AVM Awareness Walk

The Bridge, the Walk, the Beach: Week in San Francisco

In the beginning of May, my boyfriend and I flew in to San Francisco for a week to participate in 13th Annual Aneurysm and AVM Awareness Walk.

As many of you know, I am an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) Survivor, a topic I write about on this blog semi-frequently.  Every May, The Aneurysm and AVM Foundation, based in the Bay Area, holds an awareness walk for AVM and Brain Aneurysm survivors, families and friends, and for those who passed.  Whenever I can, I join in as Team Burgundy for Life.

The first time I attended this walk was 2 years ago, when I made one of my first pilgrimages to SF Bay Area.  Little did I know then that in a span of 2 years, I would be visiting the area four times! (Long story short, my current boyfriend and I “reacquainted” after college because I visited SF for this exact walk 2 years ago.)

Annual Aneurysm and AVM Awareness Walk

The Walk has great significance to me, both as a survivor and an advocate/activist.

Obviously, this group of people, from all walks of life and all over the country, share something very intimate and tragic.  But at the same time, we are all here together, as one, to celebrate the lives of those present and passed, reminiscing on the extraordinary journeys each of us has been forced to partake in.

Through Burgundy for Life, I have been working to provide resources and support for AVM, Brain Aneurysm, Stroke, and Brain Injury survivors and their families for over half a decade now.

Attending these walks allow me to see my own graphics and products being proudly used on T-shirts and Posters to help raise awareness. This time around, there was even A DOG wearing my design on his shirt! Hah!

I also get to meet in person and chat with people who have been messaging me through Burgundy for Life, which is always an amazing experience.  Here we are, hundreds of us, who would otherwise be strangers had it not been for some misfortunes in our vascular systems.

Many, many people generously helped out with my fundraiser, and still many others attended the walk with me.  Some of my friends came from hours away to make it to the 9AM opening! #Blessed!

The organizer for the Walk is a dear friend of mine, and an absolute Super Woman, making sure the whole event runs smoothly year after year.

And of course, let’s not forget that the walk is at Crissy Fields, and has AMAZING views!

Golden Gate Bridge everywhere!

There’s a little-known fort called Fort Point at the mid-part of the walk, right under the bridge. It’s a National Historic Site, and you can explore all parts of it, as well as climb up to the base of the bridge!

The Awareness Walk is always super windy and chilly, but a great time and an amazing experience.

San Francisco

Streets? Oh, you mean those things that seem to just… Climb up a hill?

For the first few days of the week, I worked remotely from my San Francisco Office.  Since my boyfriend lived in the Bay Area for 2 years, and this being my fourth time visiting in 2 years, we mostly just ate and drank bubble tea.

I was intending on spending a few days being tourists in San Francisco, but in the end, we ended up only being in the city on Sunday for the AVM walk, and Monday and Tuesday because I was working.

Matcha Cafe Maiko in Japantown

Boba Guys all over the place

Hinodeya Ramen in Japantown

I did remember to take some touristy photos at Union Square, though…


This time around, two of my friends graciously offered us rooms in their dwellings, so we didn’t stay in San Francisco proper.  Since I’ve visited, but never stayed, outside of San Francisco, this was a new and interesting experience.

The first place we stayed in was an amazingly beautiful house in Oakland, which also had a fully independent studio in the backyard. (I’ve come to learn that it’s called the “In-Law Suite.”  Even has its own kitchen and a bathroom!)

The best part, obviously, was that they had two dogs, and they were the cutest, softest things ever!

This was the view from their home:

I guess it’s the same way as New York City! The best place to SEE the skyline isn’t IN the city, but outside it! We explored the quieter side of the Bay Area, tried some food, and got some fresh air in while staying in Oakland for a few days.

For a brunch, we tried a cute cafe called Sequoia Diner, and the wait staff were super nice, and the cafe itself was adorable. (Our friend bought the coffee mug, because it was so adorable. I would’ve totally gotten one myself if I didn’t need to actually fly it home…!)

Palo Alto

From Oakland, we made our way to Palo Alto on Wednesday.  We both took the last 3 days of the week off, and intended to spend them lazily.  Our college friend generously hosted us for the last few days of our trip, and she even threw a BBQ party for some of her friends and some of our friends.

In Palo Alto, we discovered AMAZING ice cream at Tin Pot Creamery (I think we had Earl Grey Tea and Toasted Almond) and my new favorite Chai Latte at Palo Alto Cafe.  I am honestly glad these two cafes are not anywhere near me, because I would be having very difficult time not having some every day…

I also spent 15 minutes playing with a LOT of mirrors, so there’s also that.  (There was an obelisk of mirrors in a town center for some reason.)

Avengers: Infinity War

And because we are too cool for school, we decided to watch the Avengers: Infinity War while on vacation.

We discovered an AMAZING theater next to the Google Campus which has super cheap tickets (I think it was like $8?) and super cheap food ($6 for a huge thing of popcorn!). They even sold samosas (????).  They had one of those huge comfy couch-type seats, and you could also pre-select your seats so you can just come in right as the movie is starting instead of having to wait in line and rush to the seat you want.

Half Moon Bay Beach

On the last full day in the Bay Area, we decided to make a drive out to Half Moon Bay State Beach.

For lunch, we stopped by Shabuway in Mountain View, where we got a pretty decent portion for pretty decent cost. (Hahaha get it… Subway… Except Shabu… Hah…)  Would definitely try again, if I’m in the area!

Since it was a work week, the drive itself was uneventful, just progressively climbing into the wilderness.

The water was FREEZING! The sky was BLUE! The sand was SQUISHY!
All the flowers were in BLOOM! And as always, REALLY REALLY windy.
I also found a dead Sea Dollar.  Maybe it’ll be my good-luck token for riches to come!

As with everything else in California…. Everything is just so big.  I never know how to take photographs in California because there’s no way I can fit the grandness in one photo!

I Need Another Vacation

That was a quick week on the other side of the continent, and even before I left, I knew I needed another vacation!

As always, TSA Pre was amazing, and I was through both securities within 5-10 minutes.  In SFO, I was walking into the airport, and already at the gate for my flight within 15 minutes. I highly highly recommend it to people who fly even a few times a year domestically! It’s $85 for 5 years, which is amazing value for getting through security in 5 minutes.  (Global Entry for your Global-Trotters… I might get this one once my Arthritis is in remission, and I feel ok to start traveling internationally again.)

What are your upcoming summer vacation plans?

Hiroko Nishimura
AWS Community Hero. Special Education teacher turned IT Engineer turned Technical Writer. Author "AWS for Non-Engineers" (Manning Publications). Technical Instructor "Introduction to AWS for Non-Engineers" (LinkedIn Learning).

13 thoughts on “The Bridge, the Walk, the Beach: Week in San Francisco”

  1. Looks like you had a great time, and got to see some wonderful sights! Japantown is always so much fun, and I’m glad you made it to the beach, too! I will look into this event for next year – didn’t realize it existed and we live close to SF. We’ve been to the brain aneurysm support group at UCSF in the past. My husband experienced a ruptured brain aneurysm and now has severe short term memory loss. Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. I didn’t realize you’re on the other side of an AVM! A dear friend lives with one now.

    I love when people come to visit out here, y’all always discover little places I don’t know about yet which is totally backwards but yknow, chronic life keeps me in a lot

    We’re doing Hawaii this year, always a favorite, but I’m going to have to if we can try Shabuway because that’s just too cute.

  3. Wow I love your pictures. I wish I went to Half Moon Bay though but oh well. I came back from San Francisco in March this year as well. Loving the Golden Gate Bridge which I see it everyday from my hotel room. 🙂

  4. I’m glad you’re able to go to SF for the AVM Awareness walk, especially since it means a lot to you! That sounds like it was a great experience, and so cool that you can meet people you’ve chatted with online and also see your graphics and products being used. I’ve walked at Crissy Fields before, and it’s nice walk! I like that you got a clear view of the Golden Gate Bridge!

    haha, I’m always amazed at how hilly SF is. The food and drinks you got look so good too. When I first had Boba Guys, I thought it’d be an overly hyped and hipster place, but I actually liked it a lot. That’s nice that you were able to spend some time outside of SF too!

    Oohh, that theater looks so comfy. The one we go to in town also lets you pre-select your seats, and I like that system soooo much more. I used to hate having to show up early to wait in line in hopes of getting a good seat. It just seemed like a waste of time.

    Half Moon Bay looks like a pretty beach! That sand looks soft, and I love how there’s flowers nearby. And yesss, TSA Pre saves so much time. We got Global Entry right before we left for Japan, so we have both, and it’s totally worth it. Looks like you had a good trip!

  5. It warms my heart that you have helped with such a movement, it’s so admirable. Your advocacy inspires me every day to make the most of life, I’m so glad that it had such a great turnout!

    I loved reading your experience in San Fran/Oakland and Palo Alto. Matt has been to San Fran and Palo Alto before – I feel like I’ve already been there before because of his stories haha! It’s great that you had a fantastic time with your Boba Guys 😉 I want to try one!

    Ahh, this makes me want to travel to the States again. Matt and I are planning to go back some time in the next year or so, we’ll make sure NYC on the list. Of course 😛
    I hope you get another vacation elsewhere! It helps me with my list of US places to go to in the future 😛 I’m planning to go to Spain this summer – nothing too exciting but is SO needed.

    Have a lovely day Hiro!!

  6. Wow, I cannot imagine what you went through and here you are strong and advocating for others who are going through the same thing you did back then.
    I’ve only heard of brain aneurysm and AVM on Grey’s Anatomy and I know it’s not an accurate show, so thank you for educating us with your posts about these topics.
    “This time around, there was even A DOG wearing my design on his shirt!” —THAT IS THE GOAL. I love dogs. I have one and consider him my child.
    That ice cream looks so delicious that I’m craving one right now. And Avengers: Infinity War! I’m up for anything Marvel.
    The beach looks so peaceful. And that field of flowers is breathtaking.
    I’m glad you had fun while doing what you’re passionate about!

  7. That walk event sounds lovely. How awesome to see your designs being used!

    Sounds like quite the adventure! I’ve never traveled really myself. Wish I could!

  8. I’m glad you enjoyed the Bay Area! It’s always such a treat to see the places I’ve lived (SF, Palo Alto) reflected in the eyes of others. I definitely recognize Hinodeya Ramen and Boba Guys and Tin Pot, and now I can’t stop drooling. It’s so incredible that you got to experience the AVM Awareness Walk with rad folks to support you. And near the GG, too! Go you!

  9. I remember when you were here and I wish I had seen ya! I think I was still new at work back then and settling in – next time you come let’s DEFINITELY meet up. I’m soooo proud of you for Burgundy for Life, and being able to connect with so many people to share your story and lead them down a great path! You’ve even got a doggo supporter, hehehe.

    I miss San Francisco – they seemed to have changed the heart in Union Square since the last time I was in that area, at least half a year ago. I didn’t know Palo Alto had a wall of mirrors – I haven’t been to downtown yet, though I live so close! I’m definitely gonna check out the ice cream there at some point. And there’s SHABU in Mountain View?! GOING.

    Lastly I loooove Half Moon Bay – it is beautiful, and it’s funny you mention California is so grand that it’s hard to capture the grandness – it’s so majestic when you do capture it. I love that photo of you at the beach!

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