Gentle People with Flowers in Their Hair: My Trip to San Francisco

Traveling with MS, for me right now, isn’t terribly inconvenient. As long as I make sure I carry snacks and water, plan out activities with naps and recovery time factored in, pack clothing that’s appropriate for a wide range of weather, and ensure that I have refrigeration for my medication, I’m all set. Easy!

I’d mentioned in my review of “Just Jen” that I’d recently spent some time in San Francisco and I just wanted to share some of my California adventures with you. 🙂

Buckle up, folks. There’s going to be a lot to look at here.

I traveled to San Francisco a couple months ago for ATS® Homecoming–a large American Tribal Style® belly dance (a style of dance that is completely improvised, but utilizes strong arm and head cues, as well as eye contact, in order to look choreographed) convention full of workshops, performances (Click HERE to see ours!), and dance parties. Our hotel was about forty minutes away from the city and we didn’t have much downtime, so I definitely wanted to take advantage of it when I could!

Workshop ready!

As if I needed any additional motivation to get out and explore, I’d only previously been to San Francisco once before, in 2009, but it didn’t count because I spent all but one day of my stay in my hotel room battling H1N1 (swine flu). So, I came prepared with a small, but exciting list of must dos.

At the top of my list was the Impossible Burger. If you clicked on that link, don’t let your eyes deceive you! That beautiful, juicy patty is completely plant-based! There are currently only seven restaurants in the entire United States that serve this unbelievable dream burger–and San Francisco is home to two of them (for those wondering, here is the full list).

I mean. Seriously. This wasn’t just a meal. This was an experience. I’ve been vegan since March of 2007 and I’m pretty sure I’ve tried and forgotten more plant-based burgers than most people will ever eat. I have my favorites, but this…Guys–vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike, if you ever are anywhere near one of the handful of eateries that serve this, do yourselves a favor and shove one (or ten) of these down your neck immediately. It looks like meat. It tastes like meat. It even “bleeds” like meat. I almost felt guilty enjoying it as much as I did.


Next on the list was Holy Virgin Cathedral. It’s an absolutely breathtaking Russian Orthodox cathedral that holds the relics of Saint John the Wonderworker. This was the one place I was able to see during my first visit to San Francisco and it moved me so much, I knew I just had to come back if I were ever in town again. Much to my delight, the dates of my trip coincided with the Feast of the Theophany, so I was able to catch that once-a-year celebration. I, of course, didn’t take any photos during that, but here are the Google Image search results for this beautiful cathedral.

My final “must do” was a tour of Alcatraz Island and Federal Prison. So, following Theophany, my troupe director and I hopped on a ferry to The Rock.


After hearing about how much walking there would be and considering how much dancing lay ahead, I had strongly contemplated taking the tram from the dock and up the steep hill to the prison, but I was so thankful (and sore!) that I opted to walk instead. The island was more peaceful than I had expected and it was home to some beautiful plant life.


Such beauty in decay.

We’re not even at the prison yet!

The morgue

The “reception” area of Alcatraz Federal Prison:

The atmosphere inside the prison was calm, but eerie…and in some places, quite heavy. It was such a cool feeling to walk past the reception area and down the triple-tiered “Broadway,” probably the most recognizable area of the prison, thanks to Hollywood. You could almost hear the prisoners hollering and clanging their tin cups against the bars as you slowly made your way past their cells.

Isolation cells:

Underground tunnels!

Sorry, Mom and Dad! I couldn’t shimmy my way out of trouble this time!

Unfortunately, due to construction and restoration, we were unable to see the prison hospital, surgery rooms, and dental facilities. I was a little bummed about that, but I really had such a fun time touring this penitentiary. I couldn’t get over how tiny the cells really were and all the history that happened there was overwhelming. I wish I could accurately caption each of the photos I took, but it would just take too long! You’ll have to go for a tour and see for yourself. 😉

For those of you who stuck with me and survived the photo storm that I bestowed upon you, I hope you enjoyed this travel recap–I haven’t done one since my honeymoon to Maui!

For more about how ATS® has impacted my journey with MS, you can read the article I wrote about it for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society HERE and you can watch the local news story about my dancing and MS HERE or HERE on the It’s Only a Bruise YouTube channel.

See you soon! I promise!


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You can also read articles I’ve written for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society here!

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One thought on “Gentle People with Flowers in Their Hair: My Trip to San Francisco

  1. Susan Lesperance

    Cat, incredible post…awesome photos–magical memories. By the end of your Alcatraz tour you must have been completely exhausted…I am grateful that you walked vs. took the tram as your photos captured that life still exists in the form of plants in the midst of decay. What a journey. AND…that “burger” looks totally awesome. Keep educating, informing and inspiring us.


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