Friday, October 21, 2011

Visit to San Francisco

We planned a great summer vacation that began the first week of August.  This summer was the year we were gathering with Abram's paternal family.  The tradition had been to gather in Emerald Isle, NC the last week of August.  This timing was going to be difficult with high school sports beginning that week.  Barbara suggested we come to CA and visit Yosemite park.  This was a place close to them and a favorite spot for Paul. 
Barbara and Cora did a lot of research for housing and found a great cabin in the woods just outside of Yosemite National Park. (I believe Barbara wanted this for her family, but it wasn't handicap accessible so she found a great ranch nearby.) The downside was that we could only have it from Monday through Saturday.  In order to make the most of our vacation and try to get reasonably priced plane tickets, we extended our visit on either side of the cabin time.  Our vacation plans were to fly into San Francisco on Saturday.  Spend Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning there, then drive to Yosemite which was only 3-4 hours away.  Monday through Saturday morning we were staying at the amazing cabin.  Saturday we would begin to drive to Las Vegas via Death Valley.  This leg would be the longest drive, it was predicted to be 8 hours from cabin to hotel.  We had a red eye the following Monday to fly back to MA from Las Vegas.  A week prior to leaving for CA, Leah called and asked for our plans.  She had an unexpected change of plans and was able to join us in CA.  She came along for our whole trip.  Thankfully, her presence gave us many chances to get good family photos on this vacation.  There were a few changes to our original plans, as you will read through multiple blogs, but it was an amazing vacation.

We landed in San Francisco at 9am so we had a full Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning to enjoy the area.  The plane ride was long, but uneventful.  Leah had to take a different flight then us getting there, but her plane landed an hour earlier than predicted letting her meet us at the rental place.  We rented an Explorer trying to save money.  It had seven seats as advertised, but with all seven seats used it had room for a few backpacks in the "trunk" space.  This made it eventful with bags.  We managed to shove as much as we could in the back and then on top of everyone else!  On Sunday, Abram and I walked to a Target and bought bungee cords so we could strap luggage on top of the car.

We drove into San Francisco, trying to get to a parking lot near the wharf section.  Traffic is horrible, but with two Dancy's navigating I was spared being barked at for not finding the directions quickly enough! 

We saw Alcatraz:

Abram wanted to see a battle ship that was docked at the pier.

Pier 39 has become a home for sea lions  Here they are lying on the floating docks.  They attract many sightseers.  There was an information plaque telling us that the sea lions began coming to pier 39 in 1989.  It is very smelly.  I'm glad we actually did not go onto Pier 39 since it is so crowded.  We used another pier and saw them from another side.  You can see the crowds of people across the way.  We barely had anyone on the pier we were standing on.
My girls...  It was hard to get them to realize that in San Francisco, the weather is very cool.  It was 67 at the high.  We were cool and yet we burned!

We had an amazing lunch on the wharf.  Carmen and Rachel looked at the menu, and said, "we will have the chicken nuggets!"  I was appalled.  I told them they should have some kind of sea food since it was fresh from the wharf.  They decide on Fish and Chips.  The fish used was so huge and thick, it was amazing!  They both loved it and were thankful I insisted they chose something other than chicken nuggets. 

Leah led us around to different places.  We saw some interesting street performers.  Here is a man all in gold.  He stood on top of a box and acted as if he was a robot.  There was a silver guy across the street doing the same act! (I did not get his picture.)
Rachel excitedly grabbed a balloon sword from a street performer not knowing that we were then going to have to "make a donation" for it.

The streets are amazingly steep.  I wanted to walk up them just to say we did it.  Leah had done a medical rotation here and was familiar with the area.  With the time change and the fact that we had been going since 3am Eastern time (I'm sure it was 4 out here) no one else wanted to walk with me, so I did not.

I really wanted to go down Lombard Street with the car.  We must have waited at least 45 minutes to be cued into the long line of cars.  Remember the car we rented, well it did not have a great visibility.  It was more challenging than Abram had wanted to drive down this road, but we did.  As we drove by we saw this new VW Bug and thought of the Herbie movie when the car was seen driving down this road.

I have to say this was the most beautiful house on the street!
The view of the city as we ending our travels down Rodeo Drive.

We ended Saturday, by going out to eat at the Olive Garden.  We discovered that they offer gluten free pasta dishes.  Sarai was in heaven!

Here we are on the beach.

We found incredibly long sea weed.  Sarai placed a crab shell on top and created a dude. We were missing Tobin at the time, so the seaweed dude was him in this photo.  The water was COLD.

I waited a long time for a kid to get off the wooden post so I could get this great shot of the shore.
This is a picture of an amazing plant. This was like a ground cover.  It was succulent and resembled an aloe plant.  I don't know what it was called, but it was covering a large area between the beach and the walking paths.

After we finished our hike and collected Tobin we headed in the car to the Point Reyes Lighthouse.  We had to climb down 300 steps to get to this lighthouse. 

Another great family photo

Another strange plant we spotted.
Here is a view of the 300 steps we climbed down and up to get to the light house and back. 

Just an amazing view around the lighthouse.

As we were returning to our car, a man pointed this boat out to us and informed us that it was a sailing canoe from New Zealand! There were six of them fighting the incredible head wind that day. I cannot believe they sailed from New Zealand!

After a long day we tried to use the pool and hot tub advertised on the website of this hotel.  The weather was so cool, the pool was painful.  So we tried the hot tub at the hotel.  It was luke warm.  After spending 30 minutes in a "not" hot tub Leah, Carmen and Rachel decided to take a hot bath back in the hotel room since the water was so cold. 

Monday's task was to walk over the Golden Gate bridge.  Abram was tempted to suggest biking over it, but later admitted that he was glad we only walked due to the crowds of people.  The biking sidewalk was under construction so both bikes and walkers were on the same path.  It was crowded and a bit frustrating at times. 
Leah took this family photo of us. 
I like this photo of all four of them. 

Leah had read that there were buffalo in a San Francisco park.  Before leaving San Francisco for good, we had to find them.  Here is one.  His coat looks a bit mangy.
We found a playground to hang out in before we traveled out of San Francisco and to Yosemite Park, our next destination.  Sarai made friends with a little girl in the park.
Our vacation was packed with sites that I will be making mutliple posts.  More to come.

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