Sunday, May 21, 2017

2017 CROSS-COUNTRY ROAD TRIP - 4-28-17 - SAN FRANCISCO - PART 3

Friday, April 28th, 2017
San Francisco
Part 3

So, here we are, setting out on this wonderful boat ride and everyone seems to be having a good time...  



including us.



Our fellow boat riders were a family from Japan, a family from Puerto Rico, a young couple whom I thought might be honeymooners, a lady on her own, and another family who looked like a brother and a sister and their families which included a toddler and a babe in arms.  



Then there was Captain Jim and First Mate Anthony.  Gregg and I had a lovely chat with Anthony when we were the only ones on the boat.  Captain Jim was still selling tickets up top.  Anthony told us that his heritage was Greek, that he came from Florida and was heading back there next year.  He was getting his hours in so that he could pass for being his own Captain.  He was looking forward to being in the same line of work in Florida as he loved this life.  He told us all about the area and was interested in us also and asked lots of questions.  A real nice guy, a people guy.  The Captain was great too.



We were all given safety instructions before the boat took off from its moorings and shown where all the life vests were.  We were told that it might get a little choppy at times.  We found that when the big ships went by we got caught in their wake, and that was like a mini roller coaster ride.   


 Anthony warned everyone when he could see it coming.  Fortunately we all took it in good part and most laughed through the whole up and down motion.  Even the little ones were laughing. 



Loved it, so much fun!



I enjoyed looking at all the other boats on the water.




And there were kite surfers also.  You can barely make them out through the window.  That's when things started getting a little squirrely.



This happened all incredibly fast.  I could see that a kite-surfer was coming closer to the boat, but he was traveling at such a high rate of speed, this is all I got.  A view of his kite strings.



What happened next was one of the most bizarre spectacles I have ever seen.  One of those guys came sailing passed the boat at what Gregg thought was 16 to 20 knots.  He threw a full can of beer into the boat, also coming in at a high rate of speed, which bounced off the arm of the lady sitting on the stern.  Fortunately she wasn't badly hurt but I bet she had a big bruise, and a story to tell that night.  It could so easily have hit her head.  It could have hit one of the children.  

 

There was a third kite-surfer, not in this video, who was the one who threw the can.  I remember seeing this maniacal look on his face, probably full of adrenilin from that fast kite ride I'm assuming, as he sped by. These guys are hitting quite a speed.  I personally thought he was going to hit the end of the boat, and that we might have an emergency on our hands.  All this happened in split seconds and before we knew it he was gone, as fast as he had appeared.  We were all in momentary shock, including the Captain and Anthony who rushed over to see if this lady was hurt, and worried about the rest of us.  We were more concerned for this lady.  Crazy!  What on earth that man was thinking when he did something so incredibly idiotic I have no idea, and who on earth takes a full can of beer on a kite ride anyhow?   If we had Superwoman sitting there she could have dragged him onto the deck by the scruff of his neck and given him a breathalizer.  



And so we continued onto the Golden Gate Bridge, after Anthony had made sure we were all okay,  The sight of that iconic symbol took our minds back to a happier and less confused place.  



We were told it was tradition to make a wish when we went under the bridge.



I have seen the Golden Gate several times but never from right underneath it.



I read the following information here.




It took four years to build the Golden Gate Bridge.  Construction began on January 5th, 1933 and was finished in 1937.




The bridge is named after the Golden Gate Strait. which is the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean.  Around 1846 an American Military topographer and explorer, John C. Fremont, named the strait 'Christophylae', because it reminded him of the Byzantium Harbor 'Chrysoceras' or 'Golden Horn'.  (This is near Constantinople, today called Istanbul.) 





In honor of the bridge's opening, chief enginer and designer, Joseph Strauss, wrote a poem entitled "The Mighty Task Is Done."

At last the mighty task is done;
Resplendent in the western sun
The Bridge looms mountain high;
Its titan piers grip ocean floor,
Its great steel arms link shore with shore,
Its towers pierce the sky...."

You can read the rest of that poem here.



I didn't realize we were also going to get a trip round Alcatraz Island.


Facts you may not know about Alcatraz, which I found here.



Military prisoners were Alcatraz's first inmates.


Al Capone was one of the first prisoners to be sent to Alcatraz.  He actually played a banjo in the prison band called the Rock Islanders.


36 prisoners tried to escape Alcatraz.  26 were captured, six were shot to death and two drowned.


Alcatraz was named after birds.  Pelicans were the first residents of the island.  When a Spanish Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala first sailed through the Golden Gate Strait in 1775, he christened this rocky outcrop "La Isla de los Alcatraces", meaning "Island of Pelicans".


There were 336 cells in B and C Block.  The National Park Service states that there were originally 348 but 12 were removed when stairways were installed at the end of each cellblock.  There were 36 segregation cells and 6 solitary confinement cells (actually known as confinement chambers by many inmates) in D-Block.



After the prison remained dormant for six years, Native American activists occupied Alcatraz in November 1969.


There are several more interesting facts, and it will expand on some of what I shared above at the website.


So we found ourselves making our way back to shore, after our wonderful boat team told us many more interesting facts about Alcatraz.  They certainly kept us entertained for the entire hour we were out there, and knowing that they did this several times a day, and were still able to keep it all fresh, was admirable.  


I even got to see my seal.


He looks comfortable doesn't he?  

By the way, did you see the story about the young girl being pulled into the water in British Columbia by one of these guys?  It took everyone by surprise.  You can see the video here if you would like to check it out.  It all ends happily but is so incredibly scary to watch, and is another reminder that these animals are wild, and feeding them can be a dangerous thing to do.  The seal mentioned thought her dress was food, and he lept out as if grabbing a fish, and pulled her into the water.  It is obvious that people had been feeding this seal for quite a while and it knew where to come to get it.  It happened so quickly (just like our kite surfer).  They look cute and cuddly but well, we need to keep a safe distance, not only for our sakes and the sake of our children especially, but for theirs too so that we can enjoy them for a very long time.

  
We docked, we got off our boat and thanked Captain Jim and First Mate Anthony profusely.  The ride was only $15 a ticket, the best $15 we ever paid out for an incredibly enjoyable ride.  They were great and the boat ride, apart from the wacky beer throwing kite-surfer incident, was a whole lot of fun.  At this stage of the game I much preferred it to a trip to Disneyland, and I kid you not.


We were heading back to the car and had walked quite a ways, stopping off at one of the places to get a long, cool drink.  Truth be told I was so tired it was one of those times when you just put one foot in front of the other.  This young man was nearby watching us walk by.  He doesn't have to be a body language expert to know that he had a potential fare.


He yelled over and asked if he could give us a ride.  Once again Gregg shouted no thanks and quick as a flash I said 'YES PLEASE!!!!"   Once again Gregg looked at me as if I had developed another personality.  "You want to get in that thing?" he said.  "Do you think he can pull the two of us?"  I looked at Gregg a little narrow eyed I have to say and no, I don't do that too often only when I am desperately exhausted and almost on my knees.  And it wasn't as if he was going to have to take us up Lombard Street, it was a nice flat run!


I looked at the young man and smiled sweetly.  "Can you take us to our car?  It isn't too far away."  He said, "Sure, hop on!"  Now, I will admit it was a little tricky getting into that contraption, not something I have done before, but he kindly turned around so that he was next to the curb and I didn't have to climb up quite so high.  What a wonderful bike-buggy, and a wonderful young man.  


He was super fit and sailed us down the road, weaving in and out of traffic, very carefully, like it was a breeze.  I can't remember his name but he was originally from Marietta, Georgia and enjoying life in San Francisco for a while.  He chatted amiably all the way back, with a few tour guide facts, and it wasn't long before he dropped us right near our car.  I could have kissed him.


Gregg turned round to me as we sat in the car and said, "I'm glad we did that.  I was feeling kinda tired."  He laughed and I smiled sweetly.  Did I role my eyes at the same time?  Maybe!  Yes it was a great ending to our trip to San Francisco, and the car was relatively cool from being under cover.  

We got on the freeway and drove the hour-and-a-half in traffic to his sister's house, and I napped going back.  Gregg says I sure can fall asleep real fast when I am in the passenger seat. Once we start rolling it doesn't take that long.  (I brought our nice comfy pillows with us from home.)

And I silently thanked all the people we had met that day for helping to make it such a great one.  I daresay we will be coming back to this city one day.  I will look forward to it.




Saturday, May 20, 2017

2017 CROSS-COUNTRY ROAD TRIP - 4-28-17 - SAN FRANCISCO - PART 2


Friday, April 28th, 2017
 San Francisco - Part 2

Moving on from the Aquarium we didn't go very far before wanting to get a photo of this wonderful crab topiary in front of Pier 39.  It was created by Jeff Brees who specializes in topiaries, using different varieties of moss and living plants.  

  
I saw succulents all over the crab's body, very cool!


A nice couple came by and offered to take our photo.  We returned the favor for them.


There was a bronze sculpture nearby that I loved, called "Guardians of the Gate" by Miles Metzger.  It shows a male and female seal with their pup, and I stayed for a while studying it. Fabulous! 


Here's another one of us after a very nice tourist asked if we would like him to take our photo.  People are very kind.  Behind us is the Hard Rock Cafe.  No we didn't go inside.  We were too busy looking at the sites, and also heading to Fisherman's Wharf.


Couldn't have said it better myself.



We did, however, stop at Ben and Jerry's for a waffle cone.  It cooled us down on this hot day.


I sat on a wall and enjoyed people watching.  There was a bicycle rental next to me and the operators would bring their customers around the corner to give some helpful hints and instructions on riding their bikes.  I heard all nationalities.  I also enjoyed looking at the flowers while I waited for Gregg.


I didn't speak up loud enough when I told Gregg I was going to sit on the wall, and found an empty space just out of site.  It was pretty noisy and the line took a long time.  He wondered around a bit with his two fisted waffle cones, and thankfully I popped my head up and gave him a wave before the ice-cream melted all over his hands. We both sat on the wall and enjoyed our treat.  The  pigeons were ever hopeful as they stared at us, while also scurrying around for waffle cone crumbs that others had dropped.  


This is a picture of the Old Port Gate.  I could find nothing more online apart from other photos, no history and I searched extensively.  I even asked Gregg if he could find something, but neither of us had any luck.  Maybe one of my blogging friends knows something that can be shared.


It is all boarded off and looks in need of serious restoration.  Hopefully this is in the plan.


We made our way to Fisherman's Wharf.  We passed several street performers.  There were also a few people with signs asking for money; one woman sitting on the ground, hers read, "Money for weed.  Why lie?"  That works, maybe?  Just as there are in many cities you see the homeless, and it looked like people were giving what they could.    

It has been many years since I came to the Wharf, and I only remember the one time - my memory is a wee bit fuzzy.  I thought I remembered seals here but of course I was wrong on that.  They were back at Pier 39.  


We didn't get any further than one particular boat and it grabbed my attention.  Two men, the captain of a boat out of sight below street level, and his first mate, were selling tickets for a ride around the bay.  Gregg looked down and politely declined.  I on the other hand said we should go.  Yes I surprised him. 


We had never taken a boat ride around the bay and this one time I was eager to get on that boat.  Gregg wasn't sure I could make it down the vertical ladder onto its deck, and it was a small boat compared to the ones we have taken in the past.  I said quite gleefully, no problem!  

With instructions from the first mate I began to climb down, backwards - there were about seven or eight rungs, felt like more.  Gregg was a tad nervous telling me to be real careful, having dealt with my klutzy nature for all these years, but I assured him I would be fine and I held on as if my life depended on it.  

At the bottom the first mate said now just take it one step at a time, this as I miscalculated and missed the last step.  Grabbing on tight I stretched my leg out as far as I could and neatly touched down, just as though I meant to do that.  "Or you can do it that way" said the first mate.  I didn't look at Gregg because I suspected he was rolling his eyes.  He made his way down too.  



We were the first people on the boat and waited for about half an hour before others bought their tickets.  Our seat was prime and we had the overhang that cast good shade. 


  
It didn't seem too long before Captain Jim and First Mate Anthony were casting off the Nautilus, and we were on our way....  


and I have to admit the old theme tune of Gilligan's Island popped into my head as we headed into the bay, and I mean that in the most positive way as I loved that show. This was not a six hour tour and would only last one hour.



I have decided it would be better to make this trip into a three part post, and the boat ride will be in my next one.  It will be the third and final instalment of our day out in San Francisco.