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What I Miss Most When Traveling Outside of The Bay Area

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Traveling outside of the Bay Area for more than a weekend, you instantly start to find that you begin to miss home. Not because you’re not in a beautiful place or because you’re somehow unsatisfied with your vacation. You miss it because there’s no other place like it.

Beyond the friendships and family we might leave behind, there are tangible and intangible things that pull us back home time and time again. 

Here are the things I miss the most when I’m traveling:

How you’re never too far from the ocean.

If you’re in the city, it’s just about 20 min away. Even in the East Bay, I can get to a large body of water within 20 minutes, too. Our access to nature is top-notch, honestly. The terrain of The Bay Area is stunning. Rolling hills for miles, redwood forests, beaches nestled in coves, and the breathtaking vineyards just minutes away as well.

The mild temperature.

We’re so spoiled most of the year with moderate and pretty predictable temps. Tho I did hear this past week was a scorcher.

The food!

The food desert that you experience the second you leave California is astonishing! Over time I’ve created a shortlist of go-to food establishments for road trips but it’s nothing like the food options you find when you’re home.

The diversity.

I love how our community’s differing viewpoints could actually make you a more compassionate, loving, and understanding human being. I also love that my local ATM shows over 14 different languages. It signals diversity within my neighborhood and it makes me feel more at home for reasons that aren’t tangible to me.

Chance encounters.

When you’ve lived in any area for a while, you’ll gather friends like treasured jewels. You could just be running a mundane task like heading to Trader Joe’s for weekly groceries and you’ll bump into a pal you haven’t seen for months or you’ll look forward to the moment you see your friend on the BART platform every so often as you make the trek to work. When you’re traveling, there is beauty in anonymity. However, one of the main reasons people tell me they don’t want to leave is because of the friendships and family they have built around them in The Bay.

Masked-up crowd

How the mask mandate is still mostly recognized in The Bay.

I don’t necessarily miss wearing a mask and constantly fogging up my glasses but I do miss that unspoken consideration that folks have for each other in smaller spaces. I was in a store the other day while traveling in Montana and a woman stood 6-inches away from me in the grocery store. I gave her the stink eye before I realized that the rules are somehow different in places other than where we live.

You can immerse yourselves in a different culture at any time you please.

Nothing is the same-same like other less-urban parts of the US. Nothing totally against those places but I’d like the option to go swing dancing one night, rock out to a local metal band another night, and follow it up with a hike in the redwoods another day. There are options you just don’t have anywhere but where we live.Knowing The Bay is an epicenter of societal change.

When our human rights are challenged, The Bay Area is usually one of the first areas to call out the bullshit and demand change. And while maybe that change doesn’t happen nationwide, it feels good to be in a place that at some level tries to take care of folks.

Our “Bubble of Acceptance”.

I’m glad that folks who are LGBTQI+ feel as if they could find a home in The Bay. Sadly, the cost of living keeps many people from being able to enter our bubble. That being said, many groups don’t feel Ike there is a place for them in The Bay Area because of being pushed out by numerous reasons.

We still have a lot of things that make it hard to stay in The Bay. One taxi driver said to me once,

“We’re all just about $50 away from being homeless.”

Maybe he was being a little dramatic but still somehow it’s very relatable and likely the truth for many. We’re trying hard to hold on to that feeling we have when we see The Golden Gate Bridge after traveling and we know we’re home.

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Katy Atchison

Katy Atchison

Katy has lived in The Bay Area since the age of 3. While other kids were attending summer camp & soccer practice, she was raised selling wares at craft shows with her working artist parents and spent vacations in a small 1920s Montana log cabin. This has all given her a unique perspective on the ever-changing texture of San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area. Currently a blend of all that is The Bay Area - she's a web designer at a tech-company, artist and DIY teacher.