A Good Friday and The Great Highway

It’s moments like these I love being alone or with someone.

Of course, this morning starts with a beautiful sunrise.

It is a little after 6:15 PM now on Good Friday; and I don’t really know what I am doing. All I know is that I want to get onto The Great Highway on my way home. A friend had told me the view as you’re driving along the coast would be breathtaking, especially as the sun is setting. So after an extremely productive day at the office, I am destined with an open stretch of road and a sunset in my future. I feel like Matthew McConaughey in a car in a car commercial. I can wax poetic during the Golden Hour too. Luckily, I am jamming out to a playlist on Spotify entitled “trip” cos trippin’ is awesome. The drums and bass for “National Anthem” by Radiohead kick in; and I am happy. Very happy.

Getting to where I want proves to be a challenge as I immediately make a mistake jumping onto US-101 from Redwood City, CA. A little irritated, I had wanted to jump on the PCH aka Hwy 1 to hug the coastline along Half Moon Bay north through Pacifica. Of course, I am instead stuck in traffic wishing I can keep McConaughey’s cool going. After over half an hour, I pass the airport – San Francisco International – before jumping on I-380 which gets me into I-280. I quickly get off the highway and exit off Westborough Road as “Starlight” by Muse accompanies me. Westborough Road winds west before I finally turn into Skyline Blvd in South San Francisco. It’s not long before I pass Mussel Rock Park when I can finally see the sun breaking into horizon of the coastline to my left.

I decide to stop at Thornton Beach Vista near Daly City (as the Black Keys “Lonely Boy” comes to a close), a majestic group of trees proudly stand against the backdrop of the sunset. Its thick dark trunks and rich green leaves provide the perfect complement to the varying shades of yellow behind it. With the sun setting, it is a sight to see and with the rush of the ocean waves, music to hear while my nose takes in the rich ocean air. As I take in what’s before me, the early evening air brisk as I zip up my sweater, I reflect upon the day.

Just two weeks ago, I was on a five month vacation, the responsibilities of my day-to-day markedly different than what my days currently look like. What surprises me most is how seamlessly and easily I have jumped into this work life. I credit much of that to a boss who believes in me as well as one I admire. He’s driven and by words and by example is able to drive me. I’ve never needed to be motivated as I am internally driven (like most people I know). I’ve found that good leaders are able to tap into that internal drive, as my boss has consistently been able to do with me. This morning I took a test which I failed miserably but instead of feeling bad about it, I felt empowered learning as we went through both the questions and the answers, as both comes up consistently in our meetings. Afterwards, I led a mock presentation. I walked away knowing I have a lot to learn, but also recognized that I had come far in two short weeks. I was happily back in work mode, my mind racing with a task list of all that I needed to accomplish.

I cut my thoughts to get back on the road. Heading north along Skyline Blvd with Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”, I pass Fort Funston and soon turn into The Great Highway. At its southernmost point begins the huge stretch of Ocean Beach where I immediately pull off the road at Sloat Blvd. It was cold and windy. Yes it can get cold along the Northern California coast. The wind was blowing the sand into a frenzy, and pretty soon I had to venture back inside my car. Still, it was beautiful to watch the seagulls glide thru the sky cutting the howling winds unencumbered by the sand blowing into my eye. It is also a sight to see and music to hear (as “Lost in the Supermarket” by The Clash is playing when I shut off the car engine) while my nose takes in the rich ocean air.

A drive further up The Great Highway, I spot a large windmill on my right, and to the left another parking area for Ocean Beach. The sun had set by this point as the pink and blue hues dominate the sky while the yellow starts to fade away. On the beach, people gather around in their blankets surrounding bonfires (“gather round, all you clowns / let me hear you say / hey, you’ve got to hide your love away”), the wondrous smell of logs burning in the air, with large kites dotting the sky accompanied by even more gulls cawing. It is a sight to see and music to hear while my nose takes in the rich ocean air.

All alongside the beach, the mighty waves roar in a constant battle against the howling winds, daring each other they were stronger and more powerful. The violence between them bellies a peaceful solace that envelops me as I stand here in awe.

And then I leave for the next spot, not knowing where it will be, just knowing when I get there while Rush jams “Red Barchetta”.

It’s starting to get dark now and everything just seems more beautiful during The Golden Hour and during Twilight than it normally does, or maybe it’s always this beautiful and I’m only seeing this for the first time with a new lens.

And then it is only then that I realize the next spot is someplace very dear to me, just up the road before I even realize where I am, I come upon The Cliff House. I smile because this place and Sutro Baths Ruins are very familiar to Taylor and me, the destination to many hikes from Lands End. (I would realize later that the windmill I saw earlier was the Dutch Windmill at Golden Gate Park, the one I saw only three weeks ago when we decided to have a road trip within the city celebrating my last week of vacation.) I just didn’t know what was on the other side. And now that I do, I’m even more glad I made the drive up The Great Highway, a great way to start the weekend.

I head home thinking the rest of the drive would be fairly uneventful when I turn into the Presidio and just as I was about to see the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance, a full moon greeted me in full splendor, I in full wonder.

I cross The Golden Gate Bridge, its sight always a moment to reflect in wonder while Earth, Wind & Fire belt out “Boogie Wonderland”.

The big reveal lay waiting for me at home as Taylor playfully greets me with a loving headbutt to the side of one leg while trying to swat my other leg with his hefty paw. Grunting, he ran to the balcony where both of us just stand there in awe. The full moon brightly hangs like a piece of art amidst the night sky, the bay below it shining a silvery white glass with the houses dotting Belvedere (with Tiburon behind it) and the Bay Bridge both twinkling in the not too far and far distances. We stand transfixed upon the postcard view from our balcony.

After a walk with Taylor, we eat. I cook Massaman Chicken Curry with Potatoes and Taylor has his usual Taste of the Wild Seafood.

We both turn in somewhat early, but by 3:07 AM I am wide awake, Taylor snoring ever so loudly near me and Disney’s Fantasia playing in the background. Struck with inspiration, I take advantage of it and paint what I remember I saw earlier tonight during my adventure along The Great Highway.

Of course, not every day can be a perfect day. My ears were itching when I realize it was because a bunch of sand had collected inside, the howling winds from the beach leaving its mark.

Go Adventure. Go Travel. Go Live.

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