San Francisco and the American Southwest

Trip Start Sep 13, 2005
Trip End Oct 15, 2006

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, September 1, 2006

What can I say about San Francisco except it's a place that feels like home. This being something like my sixth visit to this west coast wonderland, I spent my time just soaking in the finer parts of the city, including spending time with friends and family. While I hit a lot of sights including walking over the Golden Gate Bridge to Salsalito, hanging out by the waterfront in hotspots/tourist traps like Fisherman's wharf, the Ferry building and Ghiradeli Square, the best part was catching up with friends, acquaintances, and family. I met some of my cousins for the first time, walked around town with an old travel buddy and made some cool new friends. What more could you ask for? The answer for me was a bit of competition and a taste of my old life back in Boston. Luckily for me my time in San Francisco coincided with their Annual Dragon Boat Race/Festival and my old team, the Dragon Boat Club of Boston, was making an appearance. Doublely lucky for me, they were a bit short handed and needed an extra paddler even if I hadn't even held a paddle in my hand for over a year (and white water rafting doesn't count). For those of you who are a part of the uninitiated, Dragon Boating is a growing international sport with its roots in ancient China (google it). The best way to describe it is a team sport that's a cross between sculls (rowing/crew) and canoeing. Our race site was Treasure Island and we were blessed with beautiful warm sunny weather. I loved the racing, the laughing and the company. Considering we didn't have a full team (we had to recruit random paddlers from other teams in the competition), we did pretty well. I think the final results were third in our division. Not bad.

In San Francisco I decided I'd end my trip around the world with a tour of the American Southwest on the Green Tortoise, a legendary adventure tour company based out of San Francisco. With hippie roots (think music, free love, crazy fun times), a trip on the Green Tortoise isn't for the faint of heart. Quarters can be tight (think sleeping sardine style), mystery smells can boggle the mind (think proper showering every 3 days if you're lucky) experiences can be life changing, memories can be unforgettable and cherished and new friends can become life long friends. We started off the trip in San Francisco and went through the states of Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana before heading back to the city by the bay, taking a different route of course. Some of the highlights included Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, Carlsbad Caverns, clothing optional hot springs, spending my 31st birthday in an underground bar in New Mexico, catching up with a wild man from my past, experiencing post Hurricane Katrina New Orleans and the Las Vegas strip. Needless to say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and I'm going to expand that to the rest of my Green Tortoise trip unless of course you ask me in person...then I might be willing to elaborate ;-)

Once back in San Francisco, it was time to take my final flight, this one back home to Boston, marking the end of my 13 month trip around the world.
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