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A couple of years ago, the Cousins’ Group Chat turned into an annual trip. Last year, New Orleans (read about it here). This year, we decided to trot across the California wilderness also known as Los Earthquakeles (Los Angeles), almost wine country then San Francisco (why is it so hilly). Please note, there was a list of suggested cities, that I suggested San Francisco as well as the drive so any issues we encountered may have been my fault but I prefer to blame my cousins because I lack accountability, responsibility, and maturity. 

Cause it’s expensive AF to fly from Jackson, MS, I drove to my motherland (New Orleans) then flew to Los Earthquakeles. Several hours later, I arrived. We had lunch in Beverly Hills, then I had a minor heart attack as we drove through the Hills to my cousins’ new-ass, fly-ass pad, I died, came back to life, then took a nap. When I woke up, I put my toes and ankles in their new-ass, fly-ass pool but moved to the hot tub because I am more pleasant when broiled with light butter and cajun seasoning. Our other cousin later joined us but I was too tired to acknowledge her presence because I was tired and am a middle-aged woman. Note: I am not a middle-aged woman. 

Day two featured a moment in history that I will never forget. A mutha f***ing earthquake! Mom, sorry for cursing but it was a mutha f***ing earthquake, there is no other way to describe it. I added curse word pasties, hope that helps. Anyway, we woke up later than expected, I was hungry, then everything around me started vibrating. Everything seemed to move in slow motion. My spirit left my body and floated to the top of the bathroom while my physical body held on to the sink. I returned to my body in time to catch my cousin walking down the hallway and asked her “did you see that?” She turned to me, looked me in my eyes, and said “huh?” This is such a profound response that I have to type it again:


After, I was fed and had mimosas (but not enough to forget that just 24 hours into this trip, I died twice). We learned the Solvang leg of our trip was canceled due to the earthquake and because all of Southern California fell into the Pacific Ocean (also this did not happen). We spent the day hanging in West Hollywood and Los Angeles, returned to the new-ass, fly-ass pad for a 2-week nap, got back in the hot tub for a broil then to bed.

The next morning we packed the Prius and I was judged for getting a Starbucks breakfast over my cousin’s concoction. We hit the road for the six-hour drive to San Francisco where I experienced anxiety as we drove through mountains, hills, and canyons. I kept thinking a giant boulder would roll over the Prius as a result of another earthquake or aftershocks. Obviously, that didn’t happen because I have published this post.

About 45 minutes from San Francisco, my cousin asked a very important question. What were the plans once we arrived? Yes, we had planned this trip for several months and were reaching the city limits without any plans. YOLO! Our Airbnb was down the street from Dolores Park which we walked through then to the Castro District and Haight-Ashbury. During the very long walks that were supposed to be a few blocks away but were miles, I learned that I had lower body weakness. The hills and steps should be illegal yet here we are. We took a Lyft back to the apartment for obvious reasons.

A cool building in San Francisco

We got an early start on day two. We had breakfast at Pier 39, I looked towards Alcatraz and silently whispered “free JT,” we walked to Fisherman’s Wharf then back to the car to drive up to Coit Tower, then to the Golden Gate Bridge where we posed like this:

Cousin and I doing millennials poses?

The bridge and the San Francisco Bay is the third most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen (after myself and Baby Gumbeaux). After, we crossed the Bay to go to Oakland, CA for “soul food.” Please note my tone via the quotation marks. 

“Soul Food” in Oakland, CA

My cousin recommended Lena’s Soul Food Cafe. I got fried chicken, turnip greens (which I have tasted maybe twice before this visit), and mac and cheese. The portions were very large (even larger than what I’ve ever received in Mississippi). Naturally, when eating at a place like this you have to get a flavored soda. I got grape (and hated myself for it). The chicken was OK. I won’t comment on the rest of the food because I know gangs are a thing in California and I am not trying to get smoked behind “soul food.” What I will say is that it was a very black experience. In addition to the grape soda, the Color Purple was playing on the TV while Afrobeats blasted through the speakers. I think each visit should come with a certification in African American studies or something. After, we roamed a somewhat vacant and almost gentrified downtown Oakland. I asked to be dropped off to take a nap and recover from the AFRICAN AFRICAN American experience but never did. Note: African African is not a typo but the best way I can describe it.

Cool-Ass Building in Downtown Oakland

On our final day, we had breakfast and per my cousin’s request, attended church (aka vacation church which is attending church while you are supposed to be sipping mimosas on vacation). The East Bay Church of Religious Science was a new experience for me but I had been learning about similar beliefs via my cousin Rev. Karen Frost and Spirit Uncensored. The only expectations I had was that the service would be as quick as my cousin said it would be. I was surprised by the diversity and not because diversity doesn’t exist but because the church was clearly Afrocentric and unapologetic about discussing police brutality and immigration. They kept saying none of us are free until all of us are free. It was fascinating, the people were nice (a little too touchy), but I was glad for the experience; particularly, because several people called me beautiful.

East Bay Church of Religious Science

We left before the service ended and experienced traffic nearly the whole way back to Los Earthquakeles. I ate, slept for a few hours then caught a flight back to my motherland entirely too early. My Dad picked me up from the airport, we had lunch in Treme then I put the pedal to the metal back to Jackson, MS where I am still recovering. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers and follow me @pinkgumbeaux on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Allen Toussaint Mural in New Orleans



  1. Ronnie Frost

    Funny… first of all the earthquake was not that big. Secondly, that soul food restaurant was based on Yelp! reviews. It was more of an idea than a recommendation. Third, our “gangs” are on a truce after Nipsey Hustle’s dealth.

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