Buckle in, this is a long one.
The Original Plans
Dennis and I had a fantastic trip to Phoenix planned and by planned of course I mean by our standards. We found flights, one thing to do (the Grand Canyon), and one restaurant (Pizzeria Bianco). We have a friend who moved to Phoenix about a year ago and we had never been to visit and the Grand Canyon was on both of our bucket list places to visit.
We got on the first flight out of Omaha Friday morning and waited for the flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix. Let me remind you, if you haven't read all of my posts and committed every detail to memory, Dennis works for Delta so we get free flights! Yay! The only kicker is we have to fly standby which is normally fine, not this time.
A quick breakdown of flying standby with Delta, people who pay get first dibs at seats, then they fill in the empty seats with standbys. Standbys go by whether they work for Delta Airlines (main line) or Delta Global Services (that's us) first. Then within either group they go by seniority, first hired, first in. Some employees get extra tickets they can give to friends, these are called Buddies. Buddies always go last and again by seniority of their associated employee.
Now I'll pick up where I left off. We were waiting for the next flight to Phoenix, we got bumped. We waited for the second flight; we got bumped. We waited for the third flight, we got bumped. We waited for the fourth flight; we got bumped. We waited for the fifth flight, the gate agent boarded the entire plane then made an announcement for stand-by passengers to wait around b/c he might have extra seats. After a couple minutes he boarded the lady on the list ahead of us. It was just us next! A bundle of nerves, we waited. They kept calling for a passenger, we waited, they walked the hallway, nobody came, nobody was running. They said OK guys, we can get you on. They printed us tickets, handed them to us and we started to walk down the jet bridge. Then they told us to wait, a woman and her daughter came walking up, "Phoenix?" they asked. "Yes," the lady said. Argh, they couldn't let us on. We would have been taking their seats.
Then It All Changed
It was time to brainstorm. We had spent the entire light hours of the day in the Minneapolis airport and while it is not an entirely sucky airport, it was still an airport. We pulled the stand-by lists for the last two flights out. They too looked borderline. If we got on, we would get on by the skin of our teeth. To be honest, I was trying to not be irritated, but I could have been in Phoenix 10 hours ago! I finally said, what is making us go to Phoenix? Why couldn't we just go anywhere else? We first thought of Vegas, but to be honest I am not a very Vegas kind of gal. Then... it came to me... San Francisco! I had never been, Dennis had never been and from what our limited memories could muster it had plenty to do for tourists.
Dennis checked for flights. There was a flight that got in at 1 am. Perfect! It had 36 open seats. Perfect!
This was an example of a time we could have been angry, we could have let our frustrations out on the gate agents, we could have taken it out on each other. We could have been so disappointed we just went back home, but we didn't. We found an opportunity to literally turn our trip around. I encourage you to think about this when something unexpected happens in your life. Feel the original feelings of anger, disappointment, or sadness. Let yourself feel, that is perfectly fine. Then turn it around. What are your other options? Are you viewing a variable as a mandate?
Our Trip In A Nut Shell
Without any research, it took some thinking to figure out what we were going to do in San Francisco when we got there. We spent the first night sleeping in the rental car in a Target parking lot (we couldn't check into our hotel until later). Again, go with the flow peeps. When I woke up I researched breakfast places. Breakfast is my all time favorite meal when traveling.
We ended up finding a really cool and tiny restaurant called Farm : Table. Unbeknownst to us, just a couple blocks away from our hotel. It had one big table inside and then a lot of random seating arrangements outside. It had fresh, small, light foods and outdoor eating, one of my favorite ways to eat.
Then we just walked around the area the restaurant was in and went exploring. Dennis found us some superb tourist attractions so we re-parked the car and went walking again. This time we saw the famous winding street. We took a cable car from the ocean to Union Square. The cable car dropped us off quite a while away from where we parked. Instead of paying again to go back to where we started, we decided to walk. You can discover so much more of a city by walking it! That said, San Francisco = many hills, tired calves, and a wheezing wife.
Next, we went back to the airport to get our luggage. Oh yeah! Did I mention our luggage got a seat on the first plane even though we didn't? Well, it did. Still going with the flow. Everybody was so nice in the process of getting our luggage to the right place, we couldn't be anything but grateful for all of their help and for getting our bag back. Now we could check into the hotel.
We stayed at the King George Hotel and absolutely loved it. It was old, quaint, charming, and smack dab in the middle of everything a tourist would want. We took a shower, by that point we probably did not smell great after being awake for nearly 40 hours and trekking up and down San Francisco hills! Then we explored our hotel area which included Union Square shopping and China Town. I ... love ... China Town. I love the tourist shops. I love being a minority. I love hearing languages I do not understand.
We saw some ladies dancing in a park, we hit up some typical tourist spots, bought some souvenirs (only after getting home did I realize I probably could have haggled the prices, eh, next time), and grabbed some sushi. It was such an explosion of different. Different sights, sounds, smells, faces, music, and foods. After that we called it a night. I do not remember the last time my body hurt that much! It needed a break.
I found us another great breakfast place, Honey Honey for mimosas and grub the next morning. The mimosas had freshly squeezed orange juice and were the best mimosas I had ever had! Then ... we did the coolest thing of our trip, Muir Woods National Monument.
Muir Woods is a forest with redwoods, it makes you feel tiny, and they have done such a great job minimizing the amount of human impact on the woods you feel as if you are really seeing nature in progress. After walking around the bottom level, we decided to take a hike up the "Ocean View Trail." We anticipated actually being able to see the ocean when we got to the top. Thirty minutes later we had summited the Muir National Monument and we could see the ocean. It was so far away you couldn't even tell where the ocean stopped and the blue skies began. It was breathtaking. Not to mention, the hike up was just us and the woods the most of the way, walking on dirt trails, hearing the wind blow through the trees. Did you know when a branch falls in the woods and get stuck on another tree or its mother tree on the way down, the stick rubbing on the tree in the wind makes a squeaking noise? It took us a while to crack the code on the new noises we were hearing.
We saved the Golden Gate bridge for the way back from Muir Woods. It was awesome in the true definition of the word:
It is so big and somehow man made 79 years ago! That is awesome. We walked halfway and then walked back. It was an incredibly windy day.
After that we did a drive by of the Painted Ladies, lunched at Nick's Crispy Tacos (delicious food and they had fresh watermelon juice the day we went, so yeah, that's a must). From Nick's we walked down to Fisherman's Wharf and walked around the touristy area and wrapped up the trip stopping at a fast food chain that has yet to hit Nebraska, In and Out Burger. It's not my favorite, but it's a nice change of pace.
That was it. Exhausted from the walking and exploring, excited by the spontaneity, and stuffed by the delicious foods we were ready for home. We packed it in and were on the red eye back to Minneapolis only two days after we had arrived.
Let this be a lesson to us and to you, go where the winds take you, follow the good vibrations, get out of your rut, recognize variables as variables and change them to better suit you every chance you get.
I am remarkably grateful for our ability to go with the flow, for the memorable trip we were able to take together, for the fact that my husband cleaned our cozy cone before we left so we came home to a clean home, and for my body that amazes me on the regular by what it is capable of doing!