Adventures in travel and friendship have been coming my way, because making new friends and finding old ones seems to be a theme of this trip. Arriving in San Francisco with a week and no agenda has been wonderful!

One of my new friends (my lawyer, Sandy Shepard) proposed that I take the BART and then the ferry over to Larkspur Landing, where she’d pick me up and take me to the restaurant she credited with bringing us together: Mauna Loa Hawaiian BBQ, a little hole-in-the-wall in San Rafael. Sandy loves all things Hawaii and was a frequent customer, and when she read about Aunty Rosario’s Hawaiian Food Place in Blood Orchids, she even drove by the address on D Street where Aunty’s bungalow was located! The funny thing is, I just made that up and had no idea there really was a Hawaiian food place in San Rafael.

Sandy, a fan of the Lei Crime Series, contacted me that I was spot-on with my book locations, and a friendship developed which turned into colleagues when I needed her legal advice on some contract matters. She proposed we finally meet in person at the Hawaiian food place, and what could I say but YES? (Even though that meant I had to take BART alone and figure out the ferry, too.)

Even more amazing, my high school classmate Kate, whom I’d reconnected with on Facebook, wanted to see me too and we hadn’t been together in over thirty years! So off I went this morning, with my Google Navigator and my Clipper pass, to meet new friends and old.

BART was fine the second time around, though I did still get sweaty palms worrying I was going to miss my stop. It was reassuring to emerge at Embarcadero, blinking in sun that had come out since the fog in Tawny’s part of town, and be able to see the flags of the ferry building straight ahead. I walked along, enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of busy downtown: the light on the silver spikes of the buildings, the smell of coffee (nostalgia!) and the many flower stands on the corners. I was even early, with ten extra minutes to grab a cup of tea before I got on the ferry to Larkspur.

That’s where things went wrong. The ferry building is gorgeous but filled with all sorts of non-ferry things, like a farmer’s market and tons of little shops. No signage so I ended up in the business section, wandering around upstairs. Finally a security guard directed me back downstairs and out the front, through the (choked with vendors) middle, where I finally saw a listing for Larkspur Ferry at Dock C &D.

Well, I’ll skip the twenty minutes of frantically looking (due to bad or missing signage) for the dock (hidden off to the side behind some buildings) or buying the ticket from an automated kiosk (hard to find.) I wasn’t sure I was on the right one until I asked a worker on board ship if this was the Larkspur Ferry.

Things got better after that as I took a seat on the top deck and feasted my eyes on the city and smooth gray-green water of the bay. I loved every minute of the gorgeous ride, and Sandy picked me up right on time, and we hugged and confirmed our BFF lawyer/fan/client friendship. Seeing my friend Kate, just as beautiful as ever, totally recognizable, brought tears to both our eyes as we celebrated with the amazing women we’ve become and reconnected with the young girls we were.

Mauna Loa Hawaiian BBQ was GREAT, do stop in and have a shave ice,  lychee or coconut bubble tea if you are in the San Rafael area (also the BBQ chicken was delicious!) I reluctantly said goodbye to Kate, with many promises to see more of each other, and Sandy took me to Aunty Rosario’s “address” which I made up for the books but turns out to be an actual cute 1940s bungalow similar to what I fictionalized. Then, she showed me her gorgeous house and brought me all the way home to San Francisco. Thanks for lunch and a wonderful adventure, Sandy!

I’m enjoying taking a chance on people, places and modes of travel. Getting out of my comfort zone and committing to adventures has been wonderful, if stressful at times. How do you feel about trying new things?

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