I'll spare you all the excuses I have ready to explain why I haven't been posting but the simple truth is that I was lazy, and then it got to the point where it has been so long that the shear amount of events I'd have to update on prevented me from even attempting it.
So while I have many things to share, I'm going to just focus on my trip to San Francisco, CA, and perhaps I will get back to the rest later (but don't count on it!).
June 9, 2011
I got up around 9:30am SF time and walked over to Alamo Square and back. The square is a park next to the famous "Painted Ladies" - houses in SF. It's also the park seen in the opening credits of "Full House" where the Tanner family is having their picnic. I got back to Jackie's house, put on some longer pants and a coat, and headed to downtown SF. I got off at the Embarcadero stop and walked over to a Taco Bell for food. I then wandered over to the clocktower/ferry building near the water. There was a big open area so I sat down in the sun, ate my tacos, and browsed through Jackie's walking tours book.
After my delicious lunch, I got up and started walking down Embarcadero road and made it all the way down to Pier 39. I decided to go full on tourist and went into the Aquarium of the Bay - there were some really neat underwater walkthroughs as well as other fish in tanks (pretty jellyfish). I also saw the sea lions that hang out there, went into the Hard Rock Cafe, and went into some random souvenir shops. Eventually I walked to meet Jackie at her work downtown. We hung out at her office for a little while and then walked to the post office so she could mail a package for work. We then went over to the Walgreens to get some sunscreen for me (I was already sunburnt at this point). She then took me over to a place called Yoppi's - where we had some delicious build-your-own frozen yogurt (red velvet cake flavored and so yummy!). We wandered around downtown with our treats and walked up to a walkway above the street level (pretty cool) and found some seats and ate and chatted for a bit.
Afterwards we headed over to Chinatown and followed one of the walking tours from Jackie's book (but we did it backwards, making it somewhat confusing at times). We wandered through colorful shops, lanterns hanging in the streets, went down Waverly street (which used to be full of prostitution), and even found a little fortune cookie factory down in an alley (thanks to the guidebook). We walked in and got free cookies and got to watch the woman make them. We also bought bags of cookies there, including some with "adult" fortunes. We also went into a kite store, and saw the Donaldina house - dedicated to Donaldina Cameron, who saved many underage Chinese prostitutes. We ended our walking tour of Chinatown at the gates and then walked over to Union Square, where we sat and discussed our plans for the rest of the night.
We walked over to the food emporium at Westfield mall and ate some food (turkey burger and fries, yum). We then headed over to the Metreon and saw a private Apple party going on in Yerba Buena garden (we chatted to some security guards who said we could hop the hedge and they wouldn't stop us). We had already bought tickets to see Pirates of the Caribbean 4 though so we couldn't do it. We watched the movie and then rode Muni (the public transit system in SF) back to her place. We got there and found her roomies were a bit drunk and funny, but we were tired and headed to bed.
June 10, 2011
We woke up around 10 am, showered, ate eggs and toast, and got ready to go. We ran to the above ground train/trolley thing and rode to Pier 33 to catch the ferry to Alcatraz. Once on the island, we listened to one of the park rangers give a little speech and then headed inside a building to watch an informational video about the history of the island. It went from being a military fort to a prison to a site of US Indian activism and is now of course a tourist trap/National Park. We then headed up to the prison to take an audio tour, which was very interesting. There were 2 major escape attempts from the prison, one was potentially successful (the men who disappeared were never seen again, after they tunneled their way out with spoons). We then walked around outside the prison and then waited for the ferry to take us back to SF. While waiting, we inadvertently sat on a bench in the designated smoking section and were joined by a woman who decided to smoke right next to us.
Once we got back to SF we walked back over to Pier 39 and wandered for a bit. We decided to stop for some food at a restaurant called Wipeout (I had fish and chips and a tasty margarita). After lunch we walked over to some more souvenir stores, watched a street performer and then the sea lions again, and then headed down towards the Fisherman's Wharf. On the way we passed a guy who was offering a 1 hour cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz for $15. We hemmed and hawed about it for awhile but finally decided to be spontaneous and go for it! We climbed onto the little boat and sat/stood on the edge with the salt spray in our faces. On the way out there we saw a sea lion in the water whacking a fish around to break it apart to eat it and seagulls going nuts around it. We went under the Golden Gate Bridge (really awesome) and the nice captain took pictures of us. The boat then went around Alcatraz Island. We walked through the cockpit to get to the right side of the boat to take pictures of the island and of course my camera died! Luckily my phone takes pretty decent pics, so it wasn't a total loss. Not to mention I tend to take too many pictures anyway...
We made it back to shore and then walked over to Ghiradelli Square. We got some free samples (delicious), looked in some more shops, then back for another free sample. I bought a bag of overstocked chocolates, we took some pictures, and then walked over to catch a bus home. We had a long wait for the transfer bus unfortunately, the estimated time of arrival kept jumping up. Eventually we headed over to a little pizza shop nearby and I got a slice of pizza while we waited. By the time I finished the pizza the bus finally arrived and we took it back to Jackie's. Once there we stayed up just long enough to plan our trip to the redwoods the next day and then crashed.
June 11, 2011
We woke up around 9am, showered, got ready, and took Muni to the ferry building. We walked around the farmer's market going on there and got some bread and cheese samples, used the ATM, and eventually got on the ferry to Sausalito. We sat up front outside on the ferry. It was very windy and a bit chilly but a good view (we saw another sea lion tossing around a fish). We landed at Sausalito, walked around along the shops (after checking out the visitor's center), got some saltwater taffy (yum!), and then walked over to a sandwich place and got some sandwiches and a Diet Mountain Dew. We took our lunches over to a park near the water and sat on the grass and ate.
We then headed over to the Muir Woods shuttle drop off and waited there. The shuttle ended up being 25 minutes late, but it got there eventually. We rode on a very windy (that's a lot of switchbacks, not a strong breeze) road to Muir woods. Once we got there we went into the visitor center there and I bought a pin and a poster that I just fell in love with (it's a print of a painting of the redwoods... very pretty). We found out there that the longer trail was closed due to a fallen tree across the trail. So we headed out and wandered along the short 1 mile loop. There were tons of huge trees, lots of people, and we even saw a fearless deer grazing along the side of the trail, jump the path, and continue on the other side. We then went into the gift shop, then waited in the line for the shuttle back to Sausalito. The line was extremely long and we barely made it onto the shuttle (on which we had to stand for the majority of the crazy ride back). We finally got to sit down when some people got off at Marin City.
Made it back to Sausalito, and got in another line for the ferry back to SF. On this trip we sat inside the ferry on some nice cushioned seats. We got back to the ferry building, Jackie got some coffee, and then headed back to Jackie's place with a stop for tacos on the way. I took a short nap and then chatted with Katie and her friend Michelle before we got all gussied up (hah) and heading out on the town.
We walked over to the Castro (the super gay friendly district) and went to Toadies Hall (a gay bar, full of dancing, Madonna, and Lady Gaga). We then walked an extremely long way (or so it seemed) to Mission and the Elixir bar (where we met up with Muy, Jackie's friend). Jackie also randomly ran into an old friend of hers from St. Olaf. We hung out there for a bit and then headed over to Casanova, took a restroom break, hung out on couches and stared at the pictures of naked chicks, and then back to Elixir. We finally headed back towards Jackie's place and stopped at a bar just around the corner (formerly BOC "Bar on Church"). We sat at that bar, drank, and met two guys (one recently lived in Germany, was in New Zealand, and I chatted more to him). Then we got kicked out of the bar (closing time) and went home. Jackie was desperate for tortillas at this point and we finally went to bed.
June 12, 2011
Woke up late this morning (~11am) then showered, and went and grabbed pizza at Cybelle's and walked over to Duboce Park (a dog park) and sat on the grass in the sun and ate. We then caught a train to Powell and discovered the cable car route was messed up so we ended up taking a shuttle to the next place for a cable car ride. We caught the cable car to Ghiradelli Square and the drivers were all flirting with Jackie. We had a crazy fun ride hanging off the edge of the Powell & Hyde car. It went through neighborhoods, past the top of Lombard street (criss cross street), and let us off at Ghiradelli Square.
We stopped in for another sample (of course), and then began the incredibly steep walk back up to Lombard Street. We took pictures there and then walked down alongside the famous street and too more pictures from the bottom. We then walked through North Beach (the Italian district), walked through some art fair at a park, and stopped for some gelato. We continued to downtown where we caught the train towards the real beach on the ocean.
Once we arrived at the end of the line we got off, walked down to the beach, took off our shoes, and walked in the sand. We walked north along the shore, saw a fisherman catch a fish and bury it in the sand, there were some dedicated surfers out in the water (it was chilly), people flying kites on the beach, dead crab parts strewn about, and cute dogs playing in the sand. We stopped and sat in the sand for awhile just enjoying the scenery and the people watching. Eventually we turned and walked back (this time we spotted a live crab sitting in the water).
We got back to where we entered the beach and sat down in the sand again for while. Then we headed back to the train and took it all the way downtown and then hopped a bus back to North Beach. We wandered around and looked at menus at different Italian restaurants and ended up eating outside under a heater at Calzones (al fresco dining, I had delicious lasagna). The food came out really fast, but there was only one bread roll to share between us. We debated getting dessert there, but eventually decided to head across the street to Caffe Greco and got a cannoli to share + we each got our own dessert. We sat at a corner near the window and scared a guy away accidentally with our exuberance. After we ate as much as we could, we took the leftovers to go and headed out. I took a picture of the Stinking Rose (garlic restaurant my coworker told me about) and met some sailors who invited us to hang out with them. We were tempted but declined (we were pretty tired at this point). We were waiting for the bus for awhile when we realized we were on the wrong side of the road, and Jackie was going a little crazy (getting some nice looks from passersby) :). We finally decided to just walk to the train and took that home. Once we got back I packed up my stuff and went to bed.
June 13, 2011
Woke up, took BART to the airport, and flew back to Minneapolis. Unfortunately my flight ended up delayed for about 2 hours due to our pilot not being there. Otherwise it was relatively uneventful.
Well that update took a long time, and considering I had most of it already written up from notes I took on the trip, updating the rest of the past 2 months is going to take even longer.
But since I have to go in to work tomorrow (Sunday) I'm going to end this here and hopefully come back to it later. Maybe even add some pictures! Who knows?