We spent a full week in San Francisco, but only about a day of that was as sightseers / tourists. That day was split between two afternoons on the Monday after we arrived and the Saturday before we left.
On our first foray into the city our purpose was mainly to figure out the public transit situation which turned out to be relatively painless. If you are an RV’r and are looking for a place to park your home while visiting San Francisco the private park we chose in Pacifica worked well. If you’re a boondocker we also noticed a few RVs doing that in the Colma parking for the BART (where you pay $1 per space you occupy for 24 hours).
Once we determined our route and the associated costs and bought our BART passes we took the 20 minute ride downtown. We found our class venue, checked out the room, then walked a few blocks immediately around that location to scout restaurants to take our students to. Satisfied that we’d have several options, we decided to sample one that served crepes. This restaurant was on Powell so we were able to see the cable cars going up and down the street. Curious about how they worked I browsed some websites about cable cars on my phone and learned there are two main lines, the California and Powell. The cars from each line grab onto their own cables and there is one spot where the two lines cross. The Powell cars have to drop their cable and coast across this intersection (skipping over the Californian cable), and there is an employee in a little booth sitting there to ensure that two cars from the different lines don’t collide. This spot was just a couple of blocks away so after eating we walked up the steep slope of Powell to check it out.
As it turned out the California line was down for repairs so we were unable to watch both lines in action (the collision-avoidance guy was still on duty however - must be a union gig?). At this vantage point we could see the bay in the distance so (a bit naively) thought we’d walk down. I had a conference call to be on so we ducked into a hotel MsBoyink and I had stayed at while in town on business last year. We just looked like we knew what we were doing and used their couches to plop on while I worked. From there we continued to Fishermans Wharf, went and got our free square of Ghiradelli chocolate, made sure our favorite restaurant from our previous visit was still open, then decided to take a trolley car back around rather than hoof it over the hill again.
Class weeks are long for us because we teach a full day, then try to do social things with students after class a couple of nights. By Friday I was spent so Saturday we slept in late then got some laundry and chores done. We headed back downtown just after noon. I don’t think there was a dull moment from the time we came up to street level from the BART. We enjoyed a Drum Corp, then walked across the street to watch some tap dancers with a break dance flare. We found the end of the Powell cable car line and bought two-way tickets. During the time we found the line and returned with tickets the line had doubled in length, so we decided to try a trick we had heard about. We walked up the route 3 blocks to the first cable car stop and waited there instead. Sure enough, we were able to get on the first car that came by. No hour-long wait for us! Our initial seats were inside however - which is kinda boring. These are San Francisco cable cars, is there any other way to ride them than standing outboard, hanging on with one arm, tucking in your rear every time another cable car comes the opposite way? We all moved to outside spots as soon as they were open.
In our excitement to grab the first car that came along we didn’t realize there were two end destinations so ended up closer to Pier 39 than expected. We walked to find the sea lions but were disappointed at how few there were this time. After watching them for a few minutes we continued on and came across more street performers - acrobats with a witty and family-friendly banter. We enjoyed their show then walked further to watch one of the incredible spraycan artists. Miranda was especially enthralled with his techniques and end result.
We came to Fishermans Wharf. Last year when MsBoyink and I were here we neglected to sample some fresh seafood so I wasn’t going to let that happen again. I bought a crab & shrimp combo cocktail and three of us sampled (Miranda only likes seafood when it’s deep-fried. We pray for her.).
Exploring further we came to the Boudin Bakery. Anything concerning animals is an immediate hit with Miranda - so spotting bread loaves in the shape of turtles, lobster, and crocodiles was an immediate hit. We watched some of them being made, then on a whim ducked in to see what the cost was. I’m not in the habit of paying $10 for a loaf of bread, but the smile on Miranda’s face when I ordered one was worth it. She carried the bag as a prize and unwrapped the bread like a Christmas present. I was a bit surprised that she was willing to pull off and eat the legs right away but we did and then rewrapped the rest for later (later she requested to sleep with the turtle which was more along the lines of what I was expecting).
We found a park bench and parked for a while just people watching. It’s quite a place with the Golden Gate bridge in the distance, swimmers in the fridgid bay, tall ships anchored in view, and muscle car clubs parking a short ways away. Oh, and that special sort of relationship that San Francisco is known for too. The kids were both reading so not sure how much of that they experienced but it wouldn’t be the first time and it’s been a good discussion point.
Ditching Suburbia Manifesto Shirt
Suburbia-ditchers have different values than most people - tell the world what they are:
Simpler Living. Closer Family. Richer Education. Uncommon Adventures.
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Colors available: black, navy, gray.
Stuffed and tired it was time to head home. Seeing the busy cable car line at the Hyde Street turntable we walked up a few blocks to wait at the first stop instead. It’s interesting - the tourists seemed to have a “wait in line” mentality, while the locals were of a “fastest person wins” approach instead. We got on the outside again, but a couple of blocks up the road had to wait for an accident. Someone had flipped one of the little 3-wheeled “go-cars” that you can rent. They went away in an ambulance but looked ok. Those cars do have a roll bar and it didn’t look like any other vehicles were involved.
A walk, a BART ride, and a short truck ride and we were home again. It was a full day of sights, food and experiences crammed into a long afternoon. There are things we haven’t done in San Francisco - we didn’t get across the Golden Gate, we didn’t tour Alcatraza and we didn’t ride a ferry. But that’s OK. We like to leave options for future visits.