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Monday, April 06, 2009

California Recap #1

Sandy and I and the kids enjoyed a very nice trip to California last week. We hadn't been out there since before the children were born and we decided to make the trip as care-free as posible. And by this I mean unplanned. And it worked out well.

We booked our tickets and an initial two day stay at a hotel in South San Francisco. The hotel (an Embassy Suites) was expensive but we both felt that it would be easy to get to and the kids would enjoy the pool. In retrospect we probably should have stayed closer to downtown, but it was fine. The first problem we ran into upon arrival was that I had forgotten to pack the GPS and cell phone chargers. This necessitated a trip to a nearby OfficeMax to get a new GPS charger, and the hotel provided us with a basket of phone chargers, one of which fit. (Later we found all of the missing electronics at the bottom of a suitcase, so that was good.) On this same excursion we saw a Lamborghini and picked up some food at Safeway. So it was not in vain!

That night we ventured into San Francisco to take a trip across the Golden Gate bridge and have a little food. We thought that the $6 fare to get back into San Francisco was a bit steep, but not as steep as the $21 of clam chowder that went uneaten at Boudins on the wharf. The drive back home along the Embarcadero was painfulfully slow, but the GPS didn't know another way. Eventually I turned off and headed through the near empty downtown streets, maybe saving us 10 minutes. Being told by the GPS to TURN LEFT when I wanted to go right and hearing RECALCULATING over and over was a bit annoying. We arrived back at the hotel and put the kids to bed and laid back to watch Dog the Bounty Hunter. It seemed kinda sad to me. I don't understand how a man with that many feather boas in his hair is taken as a serious alternative to actual law enforcement. 

On Sunday morning we headed back into San Francisco. The streets were all but empty so we parked for free all day next to Ghirardelli Square. Then we walked down to where the Powell Cable Car turntable is and started our adventure with the kids. We followed a plan in Frommer's San Francisco with Kids travel guide and took the cable car to the top of Lombard Street. Then we walked down the street (on the sidewalk) and along some sidestreets up to Coit Tower. We paid the money to go up to the top of Coit Tower to take pictures and get a good look at San Francisco from a height. It was worth it.

From Coit Tower we walked down though some beautiful neighborhood gardens until we reached a main street. We spent about 10 minutes letting the kids rest at a park fountain before we caught a bus to near where the gateway to Chinatown is. Because the trip was unplanned I d
idn't have a bus schedule so I relied on the free 311 service provide by the Transit Authority. It worked pretty well. We walked throigh Chinatown for about an hour, seeing lots of little shops (selling Buddhas on clearance) and managing to find the Fortune Cookie factory (smelled great). We were snatched from the street by a Chinese woman and coaxed down into an underground restaurant which was really tasty and afordable. Before we left, our kids and the Chinese kids who always seem to acompany any Chinese restaurant were exchanging names and greetings. Very nice. After making our way back up to daylight we took a bus back to the Ghiradelli Square area, bought some chocolate, and found the car. Then we drove to Golden Gate Park and took in the Japanse Garden before letting the kids play at the kids park before heading back to the hotel. For dinner we ordered Piza, and until it came I took the kids down for some much promised swimming. Alex mostly enjoyed the hot tub and Annika made a friend, and I threw Owen in the pool quite a few times. He loves it. After a half hour of swimming we went upstairs for Pizza and got a good night sleep before our last day in town. Alcatraz awaited!