Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Summary of the 2016 Western Trip - Part Four - San Francisco (Day Two) Fisherman's Wharf, Boat Ride on San Francisco Bay, & the Golden Gate Bridge

Wednesday, August 17 - After waking up at some ridiculous hour, and being unable to get back to sleep for some hours (we were in the car, because it felt too chilly really to simply sleep outside), I did get a bit of sleep later. We both showered and brushed our teeth at the nearby bathrooms, and then headed back out towards Frisco. However, we stopped for lunch in downtown Oakland. I had my half of the Subway sandwich from the day before, while my son chose to eat at a KFC. I had some as well, when he was unable to finish. Then, we headed to San Francisco again, and headed straight for Fisherman's Wharf, which has come to be, de facto, my go to place when visiting San Francisco. After searching for some time, we finally found parking at Pier 39, although that is probably more because of the fairly outrageous prices at $10 an hour. Still, we had limited time, so I figured it was time to suck it up. At last, though, we were in the city again, and now, it was time to try and plan the rest of our visit. The first thing that we tried to do was find a place to inquire about visiting Alcatraz, and so we went to the California Tourist Office. But the guy there informed us that it would cost a whopping sum, something like $160 per person. I was stunned! He said that those tours had long been sold out, that there was not another opening between now and well into September (the 4th or the 7th, depending on who you asked). Everywhere I went, it was the same story. You could go today, if you were willing to pay ridiculous amounts for it. By now, my son knew enough of the strange and eerie history of the island to really want to visit, and he was disappointed when I told him that we would not be going, barring some miracle (that never did come to pass). We were both disappointing, but here we were, and we needed to make this day count. Some woman came up to us and told us that somebody by Pier 43 was selling tickets for Alcatraz still, over by the Hollywood Bowl. So, we took off, looking for it, but never did find the Hollywood Bowl by Pier 43. However, we did find a reasonably priced boat tour for $15 a person. At first, my son was too disappointed to consider it, but after a while, he thought better. We went, and it was indeed magnificent, one of the highlights of our trip to San Francisco. We went underneath the Golden Gate Bridge and, briefly, into the Pacific, before turning around and going nearby Alcatraz Island. It was a consolation prize at best, but it was certainly better than nothing. The boat tour cheered my son up, too, and we were now enjoying ourselves. We saw seals, and I even caught a glimpse of a dolphin, although I did not manage to get it on camera. After that, we did some shopping for some souvenirs, and found a place that was selling those wonderful clam chowders in sourdough bread, a San Francisco specialty, apparently. There was a musician nearby named One Leg Chuck, and he was actually very good! The sun was out, and it was hard not to feel good. We had gotten to see quite a bit of the city by the boat tour, and the trip was feeling pretty decent, considering the unfortunately severe time restrictions. We went back to the car after 3 1/2 hours, and of course, the parking place rounded it to four, charging us $40. This darkened my mood, and I felt disgusted, although while we were driving to the Golden Gate Bridge, I tried to cheer up, and get back into ta mood more conducive to traveling. We crossed the famous bridge, and then parked nearby, snapping some pictures. Unfortunately, the bridge was still completely covered in clouds. After that, we started heading north, dealing with the afternoon commuter traffic, and headed towards our next destination: Fort Bragg. We could see the famous California vineyards, where they make the wines, and before long, it began to feel more and more like the Pacific Northwest. But darkness was descending, and before long, the already difficult mountain passes with huge trees became all the more difficult with nightfall. I was forced to slow down considerably, but we eventually got there, a little after nine pm or so. A memorable day was done.

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