in?!.. The time has come for some proper brakes, pedals and potentially a skills lesson or two! I’m afraid teaching him caution is something that has at least thus far, been totally lost on him.
All this is what made our morning hike to Lands End on our last day in San Fran more endearing. There is a rock labyrinth at the point which the kids spied, and made a dash for. You can walk through it in a couple of minutes, but Lola rather quickly lost interest and mozied on out to climb the rock wall next to her. Lincoln walked the whole thing, then walked it backwards, repositioning every stone that was even slightly out of place, leaving a far more beautiful and precise maze than the one he walked into. Shaun and I were swelling with pride watching our special little speed demon, who seemingly races around not noticing a thing, take so much time and effort perfecting a rock path he never broke to begin with. It’s like you unknowingly put your child in a box, and one day they climb right out that box and do something you didn’t think in their character at all. I love those days. Challenging what we think we ‘know’ about someone, about who we think they are. Lola has done it countless times on this trip too. Maybe it’s being so far away from what is ‘normal’ to them, maybe it’s just growing up and who they always were, but it is fascinating to watch them emerging as interesting, deep individuals, sometimes in the way you expected, and sometimes in the most beautifully unexpected ways.
I recently read some words of wisdom that I thought really applied to our family at the moment;
‘To love a person is to see all of their magic, and to remind them of it when they have forgotten’.
This journey, as incredible as it has been, has also been rather overwhelming at times. There have been hard days. There have been days where we haven’t all been wonderful people, and there have been times we have needed gentle reminding of who we are and why we are on this journey. Reminding each other of their magic has been more necessary on this adventure than ever before in our relationship. We’ve had to build each other up and bolster confidence. Sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees, or beyond the obstacle right in front of us, but knowing we’ve got someone there to encourage us has shown a quiet strength and gentleness I’ve never noticed, or needed to see, until now. We have learned a lot about being the confident support for each other, even in the midst of our own fears and anxieties. It is something that arrived quite unexpectedly, and something I am immensely grateful for.