california, part two

Finally! The second half of our trip. After leaving Yosemite, we spent the second half of the week in San Francisco. At our hotel, we found this:

They gave us a rubber ducky! Sadly, however cool it is to find a rubber ducky in your bathroom, it was not enough to cushion the blow of being thrown back into city life after our amazing peaceful days in Yosemite. Our first day in San Francisco was a little rough.

We quickly settled in, though, and saw some of the sights. This is the Transamerica Pyramid, taken while standing right in front of the building's entrance.

Alcatraz Island, taken from the lookout next to the Golden Gate Bridge.

It was a gorgeous day when we stopped here, about two days before the fog rolled in and you could barely see the bridge. I enjoyed watching this guy painting the bridge. Click on the picture to see the full-size image, and you will be able to see his painting.

We bought the three-day pass to ride all public transportation, and we loved the cable cars best. A few times we got to ride standing on the rail, at the very front of the cable car. That may have been my favorite thing about San Francisco. We behaved like tourists and felt a little guilty about it, knowing full well how to behave in a city, but we had fun!

We took a one-day bus tour into wine country, and were able to tour three wineries. The vineyards are beautiful. Each winery taught us a little about wine, wine tasting, and the Napa and Sonoma traditions. We had wine shipped home from all three wineries.

One of the wineries is completely organic. They don't use any chemicals, and they also don't use irrigation. As a result, they don't produce as big a crop of grapes and therefore make less wine, but we loved the wine we had there.

On our list of touristy adventures: I made M drive us down Lombard Street. And took about 20 photos on our way down the street (it is a very short street).

Also, this is the Mrs. Doubtfire house! Much to M's embarrassment and shame, I made him drive us over here and park on the street so I could take a picture. I'm sure the current residents love when people do that.

We walked through the rose garden in Golden Gate Park around dusk.

Note the moon in the background. This is one of my favorite photos.

We took the ferry to Alcatraz Island and did the audio tour. Above is what remains of the house belonging to the federal penitentiary's warden (it burned down after the prison closed).

I found the island to be fascinating. I had no idea all the things that went on there. Everyone knows it was a prison. But before that, it was a military fortress, protecting San Francisco Bay. Then it was a military prison, before it was a federal penitentiary. During the time it was a federal penitentiary, most of the guards and their families lived on the island. There are a couple of apartment buildings, and there were houses on the island. It wasn't just a prison, it was also a little town.

After it was a federal penitentiary, native americans occupied the abandoned island to protest the taking of their land throughout the U.S. and to claim it as their own. Though they were unsuccessful, the movement sparked the change in attitude toward native american land, and native american rights.

In the kitchen of the prison, outlines of the knives were painted onto the board where they were kept, so that guards could tell at a glance if any were missing.

Alcatraz Island is now a major nesting ground for birds (mostly seagulls, but also cormorants and several other types of birds). These are the cormorants. It is a perfect nesting ground, because there are no predators here.

At the San Francisco v. Oakland baseball game, we went to look in McCovey Cove, where loads of people used to gather in boats to catch the balls from Barry Bonds' home runs. There was just one guy there, paddling back and forth, wearing a sweatshirt that said "Bonds Navy."

The funniest thing I've ever seen happen at a baseball game. Bottom of the 9th, two outs, and the sprinkler system came on! I think they forgot to change the timers on their system for an evening home game day. Everyone seemed to take it in stride; all the players just stepped out of the way of the water, waited for it to be shut off, and got the last out to end the game.

Our last day in San Francisco, we had a 10:30pm red-eye flight home, so we had most of the day. We decided to spend it in Muir Woods. It was nice to spend a little more time in a peaceful area, away from city life, before we came back home. We didn't do any serious hiking (having already checked out, with no access to showers and all), but we walked some of the trails for a couple of hours.

The coastal redwoods are so amazingly tall and thin. Standing underneath them is very awe-inspiring.

They are very different from their giant sequoia relatives, but certainly no less beautiful.

It was a perfect way to end our trip. We reluctantly left for the airport, took our 10:30 flight home, arrived at our apartment around 7am and went right to sleep. We woke up at noon and ordered a pizza, immediately, before doing anything else. We both found that we missed New York style pizza while we were away!

I'm glad we went to San Francisco, but I don't feel a strong desire to go back. Next time, I'd spend the entire week in Yosemite.

Speaking of Yosemite, the fire just outside one of the west entrances to the park has been burning out of control. Thankfully, today they've got it about 40% under control and things are starting to look up. I hope they can get it contained soon.


Elena said...

These are beautiful pictures. I especially enjoyed the ones from Alcatraz. I'm so glad you had a good vacation. Also, enjoy having access to delicious New York pizza!

maresi said...

more awesomeness... I did not know all that stuff about Alcatraz - v. interesting! I hope you grabbed that rubber duck - what a find!

Anonymous said...

I too had wished that the rubber duckie would make its way back east, but somebody forgot it (which is surprising given this person's other recent hotel pickings).

Anonymous said...

You may have had a rubber duckie, but did your hotel room have a framed photo of you guys and the cats on the table? ;)

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