My soul was so happy and my heart FILLED over my “birthday weekend” (April 26-27)! Sure, only Friday’s festivities were planned in my birthday’s honor, but the rest of the weekend was exactly what I needed.
Let’s start with the makeup of the crew: TJ, Evan, Me, Riley, and Erin
What started as Riley and Erin wanting to go to the concert turned into TJ, Riley, and Erin wanting to go. After TJ assured me we’d be able to get a ride there or steal a car, I joined the crew. Then TJ informed me that a) Instead of stealing Evan’s car, he was coming! AND, b) on Saturday we were going to hike Mount Tam and spend the night at TJ’s house. I WAS SO EXCITED I COULDN’T EVEN HANDLE IT. The thought of escaping the stress of school and replacing it with all of these things was too much to look forward to.
Let’s move to Saturday morning
So I woke up after a solid 5 hours of sleep. And I woke up this early simply to do laundry so I had clothes to wear for the weekend. My laundry wasn’t dry until after the 10:30 goal we had originally made for leaving. I also didn’t make time or effort to get a proper breakfast. Slowly but surely, a headache without hunger crept in. I had a nutrigrain bar and packed the remaining four for our hike! And off the gang went- north! Through oakland, we eventually made it off the highway and up the twisty road to Mount Tam. The whole time I was struggling with what some might call the after effects of a fun (but pretty low key) Friday night. But man was I a trooper. I deemed myself the caboose of the group, so all the way up the mountain I was able to walk at my own…slow… pace. While walking the headache and stomach ugh was minimized. And I couldn’t help but feel spoiled by the company I was with and the crisp, clear weather that surrounded us! The hike was perfect. We took in the ocean air, great views, and amazing photo opportunities. The clear views at the top were unmatched. And I fell just one more step in love with the bay area. And once we made it down we settled on Sol Food, a Puerto Rican place, for early dinner. I had yummy shrimp, rice, beans, and fried plantains for dinner. And saved some for leftovers since my stomach was still not super fond of food.
and Saturday Evening
We made it all the way to Penngrove, aka to relaxation land aka TJ’s house. It was almost as though I was going to a second home. Since I had already been adopted by their family last year for thanksgiving. The house was just as beautiful and comforting as I remembered it. Our first order of business was feeding the llamas Como se and Dalai. Then we explored all that outside had to offer: the creek, tire swing, hammock, yard, and crazy dog Scout. When it got a little later we watched the sunset on the roof- complete with beer and a bong for those who chose to partake. After the roof it was time for the hot tubbing and pool-swimming we’d been waiting for all day. The next stop was roasting marshmallows over the firepit. And finally, when our stomachs needed something more, we answered them with a late night trip to IHOP! After that, everyone played poker and I passed out! I was so tired and content.
Sunday was our day to relax in the morning then explore Berkeley! We left the Brown’s by around 12:30 and made it to Berkeley about an hour later. After struggling to find street parking we settled for a $20 garage. Because convenience had us willing to pay that much. After parking, we walked around a lot. First we walked through the main downtown blocks, then we got food at a Thai place called Racha Thai! I was excited because it almost sounded like Rachel and offered a lunch special with SO much food. So that held us over for late lunch and dinner. After eating we walked all the way back through the main few blocks of downtown and over to UC Berkeley’s campus. Then we commenced wandering and exploring for a little longer, until it was time to trek back to the car. We wanted to get to the Greek theatre by about 5:30 because doors opened at 6:00 and seating was general admission.
and the concert
We got prime seating since we were at the theatre so early. The Greek was AMAZING. TJ wasn’t lying when he said there isn’t necessarily a bad seat in the place. It’s modeled after a traditional greek amphitheatre and we sat in the first few rows of concrete steps back from the pit. Our seats were still SO close to the stage, but also far enough back that we wouldn’t have to deal with tall people ruining my experience or having to be super intense with every song. Portugal the Man was a great opener, but many people showed up late and the energy wasn’t quite there yet. But once the sun started setting and the National took the stage, oh my word. I had decently average expectations for the National. I knew their music was pretty mellow so I didn’t know how it would translate as a live concert. I was prepared to keep sitting on the picnic blanket during their set, but I was proven SO SO SO wrong.
Those old guys can rock. They were great musicians, they added so much to their songs while performing live, and the lead singer Matt Berninger was especially incredible. As cheesy as it sounds, their music and performance was just what I needed in life at that moment. When I say “the music spoke to me,” I’m not kidding. The music’s lyrics and moods mirrored a lot of what I’ve felt lately. Not that I’ve been depressed or super intense, but I’ve felt contemplative with a bit of sorrow (at times). It became a pretty special weekend with great people, and hearing such an amazing concert made me so content with life. I really admired all of the emotion and passion they added to their live music. They played such a variety of songs, both old and new. And the encore with Bob Weir? I loved it. Top it off with an intimate sing along of Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks? Wow. Yes. Then we got Cream ice cream sandwiches for “dinner” and we drove back to campus. We made it back by about 11:45pm. Just in time for my boring, tired, and stressed-as-eff 12:01. Oh well!
Here’s to the Adventure Crew and The National, for an amazing weekend and all sorts of feelings and experiences that let me escape the stress and school for about 36 hours. Happy Birthday to me, because there are some things that you need every once in a while. And spoiling yourself with an adventure weekend is one of them.