Can you go back again? We pondered that question as our route after visiting Dan and family took us through some rather familiar area. Our first time through San Fran with Henna we stayed in Berkley and explored the city via the BART. Unencumbered by a car, we hopped every transit system known to man and in the process had some whirlwind days. Through these rose colored glasses we were awed and craved more of it as we left. This probably makes you wonder what this go around proved…I’m not sure it proved anything except that traveling is often more about the place you are in at that particular time of life. This time we noticed the garbage a little more than last time, we were overwhelmed with the homeless on the street and we found the sparkle a little less than shiny. We still love this city and its hilly terrain as well as the multi-colored houses and the fog that envelopes the city slowly as you watch.
I find going back captivating because I find myself constantly looking for those moments experienced before; but we are different and therefore are experiences change as well. We also were in search of new experiences so we made for a foggy and misty Saulsalito. The town was like most tourist towns, pretty and crowded. The Marine Mammal Center, which lies a tad west of the city center, is one of a kind. This center, which is run simply on donations, helps injured marine mammals return back to the sea. The residents, mostly sea lions, elephant seals, and harbor seals are most often harmed by toxins, plastics, and, as incredibly hard as it is to believe, gun shots and arrows intentionally aimed at them. The center takes them in, does the necessary things, and then releases them back into the ocean. A simply amazing place. We were able to see animals in their hospital rooms (fenced in pools) being fed through tubes into their stomachs, watch vets around a table discussing the details of the 38 patients which called their hospital their home. They even treated the animals that did not have medical insurance! Henna’s heart grew bigger with the idea that people give their money to assist these animals; well it could have also been the very adorable harbor seal photo on the wall featuring all face and whiskers. We contrasted how these creatures here are given cute human relating names, like Meghan to make our hearts break for them, while back in Yosemite the bears they try daily to keep alive by educating campers to the dangers of food are given names like KY Yellow. In Yosemite you do not want tourists connecting with a cute 400 lb bear named Jenny which would probably lure you to feeding it your scraps. But I digress. The fog and mist drove us to seek refuge east in a town called Petaluma. We have been here before too, and our memories were good with only one incident of Noel and the hot tub. I will spare you details.
Another highlight of the day was the fresh organic farm stand we came across. Yummy. Like every other destination this summer, getting there involved a windy road seemingly leading nowhere. City folks that we are, we joked that we were going to run into rough cows with knives around the bend. Not at all the truth, but we did find a lovely scene of glorious displayed fruits, vegetables, eggs and packaged grass fed beef. It was glorious. We then learned that this fruit stand ran on the honor system, replete with weighing scale and a tool box turned cash register. Another sign that trusting and glorious deeds do exist. Again for the second time today I saw the wonder in Henna’s eyes as she soaked up this fact. By the way, the tool register was full of money. We talked about this for a while and again I saw Henna’s world expand. I love that so much.
So today I learned that you can’t go back, and would I want to? It would mean for me that in the time between leaving not much growth happened. Travelling is about growth and thinking outside the things we know at home. I think from now on I will not expect to see the same things as I once did, but instead try seeing places and things the way I witnessed Henna seeing them today and watching myself grow.