Vancation: Sausalito

One of the greatest benefits of living in a funcitonal housevan is the ability to spontaneously travel on the super cheap. The weekends can start to be a bore after so many hours of dilly-daddling around the same ol' town, so whenever we have a whim, we'll go somewhere new.

This past Saturday, we ventured to Sausalito, CA: the birthplace of Otis Redding's aptly descriptive, (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay. Sausalito, meaning "small willow grove," is a charming little community situated just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

An hour's drive away, we arrived around 3pm, parking on the main drag at an ambiguously labeled meter. I dumped all of my quarters into the parking meter, hoping that all the differing signage and warnings were only enforced during paid hours only, and we could therefore make that spot our home for the evening. 

After changing into some warmer clothes and locking up shop, we ventured out into town, admiring the picturesque bungalows and houseboats.  

Before his rise to fame, Bill Cosby and his wife used to live on a Sausalito houseboat. You know who else used to live on a houseboat? This guy:

A cramped-space aficionado, Pete has lived in a submarine, a sailboat, an illegal, windowless, low-ceiling basement, a tiny Winnebago and an even tinier Astro Van. What does the future have in store for us? Apparently, tree houses, conex boxes, sheds and tents. 

What can I say? We like little diggs! Simplicity keeps us happy.

And Sausalito was simply gorgeous. Our trip fit perfectly into the only dry time period last weekend, as a week of downpours finally brought some relief to the drought-ridden Bay area. 

After a walk through the captivating neighborhood, we stopped for a pre-dinner drink at Horizons, a touristy restaurant with stunning woodwork and hilarious people-watching opportunities. Formerly the San Francisco Yacht Club (built in 1898), this historic building was abandoned from 1927-1959, when it reopened its doors as the Trident Restaurant, a destination for Janis Joplin, the Rolling Stones and other celebrity mind-altering substance users. 

Now home to Horizons, the building's awe-inspiring views will have anyone tripping:

After an innocent glass of wine and a beer for myself and Pete, respectively, we were starting to feel the hunger pangs. Back at the Astro Van, we researched hot dinner spots in town, since, you know, paying zero rent affords us the luxury of fancy-shmancy dinners every week. 

Sausalito is sprinkled with delectable eateries, and we opted for the magnificent Plate Shop, an organic, farm-to-table operation with additional ingredients provided by the kitchen's own 14 vegetable beds. This place was right up our alley- mellow, with a splash of pomp. Rustic with a bit of whimsy. We sat at the beautiful wooden community table suspended from the ceiling (Pete screwed it in a little tighter as a precaution), which encouraged us to interact with fellow eaters. And that we did! 

The drinks were innovative and inspiring: If only I could concoct gin-ginger-cilantro-lime-wasabi martinis in the Astro Van all day. That would really class the crib up. 

As for the food, we wanted to try it all. But we settled on the grilled local squid with Spanish chorizo as an appetizer and shared two melt-in-your-mouth-scrumptious entrees: the California yellowtail fish with romesco sauce and the vegetable tagine. Superb!

I would have taken pictures of our beautiful dishes, but it would have been slightly awkward at the shared table, ya know? And besides, we were too busy cleaning plate. 

Afterwards, our new community-table dinner friends invited us the the little Thai place next door for a Singha beer. Joining us for a drink was an intriguing young woman, breaking California law by smoking indoors:

A short walk later, and we were back home at the Astro Van, conveniently parked across the street from our new friends' hotel. We gave them a quick tour (it only takes a second) and noted their immediate change in posture and comfort. Yea, it's weird. We know. 

We exchanged information (the Silicon Valley is all about networking) and said our goodbyes. Settling in for the evening, we passed out rather quickly, relaxed from our numerous cocktails and full bellies. Another fairly comfortable evening: not too cold, but slightly off balance due to the road's slant by the curb.

We woke up at 8:15am. Crap! The parking meter! They're enforced again at 8am! We got ourselves together, defrosted the always-steamy windshield (it's like Titanic, but less sexy) and hit the road before the meter maid could make an appearance. 

We took the East Bay-route home that Sunday, knowing that 49ers fans would soon be flocking to San Francisco. Not more than 20 minutes out of Sausalito, it started to rain.