Exploring Home

Some of my friends in the East Bay like to mess with me whenever I can’t hang out because “I’m going to the city.” The running joke is that I’m always in the city, whether it be for an event or just to see some friends.

The sad reality is that I don’t go to San Francisco (or Berkeley, Oakland, or anywhere West of the East Bay, really) nearly as much as I’d like to these days. Sure, there are the random trips to Denver or Seattle, or trips to rivers or campsites or mountains nearby, and the occasional jaunt through a Bay Area sports venue, but that’s hardly enough.

It’s funny, because when I came home from my trip last year I wanted to make “exploring home” a priority. One thing I realized on that journey was that I’d dedicated more time to flying all over the world and seeing other countries, but had neglected my own home country to an extent – especially my native region.

The Bay Area is so full of places, people and things to explore, so I did try to make it out to San Francisco as much as possible when I first returned. I kept up that momentum for a while, and stumbled across some awesome, interesting moments because of it. But now, I find myself trying to get back into that groove.

Think about what you picture when you hear “New York City.” Even if you’ve been there multiple times, you think of all the cool things you get to do when visiting one of the most unique, diverse cities in the world. Flip the script: New Yorkers probably feel the same way when they think about San Francisco.

And yet, when the city in question is right there, just a train ride away, we seem to take it for granted. I know I have.

For example, did you know in my 27 1/2 (including 4 mostly spent in Pullman, WA, but bear with me) years in the Bay Area, I’ve never toured Alcatraz? Sometimes I feel silly when friends come to visit and that’s on the top of their SF Bucket List. I can’t even lend a helping hand besides the customary, “get a ticket early!”

Why haven’t I toured Alcatraz? It seems freakin’ awesome. And by all accounts from people who have gone, it IS awesome.

I’ve kept it on the back burner because San Francisco is always there. Alcatraz is just a click away, so why the hurry?

Well, now that I’m considering my next moves (whether it be traveling again, moving locally or moving out of the area completely), maybe Alcatraz and all the other greatness that comes with San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, etc. might not be just a click away.

And despite all the amazing shows, hikes, tours, parties, and more that I’ve experienced in the Bay Area over the years, it still feels like more of an effort could be made towards embracing the area I actually come from. I am always impressed by those who seem to take nothing for granted and work really hard to take full advantage of what this area has to offer.

It’s funny; I used to wander around random small towns in Europe and Asia, marveling at how cool the tiniest little thing was. Many of those things I observed were probably little details locals passed right by without a glance every single day.

And the same thing happens in reverse, it seems. I live in one of the greatest areas in the world, and for whatever reason, my exploratory gene is lacking lately. Who knows how much longer it’ll be around?

Not every travel journey must be miles from home. In fact, some of the best are right in our backyards.

Time for me to get out the door and wander the Bay Area a little better. Time for me to explore home.

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