Visiting the national monuments
Back to San Francisco last October…
So, on Thursday morning, we got up and went to the hotel breakfast buffet. Hotel breakfast buffets are pretty great. They have good waffles.
Back to the point, we left the hotel and got back onto the highway toward the Oakland bridge. The objective of that day was to check out downtown San Francisco. And that’s pretty much what we did; it did take us a while to get there though. Traffic was super backed up from around Oakland across the Oakland bridge. I guess it’s just like that all the time? I don’t know. Things sped up around the bay bridge and we ended up getting to the city at a decent time in the morning.
We parked nearthe ocean on the northeast side of the peninsula($50/day!), and we went to the Ferry Building, which was like a small mall inside this long building, with all these quirky little cafes and shops. The main objective of going in there was to acquire public transit passes for the day, so we could ride the trolleys and busses that they have around the city.
After we got our transit passes, we walked about a block to a spot on the trolley route. It was actually not that crowded, which was unusual, because usually the trolleys are really crowded and it’s hard to actually be able to get on. This time we got on near the end of the line, so I guess it made sense. We rode the trolley west up California Street to a park at the top of the hill across the street from Grace Cathedral. We chilled around there for a few minutes and checked out the Cathedral.
We walked down the street to a trolley stop and waited for a while, but it was annoying because all of the trolleys that passed during the approximate thirty minutes we waited were 1) extremely crowded and 2) not even going the right direction. So we ended up walking a few blocks to a bus stop in a ghetto-ish area of Chinatown and waited there for a bus. An overcrowded bus finally showed up and took us to the Fisherman’s Wharf. So that whole thing was kind of obnoxious, but it all worked out so I guess it was good.
We walked down a crowded street full of souvenir shops to the chain of fish restaurants near the wharf. We went and ate in this one restaurant; I’m not sure that it even had a name, it was just… one of the fish restaurants. But it was good.
After lunch we walked down through a building full of the old carnival games from the Wharf, and then outside, where they had an old submarine and a battleship, from World War II I think. I guess the men on the battleship didn’t realize their ship would be on display, because they painted topless women on the outside of it for….. some reason, I guess. What happens on the battleship stays on the battleship.
We walked away from the wharf around to the Ghirardelli plaza. Ghirardelli is chocolate company, but they also had restaurants, live entertainment and pricey apartments in their buildings for some reason. We ate their chocolate and ice cream, which is very overpriced but still good.
There is a small section of sandy beach just north of Ghirardelli Square (which we came to affectionately refer to as “the ‘delli”). It’s just to the west of Hyde Street and the Fisherman’s Wharf. Two small piers are on either side of the arc-shaped beach, one slanting northwest and the other curving around the other way, forming a sort of artificial bay. You can see swimmers circling around
I enjoyed walking out on the Aquatic Park Pier, which is basically this sidewalk that goes out into the ocean and curves around (on the left in the image). You can walk to the end and get a good view of urban San Francisco, the Bay and Alcatraz; as well as the Golden Gate Bridge and the forested mountains beyond it. Every now and then, a seal will swim to the surface of the ocean near the pier.
After exploring this part of town, we walked into town up to Lombard Street, “the crookedest street in the world”.
Some of the streets in San Francisco are really steep and skinny, and the old houses are generally these different colored houses tightly lined up next to each other.
After walking up Lombard Street, we waited once more for a trolley, yet to no avail. We ended up riding on a bus to Chinatown. We went into a few souvenir shops there. I got this baseball cap with Chinese dragons on it that says San Francisco, which I have worn probably most days since then, because who doesn’t love dragons and San Francisco; but also, you could say, to subtly protest the wearing of snapback hats.
We walked out of the gate to Chinatown and rode the bus back to our car. We ended up eating dinner at an In-n-Out Burger on the way back to our hotel in Benicia. So, Thursday was great.
Sorry, I know it’s just a rundown again. Don’t get me wrong, downtown San Francisco is a great place and you should go there. Maybe this particular day didn’t stand out as much in a certain way as the first day, but it was just as memorable. In a different way, it stood out a lot, because I got that dragon hat…
Which I wore to Disneyland while I made that dumb face.
Last October we went to San Francisco, California.
On Wednesday morning, we went to the Salt Lake International Airport and flew directly to SFO. We left pretty early in the morning and we ended up landing about 9 a.m. I think the time difference is not exactly the same as the sun difference as it is in Utah so it seemed like Wednesday was an exceptionally long day, even though it was really only about an hour longer.
We rented a car at the airport (A red Nissan Altima, to be exact, because I know some people care a lot about cars. I’m not sure exactly what year but it seemed fairly new. I don’t have strong opinions on cars myself, but whenever I see one of these I’m like, “Hey, that’s the San Francisco car,” for some reason) and started driving north along the eastern outskirts of urban San Francisco to the Golden Gate Bridge State Park (on the San Francisco side). We checked the place out for about an hour. They had good viewpoints of the bay, the bridge, and surrounding areas like Alcatraz. They also had displays of information on the history and physics of the bridge.
After spending some time at the park, we drove across the bridge to Sausalito, a few miles north of the bridge on the northern peninsula. It’s a nice place; we stopped there because my Mom thought she saw a Starbucks and I looked around several times and I’m like “I really don’t think there’s a Starbucks here,” and she’s all like “I’m pretty sure I just saw one…”
So we finally found the phantom Starbucks after driving around the small block for about ten minutes.
And then I went to a convenience store and got some mountain dew. And I thought, “Dang, California mountain dew is expensive.” But it made sense because the one thing that’s better than drinking mountain dew in Utah is drinking mountain dew in California.
I suppose that’s not very important to the narrative though.
So we drove from Sausalito to the Muir Woods National Monument. Muir Woods is a forest of California redwoods. The redwood forest grows along the bottom of a canyon, so when you look at the area from above you only see a canopy of greenery. You have to hike along the bottom of the canyon to get the full experience. It’s a great place, 10 out of 10 would recommend.
After hiking a distance into these woods, we headed back toward our car, checking out the gift shop on the way out.
We decided that we would go to the beach for a while. Stinson Beach appeared to be the closest; over the mountains in a northwest direction from the Woods. The drive over the mountains was quite beautiful. We drove mainly through forests of moss-covered deciduous trees.
We got to Stinson Beach overlook. For a reason I cannot remember, we decided not to take the drive down there and continue south down the coast instead. We drove a few miles on the tops of the huge cliffs overlooking the shores for a few miles. I was pretty light-headed from the airplane and the drive at this point, but I still enjoyed it.
We came to a small neighborhood, in the woods along the sides of the mountains and the canyon, called Muir beach. We had to walk a distance to the beach. It was in a small cove, with a sandy beach in the middle and rocky shores on the north and south sides. This is one of my favorite beaches that I have been to. There wasn’t much surf and I didn’t actually go in the ocean. This is one of those places where you just have to walk up the beach by yourself and experience it on your own.
So that was great. Anyway, we left the beach and headed back toward Sausilito and crossed a bridge going east across the Bay. We drove for a while to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express in a place called Benicia and checked in and ordered pizza. So Wednesday was a good day.
Note: (writing this like a week after I wrote this post) I know this post is just kind of a rundown, not anything personal going on, that was kind of what was going on in my mind. I don’t know. This day I’m writing about here was actually pretty important for me for reasons I cannot explain well at all, but I will reference it more later. Just read the rest of my articles.
Edit 2 (2/13/15): I dedicate this music (El Ten Eleven, self-titled album) to this experience, especially the Muir Beach. And especially “Connie”, the second to last song. No, I don’t know anyone named Connie, and my life’s romantic activity level is a good, solid zero, but it was just the first song I heard by these guys and I’m like, “Hey, this is amazing.”