Wednesday, November 23, 2011


It's been two years since Dawn and I visited  Brett in San Francisco.  The three of us try to meet somewhere each November to celebrate Dawn's and Brett's November birthdays, but last year he was in China.  This year, however, Dawn and I, along with her boyfriend, Bob, and Brandon and Sophia flew to San Francisco for a long weekend celebration.

Fortunately, the rain that greeted us on landing Friday was gone by Saturday morning and we had three glorious, cloud-free, sunny days.

 We had an agenda for the weekend.  Our destination on Saturday was Muir Woods National Monument. The trees, some of which have been dated to before 1000 AD, are giants.  Their size dwarfs the people, and visitors walking beneath them converse in quiet tones. 

After leaving Muir Woods, we headed to the top Mt. Tamalpais where we took several pictures of the family.  Brett set up his camera on a tripod and once the first family photo was framed, he raced down the hill to get into the picture before the timer went off.  It took several tries to get an acceptable shot.  On one shot early in the session, Brett didn't get seated well and ended up tumbling down the hill just as the picture was snapped.  Eventually, however, our needs were satisfied.

Sunday was a day for taking in the sights of San Francisco.  We began with a stop at Alamo Square where the opening of the TV series Full House was filmed.  Sophia was disappointed when she learned that the family didn't actually live in one of those homes and therefore, we couldn't visit it as well.  Then it was off to Lombard Street for the short drive down it.  There was barely time to take a picture.  

We parked the car near Pier 39 and took public transportation for the balance of our day.  At Pier 39 we visited the seals and then had lunch at Boudin's, known for their sourdough bread.  Dawn and I relish the clam chowder served in bread bowls and Bob enjoyed chili similarly presented.  Brandon said his grilled cheese, prepared with sourdough bread, was the best he ever had.  (It should have been for $8!!)


Appetites satisfied, we rode a trolley down to Market and Powell and then waited our turn to ride a cable car back north.  
Our destination was Chinatown.  After leaving the cable car, we walked a few blocks downhill, east to that neighborhood, and took time for the kids to sample Chinese ice cream and to look at goods being sold.  Neither Brandon nor Sophia thought the fish looked appetizing!


Then it was time to cllimb the hill to Coit Tower.  The grade was so steep that steps are available for pedestrians who prefer them to the flat uphill ramp.  Once on top, and after catching their breath, Dawn, Bob and the kids went to the top of the Tower to look at the view.  Then it was a walk back down the hill, where a little girl, who had been walking with her parents, took Sophia's hand for the descent.  A few minutes later we were back at the car where we collapsed for the drive back to San Rafael.

Resting at the foot of Coit Tower


A view from the top of Coit Tower

Earlier in the weekend, Brett purchased tickets on-line for the six of us to tour Alcatraz.  We took the ferry from Larkspur to the Ferry Building in the City and then walked a mile to another pier where we caught the Alcatraz ferry.  

All visitors must listen to a welcome presentation before heading off to see the prison.   We entered through the showers, a large, open room with perhaps 50 shower heads  over a wide trough.  I realized then that time spent here as an inmate would be no picnic.  The size of the cells  depressed me as well.  I cannot imagine spending years in a space 5' wide x 9' feet long by x 7' high.  Each single-person cell contained a toilet, sink, cot and two shelves, each about a foot long.  No cells have windows, and although some cells receive daylight, others do not.  After two hours walking through the cell blocks, we returned to the ferry and to the City.

The next morning, Tuesday, we were up at 3:30 AM and headed out the door shortly after 4:00 to return to the airport and fly home.  As I write this, we've been back four days and only now are the muscles in my calves returning to normal.  However, the memories we made during our visit will not fade and there are lots of pictures to keep the memories fresh.


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