S: San Francisco - Spring Break 2011
BC: Spring break is ending. Farewell to San Francisco. Not much sun. Still fun.
FC: Spring Break March 2011 San Francisco
2: Let the adventure begin! | On the way to Jen's house we stopped and grabbed dinner at Culvers. Somewhere along the way Leslie took note of Sue’s awesome palm trees on her lanyard. Hmmm, how long has she been sporting that message to the general public? The things you discover when you travel together. After checking into our awesome suite, Leslie did some ASB work and we headed out for our Kodak moment with the Weinermobile. Of course we had to have some elevator photos but the spooky spirits were nowhere to be seen this year. And I mean nowhere. When we tried to buy some spirits at Walgreens to toast our trip we found out that you can't buy packaged alcohol in Wisconsin after 9 p.m. Any where! Who knew?
5: Our hotel was in a great location. There was a bus stop across the street and we were just a couple blocks from the Powell-Mason cable car line. Fisherman's Wharf was close, and we were in the North Beach neighborhood an area of wonderful restaurants.
6: Our first meal in San Francisco was delicious seafood at the Fog Harbor Fish House with views of the bay.
7: The famous Pier 39 seals ham it up for us. | A view towards Sausalito. | Love these knobby trees. | San Francisco's #1 visitor destination.
8: Abundant Spring Showers We stood out in the crowd at Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 with our colorful umbrellas. The rain and wet weather didn't damper our enthusiasm for the sights and sounds of the seals at the harbor, the street entertainers, and the views along the pier. San Francisco weather was wet but mild, and it was nice to see the spring flowers blooming and green grass.
10: Aquarium of the Bay This aquarium, featuring all local bay aquatic life, was right across the deck from our lunch spot and a nice “out of the rain” activity. The two jellyfish exhibits were unbelievably beautiful; delicately floating through the water. It was mesmerizing. We enjoyed walking through the tunnel underneath the 700,000 gallon aquarium tank, with silver streaks of anchovies flashing overhead. And of course it is always fun to lay your hands on sharks, rays, anemones, sea stars, and sea cucumbers at the touch pools and tide pools, no matter what your age. Not to mention the totally styling, way cool crowns.
13: Sea Nettle
14: Sourdough and Mr. Toad We finished our day with a trip to the Boudin sourdough bakery for a cup of something warm before our Mr. Toad’s night tour of San Francisco. A night tour seemed like a good idea, but it really was not, as the rain meant the plastic windows on our open air touring car had to be down which made it extremely difficult to see. We learned a lot of interesting facts about San Francisco, but we really did not see much at all. Lesson learned: nix on the night tours.
15: Sunday - Let's see if we can find our way to Golden Gate Park | Are we smart enough to figure out the Muni bus schedule? | As long as we get on the right bus we should be good.
16: We made it! Golden Gate Park is a beautiful place to spend Sunday in San Francisco. You could easily spend a week just exploring everything in the park; it is enormous, one of the largest man-made parks in the world. I am envious of the San Francisco residents who can enjoy this beautiful space and all it has to offer whenever they like.
18: Our first stop - the de Young Museum
19: We planned to visit the ninth floor observation deck for the view and opted to skip the art exhibits this time. We did see some interesting hanging sculptures in the entry way gallery. The shadows cast by these pieces created intricate and dramatic patterns on the walls, adding another dimension to the artwork.
20: Scenic vistas from the top of the de Young Museum | Looking towards the Presidio. | Looking towards the South Bay. | A view of the Golden Gate Heights neighborhood. | The California Academy of Sciences
21: San Francisco - City of Seven Hills The first place we went upon entering the park was to the top of the de Young Museum for vista views of San Francisco. The hills did not look as steep from above as they are in reality at street level. Besides great views of the city and the park we could also see the bay and ocean in the distance, along with the very top of the Golden Gate Bridge.
22: We spent a couple of hours exploring the California Academy of Sciences
23: The Steinhart Aquarium There is something fascinating about getting a sneak peak at different types of fish in their habitat. Maybe it is because most of the time what goes on under water remains hidden from view. The Steinhart Aquarium, is home to 38,000 live animals from around the world, representing more than 900 separate species. We had a colorful awe inspiring look at a few of these species and the beauty of what lies underwater.
25: Water is the driving force of all nature. Leonardo da Vinci
26: Rainforests of the World 4-stories dripping water greenery croaking frogs chirping birds butterflies reptiles amphibians begonias philodendrons orchids bromeliads AMAZING
28: First lunch, then, Food for Thought
30: The Living Roof tops the Academy of Science building. It is a 2.5 acre expanse of native California plants that provides insulation for the building, prevents water runoff, and creates a habitat for bees, birds, butterflies and other wildlife.
31: T | The Dutch windmill is located as the far eastern edge of the park. It is one of two windmills in the park and was built in 1902 and restored in 1981. It is surrounded by the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Gardens which were in full bloom.
32: Midwestern girls love the big waves at Ocean Beach
33: Spring Flowers
34: On the way back to the hotel, we just had to jump off the Muni bus for a close up look at The Golden Gate Bridge
36: Right next door. The Bimbo's club was next door to our hotel. The awning just sucked us in for a Kodak moment. Too bad there weren't any shows while we were there; a t-shirt would have been a great souvenir! | Monday
37: The Original Plan We planned to take a City Guides walking tour of China Town at 10:00 a.m. so made our way via cable car to Portsmouth Square, a gathering place for young and old in the Chinatown area. Once we realized that a noisy group of 7th graders was there for the same reason, we quickly developed a Plan B – find something else to do and come back for the 1:30 p.m. tour.
38: The Transamerica Pyramid is the tallest building in the San Francisco skyline and is an iconic symbol of the city.
40: City Lights Bookstore was on our list of "must see" sights. Located on Columbus Avenue, we walked by it on the way to Coit Tower. We browsed for awhile and then continued on our way, but made plans to return once more while in San Francisco.
41: City Lights is a landmark independent bookstore and publisher that specializes in world literature, the arts, and progressive politics. City Lights is one of the truly great independent bookstores in the United States, a place where booklovers from across the country and around the world come to browse, read, and just soak in the ambiance of alternative culture's only "Literary Landmark."
43: San Francisco's Coit Tower is one of the city's most recognizable landmarks. The 210-foot high, Art Deco tower sits majestically atop Telegraph Hill in the city's North Beach neighborhood and offers sweeping views of San Francisco Bay as well as Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz Island, and other area attractions. | The Crookedest Street
44: Coit Tower Murals The interior of Coit Tower is covered with 19 murals, painted by 26 different WPA artists, many of whom studied under Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera. Most of the Depression-era works were done al fresco and have been restored to their original glory. The themes focus mainly on "leftist" and socialist topics, popular in the 1930s.
45: We really enjoyed our visit to Coit Tower. The murals presented a look back at life in the 1930s. I especially liked the ones that incorporated the windows of the building as part of the subject of the painting and those that included San Francisco landmarks.
46: Oh say, can you see... We enjoyed great views of the city and the bay from the top of Coit Tower.
47: City Guides Walking Tour We had a delicious lunch at Hunan Home's before making our way back to Portsmouth Square to meet up with the 1:30 p.m. tour. | Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, spent many hours in Chinatown during 1879-1880 while waiting for the woman he loved to divorce her husband (Scandal!). A monument in Portsmouth square commemorates his friendship with the people of Chinatown during that time. | Tai chi in Portsmouth Square, the heart of Chinatown.
48: A walking tour is definitely a great way to see an area of the city. We walked the streets the tourists visit and the street and alley ways where the residents shop. We were able to go into a couple of the markets, and see the live chickens and other animals available for purchase. I heard them "whack a fish", certainly a good indication of freshness. I loved Portsmouth Square, and all the varied people who congregated there to visit and pass the time with their neighbors. It reminds me of the piazzas in Italy; a community gathering place that is the heart of a neighborhood.
49: At the end of the tour; we had an uphill climb to the bus stop. | Daily shopping for fresh ingredients at the market. | A typical street in Chinatown | Dragon Lamps circa 1925.
50: Ma Tsu Temple We were able to go inside this Chinatown Buddhist temple, dedicated to Matsu, the Goddess of the Sea. It is one of the newer temples in Chinatown.
52: Heading towards Alcatraz | We were all excited for our night tour of Alcatraz.
54: Beauty. History. Infamy. Alcatraz and history go hand in hand. Once home to some of America's most notorious criminals, the federal penitentiary that operated here from 1934 to 1963 brought a dark mystique to the Rock. The presence of infamous inmates like Al "Scarface" Capone, and the "Birdman" Robert Stroud helped to establish the island's notoriety. To this day, Alcatraz is best known as one of the world's most legendary prisons. | Civil War-era buildings dotting the island give insight into the 19th century when the island served as both a harbor defense fort and a military prison. You can also see visible reminders of the American Indian Occupation that started in 1969 after the prison closed, highlighting an important milestone in the American Indian rights movement.
57: Alcatraz at night As the sun goes down and the lights come on Alcatraz takes on a different personality. Eerie. Lonely. Creepy.
58: Life on the "Rock" We really enjoyed the audio tour that was told by four actual inmates at Alcatraz and four of the guards that served there. You really got a sense of how it must've been to be a "tenant" of the infamous Alcatraz or living here as an employee. The night tours are less crowded than the day tours, which was a real bonus. After recently watching "Escape from Alcatraz", it was interesting to see the library and the "dummy figure" asleep on the cot.
61: Across the Bay I don't know if any of the inmates ever had the chance to see the view of the city as the lights came on each night, but we did and it was spectacular.
62: Love the cable cars! and the photo opportunities they offer! | Tuesday
63: On a mission to Bike the Bridge | Stylin' those bike helmets! Not!
64: Biking to the Bridge | We started our bike tour at Bay City Bikes, on the corner near the Powell-Hyde cable car turn-around. We rode a few blocks through the busy Fisherman's Wharf area before connecting with the bike path that took us along the waterfront. We rode out onto the Municipal pier for views of the city and the harbor.
65: Flat What do you do when your tire goes flat? First you thank your stars that you had the foresight to take the insurance; and then you chill out on the bench and wait for the repairman to show up. In the meantime, you can watch the dog walkers (more dogs than kids in San Francisco) and get friendly advice from the natives on which wineries to visit in Napa. | Even on vacation you can end up waiting for the repairman.
66: We've Arrived! After a (fairly) quick bike repair, we continued our ride through Crissy Field, around the warming hut, and up steep Long Avenue (on foot). The bridge is magnificent. Lots of people were walking and biking across it, so navigating it required attention to speed and surroundings. It was noisy due to the traffic but we rode all the way across and back and enjoyed the wonderful views along the way.
68: Since we were riding our bicycles nearby... we stopped at the Palace of Fine Arts for a quick view of the grounds and buildings on our return from the bridge. It was a beautiful oasis in the city and the ducks seemed quite fond of the reflecting pool.
69: Early in the morning... | ...and later that day. | Wednesday
70: Sue and Jen spend Wednesday morning in the sun at Fisherman's Wharf
72: Misión San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores) | On Wednesday morning, Leslie and I traveled by cable car and underground train to the Castro, a neighborhood far away from our home base in North Beach. After walking around the neighborhood and stopping in a bookstore to browse, we found our way to Mission Dolores Old Mission and Basilica. We enjoyed the beautiful interiors of both of these buildings. And, as usual, we found the cemetery fascinating. Seeing the names and dates on the grave markers always makes me wish I could know more of the story behind those resting in peace. | Leslie and Peg venture to:
73: The Misión San Francisco de Asís was founded June 29, 1776. The settlement was named for St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order, but was also commonly known as "Mission Dolores" owing to the presence of a nearby creek named Arroyo de los Dolores, or "Creek of Sorrows." Mission Dolores is the oldest intact building in the City of San Francisco and the only intact Mission Chapel in the chain of 21 established under the direction of Father Serra. The Mission has been a steadfast witness to the span of San Francisco's history including the California Gold Rush and the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. The Mission Cemetery is the only cemetery that remains within the City limits. The Cemetery is the final resting place for numerous Ohlone, Miwok, and other First Californians as well as notable California pioneers.
74: Mission Dolores Basilica
75: The Basilica was completed in 1918 and replaces the parish church that was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. The half-opened red-and-gold umbrella and papal crest on either side of the altar are symbols that Pope Pius XII visited the parish church building and designated it a Basilica (an honorary Church of the Pope) in 1952.
77: Mission Dolores Cemetery | This is the only cemetery located within the city.
78: An Indian dwelling located in the Mission Dolores Cemetery
79: Ferry Building Marketplace We rendezvoused here for lunch with Jen and Sue. Outside offered a great view of the bridge to Oakland and working docks. Inside offered lots of restaurants and shops and it's where I had one of my favorite meals of the trip, the delectable Gott's Roadhouse fish tacos. I never stopped talking about them the rest of the time! My only other purchase? Two bottles of Stonehouse Olive Oil, one with garlic and one with blood orange. Our next stop. To the wharf for a boat ride under the bridge. | Fabulous! SO GOOD! I love them!
80: Boat Tour Under the Golden Gate Bridge
81: Our City Pass booklet included a one hour boat tour under the Golden Gate Bridge. Although the sun is shining, it was cold and windy out on the water, but pretty amazing to see another side of the Golden Gate Bridge.
82: Time for a Treat We've been waiting all week for this!
83: Streets of San Francisco On Thursday, we picked up our rental car and tried to head out of the city. Richard, our faithful GPS guy, tried to steer us wrong and had us heading towards the police station. ???? Once we had him recalculate and got ourselves turned around and headed in the right direction, we traveled down the hilly streets of San Francisco and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin County. We were on our way north to Muir Woods to see some big, big trees! | Thursday
84: A RAINY DAY AT Muir Woods
85: Old growth forests are a naturally quiet refuge in an increasingly noisy world.
86: Coastal Redwoods BIG, BIGGER, BIGGEST! | Cathedral Grove has some of the biggest trees in Muir Woods. The tallest is over 252 feet and the widest over 14 feet. Most mature trees are 500-800 years old.
87: RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY Umbrella Girls COME AGAIN ANOTHER DAY.
88: Jen, it's a little too late to start Avoiding Puddles
89: Nature at its best. | Thanks for a peek into your world.
90: Sonoma & Napa Valley After Muir Woods we headed towards Wine Country. The rain just kept coming, so much in fact that we had to detour on our drive due to flooded roads. We arrived in Sonoma mid afternoon, and found a great little restaurant for lunch. After that it wasn't much farther to Napa and the Elm House Inn, our destination for the night. | Great News! We didn't lose the car!
91: Good News! Our car was still in the parking lot the next morning. | Friday | Art on Display We chose to tour the Mumm winery because of their photo gallery. They have a large collection of Ansel Adams photographs on permanent collection and a second gallery with rotating exhibits. I just loved the current exhibit by local photographer Art Rogers. He had taken photos of the same people and families, in the same setting, after a lengthy time gap. It was awesome.
92: Mumm Winery Napa Valley
93: Putting the Sparkle in the wine! The Mumm Winery produces sparkling wine, so the tour was interesting because the process is different from that of regular wine. There were only six on the tour and it included a quick top at the demonstration vineyard, a walk through the fermentation room and a glimpse at the bottling line and the riddling room. Riddling is a process of turning and shaking and storing the bottles upside down to consolidate the sediment in the neck of the bottle. It is then "frozen and removed". After adjusting the level of fill and setting the sweetness, the product is corked, caged, labeled, and shipped to market. | Seriously? This is such a dweeby thing to do. Which is why it was perfect for us!
94: After driving back to San Francisco and settling into the Columbia Motor Inn, we had one more quintessential San Francisco activity on our list. In order to get there, we had to take one more Cable Car Ride on the Powell/Hyde line to...
95: ...Lombard Street one of the prettiest (and the second crookedest) street in San Francisco. This was really close to our hotel but it wasn't until our last night in San Francisco, just before dark, that we made it to this unusual and beautiful street.
96: Lombard Street was beautiful homes, secret gardens, constant traffic, lovely landscaping, curious tourists, knobby trees, numerous steps, great views, and fancy ironwork. As we finished the trek down Columbus Street, all we had left to do was pack up and take home all of our wonderful memories from Spring Break 2011 in San Francisco.
97: Signs of San Francisco | The world is a wonderful but strange place.