I know; that’s a lot of prepositional phrases for a post title, but it’s what happened during our vacation in northern California a few weeks ago. One of the first things we did in San Francisco was to go on a tour of Alcatraz. The island prison is no longer in use, but they get a great deal of tourist traffic. It was neat, because they handed out headsets so you could go off on your own audio tour of the facility, narrated by former prison guards and prisoners. My only complaint with the tour was the child whining at me that he was bored (my older son). My four-year old loved the audio fight scenes and even acted some of them out. Yes, it was a little disturbing.
We checked out Pier 39 (Fisherman’s Wharf) and bought plenty of souvenirs-and sourdough bread. When we got tired of walking, we drove through the financial district, down Lombard Street, and around Chinatown.
If you’re ever in Fairfield, CA, the Jelly Belly jellybean factory tour was neat. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the factory because they don’t let you take pictures. They do walk you through the many steps of making a jellybean and hand out samples of jellybeans that are in the various stages they talked about. We got to sample flavors of our choice at the end and got a free bag of jellybeans. The only catch: You have to wear a silly paper hat during the tour. I guess it’s a small price to pay for free sugar and corn starch 🙂
Muir Woods Park is about eleven miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge and we spent a couple hours walking the trails, admiring the HUGE redwoods and taking silly pictures of each other. Some of the tree trunks were so big around that I could barely get them in a picture.
My husband really liked the short 3-mile hike. I live in the desert, so I’m used to seeing lots of flat, brown land. There are some trees and bushes, but they don’t obscure my view and I can see as far as the horizon allows. So, the thing that really struck me about this park is how dense the trees were. The leafy canopy cast a shade that made it feel later in the day than it really was. I took several pictures just looking up at the sky; I’m pretty sure this was a dead giveaway that I was, indeed, a tourist.
We also spent a couple days at my husband’s aunt and uncle’s house. Their town has a population in the hundreds and is in the middle of nowhere in northern California. The road to get there was so twisty that our GPS looked like my four year old scribbled on it with a crayon. We all felt a little queasy by the time we got there! We spent two relaxing days by the pool, at the lake and taking walks. I also read a couple books (To The Nines, by Janet Evanovich and Vanishing Acts, by Jodi Piccoult) before we headed back to the hustle and bustle of San Francisco.
When we passed through Sacramento, CA, we stopped to see the capitol building; it was beautiful. I even got my husband and kids posed perfectly, with the building in the background and sun off to the side. Of course, when I turned on the camera to take the picture, it immediately shut off because the battery was dead. Someone (me) forgot to charge it during our days of relaxation. Oh, well. I guess that’s one less picture to download from the camera and rename.
The Aquarium of the Bay, near Pier 39 in San Francisco, was a hit with the kids. Guess what they liked the most? Not the stingrays, which they got to pet. They liked the sharks and jellyfish, but they didn’t top the list. Okay, I’ll tell you: the regal blue tang fish (Dory) and clownfish (Nemo)! This could be a sign that they watch Finding Nemo waaaay too much…
Near the end of the trip, we did the one thing that my oldest son talked about for months: we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. The park leading up the bridge was absolutely gorgeous. If we had more time, I could’ve spent it there! I thought I’d be freaked out by walking across a bridge over the ocean (I’m afraid of heights and I’m not fond of being suspended over water), but surprisingly, it wasn’t bad…until I saw this sign:
That made me a little uneasy. The fact I saw several of those signs along the way was just eerie. At any rate, I stayed a safe distance from the railing, strapped my four-year old in his stroller and kept a hawk eye on my seven-year old as we trekked our way across the bridge with hundreds of other people. It may be because I’m a desert-dweller, or it may be because I’m just a wimp, but it was really cold up there! I finally pulled on the hood of my San Francisco embroidered jacket (another tourist badge I proudly displayed) to keep the cold wind from giving me an ear ache.
I hope you enjoyed the mini-tour of our San Francisco vacation. Is there an attraction you liked best? I’d love to hear about your own vacations – where is your favorite place to visit (and why)?