Wednesday, 20 January 2016

TRAVEL - At The Edge of Paradise - Part 8 - SAN FRANCISCO


At The Edge of Paradise

Santa Barbara. San Diego. San Francisco

Back on the dusty road again we were heading west this time straight to the heart of San Diego, a lovely four hour drive away. As me and the wife were no longer a duo act due to our good friend Geezy joining us, we nicely became a lucky trio. Which meant the dynamics of our survival group had naturally changed. We now had a third person to consider on this wee venture. G had also kindly offered to take the driving reigns for her first road trip journey having just joined us in Vegas. In fact G couldn't wait to get tucked in behind the 'Thelma' automatic wheels, which was a huge delight for us especially Shaz. Actually can we just give that girl a big roaring round of applause. She practically had to adapt, think fast (as I dropped her in it) and drove us half way across USA in not the easiest of weather conditions. I mean my eyes were firmly on the road too and we only had one near miss where the tiredness struck Shaz, but she probably felt the strain at times but never ever showed it. In fact I think she loved it! Wild and Free on the open road. An Essex Wonder Women is our Shaz.  Also what a great life achievement she now has and one treasured memory to tell her grandchildren about.
Now a good three weeks into our little summer journey back on the road towards the California breeze something in me had changed. It felt like I could feel already what an impact this trip was making on my life. I'm not sure if it was not having the strain to carefully watch the road as much but I distinctly remember seeping into the surroundings around me. My eyes could see. I could sit back and enjoy the ride. 

As I released each breath it felt like the snag deep inside of my being was finally unlocked........the dark detaining demons I had buried inside of me were quickly vanishing. Why does sitting in a moving car looking out do that to you? It's very cliche but I can honestly say it's true. If you take away all the fuss and your left with just you. Roar and the open road it allows you to free your mind, clear your thoughts and just be.  I don't feel like I can write this post honestly without mentioning what I had been through prior to this booked trip. (Deeep breath) Especially as I want it all to make sense. I debated with myself and others as to whether I should delve so deep personally into the next segment which you are about to read. But I think as this is my blog and effectively I can write what the hell I like why not. It's my truth. So here I go.....

I lost my mother. I didn't know how to deal with certain emotions that I didn't even know existed in my body. Instead of facing them I ignored them. I was in denial for quite a long time. I blurred that whole time of my life out and pretended like I was okay. Looking back I think I was in shock. We never ever thought she would pass...Ever. A year after was when I started to really grieve and then I was just very angry with the world, I hated myself, I hated everyone and everything around me. I nott the type of person to even use the word hate. My grieving quickly turned into a pretty dark place that I know I can never ever go back to. (It's very difficult to articulate this in to clear words so do bare with me). The bereavement  process triggered depression and I didn't see the point of my existence. I had always been such a carefree loving life strong person so depression really caught me off guard. I would ask myself odd questions every day like why am I here. I like so many people out there had been experiencing a lot of pain and turmoil that I couldn't escape from. Loosing a parent is not something I ever thought I would have to go through. Death is never ever spoken of, it just unfortunately isn't. Sounds silly but I felt like I had no training in it or how to deal with it. No one close to me had ever passed in my family. But I don't think looking at me you would've of ever known I was in such a destructive place mentally. On the outside I was smiling and became aware that I didn't want people around me to worry. Everyone has their own shit to deal with so why on earth would I burden them with mine. Saying that I'm very lucky that I had friends and family to talk to (as I know a lot of people don't) if I needed to reach out but I just didn't. I found that time very overwhelming and from someone who really dislikes labels I had suddenly turned into a girl who's mum had died instead of just Tracy. I felt pity towards me. It just all felt weird. The state I was feeling was my own little secret that no one knew of, (and probably still don't know) I had no control over it. My very close friends had a slight inkling but I'd brush it off if they did question me, they would advise me to go to the GP for help. But I think one of the first hurdles with any mental illness is facing the fact that you actually have a problem. Even then I used to lie and be in full repudiation of these unpredictable emotions I was feeling. I mean talking about depression is probably a place for a different blog post but I couldn't write this and pretend. I wanted to note to myself when I re-read these blogs to my older self of what type of place I was in mentally and how I got through it. Thankfully I'm not in that place anymore. I had never ever suffered from depression before, I didn't know how to deal with it so I isolated myself alot in fear that I was going crazy. 
But during my time on the road I started to feel like me again. I was facing myself head on. Nothing to hide behind. No fuss, no phones, no distractions. Living out of a back pack with no real home I felt strong and said a big F U to the demons. It's crazy that all of the emotional feelings I felt during this road trip are still so vivid in my mind. Thoughts. Feelings. Mood. Misery. I let go of it all. Travelling pushes your physical and mental limits. Again without sounding cliche but it made me feel free.

Travelling allowed me to step away and really reflect on the last five years. I now understand why that happened to me and it's actually quite understandable really. I had been through a lot at a very young age but it's made me even stronger and happier. I was sinking fast and the illness attacked me as I was weak. No way will I ever allow that to ever happen to me again. I will never get them years back. But I know where I'm heading. I'll never forget my mother and I'll always have an angel watching over me. How lucky am I :-)


Road trip of a lifetime view.  

So let's step back on that dusty open road along the Californian freeway, pretty fast too! Geezy is also a wild one. Here we were making a much needed pit stop at my favorite famous In n out diner!


I was so friggin excited as I had always wanted to go to an In an Out, hence the I'm actually walking out of a In and Out photo. 


So we arrived into San Diego evening time. Yes G had already broken one of our never driving long distance after dark rule but hey she got us there. San Diego International Hostel was our accommodation for the next two nights.We were all pretty tired and looking forward to a warm clean bed.  Now travelling is great for making you lose all inhibitions but we unfortunately found male pubes in our beds that night which actually made us die with laughter. I mean first hand we were absolutely disgusted but once we phoned the reception and they just practically laughed at us down the phone we just had to laugh along at the situation. I mean frigging pubes! We belly laughed that evening. I think I slept in my suit case that night as I was just too tired to think clearly. The hostel offers shared rooms on a prime location bang in the middle of the high street. (Which meant you heard the noise of the town all night) Apparently San Diego doesn't sleep either. The local bars were a stone throw away from our hostel rooms. I am still 100% recommending this large hostel (forget the pubes) especially if you are on a budget. The hostel is one of the biggest ones we stayed in.They hold lots of events to get people together especially if your travelling alone, which I think is sweet. On our second day we visited San Diego's old town, rode the trams, ate along the pacific ocean in a random wooden hut. In the evening we went to the busy bar across the road. I haven't really spoken too much about the people you meet travelling yet (so much to include, eeek!) I think I'll include that in my final travel post but the people you meet are just bloody incredible. Good people do exist.

After two sleeps we were off to our next town Santa Barbara as a stopping station towards San Fran. The Journey took 4 hours. The driving scenes we were so lucky to see blew our minds. Our favourite tunes blaring (West Coast - Lana Del Rey)hitting the California road hard along the pacific ocean felt like an actual dream. The camera I had was a bit naff so these images don't really do the scenes the justice they deserve.  




Another pit stop. (In and Out is the best!)
We arrived at our Santa Barbara Motel. I don't have any pics but it looked exactly like the previous motels we had already stayed in. Full of motel character. We slept and rose earlier the next morning for another four hour journey to San Francisco.


Our new home was the downtown Courtyard Marriott Hotel (which was quite posh for us). We fitted quite a lot in the 4 nights we were there. Looking back I really loved that we were all quite big adventurers. Each of us every day would wake up over excited for the day ahead. Gearing to face and embrace whatever would be thrown at us. A wonderment of what this beautiful city had to offer. For me it never ever got boring. We all got stuck in, no one lagged behind as we just got on with it (Dagenham birds, lol). I think that's really important when your travelling as a group. Oh I also have to mentioned that on our third night during the early morning we experienced our very first encounter with an earthquake. The walls legit moved from side to side along with the ground for a good 10 seconds. It was crazy! I was actually on the phone to a love one in the Uk at the time, I remember it being late well into the morning around 2am. I actually said that the rooms moving and that I thought it was an earthquake. G woke up and shouted earthquake. We joked but the next morning we found it all over the news and it actually was an Earthquake. My dad text me asking if I was ok. So crazy and surreal to think we actually experienced an earthquake. Breaking News! YOU JUST HAVE TO TRAVEL IF YOU GET THE OPPORTUNITY! Not for earthquakes but just for them small awakening moments. (Did I MENTION AN EARTHQUAKE)



San Francisco map reading and street walking. We walked everywhere.  

Ticking Alcatraz Island off of our life list. Pretty booked out so we didn't get a chance to go inside so this is my quick snap from the San Fran bay.


Golden Gate Bridge We all fell in love with this bridge, we walked over it, drove along it (twice) and jumped on a dodgy boat to go under it. But why you ask! It's just a bridge. The boat is where I've never laughed so hard in my life, the wind was so wild that day and the under current was literally throwing our little boat from side to side. People were being sick on the boat and our safety cover flung over board. Still the best experience Ever.  



We explored the streets and found the house where Mrs Doutfire (fav film) was filmed in honor of Robin Williams.



We visited Haight Street which is the coolest place in San Fran. I haven't stopped talking about. It's a place I would love to revisit. Haight is full of so much history and being the inner hippy that I am a place I felt belonged too. Lot's of amazing cafes, vintage clothing, music stores and bars on this iconic street.

I have to also talk about the Tenderloin District that we unintentionally stumbled through to get to Haight Street. If ever there was a time when I felt intimidated on this trip or worried about our safety this district was initially it. I got called the N word in passing but in a endearing kind of way from an american man who looked high on drugs. The Tenderloin area is renowned for it's homeless community so be prepared for that in San Fran, (unfortunately there are lots of homeless people in San Fran) but after the initial Oh sugar I think we've taken another wrong turn, duh! we were actually fine. Again a huge eye opener as we were in and amongst it all on the streets. A few probably had guns but I actually felt safe around them. It was just surreal and again felt like a scene out of a film. Tenderloin District is probably one of the places we were told not to go to but you know what I think if your visiting a town you should see all aspects of it, like London not everywhere is rosy and Jim. I want to see the real America and that day we did. 

We walked through a beautiful national park to finally reach the pacific coastline to gain another view of the Golden Gate Bridge. 


Rock climbing through the park.


Totally worth it. 
Golden Gate Bridge
My rucksack I picked up from a native american shop in Phoenix. 




Forever Young. Forever Free



On our last day we went up in the mountains for a bird eye view of San Francisco from Twin Peaks.






We were here!

Thank you so much for reading. 
A bit of a deep life post today.

Next stop and the last chapter 
LA BABY!

My Look, 
My Style
Flora Maria 
XX











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