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Recently, I spent three days at a training in San Francisco. As it does every time I’m there, the city wrapped me in its fog, challenged me with its hills and lulled me into its beauty. I watched people, walked a lot, spent more money than I will admit here, and marveled at the fact that an entire section of the city – the Marina – was populated almost exclusively by men and women in spandex, just about all of whom were drinking thick, green smoothies as they paraded the sidewalks.

All of that makes for some fun exploring. And it hits on something I love about traveling: staying open to the possibilities of what might unfold, without a clearly-defined expectation of what must occur, allows me to engage with a place, and not just become its observer. I like spending enough time in a city to get a feel for it, taking the time to wander about, sometimes with a purpose but even then with a dedicated dose of aimlessness, open to possibility and chance.

Sometimes, I go a step further, and give myself the challenge of trying to see a place through new eyes, whether or not its somewhere I’ve previously traveled. It’s a fun thing to do, to pretend I’ve never been somewhere or to intentionally seek out details I might normally miss.

In this case, inspired by the oh-so-famous bridge that ushers people into and out of the city, I decided to let the color red be my guide. Like a scavenger hunt, using color as an anchor provided me with a quick hit of delight every time I crossed its path. And on this particular morning in San Francisco, a sunny one at that, it turned out that red – perhaps with a capital R – was everywhere.

I found it in chairs:

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And in cherries:

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It sprang forth from beets:

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And stood at the protective ready:

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It commanded:

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And tempted:

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It appeared in spaceship-like grace:

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And showed up in curvy caution, too:

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I found it all over my egg sandwich:

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And on doors that hold secrets I’ll never know:

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It hung in quiet service:

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And invited me, once again, to devour it:

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There’s plenty more, of course. And as I’m writing, I’m well aware that this is nothing at all profound. But it’s fun, and in a world of things that are serious, a little game to keep me amused is not insignificant.

The next time I return to San Francisco, it will surely be different. Whether that’s because the city will have changed, or because I will have, I can’t say. But as a traveler, and as a person who truly loves the joy of wandering, I can say with fair certainty that I’ll enjoy it. And who knows – maybe next time, I’ll pack only spandex, and see what it’s like to pose as a local, conquering the sidewalks of the Marina, smoothie in hand.

(p.s. – This post is in response to a challenge by The Daily Post to write about styles of travel. Admittedly, I’m a week late, but – hey – who can plan such things?)

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