For as long as I can remember, the great West has captivated me. It’s as though the colonization of America still runs in my blood and makes me want to continue pressing westward, sweeping up experiences and glimpsing into the natural beauty of this wonderful country as I go.
I’ve long dreamed about visiting the West Coast: basking in the salty ocean air, wandering for hours along the rugged coast, bidding the sun farewell as it descends into the might Pacific. California isn’t a secret anymore, obviously, but it doesn’t mean the desire to discover it for myself has waned. Sometimes just spelling its name harkens a sense of longing in my heart. C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A. Each letter building more anticipation than the last.
I visited Lake Tahoe when I was younger and once we had a 7-hour layover in LA, but it’s hard to validate these as really engrossing myself in California (both the physical place and the state of mind). Until last year, California still felt like a distant mirage: a vision of an Emerald City on the western horizon, perhaps not even real but always a figment of my wildest Midwestern dreams.
Last year, I finally saw Cali for myself when Sam and I traveled to San Diego for a week to visit our good friends Britni and Jay. It was my first time really experiencing California, and even before we arrived I had a feeling that California would gently slip its hand into mine and never let go.
I was right.
If anything, finally grasping the size and variety of the Californian coast makes me want to stay longer and see more than I could ever possibly see in my life. Maybe it’s because I’m from the middle of America, or maybe it’s because as a human species, we always chase whatever is farther west. The West calls to me, beckons me to explore, invites me to get lost and find myself in its infinite beauty. Whatever it is, my desire to venture westward still hasn’t waned and I’ve daydreamed about the next opportunity that would plant me back in California.
An opportunity came up at work recently to go to a conference put on by our venture capitalist firm, and I jumped on it. The conference was at the University of California Berkeley campus, which I knew nothing about, but I was already enthralled. Fortunately for me, my boss and CEO agreed to let me attend the conference. This alone was excellent news, but when a fellow coworker and conference attendee invited me to fly out with him a few days early and stay with one of his friends, I was ecstatic. We booked our flights, packed our bags, and headed west.
Sweet, sweet West.
In just five-ish days, we traversed Oakland (where we stayed on Friday and Saturday night), San Francisco, and Berkeley (where we stayed Sunday through Tuesday night). Each locale offered up something different despite all being in the Bay Area. For this reason, I feel like I need to write a post about each place. The conference itself was incredibly inspiring, too, so I feel like there are a lot of things built up in my heart that I’ll want to share about all the things I learned and experienced there, too.
Brace yourself for some Californian wanderlust. It’s coming.