Tuesday, August 16 - After swimming at The Good Night Inn Sacramento (the worst hotel experience that I have ever been a part of), we briefly visited Sacramento, which seemed like a prim and proper town. But we could visit San Francisco, which is perhaps one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and which I had not visited in over twenty years! So, we got out of there, stopping at Carl Jr.'s along the way for lunch. Tried to tickle the back of my son's neck, and in ducking to avoid it, he hit against the counter, and got somewhat of a black eye. We had a fair-sized meal, and then went back on the road towards Frisco. Before going there (although I really had to drag myself away from crossing the bridge and going straight to the City by the Bay), we went to our campground just outside of Oakland. Surprisingly, this too had security and fences around it, which was pretty strange. After we set up the tent, we finally went out to visit San Francisco. As we entered, I noticed that the city had a lot more buildings, and that the Pyramid, which is one of the nicest skyscrapers that I know - a building with some character to it - no longer dominated the city skyline of the modern district like it had when I had last seen the city, which seemed a shame. But the modern part never was the most interesting, and so we traversed this quickly, and went towards one of the two major sites that I had not managed to visit the first time, but definitely wanted to this time. The two sites were Alcatraz and the Palace of the Fine Arts, and so we headed to the latter, which is a beautiful structure surrounded by a wonderful park. I first learned about it as a child, perusing through my grandfather's stamp collection (Scott #1930 - Issued on August 28, 1981). I had desperately wanted to go see it back during my first trip, in February of 1996, but only caught a glimpse of the top of it when the tour bus passed it on the road. This time, we made a point of really spending a lot of time at the park, with me taking numerous pictures of it mixed with water, while my son kept feeding the various birds (including some beautiful swans) and even turtles that populated the pond in front of it. I cannot emphasize enough how many pictures I took, but this particular site was important to me, as it is symbolic of the kind of architectural beauty and ingenuity that we as a country could be capable of. Plus, again, it felt like a kind of link to my departed grandfather. Finally, it is just a beautiful place to be, and my son was really enjoying it! We walked a little more towards the shore, which was nearby, and got some decent views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, which was covered in fog. After that, we went to Lombard Street, to the part that is known as "The Crookedest Street on Earth." Took more pictures. Hell, we even drove down it, which was a cool experience that I wish we had recorded, now that I come to think of it. After that, we went to the Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill. I was trying to send these pictures to myself, with the idea being that I would then delete them (which generally did not happen) before my storage was overfilled. Well, every time that I did this, the phone tried to auto correct to Coitus Tower, which lent this thing a whole new meaning, giving it a decidedly phallic feel. Still, it offered some dramatic views of the city, which was partially covered in fog. We then headed to Fisherman's Wharf for dinner, with me hoping that we could get the same clam chowder in sourdough bread that I remembered getting during my last trip to San Francisco. But parking was full, and I began to suspect that paying for parking, combined with the touristy costs of eating a meal at Fisherman's Wharf, would be too much for the night, that we had most of the next day to work with, and so we headed out of the city of San Francisco. Stopped at a Subway in Oakland for dinner, despite my general dislike of that chain, and we brought that over to the campground, eating with a view of the city lights down below our hilltop, before returning to our campground site.
Palace of the Fine Arts, San Francisco