No one thought Las Vegas was my kind of town. “You wouldn’t last 24 hours!” friends warned. “You, of all people, would absolutely haaate it.” I’m the type who prefers the mountains to the mall. I cringe at the oversize and artificial. I get lost in crowds. Cry in traffic. And so, naturally, I always agreed: Sin City was not for me.
It took the promise of freshly baked bread and recently laid eggs to drag Becky Eaton, 28, out of bed and all the way to Ocean Beach, on the far western edge of San Francisco. Outerlands hadn’t opened yet, but she was first in a long line of hungry locals dressed in hoodies and flip-flops. “This better be worth the half-hour on Muni,” she said, referring to the often slow city transit system. She knew it would be. It’s one of a few spots adding buzz to the Outer Sunset, a once bleak neighborhood home to surfers and families looking for affordable housing. Today, it hosts a cluster of arty shops and cafes covered in swirls of salvaged wood — a sort of Driftwood Alley.
Bumping along a freshly plowed road in Lake Tahoe, Calif., I felt oddly unburdened. No skis were locked on top of my car, no clunky boots rattled in the trunk. After more than a decade of ski trips to the region, I kept feeling as if I were missing something. Sure, it was sunny, but also a biting 17 degrees — and I was going kayaking.