The City By The Bay

Time to explore. Time to learn boldness.

A year ago I took my first solo day trip hiking in Olympic National Park, just up the peninsula from where I was living in Washington. I had wanted to go and no one was available to go, so I went by myself. A few months after that I took my first trip alone to a different city – to Minneapolis, if you remember. I attended for a conference, stayed in a hostel, and met some awesome people from Connecticut who let me be their friend for a few days.

Since returning home, there’ve been several trips to tourist hot spots in California, mostly with friends. As my desire to board a plane has grown recently, I’ve been faced with the question, “Would I travel across the country by myself?”

I want to go. I know I can. But am I willing to take what feels risky to me and fly to New York and experience the New England region solo? This question doesn’t have an answer yet…but I’m getting close to saying the answer is Yes.

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Yesterday a friend from my credential year (which feels like ages ago, though it’s only been a couple years) joined me in San Francisco for my second stop in the city in as many months. I BARTed into the city alone and met her on a pier. We took off across the city, headed for Golden Gate Park and an escape into the most beautiful natural area in the entire city. The trails, trees, birds, flowers and bison (yes, bison) all created a delightful day after a long week of running around talking to one person then another.

Stepping out into nature is like breathing air after trying to hold your breath underwater. It just feels good. I touched the Pacific Ocean at Ocean Beach for the first time this year, and got some Boba Tea from a place where the staff spoke about as much English as I speak Chinese (Read: Not much). I watched a dog chasing seagulls like it was his life’s mission to catch them, and paused for a tender moment watching a father walk slowly up to the water with his daughter on his shoulders.  We walked along the streets and on the beach, remembering that there’s more to life than what a normal work week holds.

I love walking. Walking in cities, walking on trails, walking in general. Walking forces me to slow down and see the world around me. It helps me settle my mind and is often prone to serve as inspiration for the solution to a conundrum I’ve been tossing around in my head. I also love getting out of town because it helps me keep perspective. It reminds me that there’s more to my life than just me, and there’s more to the world than the people I see in this little epicenter of California. I’m inspired and motivated to explore more, preferably on foot for a good portion of the time.

I’ve been granted permission to take a week off of work to travel, and my mind is spinning with thoughts of places I want to go. Hopefully those thoughts will materialize into plans for a trip to the East Coast in the next couple of months.

How do you find the courage to travel by yourself? At what level do you accept the risks, and what makes those risks worth taking? 

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