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California New Years

Bay Bridge at night from Treasure Island

For New Years, I had Thursday and Friday off work. I haven’t been on a good road trip since moving, and I was itching to go explore and see some sun. I had the loose idea of driving to SF, then following the 101 back up the coast since I’d only covered half way long ago. Thursday morning at 10:30 I headed south.

It was a cold, but really sunny drive through Oregon. There were several valleys topped with fog that I drove down into. Inside the valleys, everything was covered in frost and the trees had snow on their branches. The drive went amazingly fast, I was excited about going to the Bay. I arrived at Berkeley around 10:40, almost exactly 12 hours later. I kept on driving across the Bay Bridge and went to the Golden Gate Bridge (after momentarily getting lost downtown trying to follow the 101).

The sky over the bay was nearly perfectly clear and the stars were amazing. I don’t know if I’ve ever been to the GG park at night, much less on a clear night. I stayed out until 2 or 3 AM taking long exposure star photos. I was having a good time but I was absolutely freezing. Wearing two of my mountaineering coats and hat, I resorted to using my iPhone as a hand warmer by firing up the GPS app and letting it burn CPU cycles.

I drove back to east bay to find a hotel for the night. I landed at a hotel in Berkeley around 4:30 AM. The clerk was nice enough to consider my late arrival as an early arrival for Friday, essentially giving me a free day. yay! I was having an absolute blast driving around and I ditched my plan of leaving to drive up the coast.

East of Telegraph Ave in Berkeley

I spent little time in my hotel, instead spending a lot of time walking around Berkeley and driving around the Bay. The weather was similar to Seattle but much nicer and slightly warmer. The times it was cloudy, it was actually dry. I forgot what dry ground and pavement was like!  There were still periods of rain, but it was generally over quick. Most everyone I talked to said it was odd that it was the weather was so cold. Fine by me!

I didn’t know the Bay gets all crazy with fireworks for New Years. Had I actually thought to research it, I would’ve planned different.  Instead I was driving back from Oakland, tired with the cold and drizzle. I got back to my room just in time to hear fireworks going off at midnight everywhere but not able to see them anywhere. After a few luls I finally decided to drive up to Tilden to see if I could see anything. Unfortunately it was still rainy and the overlooks by the park were really too far away to see the small stuff going off (and I got lost).  Apparently the right thing was to go to Berkeley Marina to see the fireworks. Next time, maybe.

There was no plan at all. I visited some friends, ate lots of food, drove all around the Bay, took lots of photos, and sat on the internet at Peet’s. I was pretty excited and glad to be back in the Bay. It seemed like there was an energy I was picking up on, and it was really nice. I definitely want to go back and spend more time there. I want to visit the UC Botanical Garden (the foothills were super pretty) and should spend more time in SF proper.

I was disappointed to leave, but it was time to go back to work and I was tired of living in a hotel.  The drive back went fast, I only had to stop three times for 10 minute cat naps.

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