Every year for Christmas, I plan some kind of special event with each of my children's families. These events often happen the week after Christmas or even during the first or second week of January. But this past Christmas, one event got postponed until April. The Harrelsons and I planned a trip to San Francisco. The idea originated in Kyle who wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge, and it mushroomed into a day long trip with additional sight-seeing. Admittedly I planned too much for one day, but as sightseeing trips go, we saw a lot of the city and San Francisco put her best foot forward.
The weather was spectacular which is truly remarkable because weather is iffy in the city. As we crossed the Bay Bridge into the city, we could see all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. Kyle was the first to notice the triangular TransAmerica building, one of the landmarks we were looking for. Angel Island looked close enough to touch in the sparkling smooth bay.
Our first stop was Pier 39 to see the sea lions and ride the carousel. The sea lions rolled amiably on the piers napping and sunning. A few bickered and barked and a couple had brief rollicks in the water. They seemed a contented lot. Next, we rode on the carousel. I can't pass a carousel without a spin and the kids happily joined me. Candice, Kyle, and I rode on the upper deck while Cody and Taylor saddled up on the lower section. On our way out, we did a little window shopping and Raleigh and Cody each made a purchase.
Our next stop was the Marina Green for Lunch. Raleigh backed the Suburban in and we set our table on the tailgate and sat on the grass to eat. We ate strawberries, sandwiches, and salads with a view of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, both of which looked swimmable across a bay that was glassy and calm.
The drive across the Golden Gate Bridge was swift—it is after all less than a mile across. What a day to visit the Vista Point on the Marin side of the Bridge. The city and the bridge presented themselves gloriously. I don't know if I've ever witnessed such a spectacular sight. I was sure proud to be able to show my son and his family this view of my native city.
The plan was to drive back across the bridge, cruise the neighborhood of my youth, and then head south of Market to visit Yerba Buena Gardens and the Zeum. The drive through my old neighborhood was fine. Everyone got to see where Dearma and her siblings grew up, but this side trip meant we took city streets to the South of Market and that meant stop signs, stoplights and traffic. It was slow going. Also, I was uncertain of the most direct route, so it was pretty late when we got downtown.
We had an up close and personal experience on Market Street with all the different kinds of folks who live in the city AND we had a parking adventure. We did a loop-dy-loo around the Buena Vista Gardens trying to get into a parking structure. We were either on the wrong side of the street or the structure was full and we had to go around again. We ended up in this strange underground lot that had valet parking in which cars were driven into these weird elevators and taken who knows where. The attendant told us the Suburban would be charged as an over-sized vehicle. We didn't care. We just wanted to PARK!!
We walked to the Zeum doing a bit of shopping on the way at Peet's Coffee and Old Navy. Both offered more sights to see in the city which turned out to be a good-sight better than the Zeum which admittedly was not one of my better ideas. The place is a multi-media, hands-hand activity center for kids. Sounds good, right? NOT!! We got there at the end of the day. The staff was tired and so were some of the apparatuses. One of the ones we looked forward to—a lightshow maze on the floor—went on the blink from overheating just as we got to it. Most of the other stuff required instruction from qualified staff and/or it was just a kind of clunky. Other than a couple of delightful clay figures made by Kyle and Candice, the Zeum flopped.
We did get two rides on the fast moving Buena Vista Gardens Carousel—2 for the price of 1. I guess we should count our blessings on that as things in downtown are pretty pricey. Another blessing was deciding to eat at a Chevy's on the corner near the parking structure. The food was pretty good and since it was only 5pm, we got seated immediately and served quickly. The final blessing of the day was missing all the traffic leaving the city for the weekend! Our ride home was swift and accompanied by some good music from Raleigh's iPod.
What did I like best about the trip? The incredibly good-natured Harrelson clan. They are sooooo nice to each other and to me. I love you, Harrelsons.