We scored a hard-to-get reservation to Havasupai next week. If you haven’t heard of it, Havasupai Falls are these huge beautiful sets of waterfalls at the bottom of the Grand Canyon on an Indian Reservation. We used to go in high school and college a lot and it is amazing. You go for 4 or 5 days, camp, hike, swim in the clear blue pools and go cliff jumping. It is like a little hidden oasis in the middle of the hot desert. The only catch is it is a little tricky to get there. You can backpack the 12 miles in (the start point is a five hour drive from Las Vegas or Phoenix) or they have a helicopter service that flies in and out every few days. Once you get there the campgrounds are really affordable but you usually have to call in February to book them. We miraculously got some last month after a someone else cancelled theirs. I’ve been planning my packing list which includes a swimsuit and sunscreen (That’s all I need, right?) Here are some of the items I’ve been browsing from Target. I can’t wait to jump into those crystal blue pools! Have you ever been to Havasupai?
Havasupai Photo by Bryan Brazil
One of the most common emails I get is “What should I do when I am visiting San Francisco? My friend Victoria just came out with a new app that is the perfect solution: SFgirlbybay’s Bohemian Modern San Francisco. Victoria is the creative genius behind SF Girl By Bay and knows this city up and down. Her shopping picks are flawless, so her new app couldn’t be more perfect. In essence, it’s designed to point users toward her hand picked lists of “do not miss” shopping locations around San Francisco. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, it will help you create a unique shopping experience that’s 100% San Francisco. The app came out this week, so make sure you check it out! You’ll find it in the app store under the name “SFgirlbybay’s Bohemian Modern San Francisco.”
I asked Victoria to share her three favorite San Francisco party sources and here are her picks:
1. I’d say Fantastico because their selection is so vast — from pinatas to pretty napkins, balloons and faux flowers.
2. I love the San Francisco Flower Mart for the freshest flowers. It’s so affordable and you can find unique branches and create your own mixed bouquets.
3. I love Nest for unique french glassware — I like to mix and match their handblown glasses.
first two photos from my Instagram and last photo by Victoria.
Here are my 5 Tips for Apartment Hunting in San Francisco and below you’ll find the story of how we got our apartment against the odds (there were 40 other applicants!)
1. Craigslist. There are two ways to find an apartment in San Francisco: Craigslist and Word of Mouth. Craigslist was invented here and is THE place to look. Everyone uses it for everything. What I like to do is figure out the neighborhoods I want to look in and then search in “Map” mode. Other Craiglist search tips:
-Pay attention to the listings that are vague or without photos. It is usually some nice old lady trying rent her awesome apartment on “that newfangled internet website.” Usually everyone ignores these listings so you have an even better chance. Our landlord didn’t even list the storage, backyard, parking or laundry! I had another friend who went to a listing that said “no parking” and when she asked about it, the landlord said “I guess we can make room for your car.” Sometimes the agency managed apartments are less flexible.
– Search for keywords like “view”, “sunroom”, “Mid Century Modern”, “Victorian” or “Dolores Park” without using the neighborhood search feature. You can find cool apartments that were mis-categorized and it helps you find cool houses in neighborhoods you would not have considered.
-If a listing has a phone number write it down. I had a friend who called a number two weeks after the listing was posted and they said “well that one is rented but I have one opening up next week.”
2. Word of Mouth. Everyone knows the best apartments are handed down from friend to friend as people leave the city. Ask everyone you know, post on Facebook, Twitter, etc. that you are looking. I’ve had great luck with this.
3. Keep in Mind Transportation – The big issue with living in San Francisco is the commute. I lived in the Haight when I first moved to San Francisco which only has bus service and my commute to the Ferry Building took an hour. Later I moved one neighborhood over to Duboce Triangle (near the Muni Metro trains) and my commute was cut down to 20 minutes door to door. Certain neighborhoods like the Marina are so great but the commute downtown can be tricky because of the bus systems. (Sometimes there are some nice express bus options but usually those are crowded.) Just realize some neighborhoods are much more ideal to live in than others for commute times. Same goes with bikes. Certain neighborhoods are better to live in if you plan on biking a lot (watch out for those San Francisco hills!)
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Last month I had a meeting in Seattle so we decided to bring the whole family and make a trip out of it. We’ve always wanted to take the train down the coast so we decided this was the perfect opportunity. We flew up to Seattle, had a few fun days to explore the city and then boarded a train in Seattle in the morning. It was kind of an interesting adventure so I thought I would share it here in case anyone wants to try it. The airplane tickets at the time were around $100 each way and the the train tickets were $75 each way. The train from Seattle to San Francisco takes 24 hours so we decided to upgrade to the sleeper car. (I was worried about the kids being noisy at night and disturbing other people.) The sleeper car was about double what the plane tickets would have been (but it also includes meals). After a couple of hours on the train we were joking that we could have been home already. While the train was really cool, it isn’t the most time or cost efficient way to travel. Make sure you are doing it for the experience or you’ll be disappointed.
We arrived at the train station about 25 minutes before the train left. There were only a few other people in line so getting on the train was so easy. There was no taking off your shoes or putting everything through x-ray machines. It happened so fast that I can’t remember but I think we just walked through a metal detector. Within 5 minutes of arriving we were settled in our sleeper cabin. After we tucked away our bags the agent came by to offer us Champagne and Martinelli’s. It was so fun and we were all excited. The family sleeper cars felt spacious. I was worried I would feel cramped but that wasn’t the case.
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After moving back from Paris this summer we realized one of the things we missed most about living in Europe was the ability to take a little 4 day trip once a month. Everything is so close together in Europe so it is easier to get from country to country. And since you aren’t going to0 far it isn’t too expensive. I decided that I wanted to try to take more trips like that in the US. To make the trips inexpensive we have to watch for airfare deals and we are making efforts to visit places where we have family and friends to save on hotels. This week we are in Seattle and are having a great time exploring the city. I haven’t been here since I was 14 years old so it all feels new. Everything is so festive for the Holidays so even the grey weather is sort of charming. I would love recommendations for places to eat + shop if you have them.