Gabe and I have been room mates for the majority of our adult lives. It’s a good thing we’ve worked out.
After being randomly assigned room mates our freshmen year, we lived together for most of college. We spent a year living in his parents’ house when we moved out to bay area and got jobs. Gabe is dating a wonderful girl named Emma. She’s joined the party.
Last year, the three of us all moved in together in South San Francisco. After some conversations though, we’ve decided that when our lease is up in November it will be best if our life is less like an episode of Friends. Gabe and Emma will get their apartment. I’ll get mine.
Lots of Adventure Still
As a boondoggle for the last 6 or so years, Gabe and I took a good ol fashion camping trip north to Bodega Bay. We were like, kind of prepared.
Well. Actually, every place we thought we wanted to visit didn’t pan out. So we decided, Hey, let’s book something on HipCamp, where we’ve read the description for about 10 seconds, we’ll leave work in San Francisco at 5, drive through golden gate bridge traffic, and set up camp (most likely) in the dark about 3 hours later.
We missed the listing’s description about it being a horse ranch.
Horses can poop wherever they want and humans cannot.
We also missed that to get where we were camping we’d have to hike a mile. Because we suck, we’d have to hike it in the dark.
Leaving the city felt super stressful. I told Gabe when he picked me up from work, “I’ll feel fine as soon as we get out of the city.” I did, more or less.
“Why don’t we go on more adventures?” Gabe asked. “I mean, I feel like we could’ve gone to El Rio or something but now we’re out.”
“I’m feeling much better.” I was sitting in the passenger seat of my own car. Northern California was lit up in its golden in-land hour. But I was only feeling marginally better. Whether we could check in, get directions, set up our tent, blah blah blah. Maybe I just feel normal worrying about that stuff.
When you go camping there’s always some hesitation. Even though I work in an industry and in a role I think suits me perfectly, still I left the office thinking about work. Furthermore, I got the feeling Gabe and I would end up addressing our upcoming living arrangement. We had some conversations, like I said. They weren’t easy ones. How do you tell your best friends you don’t think it’s the best fit anymore?
After getting to the ranch, the office was closed and it was too late to check in. The owner though left a packet in the door. We signed a waiver that said we wouldn’t mess shit up too bad. I mean, it was late and we had packed 3 cans of sardines. How much damage could we really do?
There were narrow horseback riding trails we could drive on, but the map indicated we’d have to stop somewhere and park the car. The owner scratched a line in blue ball point pen straight from the parking lot to someplace off the edge of the paper into oblivion.
It said, “WALK.”
With our shit on our back and a warm Dale’s Pale Ale opened, I figured we’d be all set. Everything started to get better.
Arriving at Shelter Rock
Also I forgot to mention, this place was on a hill overlooking the ocean. We weren’t totally crazy when we booked it. See pretty shit. That’s what we wanted. Well northern California in September is still pretty foggy.
Still, the moon must have been full because after hiking with a high beam flashlight, a head lamp, and Gabe’s blinking bike light, we realized we could see everything fine in the dark. We turned off the lamps hiked up the hill, and pretty soon recognized the giant rock we saw in the photos.
This must be said “Shelter Rock”. We looked west. That must be said “Ocean”.
We set up our tent in haste through in the foggy moonlight.
We scuttled up the rock, opened some wine, and drank from the bottle.
I’m a big fan of cold brew coffee. Before we left, I filled the bottom of a bottle with fresh ground coffee, poured in cold water, left it in the back seat, and by the next morning a perfect cup of coffee was what the doctor ordered.
Also, cold brewskis are great.
I got up and explored camp. I had never seen a quail before but there was a flock just beyond our campsite. I caught this picture just before they took off. Quail move in groups and the take off sound is incredible. They are gone in a flash.
We hadn’t made many plans since everything was decided on the fly. We did bring bikes. So we did that.
Bodega Harbor and Bodega Head
The Bodega Harbor is on a fault line. When you bike by the coast, you see signs that say “You are now entering a tsunami hazard zone”. When you bike back you see a sign saying you’re leaving the zone. PG&E nearly built a nuclear power plant on the water. Thank god they didn’t.
Now the Bodega harbor is pretty sleepy on a foggy Saturday morning. You see fishing boats docked. You see fishing boats on trailers in driveways. You see tackle and bait shops with their doors closed.
I followed Gabe’s lead out to Bodega Head, which is a massive knuckle-rock promontory. No bikes, just hikes.
Gabe got a lot of the winner shots here. Good instagram captions too.
Out on this island you could hear nothing but sea lions.
At this point, it caught up with us that we hadn’t eaten.
So we ate a buuunch. On the harbor is Fisherman’s Cove. I recommend above all else the grilled oysters.
This is the face of a person who has just eaten the best oyster of his life.
With full guts we scooted back to camp. Things had indeed cleared up.
The Golden Hour
We stopped and got coffees. We attempted to read. We ended up sitting in a bar by the harbor for an hour or two. Gabe and I had both felt pretty quiet.
“It is pretty calming up here, getting to see the ocean, the fog way out there.”
“Getting to come up here, it does help me think.”
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about work, which I told Gabe then. My manuscript was one of my biggest sources of stress. I’m making progress but it’s not going exactly where I needed it. I told him I was thinking a lot about where I’d live next.
“So you’re still thinking the plan is to find your own place?”
I told Gabe that was the plan.
Moving out to California was a big move for me. I’ve thought that I’d give up several times. I thought I’d move to Denver, or back home to Minnesota. I looked at Ontario for like 30 seconds.
But if I’m going to stay in California, it’s something I’d like to try a little more full throttle. A little more out my comfort zone. I couldn’t say all this because it was really hard to say. I want my reason to stay here to be because I love California.
I don’t want my reason to be, because I can. I want it to be because I can develop my own independence here.
It’s still a huge deal to have a strong foundation, and I’m grateful for my good, loving friends.
On the way back we picked up hot link sausages, mallows, grahams, chocolate, scooped the sardines from the car and, why not, a few more beers.
After that golden hour we built a fire, cooked, played music. Things weren’t so bad.
The night was v dark though. It felt so much darker than the night before when it was foggy. “I guess the moon isn’t up yet,” Gabe said.
We were laying out in the dirt. We saw some mice scuttle across the rock. Worried they’d get into our breakfast bag, we turned to pack up all the trash and food. We saw this over our shoulders.
The big brown moon that lit our hike up to Shelter Rock. No different than the night before, even though it was so foggy then.