The Ugly Side of People

Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 9.27.29 AMThe Ugly Side of People is a short story that’s one of 22 in my new book, The Postcard and Other Short Stories & Poetry. It’s about gossips and judgmental people, and I have never shared it here before, not even in its early stages.

We have probably all been gossiped about at some point in our lives, and as well, we have most likely gossiped about others. While some gossip can be idle and harmless (but still not nice), some is not. It can most assuredly be hurtful and intentional. Gossip can lead to bullying and worse. It’s a good reminder for all of us to heed what the Bible says in Ephesians 4:31: Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

This story evolved after I witnessed something happen many years ago when I overheard gossip about a person some folks knew little about–or had any understanding of the situation the person was going through, for that matter. They say you shouldn’t judge people when you have not walked in their shoes, for how can you ever really know what goes on behind closed doors? How can you ever really know what someone is going through, especially when they keep it to himself? Watching this situation unfold as it did, and profoundly seeing the harmful effects of gossip for the first time, prompted me to write a story about a girl who has lost her husband and the town gossip has taken over.

It’s a good reminder for all of us–this writer included–to watch our tongues and be cognizant of our hearts.

It all comes down to being kind, really, and the story reminds me of Maya Angelou’s wonderful quote she said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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Book Launch – Day Two Promo

Postcard Final CoverIt’s been over 24 hours since the book launch, and since then, I’ve heard words of congratulations, encouragement, and a few people who say I inspire them to tackle their own writing projects. These sentiments couldn’t make me happier. I hope I’ve inspired others to write and publish. That makes my day!

Because there are 22 stories in the collection, and because I want to showcase them each in their own way, I’m going to share each story’s promo from The Postcard and Other Short Stories & Poetry. I’m also busy setting up my press room on the site which will contain  information about me and my books.

Here’s today’s promo. It’s from a short story included in the book—the only one about baseball as I harken back to my days working in the sport—called The Slump. I thought it was appropriate since tonight is Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. And it’s only the second baseball story I’ve written besides Baseball Girl, my second novel.

The Slump is the story of a Major League Baseball pitcher’s slump, the reporter who covers it, and the future Hall-of-Famer who acts as the middle man when things get dicey.

The Slump

 

BIG NEWS! Book Launch Today! The Postcard and Other Short Stories & Poetry

Book Launch

THE POSTCARD AND OTHER SHORT STORIES & POETRY- available NOW!

Three years later, and today is the day.

It’s a strange feeling to let this work go, because I’ve been holding on to all of it for far too long.

Postcard Final CoverAt my father’s suggestion, I decided to put all of this work I’ve created over the years into one collection. I’ve included little stories to warm your heart or make you feel less alone; compiled a little book to take with you on vacation for summer reading; created something you can tackle and finish because the stories are all short, so you can read at your leisure.

It took a long time to pull this collection together because I took time to write, edit, rewrite, finesse, alter, redraft, edit, design, and finally complete each story.

I hope you like what I’ve put together for you.

The book is available on Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

More to come later this afternoon.

Thanks for your support, all!

An Interview with S. Verni

books by stephanie verni

 

My PR Person Is Tired

My PR person has been working really hard on and off all weekend to get my promos ready for this week as I get set to launch Book #4, The Postcard and Other Short Stories & Poetry. She’s extremely tired and needs to go to bed, but she thought it might be a good idea to share a teaser ad from the collection of short stories. If you’ve never given short stories a try or if you often find yourself saying the phrase, “I never finish a book,” or “I don’t have time to read,” then this particular book might be up your alley. You will be able to finish it because the short stories are, well…short. They move quickly. And they will offer you some satisfaction because you’ll actually finish them quickly and you’ll say, before long, “I finished a book.” I’m saying all this because I remember what it was like when I had small children and wanted to read, but had the hardest time doing it, because by the time they went to bed, I was falling asleep next to them. Plus, we all work like dogs and like to live a little, so sometimes reading isn’t a top priority (not to mention that we’re in love with our phones, which can be a big distraction from reading.)

Honestly, I fell in love with writing by reading short stories and then reading novels. I knew when I read Rosamunde Pilcher’s novel “The Shell Seekers” that I would someday strive to write and publish a book.

If you can find some time, you may enjoy reading the short stories I’ve assembled. Twenty-two in total and a handful of poems that are my favorites.

It only took me three years to make this happen, aren’t you proud?

And my PR person? Well, that’s me.

And I’m pooped.

I’ll let you know when the book is live on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The Fortune Teller

What Matters Most: Reflecting

Postcard Final CoverWhen you’re about to launch another book into the universe, you have to keep yourself grounded. You can’t set your expectations too high, and you can’t set them too low. You have to keep your feet firmly planted where they are and do the best that you can to spread the word about your books and your writing because it is all about choices: you have chosen this path of self-publishing.

When I begin to become frenzied and nervous, I remind myself over and over again why I do this type of challenging work on the side and why I invest so much time in it. I have to remember what matters most.

The answer comes to me clearly. I do it for love.

For the love of writing.

For the love of storytelling.

To prove to myself that I can put a good product out there.

To be an example for others who have the same dreams and aspirations.

And, quite frankly, because I’d feel incomplete if I didn’t do this work.

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Tomorrow will be a big day. It will be the day book number 4—The Postcard and Other Short Stories and Poetry—will be birthed.

It will go out and have a little life and some people will read it, and from there…

Who knows.

This journey has no guarantees.

No journeys do.

And that’s what makes them so exciting.

This journey has no guarantees. No journeys do. That's what makes it so exciting.

Travel Blog: Santa Barbara & Los Angeles

As we packed the car in the morning to make our way to Santa Barbara, we bought breakfast sandwiches from the Inn at Spanish Bay. It was my brilliant idea to take the sandwiches to go so that we could have some time in Santa Barbara, as it was our quickest stop overnight. The ride was four hours, and I wanted to at least see the town before we had to move on to Los Angeles the next morning.

We picked a spot along the 17-mile drive and decided to eat our sandwiches at a picnic table overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Much to our surprise (and disappointment), a seagull swooped in and grabbed my son’s sandwich right out of his hands! They are aggressive, those birds, so beware if you decide to make that decision. I ended up sharing mine with Matt because the seagull dumped the uneaten portion on his plate. It was a funny memory, but my husband and son didn’t enjoy the bird flying into them. (ha ha ha ha)

We drove to Santa Barbara and checked into a very lovely place—The Spanish Garden Inn. It was again, a favorite of mine. With its Spanish influences and charm, replete with an outside terrace garden for eating breakfast, I loved this place. It had a cute balcony, too, which made a perfect writing nook.

We strolled the streets of Santa Barbara—nestled in the valley with extraordinary palm trees and a beautiful beach and pier. We shopped and took our time enjoying the beach area, East and West Beach. We ate dinner at a Mexican place called The Sandbar, where we all enjoyed tacos and burritos. Ice cream at McConnell Brothers was the perfect end to the day as we listened to a band with horns, sax, drums, keyboards, and singers as we sat outside the bar enjoying both the night air and the music.

In the morning, we had breakfast in the beautiful outdoor area, and upon the suggestion of our innkeeper, we strolled to the Courthouse in Santa Barbara and climbed to the top of it, which offered picture perfect views of the city. We couldn’t stay long, however, because we had to get to Los Angeles for a 3 p.m. Warner Bros. tour, which we made just in time.

 

If you’re looking for a great studio tour, I can fully endorse the Warner Bros. one we took. The guides take you around the back lot, studios, recording studios, and then let you wander the museum with Friends memorabilia and sets, Looney Tunes stuff, Harry Potter costumes and keepsakes, and superheros stuff galore. We spent a total of three hours there and loved it. Trust me when I tell you that it’s well worth it.

After the studio tour, we hopped in the car and made it to Dodgers Stadium just in time for the first inning. Our friend who works in baseball helped us get great seats, and one of my favorite meals of the trip was eating a Dodger Dog in Dodger Stadium. We all love watching baseball, and it was another great end to a day. As an added bonus, it was Fireworks night, so quite literally, we ended that day in Los Angeles with a bang.

Our next couple of days were spent in Los Angeles exploring. We visited Beverly Hills—and my husband got the biggest kick out of going to the Beverly Hills Hotel and sitting at the reserved table of Frank Sinatra, Table #3. The hotel is worth a pit stop if you haven’t been there. They have tons of memorabilia and photographs that adorn the walls, if only they could talk. There’s so much Hollywood history there. We also walked Rodeo Drive and saw all the high-end shops. It’s much smaller than I imagined, but worth the stop. From there, we visited the famous Santa Monica Pier and the kids rode the Ferris Wheel to get some good shots from up high. We ended up spending the evening at the Lowe’s Hotel restaurant right on the beach where we ate, listened to an acoustic musician, and watched the sun go down. Afterwards, we walked the beach and took some photos outside Shutters, a charming hotel just down from the Lowe’s.

On our last full day in Los Angeles, we walked Hollywood Boulevard and saw all the celebrity stars, went to the old Theatre to see the handprints (so many old glam Hollywood stars), and took lots of photos. We planned to go to Universal Studios in the afternoon, but we couldn’t go there until we got a Pink’s hotdog, one of the most notable places to visit in town. Supposedly, Bruce Willis proposed to Demi Moore there…

At Universal Studios Hollywood, we rode the rides, and while it was a much smaller park than the one in Florida we had visited two years ago, we had fun and planned just right amount of time to be there, from 4 p.m. until it closed at 10 p.m. We took the Jimmy Fallon backlot tour (and my son and I got the song “Have a Tramtastic Day” stuck in our heads that Fallon sings as you board the ride, and my daughter and husband didn’t appreciate our sense of humor about that silly song), rode rides such as Forbidden Journey (Harry Potter castle ride), Minions, and others. We ate dinner at Tony Roma’s, but the highlight of the entire day was the light show that is put on at the Harry Potter area in Hogsmeade on the castle. It took our breath away, and we even stayed to watch it again and close down the park.

Of all the places we were visiting, I was least excited about Los Angeles, and yet, I think it was the place I fell in love with the most. The Hollywood Hills are beautiful, and the homes surrounding it with their own personalities and flowers and vines make it a spectacular area to drive through. As well, the Santa Monica Pier and the areas we drove through were so lovely, that I can now fully understand why the Hollywood folks love that town. Before we left for LaJolla the next morning, we drove to the Griffith Observatory (as featured in La La Land) and took photos overlooking all of Hollywood and LA.

I can’t wait to go back.

A Sneak Peak at What’s Coming Next Week…The Postcard and Other Short Stories & Poetry

36585470_1295165417253909_446695389265920000_nIf you’ve read Jojo Moyes’s book, Paris for One and Other Short Stories, or Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Blue Bedroom, then you’ll have an idea of what’s coming in my new book The Postcard and Other Short Stories & Poetry. Heavily influenced by Rosamunde Pilcher as a young woman, and loving every story she wrote for The Blue Bedroom, I think I fell head-over-heals in love with writing—and wanting to tell stories—after reading her work. Her novels that followed such as The Shell Seekers, Coming Home, and September all inspired me to write stories where relationships and setting are the main drivers of the work. Likewise, Jojo Moyes has been a recent inspiration for my writing.

I’m taking a little bit of a risk and new approach with my collection of short stories and poetry: first, because I’ve only published novels (and a textbook) to date, and two, because I find sharing poetry to be almost as uncomfortable as walking around naked. Poetry is raw and untethered; it’s freeing and heartfelt; it’s scary and comforting at the same time. And, quite frankly, it took a lot of courage for me to share it publicly.

With the new cover photo taken by Grace Clark, I hope this is a book you will want to pick up and read at your leisure. There are 22 total short stories–some shorter than others–and all come from a place where all my work first derives—a place of love.

Special thanks to my kids, Matt and Ellie, who put up with my passion for writing, my husband, with his infinite patience as I tackle these projects, and to my parents for instilling confidence in me to pursue my dreams.

An finally, thank YOU for following along on my writing journey. It means so much to me that you check in regularly to see what I’m up to. So stand by—I’ll let you know when the book is available for sale.

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WHAT’S INCLUDED?

There are 22 total stories as I’m a couple of weeks away from going to press. Here’s a list of what’s in the book with a quick overview of the storyline for each:

The Message in the Bottle: a story about a last ditch effort to find love when internet dating and fix-ups don’t work.

After I Was Dead: a story about a restless ghost who seeks revenge on her young killer.

Dr. DeCarlo’s Patient: a story about an emergency room doctor who may be falling in love for the first time.

Unlost: a story about an older woman who finds a new friendship after the death of her husband.

Elsie’s Day Out: a story about a neglected older woman who finds fast friendship with a passing stranger.

The Girl on the Trapeze: a story told from a man’s perspective about whether or not to give love another chance.

The Ugly Side of People: a story about gossips and judgmental  women who misunderstand another woman’s situation.

Sophie’s Ladybug: a story of a young girl whose father goes off to war.

The Postcard: a story of love and forgiveness, and knowing when and how to apologize.

The Spell: a story about a witch who wants to forget a hurtful friendship.

The Beach Cottage: a story about a middle-aged woman who has to figure out whether it’s worth it to save her marriage.

Sarah and Daniel: a story about love and the timing of relationships.

Smashing Pumpkins: a story about a young girl who is angry at her mother for leaving the family and what she does to get back at her.

Contelli’s Mimosa: the original short story on which Beneath the Mimosa Tree is based.

The Fortune Teller: the story about moving on from something you know isn’t right.

Broom: the story of a broom that comes to life and grants a young girl three wishes.

Tears to Funny: the story of an affair between two likable people told in dialogue only.

Alberto’s Gravy: the story of the saucy beginning of a relationship.

Life with Nan: the story of a woman who lives with her grandmother in the Cotswolds and what she learns from her and her friends.

Playing with Fire: the story of the Wicked With of the West, her mother, and of course, Dorothy.

The Slump: the story of a Major League baseball pitcher’s slump, the reporter who covers it, and the future Hall-of-Famer who acts as the middle man when things get dicey.

An Untold Love Story: the story of a well-known author as she overcomes a crippling phobia and makes an appearance at a bookstore back in her hometown.

Vintage Postcard design

 

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Unveiling the Cover of My Newest Book! The Postcard and Other Short Stories & Poetry

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Photo by Monica Silvestre on Pexels.com

This is getting exciting!

After years in the making, within hours, my latest work of fiction and poetry entitled The Postcard and Other Short Stories & Poetry will be available via Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Today, I’m unveiling and telling the story of the cover.

But first I have to say…I love this part of the process. The part where it all comes together. The part where you get to see your work come to fruition.

When I worked at the Orioles and was the editor of Orioles Magazine, I loved going to the printer’s and watching the magazine come off the presses. My heart would pulsate as my adrenaline kicked in; the excitement of seeing all the hard work realized in the printed form has always been thrilling for me. And while Kindles and Nooks are awesome, I still prefer the printed form and love to hold a book in my hands.

….

So now it’s time! I’m excited to share the final cover…which will be available very soon…

Here it is!!!

Vintage Postcard design

As I was trying to figure out what image to use for the cover, I knew I wanted it to reflect the title piece, a short story called The Postcard. In the story, the male character sends his ex-girlfriend vintage postcards. I knew I wanted it to be pretty and look like a postcard and have a little bit of a retro-could-be-set-in-any-time-period feel to it.

When I saw one of my student’s photos from a recent trip she to to Europe on Instagram, I was immediately taken by one photo in particular. In fact, all of Grace Clark’s photos are stunning, but this one connected perfectly with the story I had written. I contacted Grace when she returned from her vacation and asked her how she felt about allowing me to use her photo on the cover of my book. Luckily for me, she agreed, and the photo she perfectly represents what I wanted the book to look like. As for Grace and her photography, I am happy to say she is now a paid photographer, so if you need any shots for your projects, I can put you in touch with her. As you can see, it’s a beautiful book cover and just what I wanted for the cover of my fourth book.

So THANK YOU, GRACE.

I’m waiting for the green light on the book from Amazon and Barnes & Noble and will let you know when it’s ready for purchase.

It should be any day now.

Thanks, as always for following my writing, editing, and publishing journey. I really hope you enjoy the collection of short stories I’ve put together for you. Here’s a little more about he project if you want to learn more about the contents.

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Photo by Carl Attard on Pexels.com

 

 

My Books Are All Influenced by Maryland: #ReadLocalDC Blog Hop

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This photo was featured in a newspaper on the Eastern Shore when my last novel, Inn Significant, was released in 2017.

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Magical Maryland.

That’s what I like to call it. Our state has a lot to offer people who like variety—the mountains to our west, the beaches to our east, the Chesapeake Bay, nearby Baltimore and Washington, D.C., theme parks and casinos, pretty state parks and delicious Maryland crabs, the picturesque and historic capital city of Annapolis, and numerous quaint, tucked away towns and cities with charms all their own.

I’ve lived in Maryland since I was five. I grew up in Bowie and Annapolis. I went to college in Towson at Towson University. Along with my husband and children, we’ve lived in Baltimore City, Ellicott City, and Severna Park. I worked for the Baltimore Orioles for a total of 13 years, and I’m currently a professor at Stevenson University in Owings Mills.

And did I mention that I’m madly in love with living near the water?

Beautiful St. Michaels on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Maryland is magical—and it’s why I enjoy featuring it in my fiction writing. In fact, people have told me that Annapolis is like another main character in Beneath the Mimosa Tree, much like New York City was the fifth character in Sex and the City. I love that. Being able to put people directly into a setting helps make the books more realistic, and it helps readers to be able to picture their characters walking the streets or attending an event at a notable locale.

And while Annapolis is the setting of my first novel, my third novel, Inn Significant, is set almost entirely on the Eastern Shore, with its start in Washington, D.C. The main character, Milly, has learned the devastating news that her husband and soulmate has been killed in a car accident. After struggling to move on from his death, her parents ask her to come to the beautiful Eastern Shore—to the town of Oxford—to run their inn while they head to Ireland for a spell. She reluctantly agrees, and her life begins to change in that setting and among the people she meets in that tight-knit town. Luckily for me, I got to spend time researching Oxford, and enjoyed days there with my mother and then with my friend, Elizabeth.

That’s me in front of Cal and Vi Ripken when I worked for the Baltimore Orioles. It was taken the night Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game streak record. I escorted the Ripken Family that evening and got to see the festivities from the dugout! A great memory.

My second novel, Baseball Girl, which is loosely based on my life working in professional baseball for the Baltimore Orioles, is set in a fictitious town called Bay City, although most people who know me personally realize it’s modeled after Baltimore and its great harbor. That book was particularly fun to write because I pulled so many true stories from my working days and disguised them by not naming names and allowing my characters to have some fun among the pages. Plus, I enjoyed crafting the baseball quotes that began each chapter, trying to relate baseballisms and worldly knowledge to real life.

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I’m down to the final edits on this book–a collection of short stories, many of them set in the Maryland area, with a dash of magical brooms and witches tossed in for good measure.

My current collection of short stories, which will be available in the next week or two, includes many stories set in Maryland. One takes place in St. Michaels, one begins in Baltimore, and many other local influences will be noticeable if you are familiar with our pretty magical state.

I was thrilled that @ellensmithwrites asked me to be a part of this #bloghopdc, and am passionate about sharing writing tips, stories, and promoting other authors who do as I do—tell stories that move us in some way—through both my published books and through my blog, Steph’s Scribe (stephsscribe.com).

It’s been a pleasure “chatting” with you through this medium, and I hope you’ll connect with me at Steph’s Scribe, where I will soon make the announcement that The Postcard and Other Short Stories & Poetry is available for purchase on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Happy summer reading, writing, and blogging, everyone!

Thanks for reading! To return to the #ReadLocalDC Blog Hop on Ellen Smith’s website, click here: http://bit.ly/readlocaldc

 

 

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Travel Blog: Day 2-4 | San Fran, Carmel & Pebble Beach

Days 2-4: San Francisco, Carmel, Pebble Beach

On the second day in San Francisco, I clocked in over 16,000 steps on my tracker. We walked everywhere. We began by having breakfast at Farmer Brown, a nice homestyle-meets-jazzy-blues place, where we all devoured some eggs, pancakes, and waffles. Afterwards, we lined up at the trolley, and the line was pretty long. We waited over an hour to take the trolley, but we were standing next to a family from Los Angeles who was also celebrating their daughter’s graduation from high school, and we became fast friends. One of the things I love most about travel is talking to people and meeting them along the way. When my husband said he wanted to eat at Pink’s in LA, famous for their hot dogs, the husband said, “You won’t regret it.”

 

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DSC_0273When the trolley finally arrived, Anthony and I sat on the seat and let the kids hang off the side as we rode all the way to the park with gorgeous views of the Golden Gate Bridge. I highly recommend the ride, even if the wait is long. It is so worth it. Watching the expressions on my kids’ faces as they hung on to the trolley as it climbed and then descended those steep streets was worth every minute of the wait. After hopping off the trolley, we took some photos in the park and then began our walk around the city, most notably taking the stroll down the famous Lombard Street as well as the steepest street in the city, Filbert Street. We walked to the Italian section and stopped at Molinari Deli for lunch, and ate our lunches in the park with a view of the church where Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe had their photos taken on their wedding day (St. Peter’s). My daughter got a kick out of feeding the pigeons, causing a scene whereby tons of them descended and she was like the Pied Piper. We sampled some outstanding Italian Cookies from Victoria Mara’s that rivaled Baltimore’s Vaccaro’s, which is pretty hard to do. I also got to stop by and visit City Lights Bookstore, where all the beat writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg used to hang out. Afterwards, we climbed Coit Tower, the Butterfly steps, and many other streets to become acquainted with San Francisco’s hills, which offer incredible vantage points for photography in the city. We ended our tour by hopping in an Uber and seeing the Painted Ladies, Victorian homes painted in the all sorts of colors. That evening we ate at Fino in Union Square then completely crashed because we were so active.

The next day, we headed to beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea and stayed at actress Doris Day’s inn called The Cypress Inn. I loved it! Dogs are welcome at this hotel because Doris Day is a dog lover (in fact, one of her many husbands said she loved dogs more than him). It was so charming and quaint, and is located right in town. The service at the inn was wonderful—everyone was helpful and sweet. After walking around the town of Carmel, visiting the charming cottages, and strolling the streets during the early afternoon, clouds were still pretty heavy in the sky, so we waited until four o’clock when the sun started to appear to hop back in the car and do the 17-Mile Drive along the coast. One landmark spot was more glorious than the next, and we all think it was one of our highlights of our trip. From seeing the rocky cliffs of the Pacific to the lone Cypress tree (Pebble Beach Golf Link’s logo), to Bird Rock, we snapped tons of photos and bonded while we soaked in all the views. We ended the night with dinner at the Flying Fish Café, and the owner treated us to complimentary dessert when he heard we were visiting to celebrate our son’s graduation. The end of the perfect day.

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DSC_0331The next morning after breakfast at The Cypress Inn, we were all sad to leave, but seeing the Inn at Spanish Bay quelled our sorrow. Part of the Pebble Beach Resort, the Inn at Spanish Bay had just received renovations, and we stayed in a room that was gorgeous! Because we were so busy, however, we didn’t get to use the resort as we would have liked, but the boys played Pebble Beach and loved every second of it. While they were playing, Ellie and I explored Pacific Grove and Monterey, and ate lunch outside at the Monterey Plaza, where waves were crashing beneath us. We finished up lunch the headed back to Carmel for some serious shopping, then caught up with the boys for dinner at Pebble Beach at The Bench. Dessert was delicious in the upstairs restaurant, The Tap Room, known as the best “19th Hole” in all of golf. The night ended as we all watched in awe as my husband took down a massive piece of coconut cake.

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Travel Blog: California’s Coast, Day One

As I mentioned previously, I’m excited to share our journey along the coast of California as a celebration of my son’s high school graduation. We began in San Francisco.

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Day 1: San Francisco

Of course, when you go to California with two teenagers to celebrate your son’s graduation, you have to be strategic about how to spend each day. Should there be a little shock and awe mixed with impressive sights and “fun stuff” included in each day?

We tried to break up our travel and sightseeing in each city or town we visited, mapping out our days and the plans for each. Our 13-day trip began in San Francisco as we scheduled hotels in various cities all along the California coast with our final destination as San Diego. In case you haven’t looked at a U.S. map lately, when you take a close look at California, you realize just how enormous a state it is with a lot of ground to cover. Our mantra for the trip was this: We know we can’t do everything, so we have to come to terms with that.

So for two children who had never been to San Francisco, we knew the ground we needed to cover to give them the full flavor of the city. After getting in late on Saturday night and eating dinner at Scala’s Bistro, we began our Sunday by having breakfast in the hotel—the Courtyard by Marriott in Union Square—and starting our trek to the afternoon San Francisco Giants baseball game. This excursion led us directly to the city’s largest celebration of Pride Week in the country and a parade. As you can imagine, the city was booked solid with visitors from all over the world in celebration of Gay Pride, so we took a moment to view the celebrations. From stark naked men walking around with erections to floats and marching bands, the streets were jam-packed with rainbows, glitter, and, yes, lots of naked people.

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After some time, we managed to make our way past the parade to the BART to take the subway to the game. Within minutes, we were at AT & T Park, and in awe. After spending seven full-time seasons working at Camden Yards in the 1990s, and knowing Baltimore’s ballpark was an inspiration for the Giants’ ballpark, my husband and I were thrilled to finally see it in person. Set on the San Francisco Bay, with kayakers ready to catch any homerun balls that are sent flying over the outfield walls, the ballpark’s setting took our breath away. And thanks to a dear friend, our third-row seats on the first-base side weren’t too shabby, either. There’s something about a Sunday game in beautiful 70-degree weather under a cloudless sky that’s poignant, and the four of us enjoyed every minute of that game. With limited amounts of pounding music and an organist who entertained between innings, it was easy to watch the game and have conversations the whole way through, reminding me of ballparks of years before when the game was meant to be relaxing and social.

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IMG_5023After the Giants won in extra-innings and we took photos of some of the statues celebrating great players like Willie Mays surrounding the ballpark, we began our walk to the boat where we would take a twilight tour (and the last tour of the day) to Alcatraz. We’d booked these tickets well in advance, so if you’re planning to go to San Fran and it’s a sight you want to see, be sure to order your tickets ahead of time. Along the way, we stopped at the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero, an historic building that serves as a terminal for ferry boats, a marketplace, and an office building. It’s worth pausing to take a photo from this location because it’s so beautiful. We continued on to our tour and lined up, and just as we did, the sky became cloudy and the winds began to pick up; the creepiness of Alcatraz was set in the distance and the sky reflected its stature and mood.

DSC_0067DSC_0070DSC_0081DSC_0083DSC_0085However, upon our arrival to the island, it was difficult not to notice the abundance of flowers—the colors of reds and yellows and pinks and oranges along the walls and grounds framing the landmark. Tour guides greeted us and offered a bit of brief history before we put our headsets on and listened to the best audio tour we’ve ever taken. The narrator, who guides and directs you through the jail, has a great voice—part gangster, part hard-ass cop—and he tells you to “turn left…look up…there are the keys that the prisoners stole…” as he recounts stories of jail, wardens, life on Alcatraz, and the famous escapes. Our kids thought this tour was fantastic, and my son does a pretty amazing imitation of the narrator.

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Our last stop was Ghirardelli for some chocolate and ice cream, but the night didn’t end before our Lyft driver, Tommy, drove us down the famous crooked Lombard Street on our way back to the hotel.

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