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Friday, September 26, 2014

San Francisco

We arrived at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds RV Park in Santa Rosa, Ca. Tuesday after an usually short trip of 60 miles from Ukiah, Ca. Our last 2 stops have been at RV parks in County Fairgrounds and I must say they have been quite adequate and a good value (particularly considering prices of adjacent parks in the area). As a side note, surprisingly, diesel prices have been in the $3.90 to $4.00/gallon range, which is cheaper than we paid in Washington. It's plenty high enough, I just expected it to be higher in California. 

Today, (Wednesday) a  long dream was realized for me. Our merry band of travelers made it to the Golden Gate Bridge and it was all I had hoped for. As we were traveling south on US 101, we went into a long tunnel , and upon exiting the tunnel, there was the bridge, bigger than life!  It made quite an impression as none of us were expecting it to just jump into our view all of a sudden! We parked in a parking lot at the north end of the bridge, and walked an underpass under the bridge and traveled the sidewalk on the bay or east side of the bridge. Al, Pat, Crickett and yours truly walked the entire distance of about 2 miles across the bridge and marveled at the spectacular beauty of the bridge and the San Francisco Bay area. There is a wonderful view of the city of San Francisco on the east side of the bridge with  Alcatraz Prison very visible in the center of the bay. We saw numerous ships, ferries, and boats of all sizes and descriptions in the bay over 200 feet beneath us. The amount of pedestrian and bicycle traffic on the sidewalk was pretty heavy and one has to be careful to not get in the way of the bicycles. The noise from the traffic on the bridge was unusually loud due to the expansion joints and acoustics of the bridge, but wasn't too bad. There is a $7/vehicle toll fee to cross the bridge going south into the city, but no toll to cross it headed north. After our group walked the bridge, we had a short snack and I got to walk back across the bridge to get the truck and pick up the rest of our gang. I got to walk it twice, how lucky is that! After crossing the bridge, we went to an observation point north of the bridge and high above it where the view was awesome. A large fog bank rolled in while we there that blocked the visibility of the city and most of the bridge, which was cool to see.

Yesterday. (Thursday) we decided to explore the city of San Franciso with emphasis on the harbor side in and near Fisherman's Wharf. The first issue was finding somewhere to park. We initially were going into a parking deck until we realized there was insufficient clearance for the truck. We found an outdoor parking lot that was only $24 to park! This area is very near the waterfront which can be seen from most shops and restaurants and offers scenic views of the bay, Alcatraz Prison,  Golden Gate Bridge, and the Oakland Bridge.  Our first stop was Pier 45 where we got to see  the WWII submarine USS Pampanito, and liberty ship SS Jeremiah O'brien. There are a lot of ferries that use this area to dock as well. We saw many seafood restaurants, eateries, and shops along this stretch of the wharf. We next went to the famous Pier 39 where there are over 90 shops and 14 restaurants including the Hard Rock Cafe and Bubba Gump Shrimp Restaurant. One final comment about this area, is that every thing we saw was expensive. Bring lots of $ if you plan to visit. We also saw many diverse street musicians playing at random areas that were very entertaining, with their only compensation being tips. After leaving the Fisherman's Wharf area, we walked to Hyde St. where we planned to ride the famous Cable Cars, but to our dismay, were not running because of some type mechanical issue. So we took a few pictures at the stationary cars and found our way back to the truck. We decided to drive downtown and see what else we could find. First, let me say, the severity of the hills were nothing like I expected. The hills through both residential and business areas are extremely steep and caught us totally off guard. I have seen many street scenes in San Francisco on TV, and knew they were hilly, but man they are REALLY steep! We drove through downtown amongst the tall buildings including the iconic Transamerica Pyramid Building and found our way to China Town, which was unlike anything we've seen before.

One of the prettiest scenes on our trip.

The merry travelers!

Large cargo ship passing underneath the bridge.

Some type plane flying low over the city. Looked like a C-130.

The fog rolling in.

Instructional sign before walking onto bridge.

Three lanes of traffic each direction on the bridge, plus a sidewalk on each side. The sidewalk on the west side was closed when we were there.

Looking back north.

The bridge has 2 huge towers.
The main support cables are huge. I would estimate several feet.

View of the bay.

View of San Francisco.

Alcatraz Prison

There were several of these call boxes for anyone contemplating jumping.

View from south end looking north.

Taken from observation area at south end.

Wonder how many times this shot has been taken!

Open top tour buses were all over the city.

Fisherman's Wharf.

San Francisco Duck!

Seafood restaurants.

WWII Submarine

One of many ferries.

Jefferson St. alongside wharf.

Street performers in front of bay. Alcatraz is in background. This guy was really good, as were most of the street performers we saw.

Not sure what the instrument is this fellow is playing, but sounded nice.

Hard Rock Cafe.

Main walkway on Pier 39.

Lots of restaurants and shops.

This was a fruit vendor.

Shop for lefty's.

Unusual and pretty carousel with two levels.

Alcatraz as seen from end of Pier 39. Picture is somewhat zoomed in.

Water taxi.

At end of Pier 39.
This ferry was much faster than most.

Beautiful Marina off Pier 39. The Oakland bridge is visible in the background.

Rocketboat coming in for a landing!

Street performer.

These guys had a great sound.

He was good too!

At Boudin Bakery where their speciality is sourdough bread.


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You can rent Segways  and they throw in a guide.

Or you can rent one of these.

Cable car that wasn't running when we were there.

Nice paint job.

Approaching China Town.

China Town.

I thought the light fixtures were pretty cool.

What a deal!

Notice the laundry hanging out!