San Francisco – a city of hills, ferries & prisons

lee & hunter hyde streetWe arrived in San Francisco after a very long day of driving from Las Vegas (11 hours), with one stop to change a flat trailer tire. We were tired and grumpy yet also excited about the 2 days to come. We had a plan and everything fit very neatly in it. Glitch #1 – the Candlestick RV Park did not live up to expectations – it was crowded, loud and expensive. Glitch #2 – Alcatraz tickets were sold out for Tuesday so we could not go until Wednesday morning. Glitch #3 – we had to find a place to get the trailer tire repaired as the last one is ready to go anyway and we don’t want to be left without a spare.

Not too worry – I am resilient (I have said that a lot to myself this week)! After an hour or so of online research, I came up with a plan B… By 8:00 am Tuesday morning I was on to plan C due to the challenge of finding a trailer tire but it all came together. We got our 2nd night fee refunded and were out the RV park gates and off to Albany (north of Oakland) to get a new trailer tire. The goodyear dealer there was fabulous and we were in and out in under 30 minutes. Then it was off to the REI store in Berkley (no luck in our search for a deck bag) and then on to the California Canoe & Kayak store in Oakland, where we picked up Hunter’s new (gently used) 2Fun whitewater boat.

oakland ferry rideAfter a yummy lunch at Jack London Square in Oakland, we caught the ferry over to San Francisco and started our tourist life. It was a moderate downpour for the first hour and we were seriously questioning what we were doing planning on walking around the city all afternoon. Luckily we found some fun things to amuse ourselves as we wandered down the waterfront.

The Exploratorium had a really neat outdoor exhibit on skateboarding that caught our attention. It taught you the science behind skateboarding (how you turn, composition of wheels, size of wheels and the physics of doing an ollie) and had real skateboards to play with and experience.

By the time we got to Fisherman’s Wharf the rain was slowing down and we were able to hang out and enjoy the sea lions.

lee & hunter fisherman's wharfWe knocked off another Junior Ranger badge by exploring the San Francisco Marine National Park – it celebrates the heritage of the city as a shipping port.

From there we wandered up steep hills of Hyde street (the one they show the car chases going down on TV), checked out the cable cars and the worlds windiest street (Lombard).

We stopped in at Ghirardelli square to check out the chocolate store and then wandered back to Fisherman’s wharf for dinner before catching the last ferry back to Oakland.

We were up bright and early the next morning to catch the 8:10 am ferry from Oakland to San Francisco so that we could catch the 9:10 ferry out to Alcatraz Island (the main reason we stopped in San Fran). The National Park Service limits the number of visitors per day to 3,000 so the ferry tickets sell out quickly. Having a National Parks Pass provides no discount (similar to Fort Sumter) as the ferry is run by a 3rd party concessionaire) and they have no junior ranger program, which was a bit of a disappointment.

The orientation film is well worth seeing and gave a great overview of the history of Alcatraz. From there we wandered up the hill and did the audio self guided tour, which was impressive. It rained off and on all morning so at times some of the spaces felt very cramped as people didn’t really spread out to explore the full island.

golden gate bridgeAlcatraz has amazing views of San Francisco in all directions.

Although our visit was quick and there were many things we didn’t see, it was still a fun whirlwind and gives you a taste of the city.

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