Sutro Heights Park and Goodbyes

Before heading to the airport, and making our sad goodbyes, Ryan took me to a part of San Francisco I didn’t even know existed. How I never knew about the beautiful Sutro Heights Park I am not sure but I am sure happy that Ryan brought me there for some beautiful vistas, a slow long walk through the trails and a little time before I left for Missouri to talk about our future together.

The Waves from Sutro Heights Park

The thought of leaving Ryan and California for Missouri made me sick. The idea that I was choosing to live two thousand miles away from the person and the place that I love just didn’t make sense. Yet, for some reason, less than 45 minutes after making it to Sutro Heights Park, we were back in the car and heading to the airport.

Golden Gate Bridge from Sutro Heights Park

When I start thinking about how much I miss Ryan and my friends in California I’m reminded that living in Columbia isn’t my permanent future. Someday, hopefully someday soon, I’ll make some dramatic changes in my life and it won’t be long before I’m no longer visitin California and instead, living there.

Visiting San Francisco

I’ve been staring at my screen for the last twenty minutes or so trying to decide just what I wanted to title this blog post. Choosing the right title for a post is important. Will my title convey the post subject of the post succinctly? Will it capture the attention of a potential reader? Will it SEO? Will it blend? Will it give the wrong message?

Obviously I just gave up. Oh well. Better than something totally cheesy like “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” with an embedded video from YouTube of Tony Bennett singing…well you get the point.

A few weeks ago, as many of you know, I took a trip to California to see Ryan, our new apartment, our amazing friends and to get a little bit of a break from the Midwest. The trip was awesome. I had an amazing time and if anyone were to ask me, yes it was too short. My time in the Golden State also brought up the question of why I was living in the Show-Me State. Why am I living 2,500 miles from Ryan working a job that can be done from anywhere in the world?

In fact, I did much of my job while I traveled across France, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Germany. If I can do it from Saudi Arabia through a government implemented firewall, I can certainly do the job from San Francisco.

No need to dwell on my longing for California, let’s instead, celebrate the great times I had while I was there! including a morning stroll through Dolores Park!

It was a long trip out there. Started way too early in the morning and didn’t end until around 2 in the morning my time. Long day. But who can complain when you have Ryan picking you up at the airport to drive you to your new home in the city?

When we got home, he gave me the tour of the apartment and neighborhood, talked about how wonderful it would be to live there together, full-time, and finished the moment off with a climb to the roof and a stunning view of the entire city.

The next morning I went to the roof to take this picture. Be sure to click to enlarge!

Our apartment is in a great area for us. Just a couple of blocks from a Safeway, a couple of blocks from a MUNI station, not even a block from a bus station and snugged in just outside of The Castro. When I previously lived in San Francisco, I lived on the other end of Market, about five blocks from Union Square. It was a different life then. Seemed I made whatever excuse I could to go down to the area where we now live and enjoy the higher altitude, the slower coffee shops and local color. I worked near Union Square but ached for The Castro, Mission and Haight.

I think it was the second night in town when I lamented to Ryan of the good ‘ol days. The days when I lived with Mike and Kevin in Santa Rosa. It was right about the moment that I turned to Ryan and said, “You know, I really wish you could meet Mike. I think you’d really like him…” when I’m interrupted by a callout, “Justin?!”

It’s Mike and Kevin, standing 15 feet from the front door of our apartment! By the way, Mike moved to St. Martin a few years ago, a Caribbean Island not known for its proximity to San Francisco.

It was amazing. We went out for drinks, Mike and I caught up on all the changes in each other’s lives while Kevin and Ryan, likely, shared embarrassing stories about me.

I couldn’t think of a better way to close out a night in San Francisco than that.

Living Long Distance

Seems like I keep writing blog posts about change and loss. How depressing right? And come on, after a summer where your precious goldfish went to bigger waters, four of your best guy friends moved away, a semester where you said goodbye to two jobs and a ton of great classmates, a year that your parents moved to Saudi Arabia and your apartment of the last three years was vacated… what the hell else could you have left to say goodbye to?

Believe it or not, something bigger than all of that recently left, moved away to the great left coast of California.

Ryan and I have been trying for years to get back to California, visiting at least two times a year since we started dating three years ago. I never thought it would be Ryan that would move to San Francisco first but it sure did happen that way. Just a week ago Ryan made the long drive west to start a new chapter in his and my life.

We’re both baffled when the two of us think about how much has changed for us over the last three years, how much we’ve endured, grown and loved. When I moved out of the downtown apartment we were both so excited to actually, officially, share a home together. I think that lasted all of around 2 weeks. After a whirlwind summer between coasts for education seminars, job interviews and some well deserved vacation time, Ryan got the great news that he would be moving to San Francisco for a fantastic new job.

Oh, and me? Well… I’m here in Columbia. I’m continuing my work here, which I enjoy so much, paying a mortgage, which I am not enjoying so much, and thinking about the day I get to make the very trip Ryan made nearly two weeks ago.

It’s actually kind of funny. Phoebe, aka @fotofobe, joked that Ryan and I were the only two people in a long distance relationship who lived in the same house. Never a truer statement was spoken. You can see a typical Monday through Friday on the right.

I only worked 5 hours on Sundays so my weekends were mostly free. Unfortunately, Ryan often worked 24 hour shifts on Saturdays so there goes the weekend.

But I guess what I’m really getting at here is this. For three years we lived together and more or less barely got to see each other. We took trips from time to time, we were lucky enough to have a few weekends off here and there but really, on average, we saw each other only a handful of hours every week. It’s insane right? Yet it never messed with us. If anything it only made the time we spent together more important and more cherished.

We always looked to the summers, when I wasn’t in school, for long trips to California or somewhere on the east coast. This summer, for the first summer ever, I was done with school and had entered the real world. That is to say, I had a job. Which also means, our summer together traveling never happened.

In less than a month I will be flying to California to spend a week with Ryan in our new apartment in San Francisco. Do you have any idea how exciting that is? After a summer behind a desk and away from Ryan, we will finally have some time together, for an entire week! I cannot wait.

Ryan moving away has been incredibly difficult but I refuse to let it be the coup de grâce of my life here in Columbia. I’m so lucky to have some great friends still left here in Columbia, a job that let’s me travel and iChat for us to video chat.

Big thanks to Laura, Chadd, Korrie and Dave for being there for me. I may not be showing how sad and lonely I am but with you guys, I don’t have to.

So look forward to lots of pics from San Francisco soon! It’s been forever since I broke my camera out and shot things I wanted to shoot. Way too long.

Saudi Arabia Panoramas

I really have been trying to write up about all the fun adventures I went on in Europe and the Middle East. I promise.  It’s just so hard to find the time to write when I also have to find the time to gather my photos!

So here are a few panoramas I took in Saudi Arabia.  They are each like 5-11 pictures merged into one, so consider this a 10,000 word blog post, aight? Make sure to click the photos to open the lightbox and view them much larger.

One big complication with panoramas like these, with power lines in them, is reconciling the power lines from shot to shot. Still working on the best way to accomplish that.  I’d love to get your thoughts on these down in the comments. Thanks a bunch! Oh and if you have a trick in Photoshop for fixing these power lines, DEFINITELY put THAT in the comments!

Almost Back

It seems I should have spent my over thirty-six hours of travel writing blog posts about my trip.  Unfortunately I spent most of that time watching inflight movies and reading.  Shameful I know.  Guess I just felt the need to clear my brain for a while.  After traveling, running on empty and going at full speed for nearly a month, a little down time was necessary.

Today and tonight I am dedicating a couple of hours to gather photos and stories from my travels to put on the blog.  I’ve already gotten a lot of stuff uploaded to flickr and hope to soon have a post up.

Meanwhile, here are two panoramas.  The first is a view of Paris from Basilique du Sacré-Cœur and the second from the private beach facility where my parents live in Saudi Arabia.

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Luggage Lost

I waited and waited but you never showed
In Bahrain we first parted
To Saudi to Frankfurt, we traveled together
Come Chicago reunited, for Custom and Immigration’s pleasure.

St Louis I waited, anticipated
But you never showed.

Damn you Chicago, the booze and the jazz
Confuse-ed United
Luggage workers spazzed.

You are lost now and missed
And I am quite pissed

United I hate you.

Willkommen nach Frankfurt!

After about ten or eleven hours of travel, from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain then back to Saudi Arabia to connect to another flight (for real) I am in Frankfurt Germany.  Oh yeah, but first I met this awesome girl from Tel Aviv who is now my Facebook friend (social media for the win!) who got lost along with me in the airport, through a series of horrible directions from airport workers…  We finally made it to our fork in the road.  She was gate 13, I, gate 15.  Since she was going to Isreal, a known terrorist-ridden country with hundreds of years of historic terrorism, suicide bombings, religious cleansing she had her very own special security screening system to go through.

Oh and since I’m from America, coming from Saudi Arabia, I got my own round of fun.  Taken to my own private room, they gave me the full one over.  When all was said and done, I made it to my gate and here I sit.  For the next several hours…

But don’t worry for me too much.  I got a great cappuccino, an authentic german pretzel (which was meh) and a couple of hours of T-Mobile Internet for the small cost of $22 (hella expensive).

Oh did I mention they are jamming, like blasting, Beyonce and David Guetta.  That’s pretty fabulous haha.

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