Al Miller

San Francisco

Perrin and I just returned from a wonderful trip to the Bay Area, including an interlude to Costa Rica for a work trip for myself. While Perrin had been many times, this was my first properly exploring San Francisco area.

The first order of business was stopping by Josey Baker’s bakery, The Mill to try the best rated sourdough in San Francisco. The bread was, as advertised, incredible, however the environment was the uncomfortable typification of gentrification, with $11 toast, and the experience left me with conflicting feelings about what a bakery should be. After The Mill, the trip kicked off with a backyard wedding in Berkeley. We mostly new the groom, coincidentally a friend we had met through a mutual friendship with Rob Bird. It was a beautiful ceremony and reception and felt casual and relaxed. We met many awesome people, most of whom were from the Providence RI area as students at Brown as well as a group of friends at a Providence-based startup.

After staying at an incredible house of Perrin’s mom’s Berkeley oceanography professors, we went to West Oakland where Perrin was to stay while I headed to Costa Rica for a work offsite. That turned out to be naive, as the area we were in was very rough, and we had a challenging walk from the house we were staying in to downtown Oakland. Interestingly we were caught in the middle of a sideshow, which while an admirable art form, felt quite disrespectful of pedestrians as there were some people caught in the middle of the crosswalk with cars running through it on red lights and driving on the sidewalk. Yikes.

I rose early on Monday to head to Costa Rica, where after a long 12-hour journey including a flight to Miami I made it to enjoy quality time with my coworkers. Since we are a remote company, I especially cherish the opportunities to see my coworkers and friends. Working at a startup has been one of the best experiences of my professional life, and I truly appreciate the unique chance I have been given to contribute to such an important mission as climate. I left from the offsite on a high from all the great connections. The trip back was uneventful and I returned not to Portland but back to San Francisco.

From there, Perrin and I spent a nice weekend with my childhood friend from Connecticut in Santa Clara. My friend and his partner work at NASA, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream of his. He is a systems engineer, and his partner is an electrical engineer on the VIPER mission, under the Artemis program umbrella. I eagerly await the mission execution in November 2024. We had a great tour of NASA AMES, and also had the chance to do a night tour of Alcatraz, including stunning views of SF piers. While traipsing around the piers, we stopped by Boudin bread, which was an error. Boudin has “sold out”, optimizing for profit from tourists on Pier 39 rather than stay the course of the art of sourdough, and I was immensely disappointed with that experience (next time I would like to try Tartine).

After saying so long to our friends in Santa Clara, we stayed in Palo Alto for a few days with another family friend of Perrin’s. Palo Alto is a special place, where due to its unrivaled economic prosperity and abundant natural beauty and parks, the entire city feels as though it is coordinated and considered, with a cost of living to match. It was fascinating to bike around the Googleplex in Mountain View as well as the bay, and I enjoyed seeing an IBM 1401 at the Computer History Museum.

After Palo Alto, we headed to our last leg of the trip in the SOMA neighborhood of San Francisco, where we stayed with some of Perrin’s friends from high school in Virginia. They lived on an unassuming street in a stunning open concept condo. The owner had done incredible woodwork, including a pergola, dining table, a wooden staircase and a tatami mat area. It was truly inspiring interior work. Staying here, we went to our second wedding at San Fransisco City Hall, where the wedding was almost crashed by Indiana Jones impersonators. Then, after a fun walk through Japantown, we went to a long and lovely reception that involved lots of Samba Dancing at Fort Mason.

The next day we had a great time in Napa Valley, including a wine tasting and stops in the Marin Highlands (in a sports car) and Marin County Civic Center, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and featured in Gattaca. We completed our day walking through the Mission District and visiting Castro as well.

It was a great trip, and we benefited from the direct hospitality of so many friends and connections. The trip we had would not have been the same had we spent the time in hotels, or even Airbnb’s alone. This one was about seeing people who we do not often have the chance to connect with, if ever. We can’t wait to return the favor of hospitality in Portland to those who may come here.