My first visit was in 1999 and I went with my cousin. The first time you see the Golden Gate Bridge you realize how small it is compared to what you've seen all your life in pictures and movies, but it is still breath taking. I have heard they never stop painting it. When they finish they start all over again. We usually view it from a nearby park instead of going onto the actual bridge. You can't take pictures of the bridge if you are on the bridge :)
The second time I went was in 2008 when my daughter turned 15. It was just the two of us and we had a wonderful time. One of my favorite things to do is drive down to LA and Hollywood. I am always hopeful I will see someone famous but I never have. But really, if you were Jennifer Aniston, would you be walking on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in broad daylight when there are tons of people around? I think not.
The third time I went was in 2013 with my best friend from high school. It was just the two of us and again, we drove down to LA for a day and a half. We went into DASH, the store owned by the Kardashians. It is not what you would expect. We didn't buy anything. I saw a book I thought of buying but didn't. It was $18 and I thought, seeing how the store was their store and the book was written by them, the least they could have done was autograph it. I saw the exact same book at Wal-Mart upon my return for $5.00. It wasn't autographed either.
My fourth visit was last week. It was in celebration of my son and his 16th birthday. Can you believe my little man is 16 years old?
I can still remember the day he was born. His sister came to the hospital to meet her new baby brother and when she saw me, laying on the bed with her baby brother in my arms, her face lit up like a Christmas tree. I thought to myself, this is truly a Kodak moment. She walked over to me and reached for the control to make the bed raise and lower. So much for the excitement of a new baby brother.
This trip was my first visit to Alcatraz Island. We went on a night tour and it was extremely creepy! Climbing in a jail cell where you know the worst of the worst had lived and breathed sent chills up my spine. We wandered into some dark corridors with only the light from a cell phone to guide us. The eerie sound of the birds calling was enough for me. The entire place smelled old and musty. If there were any ghosts hanging around, I am sure they are very angry. We did the audio tour. I still remember the story told by some inmate of being placed in the pitch blackness of solitary confinement. He said in order to keep from going insane he would take a button and toss it into the air. He would turn around three times and then get down on his hands and knees and search for the button. Once he found it, he would do it again and again, just to occupy his mind. Seeing the beds and toilets and the dining hall brought it all into perspective.
This was the first time I also got a chance to drive up the coast, well my husband drove up the coast. We took highway 1 from San Francisco up to the Redwood Forest. It was such a beautiful view and watching the water crash onto the rocks cannot be described with a mere picture, although I will try.
At one point were were trying to find the Avenue of the Giants as we passed huge tree after huge tree. Our GPS took us to some discreet trailer park where there were no trees. Upon exiting the trailer park, we realized we were driving on the Avenue of the Giants the whole way. Duh! It is amazing how big these trees are!
We actually took a air tram ride in the Redwoods that took us to to top of the forest for a birds eye view. Despite the fact my son was terrified as he is afraid of heights, the view was unbelievable. That would be the Pacific Ocean off in the distance.
Our trip ended when we caught our flight back home at 10:33 on Friday night. It was a long night and when we finally landed 12 hours later, we found out a wonderful family friend had passed away that morning. Talk about going from high to low, I still can't believe it. She was the most wonderful person and took care of my children from the age of 6 weeks to when they were old enough to stay home alone. I have her to thank for the way they turned out as she spent more day light hours with them than I did during the informative years when their brains were like sponges taking it all in. I love you, Bobbie, and you will be missed.
Please let those around you know how you feel before it's too late.
R. K. Avery