SAN FRANCISCO August 7-11, 2004

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A free airline ticket

Last spring when we went to Phoenix our flight was overbooked so we agreed to wait and go the next morning in order to receive a voucher for $350 for another flight of our choice. San Francisco sounded interesting. Greg did some checking on the internet, got motel reservations, made arrangements for a rental car and Greg, Sara, Ashley, Ralph and I took off. Since none of us had ever been there before we didn't know what to expect but it sounded like fun.

Two-story houses.

Small one-story houses.

Apartments with garages.

Sunny side of town.

We had always heard that there is something about San Francisco that captivates you and for us it was true. We were surprised by how small the area is in size and populated so heavily on that narrow peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. We read that there are 16,632 people per square mile in San Francisco. In the residential area there is street after street of homes connected together with very little or no open space between them. We talked with a realtor located in one of the malls south of the city and she said that a two bedroom, one-bath, house would sell for $400,000 to $500,000 and sometimes people would bid higher than the asking price just to get the house. Another interesting thing was that except for downtown, most of the streets were 4-way stop streets and aren't clogged with cars because of the excellent public transportation.

Pacific Ocean beach.
The pretty ones.
We loved this place.
End of trolley line.

Our motel was across the street from the beach just two blocks from Golden Gate Park. It was a good one except it was in the southwest part of the city and was always cloudy and misty from the Pacific Ocean while on the Bay side, north and east, it was usually sunny. The girls liked the beach. Sara set her alarm and got up early one morning to walk on the beach all by herself and then met us at our favorite coffee shop on the corner of our motel.

One of the trolley lines ended by our motel so as soon as we were settled we decided to use public transportation to go to Fisherman's Wharf. The fare was 35¢ for seniors and under 18 so Greg was the only one who had to pay the $1.25 full fare. What an adventure, even though we asked questions we didn't remember all of the answers. We rode and rode, the trolley got crowded, asked more questions, and rode some more. Finally we found the right stop to get off and walk four blocks to catch a cable-car that went to Fisherman's Wharf. It worked beautifully except the cable cars were full with lots of people waiting. It began to get late and we were hungry so we gave up the idea of going to Fisherman's Wharf. The stores and restaurants all close at 6:00 or 7:00 downtown, all but McDonald's and Subway. Eating at McDonald's and riding the trolley was how we spent our first day in San Francisco. .

Golden Gate Park.
The crookedest street.

The $3,000,000 homes.

Their view.

The next day we decided we could get where we wanted to go easier by driving rather than public transportation. The first stop was at the "crookedest street in the world", a one block brick street with eight S curves. A tour guide told us the curves were made for horses back before the automobile came into being. Greg drove down the street but didn't have much time to see the beautiful homes nor the beautiful flowers and landscaping. He then found a place to park nearby and we walked up the hill. The residents of these three million dollar homes have a beautiful view of the city and the Oakland Bay Bridge off in the distance. From here we drove to Fisherman's Wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf.
Out on the wharf.

Amazing with rings.

Looking for trash.

There were lots of people and lots of touristy shops, just what the girls were looking for. They each had their own money and soon got permission to go shopping by themselves. Plans were made for all of us to meet in an hour or so at the Rainforest Cafe for lunch. Greg, Ralph and I bought magnets, cards, etc. and mostly just looked around and took pictures.
Met here for lunch.

Famous cable car.


2-story carousel.

We spent a day at Pier 39 with a good view of Alcatraz and were disappointed that all of the tours to "the rock"were sold out. A 2½ hour city tour on a motorized cable car was available so we signed up for that. It was interesting and we learned things about the city, such as there are almost 40 hills on the northern end of the peninsula. The Aquarium of the Bay was pretty neat the way that you got on a moving walkway in an enclosed see-through tunnel through the water with all kinds of Bay area marine life swimming about. There also was a special tank where we could touch a sting ray and a small shark. Another fun restaurant was the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant that was based on the Forrest Gump movie. Lots of his sayings were on the walls. The food was good, too.
Aquarium of the Bay.

Bubba Gump Restaurant.
Ate at Bubba Gump.

Treasure Island Navy Base.

Greg drove us across the Oakland Bay Bridge to Treasure Island Navy Base where Ralph went before being discharged after three years of service during WWII. All he could remember of that time in San Francisco was that the ship with 6,000 sailors returning to the U.S. from overseas sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge. His main thought then was getting discharged and going home. After taking pictures we headed back through town to the Golden Gate Bridge for the second time on our way to Muir Woods National Monument. This time the clouds obscured most of the bridge.
Golden Gate Bridge.
In the clouds.
Muir Woods
It was a long night.

Our flight home was from San Francisco to Phoenix and then to Indianapolis. At the boarding gate in Phoenix we saw a sign "Volunteers needed". We rushed up to the desk and sure enough got another free ($500 this time) voucher for a flight of our choice. Ralph and I loved San Francisco and may go back with our voucher. Our time there was too short to see several things we wanted to see. We also missed a cable car ride.