The reality of the impeding week still hadn’t set in as I heaved my 43 pound zebra print suitcase into the back of the cab.
On the thirty minute ride to the marina, I mulled over my past. At 24 years old, I have already accomplished a lot. I graduated college with a 3.9 gpa, published research, landed a career working as an agent for models and actors and crossed off quite a few bucket list adventures. On the surface, my life is blissfully perfect, but often on paper it can be a different story.
And that’s where Jenny comes in.
In second grade, at the impressionable age of 7, I joined a pen pal club advertised in a kids magazine. A thousand miles away, a little brown haired blue eyed girl from Iowa did the same… and the rest is pretty much history.
We have exchanged letters consistently since first bonding over our love of dogs and dancing. Today, she is my best friend, and the closest I will ever have to a sister. Like a journal that replies, we have shared our deepest secrets, most embarrassing moments, and wildest dreams. Although we differ drastically in our upbringings, career paths, and trivial interests, we share a similar sense of humor, love for travel and an unbiased, unwavering friendship.
Despite our unique bond, I had a brief moment of panic as we neared the marina. My mind raced as I spotted Jenny leaning against the blue Corolla that we will be living out of for the next week. Should I hug her? Is she nervous? Will we get along? As the cab rolled to a stop, I couldn’t shake the fear that this week could potentially damage our pen pal-ship beyond repair.
As soon as we embraced in a bear hug, both squealing with excitement, my unfounded fears disappeared. As cliche and cheesey as it sounds, I truly know this will be the best week ever, and an adventure I will forever cherish.
From chocolate tastings to the Fisherman’s Wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge, we wasted no time in exploring San Francisco. Followed closely by the cameramen and producer, we began our journey at the top of Lombard street. Winding down the steep curves, Jenny and I marveled at the expansive view of the city. After spending some time shopping, we headed to Fisherman’s wharf to catch a glimpse at the famed sea lions. I ignored the smells of fresh seafood that stung my nose as we bustled through the markets but I will be forever traumatized by the fish stand attendants who taunted us with live 4 pound claw-wielding killer lobsters (ok, perhaps killer is pushing it).
Once my breathing returned to normal, we continued on to the sea lion lair (alright, maybe it was just a floating dock that they beach on, but I’m trying to create suspense). I could have swam right out there and cuddled up to the barking blubber bellies. I cannot believe how honest to gosh adorable they are! Trying to contain my excitement, we snapped some quick pictures, let out a few barks (I had to!) then headed off to tour the TCHO chocolate factory.
Walking into the unassuming Tcho warehouse, a waive of rich chocolate aroma enveloped me. The factory looked like a trendy science lab with a touch Willy Wonka’s magic. Our tour guide enlightened us on their unique process of chocolate making then let us sample the differing bars. Something about massaging the chocolate before letting it melt in your mouth still seems a little excessive to me, but the squares really were the richest and most satisfying chocolate I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying.
While visiting the sights, it was easy to forget that our every comment and move was being recorded, but the first outdoor interviews proved rather challenging. The weather here, to say it bluntly, bites. My suitcase is bursting with shorts, sundresses and flip flops, but the weather today was a far cry from the sunny California I envisioned.
Day one is coming to a close, and I’m absolutely exhausted. Thankfully, the connection between Jenny and I is effortless. The only big surprise thus far is Jenny’s under developed taste buds. Not only does she not drink coffee (gasp!) she has the eating habits of a bratty 8 year old. Dining is my favorite part of traveling – I love to explore the local hidden gems and indulge in the most acclaimed dishes they offer. So needless to say, it’s going to be a long trip if we spend it eating plain pizza and cereal.
TODAY’S BUCKET LIST CHECK OFF:
Fisherman’s Wharf – check
Overdosing on chocolate – check
Buying overpriced tourist souvenirs – check
Golden Gate Bridge – check
Screaming 80s music at the top of our lungs with the windows down despite the biting wind and 60 degree weather- check
Stealing a sea lion as the third member of our road trip brigade – fail. but I did get to see them – check
Alright that’s enough nonsense for today, I’m getting delusional I am so tired. Tomorrow 5am wake up call for our hot air balloon ride over Napa!!
Paz and amor, (what? we’re in Cali now – I’m using spanglish every chance I can)