Sunday, July 10, 2016

San Francisco!

What a fun, full day! Despite sleeping well last night we were all a little sluggish trying to wake up early this morning. Turns out there's a cable car station right by our hotel which took us straight down to Fisherman's Wharf, with beautiful views of the city and bay along the way. Of course we had to wait in a crazy long line, but we had hot chocolate, the music of a talented street performer, and a speed game of 'alphabet' to entertain us.

We had reserved bikes at 'Blazing Saddles' to ride over the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito. Brian and I have done this excursion a few times on past visits to San Francisco, and it's always fun so we really wanted to do it with Chase and Clara. We took a slightly longer route than recommended because I wanted to ride past the Palace of Fine Art and through the Presidio. The Palace of Fine Arts has a distinct dome shaped roof that's easy to spot from all over the bay. It was fun for the kids to look back at it from the bridge, the ferry, etc. and see how far they'd ridden. It also has the perfect grounds for a picnic, with big trees, a lake with swans, turtles, birds, and fantastic architectural columns. We underestimated how hungry we'd be, and plowed through the lunch we had packed. From there until we were on the Golden Gate Bridge, the route became fairly difficult. We had to climb some serious hills. I had to engage muscles I forgot I even had. It didn't help that my bike chain kept seizing up and/or falling off every time I tried to change gears either. Luckily a nice local cyclist lent us his allen wrench so Brian could adjust the de-railer. Whatever that means. After the quick roadside tune up it was still acting iffy, so he offered to switch me bikes. He's strong enough to pedal those hills without adjusting gears, and I'm... well let's just say I'm going to be sore for days even with the ability to change my gears. ;)

The weather in San Francisco is slightly schizophrenic. It goes from cloudy to sunny to windy to calm to cold to hot in a matter of an hour. Knowing this we had layers that we kept adding and shedding accordingly. When we were riding the bridge, it was windy, wet, cold, and completely covered in fog. Shortly after we'd crossed, the fog began to clear and the sun emerged. Go figure! The kids were rockstars during the whole ride until they became hungry. Luckily we knew of a fun little spot called 'Salsalito Taco Shop' which was perfect for resting our legs and snacking on steak nachos.

After the ferry took us back to the city we continued biking to Pier 39. The kids were amused by the crowded novelty shops and had to check out a few. We were also excited to show Chase and Clara hundreds of blubbering, barking, basking sea lions that reside there, only to discover they had cleared out! A little research informed us that food has become scarce for them in the San Francisco bay and many have migrated to the coast of Oregon as a result. That's unfortunate on many levels. Luckily we'll be in Oregon in a few days so we'll probably see them there. :)

Our legs were achy, but we peddled our way back to the bike rental drop-off and immediately met up with Shelly, a friend from UT who now lives in CA. We all walked to Ghiradelli Square to eat dinner (and of course we saved room for the ice cream and chocolate). I'm grateful that she made the effort to hang with our wind-blown, ragged bunch tonight. It's always fun to connect with great people!

The hardest part of the day was waiting in line again to ride the cable car back to our hotel. The sun had set, the temperature plummeted, and we. were. so. tired. The line was over an hour wait so we trekked up another hill to try catching it at another stop. The wait there was (only) 30 minutes, and even then we barely made it on. In fact there was this couple who had walked up to the front of the line right as the cable car approached and tried to hop on before the rest of us who had been waiting, and I was all over that. My kids were a little shocked - I don't think they've seen me get that aggressive before, especially with total strangers! But it worked. The conniving couple was left behind to wait their turn in line and we secured our spot. True Chase and I were packed like sardines on the inside of the car while Brian and Clara dangled from the exterior, but we didn't care!

One thing we wanted to do with the kids in San Fran was Alcatraz, but tickets are sold out until August 17 so that's not going to happen. We found out that we can get up early tomorrow morning and stand in a line starting at 4:30-5:00 am and try to get tickets that way, but that doesn't sound fun to any of us. Instead we watched a documentary on Alcatraz while the kids were falling asleep. It was perfect. And on that final thought, despite what the documentary 'experts' say, I choose to believe that the three escaped Alcatraz convicts made it. :)