After getting locked out of my AirBNB apartment, almost freezing to death, and a number of other events on day 1 of my San Francisco trip, I wake up excited about the next day’s agenda.

I’m scheduled to take a tour of San Francisco in a VW Bus. Yep, that’s the way I roll!

Here's me on a San Francisco VW Bus Tour. So much fun!

Here’s me on a San Francisco VW Bus Tour. So much fun!

But hold on, before I actually make it to the VW Bus…

I visit Samovar Tea Bar on Howard Av. I’ve heard a bunch of bloggers/podcasters, like Tim Ferris & Leo Babauta, who live in San Francisco talk a lot about the place a lot. Or I think it’s the place they talk about. It’s quite possible I got the wrong tea bar.

But anyway…I look it up. The main location happens to be just a few blocks away from the apartment. So, I decide to grab some tea and brunch there before the tour.

As I walk up from street level, I’m pleasantly surprised to see the place nestled in a garden with a fountain, and a great view of the surrounding buildings.

This is a picture of the gardens to the right of the Samovar Tea, which is just to the right of this picture.

This is a picture of the gardens to the left of the Samovar Tea, which is just to the right of this picture.

Samovar Tea View - San Fransisco

Here’s my view as I sit at an outdoor table at Samovar Tea.

l enjoy two cups of the most amazing green tea I’ve ever tasted in my life! Seriously, it was that good! And I devour an avocado salmon kale salad with all kinds of yummy stuff in it.

I thoroughly enjoy the meal. It’s just so hard to find yummy healthy food back home in New Orleans. In big cities like San Francisco…it’s everywhere. I’m one happy dude.

My yummy meal Samovar Tea.

My yummy meal at Samovar Tea.

I then walk over to the starting point of the tour (in case you’re wondering, the name of the company is Painted Ladies Tour Company) to meet Abby, my tour guide. I’m really excited to see the city in this unique way.

Plus, I’ve always wanted to ride in a VW Bus. So, it’s a win/win.

I meet a husband, wife and their two kids who are also along on the tour.

Abby is a wonderful tour guide. Her casual and conversational approach makes it feel like she’s a friend sharing her favorite places in the city.

She takes us to all the hot spots in San Francisco.

We discover the origin behind “painted ladies” houses, which are Victorian and Edwardian houses and buildings painted in three or more colors that embellish or enhance their architectural details.

The term was first used for San Francisco Victorian houses by writers Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen in their 1978 book Painted Ladies – San Francisco’s Resplendent Victorian.

These type of houses are all over San Fransisco. We stop the VW bus at one of the famous spots (not really sure why it’s such a popular spot) to view a series of “painted ladies” near Alamo Square.

I see about 100 people or so looking at and taking pictures of these painted ladies (see pic below).


I can’t help but wonder who lives in these houses, and if they’re annoyed by the constant flood of people looking at their houses 24/7.

Honestly, that would annoy me. I like to occasionally pee in my back yard. Not sure why. If I lived in one of those houses…can’t do that anymore. Geez.

We cross the Golden Gate bridge, and I took this picture after crossing to the other side:


I discover a few interesting things about the Golden Gate Bridge:

Thing #1 – You can walk, run or bike across it.

I didn’t know you could do that. I started to imagine myself riding a bike across the bridge. I’m a bit on the clumsy side, and found myself imagining loosing my balance on the bike and falling over the bridge, plummeting to my death.

And that brings me to…

Thing #2 – According to Abby, our tour guide, the Golden Gate bridge is the #1 bridge in the U.S. that people jump off of to kill themselves. 

Hmmm..interesting. I wonder if that’s true, so I decide to look up that stat only to find it to be accurate.

In fact, the Golden Gate Bridge is the second most used suicide bridge IN THE WORLD (the #1 slot goes to the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge in China).

The Golden Gate Bridge’s deck is about 245 feet (75 m) above the water. After a fall of four seconds, jumpers hit the water at around 75 mph or about 120 km/h. Most of the jumpers die from impact trauma. About 5% of the jumpers survive the initial impact but generally drown or die of hypothermia in the cold water.

Thing #3 – The 4,200-foot long suspension span of the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest span in the world from the time of its construction in 1937 until New York City’s Verrazano Narrows Bridge was opened on November 21, 1964. It is 60 feet longer than the Golden Gate Bridge.

Although I am fascinated by the Golden Gate Bridge, I can’t help but think it doesn’t have the Causeway Bridge beat by much.

I happen to live a few blocks from the Causeway Bridge, which links New Orleans to the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. The bridge is 24 miles long and is the largest bridge over water in the U.S.

It doesn’t get much attention from tourists. I’ve never heard of anyone visiting New Orleans and taking selfies while going over the bridge.

Disturbing fact about the bridge…

A few times a year automobiles run off the bridge falling into the lake.

Some survive, and some don’t.

The bridge was built a long time about (I link in the 1950’s??), so the side railings are only a few feet high. Back then people didn’t drive big SUV’s or trucks. Odds are if you hit the railing, you’re going into the lake.

My theory is that most people are on their mobile devices (texting, Facebook, etc), not paying attention to the road, when they fall over the edge. It’s a long drive and kind of boring. Most people commute to work over the bridge, or have family/friends on the Southshore. It’s easy to get comfortable making the drive over and over again, so it it is understandable that people jump on their phones (myself included on occasion) while driving over it.

Ok, back to San Francisco.

We visit the MaestraPeace Mural, which is painted on the Woman’s Building.

The mural was painted in 1994 by a “Who’s Who” of Bay Area muralists.

One of San Francisco’s largest and best known murals, MaestraPeace serves as a visual testament to the courageous contributions of women through time and around the world.

The pic of the mural at the top of this blog post is the front of the building, and this one I took is located on the side of the building:


We visited the Palace of Fine Arts, which is a monumental structure originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in order to exhibit works of art presented there.

It was rebuilt in 1965 on the original site, which is the structure you see today. Renovation of the lagoon, walkways, and a seismic retrofit were completed in early 2009.

Abby said that the dome structure you see in the below picture I took at the Palace of Fine Arts was George Lucas’ inspiration for the R2D2 Star Wars character. I have no idea if that’s actually true, but I like to believe it is.


We see Jimi Hendrix’s house. 

We get out of the VW Bus to view the house for a few minutes. I stand across the street for several minutes just staring at the house (I’m a big fan).


The Jimi Hendrix House

Somewhere in our many conversations Abby mentions watching the documentary, I’m Not Your Guru, about one of Tony Robbins events, “Date with Destiny.” It was a Netflix original show, and she raved about how much she enjoyed it.

I’m a big fan of Tony Robbins, so a week or so after the tour I finally got around to watching it. Wow! Pretty amazing to witness how people’s lives are transformed by making a decision to change their beliefs & actions.

A big lesson I learn from him: Beliefs shape your actions, which shape your destiny. 

There’s a lot of wisdom in that statement.

If Abby hadn’t recommended the documentary, I probably wouldn’t have watched it. I am so thankful she mentioned it.

If I wrote about all the places we visited in the 3 hour tour, my fingers would fall off from all the typing.

These were just some of the highlights for me.

After the tour was over, I drove out of the city to meet my wife in Sonoma Valley. 

While I was in San Francisco, Jena was visiting an old friend in Sacramento. The plan was to meet up in Sonoma Valley that night because the following day a friend of hers, Richard, was participating in the “Vineman” nearby.

The Vineman is the name of the Ironman in Sonoma Valley.

The next day, we meet up with some other friends who are also cheering Richard on.

While Richard is swimming over 2 miles, biking 112 miles, and running 26 miles, we decide visit a few wineries in the area.

Oh my! Wine taste much better at a winery. Really good stuff. And the cheese was amazing as well.

We eventually catch up with Richard at certain transition points in the race, cheering him on throughout the day.

I really admire Richard and all the other Ironman athletes. The discipline and dedication they posses is mind boggling.

The next day Jena goes for a long run in Sonoma Valley while I chill at the house for some much needed downtime.

She’s in her happy place: running (something she absolutely loves) in wine country (she falls in love with the beautiful scenery of the surrounding vineyards).

Later that day we drive back to San Francisco to spend the night at the W Hotel downtown.

It’s been a long-time dream of mine to one day stay at a W Hotel (not sure why). However, it really didn’t live up to all the hype in my head. I would rather stay at an AirBNB apartment nearby.

We decide to take it easy and not really do much for our last night in San Francisco. Jena takes a nap while I go for a walk. We go out for dinner at a nearby seafood restaurant.

We wake up the next day for our flight home back to New Orleans.

Good-bye California…until next time.


One of the highlights from my trip was the VW Bus Tour of San Francisco.

Let me ask you a question…

If you viewed your everyday life as a “tour”, savoring each moment, how would that change your daily experience of life?

My tour of San Francisco was a new experience for me, but not for those who live there.

I saw everything with fresh eyes, enjoying each experience and moment as it passed by.

What if you lived your life that way?

Life is a journey. Savor each moment. Live life to the fullest.

Embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Today is tomorrow’s history in the making.

Live in the present, not the future nor the past.

Enjoy the beauty that unfolds around you each day.

Breathe. Slow down.

Open your eyes to what’s happening in your life and those that you care about.

That’s the big life lesson San Francisco taught me.


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