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  • Summer Home: Kensington

    SUMMER TOUR STOP 7: KENSINGTON 

    I have to admit, I had never heard of Kensington. I wanted to spend a little more time exploring the East Bay, so I answered a Craigslist ad marked Berkeley. Turns out Kensington is charming unincorporated hills above Berkeley and El Cerrito.

    My first days there actually reminded me a little of living in Europe. Sparse antique furniture in my room, hardwood floors, street names like Wellsly, Kingston, and Coventry. At the end of the street, a wine shop with Dutch doors sat adjacent a cafe filled with Cadbury products, digestive biscuits, and every flavor of Twinnings tea. 

    Look at a map of Kensington and you'll see Public Paths connecting streets. I think I managed to walk each one and they range from wide paved steps to overgrown dirt trails between fences you'd miss if Google Maps wasn't insisting it exists. They all seem to deliver awesome views of the bay. 

    Anyone who knows Kensington told me: the farmer's market is where it's at. They were right and I regretted I only had two free Sundays. The first day I visited was warm and lively and ended in a beautiful bowl of scallops and meyer lemon linguine. The second time was cold and ominous with strong winds knocking over displays and threatening power outages and fires. Sure enough, that night, I came home to a dark house and packed a "Go Bag" just in case. It was a reality check that outside of the city, we're much more vulnerable during fire season. 

    Coming home to find an eerily dark neighborhood. Fire season in the hills. 

  • Summer Home: Orinda

    SUMMER TOUR STOP 6: ORINDA 

    I experienced several seasons in just one week in Orinda. It was sorching when I arrived, then came fog and rain, then warm again. 

    This stop definitely tested my aptness for country living. I dealt with an impressive bug invasion and as soon as that was under control, the cats brought in a field mouse. When found it curled under a rug, I rolled the whole thing up like a burrito and took it outside. The poor thing was paralized with fear and wouldn't run away, so I picked it up by its tail and tossed it off the deck! Who am I?!

    I did like it, though, and didn't really mind the isolation: the view and the cats kept me entertained. Mostly I cooked, looked out at the view, and walked to the Lafayette Reservoir. When I could, I slept with windows open, listening to the crickets. 

    Below Eileen on the deck or Eileen wanting to be on the deck. 

  • Summer Home: Sausalito Docks

    SUMMER TOUR STOP 5: SAUSALITO FLOATING HOME

    I think it's safe to say the houseboat, and all the unique and picturesque quirks of docklife, were the highlight of my summer. 

    I dropped my stuff on a Saturday afternoon while a summer party was kicking off at the next dock. I could hear Tom Waits-inspired 70s covers, but alas, I had another commitment. When I returned in the evening, a lone oboe carried across the water. I sat on the deck meditating on the reflections and the melancholy tune. I was utterly charmed. 

    I made some neighbor friends who told me about the Houseboat Wars and invited me to see how they had added to their own homes over the decades. I consulted the tidebook daily, but still marveled when I'd come home to find the front door five feet above the dock. 

    Mostly, it was quiet. And that peaceful feeling I felt the first night, I noticed it stayed. I loved having the windows open and looking out at the water and birds. I loved watching the fog roll in and then stop just above the mountain, as if held back by the Marin Headlands. 

    I took to riding my bike to yoga in Mill Valley at dawn. Okay, I did that once... but I did ride my bike to the ferry a few times and let me tell you, that is the way to commute. Especially on the way home with a glass of wine as the boat pulls itself out of a wall of fog sitting over the city.

  • Summer Home: Sonoma

    SUMMER TOUR STOP 4: SONOMA

    I have family in Sonoma and, like many San Franciscans, have spent enough time in wine country to know there's plenty to love. I'd underestimated how much I would delight in living there during harvest season, though. The plums, the mulberries, figs, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs... the spectacular bounty that came straight from the property brought me so much joy. 

    One night, we brought such a feast to the Sebastiani winery concert series that we had to extend to a second table before we could go shake it to the rockabilly cover band. 

  • Summer Home: Point Richmond

    SUMMER TOUR STOP 3: PT RICHMOND

    When I told people I was spending a weekend in Point Richmond, more than a few went, "So...where is that?" With its incredible bay views and historic victorians and waterfront...is this gem really a Bay Area secret? There's a beach, an actual beach where people were swimming. In the East Bay! I mean...

    The first night I arrived with no plans or research. I'd detoured through Pt Richmond on the way to East Brothers Brewery and had seen just enough to know I might want to come back. I headed up the hill, away from the views of the freeway and the refinery, and came across this:

    I walked down towards the water, through the tunnel into town, past The Plunge (or the Municipal Natatorium, as the giant neon sign on the roof says) and followed the sound of live music to the charming main strip. There, I found an outdoor concert where people of all ages and colors were dancing in the street. 

    The next day, a friend and I toured some open houses and discoverd that two million will buy you three stories of bay views, your own kayak private put-in, an artist studio overlooking the water, and a 1902 cottage on-property where Jack London reportedly stayed and wrote. Lunch was donuts and chilaquiles in a former funeral parlor / brothel.

  • Weekend Getaway: Pajaro Dunes

    Spent a relaxing weekend with my college besties and their gaggle of babies at the Pajaro Dunes beach community outside of Santa Cruz. We didn't go anywhere aside from the beach and spent the evenings playing board games and roasting marshmellows. It was perfect. 

  • Summer Home: Mill Valley

    SUMMER TOUR STOP 2: MILL VALLEY

    This deck was my happy place. Mill Valley's closer proximity to SF meant I spent a bit more time drivng into the office than I would have preferred. After a day of editing, I'd head north across the Golden Gate, (windshield wipers going), feel a weight lift with the clouds, and pull in with enough time to sit outside with a glass of rosé and catch the last of the sun on that big ol' redwood tree.

    My second favorite spot was the Lumber Yard. It's the former site of Mill Valley Lumber Co (est. 1892) and sits above the Arroyo Corte Madera Creek. Pause and think about why the towns are called Mill Valley and Corte Madera. I hadn't! Instead of being torn down to build condos, it's been reimagined as cute shops and restaurants with fire pits and outdoor seating and windows in the floor to watch the water rush by!

    Mill Valley smells and looks like a mountain town. You're at the base of Mt Tam, and walking into town with the sun falling behind the peak reminds me a bit of summer in the French alps. Venture up a staircase on the Dipsea, and the homes are basially treehouses. Below people have creeks running through their front yards and of the sun on wood brings up images of long afternoons in Tahoe. As if to make the point, a short but late night walk home from a friend's place culminated in a faceful of spider webs and a too-close enconter with a cute little skunk. 

  • Summer Home: Petaluma

    I've been thinking about moving for a while now but, I didn't have a clear picture of what I needed from a move and worried that I'd miss San Francisco. What I did know, is that foggy San Francisco summer is not for me. In June, with Karl on the horizon, I doodled this: 

    Then I sent a email out to my people: did anyone have a lead on a short term rental that might include some of these elements? What came back was an overwhleming number of offers to housesit. So, between the months of July and October, I rented out my place in SF and lived in seven different cities. 

    SUMMER TOUR STOP 1: PETALUMA

    In Petaluma, my days were filled with bike rides Acre Coffee and Della Fattoria, barefoot gardening, dinner parties under sweet cafe lights, and neighborhood tours with Hobie, my handsome dog-for-the-month. I made deeper connections with acquaintances who live in the area and tried to convince me that I'd get used to the drive to SF. I made new friends through spontaneous invitations to join hikes and outdoor concerts. I took day trips to Point Reyes for Mt Tam cheese and Tule Elk and imagined renting an office space in a old brick mill. 

    Hobes making himself at home on his big adventure to San Francisco.

  • Point Reyes for Girl Ventures

    Girl Ventures is a wonderful Bay Area program that combines emotional education and leadership training with outdoor adventure. In July, I joined some group trips to get promotional photos for their fundraising efforts. The experience made me even more eager to support them. The programs, leaders, and youth are just phenomenal. 

  • Hipcamp Host Summit

    This summer, I had the opportunity to join 100 top Hipcamp Hosts for a weekend of education, community, and great food at Whiskey Ranch (Reinstein Ranch) in Livermore. I was able to glean some business education for future Hipcamp property endevours and, as you'll see shortly, I was a little obsessed with how a hundred Shelter Co tents looked against the landscape.