Tuesday, August 23, 2016

San Francisco

Our motel in San Francisco was likely one of the sketchiest places I have ever stayed. But oh my, the location! It was literally across the street from the beach, right at the base of Golden Gate Park. (And it had free parking, which in San Francisco is practically unheard of.) So after checking in and heading straight to bed, we woke up early the next morning and hightailed it to the beach.

It was pretty darn chilly. Oh who am I kidding...it was downright cold! But the beach was so beautiful! Brandon only had any luck convincing Lilian to get into the water with him, and really just up to their ankles. (I did take my shoes off to dig my feet into the sand, but I kept my toes away from the frigid water.) But even more than the joy of running from the waves, Lilian was in heaven because there were sand dollars all over the place. Whole ones! Brandon and Julianne even brought some back as souvenirs.

After heading back to the room to get cleaned up and ready for the day, we took the MUNI into town. It was slow going with so many stops, but it was fun to watch the view out the window as we wound our way further into downtown. (Well, you know..when it wasn't underground.) We hopped off, got some food at a deli and then wandered our way into Chinatown...which is apparently, the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, and the oldest in North America. Which is saying something because I've been to the Chinatown in NYC, and it's pretty darn huge. Lilian was of course fascinated with it all and completely determined to find a souvenir of some sort. And every little shop had a gazillion souvenir options. Lets just say, we were good and ready to be done with Chinatown when she finally decided on the soccer ball decorated medicine/stress balls.

Fisherman's Wharf was next. Pier 39, street performers, sea lions, fish vendors, views of the ocean harbor including Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge...Fisherman's Wharf is a neat place. And oh, the sentimental childhood memories! (We used to visit San Francisco every summer as a family when I was a child..my grandparents lived in Concord, not too far from the City by the Bay.)

I talked Bryan into a harbor cruise...something I've always wanted to do, but that he and Brandon were less enthused about. We chugged our way out of the pier only to have a mass amount of fog roll in on top of us maybe 10 minutes into our cruise. It got to the point where the narration would say, "If you look to your left, you'll see the such and such building on shore where this happened..." and we couldn't see a thing. We knew we were getting close to the Golden Gate Bridge because the narration told us so, but we couldn't see it until we were right under it! Which actually was cool in it's own way, to have it just appear kind of ghost-like out of the fog. And did I mention that it was FREEZING??? Oh my. Bryan and Brandon escaped to the enclosed part of the boat. But Julianne, Lilian and I stayed on top for much of the cruise just because it really was pretty awesome...the fog making it hard to see the view, but also making it an entirely different sort of experience which was still very neat. However, as soon as we finished our harbor cruise (the fog rolled away as soon as we started back to the pier....of course) we fast tracked it to Boudin's Bakery for some clam chowder in bread bowls so we could warm ourselves back up again!

 You could kind of see Alcatraz when we got close enough...

The next morning we ate breakfast at this local little cafe around the corner from our motel right there at the beach. It was super yummy, but also a lot of fun to people watch the locals...such a fun vibe there. The place reminded me a bit of Luke's Diner from Gilmore Girls. And as we walked back to our motel, we ran into a couple hanging out in a little zen garden. They called us over and we chatted with them for quite awhile. (She may have been still a bit drunk from the night before...) ;) We exchanged FB info so we could stay in touch and then we eventually went on our merry way. After checking out of our room, we made our way back to the Golden Gate Bridge. We had driven across it and sailed under it...this time we decided to walk it. And I tell you what, it was a major highlight of the trip for me, walking across that iconic landmark. We even saw dolphins in the water below.

Eventually we got back in the car and headed out of San Fransisco. We drove down to San Mateo for some lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. Because for some reason we have been keeping a kind of unofficial tally of all the different cities we have eaten at a Cheesecake Factory. I don't know why. We also stopped at a Trader Joe's for some snacks for the plane. Which is something that Bryan does on many of his business trips and he seemed rather giddy about sharing the experience with his wife and kids. We made our way to the airport and said goodbye to our trusty rental car that saw us from Seattle, down the Oregon coast, through the Redwood Forest and into San Francisco, and got ourselves on an airplane headed for Salt Lake City. Tired but happy. One more memorable family vacations on the books.

Pacific Coast Highway and Redwood Forest

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