Solo Hike: Montara Mountain

Hey Hey! Happy New Years!

I’m not sure what exactly happened but I didn’t feel like blogging for a good month. I was pretty pumped about it when I started the blog, but quickly lost all motivation (let’s blame it on the holidays). But anyways, I’m here now, and I hope to be here pretty consistently. Even though I didn’t make any explicit resolution about blogging, I’d like to try to commit to two posts a week. Maybe more? Depends on how many exciting things I have to write about.

ANYWAYS.

I had an amazing whirlwind of a trip home for Christmas. It was packed full of family and friend time, which was so incredible and necessary after being away from home for 6 months. But as great as it was, I was craving some serious alone time in the outdoors.

I did a little research and decided to explore south of the city for the first time (yeah I know, but better late than never). I made the quick trip down to Pacifica to Montara Mountain. Guys, it’s SO CLOSE and incredibly easy to get to. Google it.

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One website I looked at suggested beginning the hike from the Gray Whale Cove Beach Parking lot, which I also highly recommend.

Overall, it’s a pretty straightforward hike. You begin at the parking lot (there are porta potties available, which was a life saver for my tiny bladder and lack of planning ahead) and make your way up the trail on the right side of the lot. After a few minutes of walking, you can decide to either stay on the main trail for a longer, less strenuous walk, or make your way up a steep footpath that will cut some distance off of the hike, but is pretty steep. If you’re looking for an extra challenge, take the footpath! From there, you basically just follow the well signed access road to the top.

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I initially went up to North Peak because that was the clearest route, but it’s slightly anti-climatic when you get to the top because of all of the (radio? cell?) towers. From there, I made my way over to the other high point west of North Peak. It has a less obvious trail to the top, but it’s an easy hike. I recommend heading to this one too if you want better views and more of a “I am one with the wilderness” feeling.

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Overall, I really enjoyed this hike! Beautiful views of the ocean, Mt. Tam, SF and more!  And it’s such an easy drive from the city. I plan on coming back here on a warm day and heading over to the beach after hiking. It was a moderate trail with just under 2000 foot elevation. There is a decent amount of parking. I got there around 11:30 am and it was pretty empty, but it seemed to be filling up as the day progressed. The biggest downfall of this mountain is that there are lots of power wires and towers around and you are walking up a gravelly road the entire time (but that does make for awesome views the entire time and make it a good spot for mountain biking!)

I will definitely be coming back here! You should too!

 

Review: Woods Bar and Brewery

Hi again. Two posts in one day? Woah. Who even am I?

I just wanted to pop in and do a quick review of the bar I stopped at prior to the concert on Friday.

The Place: Woods Bar and Brewery in Oakland. One of three Bay Area locations serving Woods Beer Co. Beers. The place was somewhat cozy (it had a cute little outdoor fire place) but that coziness felt a little forced. It kind of had that fake, hipster-ish vibe to it that comes with many of the Bay Area bars.

The Drinks: Okay so this is how they describe themselves- “We brew small batches of fresh, exciting, and experimental beers, often in collaboration with our friends in the Bay Area’s vibrant food and drink world. Our inspiration comes from far and wide, but our beers are deeply rooted here. Our approach is unconventional but our work is accessible and friendly: Adventurous brews for curious drinkers” And they are NOT lying about that. I am a huge beer lover, IPAs especially, the hoppier the better for me. These beers were not like any beers I have ever had before. Very unique ingredients (think Yerba Mate, lavender, and eucalyptus) and very interesting flavors. Not bad, but not what I typically go for. They also have wines available for you juice drinkers out there.

The Food: The only thing they serve are empanadas. SO GOOD.  I had a chicken one and one with Swiss chard and feta. YUM. Do yourself a favor and get one, or two, or ten.

Solo Rating: Not a bad place to go alone. The empanadas come out very quickly, so if you’re nervous/feeling weird about eating out alone (which you shouldn’t!), you won’t have to be there for long. There were a good number of people, but I had no trouble finding a seat at the bar. Guests and bartenders were very friendly and I ended up making plans to meet up again with some people I met there.

Overall Rating: 3/5. I’m happy I tried it, but I can’t see myself ever going back. I would recommend Woods Bar and Brewery if you’re looking to break up your usual beer routine. Or if you’re someone who doesn’t like most beers, you might just find a new, unique favorite!

Going to a Concert Alone

Hiiiii. Happy Tuesday! So I mentioned in my Thanksgiving post that I went to a concert last Friday. So, well, here is the story about said concert.

Okay let me start at the beginning.

Last Wednesday I was driving to work, listening to KFOG, per usual, and they played a live version of some random song by an artist I had never heard of before. I loved the sound of the song and they said it was by Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, who were playing at the Fox Theater in Oakland that weekend with Jackie Greene. I knew I didn’t have anything going on that night, so I seriously considered buying tickets. Then they announced that they were going to give away tickets to the first five callers. So I called, and the phone rang and rang and rang.. and then I won!

Welp, I was one of those 5 callers! And I won two tickets to Nicki Bluhm and Jackie Greene!

I had never heard of either artist, but was still super excited to go. (I have never won a radio contest before, so I was feeling pretty cool).

I then realized that I don’t have a ton of friends yet. And the ones I do have, I knew already had previous family commitments or were out of town for Thanksgiving. But was actually thrilled. I have always secretly wanted to go to a concert alone, and this was the perfect opportunity, and I’m so happy I did.

If you have never been to the Fox Theater in Oakland, you need to go there. Like yesterday. What an incredible place to see a show. The theater itself is insanely beautiful, and it’s a relatively small and intimate setting. The whole front part of the floor is standing room only, so you can get right up next to the stage. (Van Morrison is playing there in January, and Vance Joy/Elle King in February, if you need excuses to make the BART ride over).

Jackie Greene was so so good, but Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers were absolutely incredible. I had listened to some of their music before the show, but nothing compares to Nicki singing live. Do yourself a favor and watch some videos of their live performances (here or here, or if you’re really bored, here’s a video of a full concert).

And yes, I survived my first solo concert experience, and it was actually pretty amazing. I arrived when I wanted and left when I wanted. It’s significantly easier to fight crowds and to meander your way up to the stage when it’s just one person. And I found myself having a really easy time connecting to the music. Being a chronic people-pleaser, I’m often worried about the person I’m with (are they having a good time? Do they need another drink? Should we move closer? Blah blah blah) and this obsession with making sure everyone else is having a good time, definitely limits my ability to just enjoy the moment.

So that’s what I did. I just enjoyed the moment and the music and I will definitely be doing it again.

The First (solo) Thanksgiving

Hey! Hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving full of yummy food and hopefully surrounded by people you love. These past few days were a full of a couple “firsts” for me- my first Thanksgiving away from home, and the first time I went to a concert by myself. Both of which were amazing! I was going to do a combined post, writing about both Thanksgiving and the concert, but the concert was so incredible, I think I’m going to give it it’s own post. Sound good?

Okay so let’s talk turkey (wow that was lame… not changing it).

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I mean, it’s a holiday revolving around family, food, football, and naps, what’s not to love?? So it was really hard to not be with loved ones on this day.

I had to work during the day, so it didn’t feel too much like Thanksgiving. It was a little strange and kind of sad. But I FaceTimed my family during my lunch break, which was actually perfect timing because they were finishing up their meal, but weren’t all in food comas yet (yay for modern technology and a 3 hour time difference).

I was lucky enough to have a few invitations from friends to crash their Thanksgiving, and I gladly and graciously accepted my friend Vanessa’s invitation for dinner.

Now, by no means is being taken in like a stray puppy a replacement for being with the ones you love, but dang, it felt good to be around a family. I realized that none of my time spent out here is spent in a family setting, which is to be expected I guess. Much of my time is spent with people my age (besides my patients at work, but that’s a different story), so it was refreshing to be able immersed in a family gathering. It was a relatively small group, but they were all so kind and welcoming and I left with my belly feeling full and my heart feeling happy (and a container of leftovers #thankful).

I’d say my first Thanksgiving away from home was a success. Yes, it was bitter sweet, but it didn’t end in tears or drinking alone watching Grey’s Anatomy, so all in all, it was a pretty solid day. And as cheesy as it sounds, it really did remind me of all I have to be thankful for- like this adventure in this incredible city, people caring enough to open their homes to me, and family and friends 3,424 miles away who love and support me no matter what and remind  me every day that the distance is just a number.

Now only 26 days til I go home for Christmas! And to do all my Christmas shopping…

Happy Weekend!

 

The First Post

Hello hello! I’m Caitlin, a 24 year old Boston native, who moved to San Francisco in the summer of 2015. Like many other SFers, I moved here alone, knowing almost no one, and am trying to navigate this crazy new world of making friends, exploring a new city, and figuring out myself in the process.

What I envision for this blog is basically anecdotes of my random solo adventures, reviews and recommendations for loner-friendly activities, along with maybe some more personal posts? Who knows!  My goal is if I do something alone (which I often do) I want to share it with you!

I am by no means a writer, advice columnist, foodie or anything remotely resembling an expert on anything I will potentially write about.  I’m just a girl trying to get the most out of this move, eat some good food, drink some good beer, go on good hikes, and have some fun in the process. I know I’m not alone in this pursuit, and figure that documenting my explorations may help some other SF rookies too.

Hope you enjoy!