San Francisco Days

San Francisco….Alcatraz, Chinatown, Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Nob Hill, Candlestick Park, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf. So much to do – we actually experienced most of this (and more) with a couple of glaring exceptions.

First of all, are we the only people who didn’t know that Candlestick Park had been demolished? When we reserved our spot at Candlestick RV Park, we had visions of watching pink sunsets on the iconic ballpark, perhaps hearing the ghostly voices of Willie Mays or Juan Marichal chuckling at stories of great times in the Good Old Days. Such a shock to find that the park no longer exists – it’s a huge excavation site soon to be decorated with luxury apartments. 20160323_071518.jpgDid you know that the median cost of a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $3500/month? How can this be?

We chose this RV Park because it’s close to a metro line for transportation, and within cycling distance of the city and all the things we wanted to see. Good thing, because for our $100 a night, we sure didn’t get any ambiance! We are packed in here like bikes in  Amsterdam. (Google photo).

See us wedged in there?

You can probably see San Francisco from a double-decker tour bus or car (god forbid), but pedal power plus sandal power really is the way to go. With a few notable disagreements about where and how far to go, we explored the City. Many places, especially on the weekend were packed – teeming with tourists. Cars and people are crowding the bike lanes, bikes are on the sidewalks, strollers and skateboards are everywhere – it’s chaos. Waiting time to see the murals at Coit Tower >one hour. No thank you. So, we looked at the outsides of places.20160320_15294820160320_14025120160320_13401720160320_13400620160320_12041720160319_14562720160320_11243020160320_113121Had to chuckle at these Asian tourists trying to figure out the pay toilets.20160320_115724Chinatown is a feast for a camerahound.20160320_11085820160320_110634Monday was a problem. We decided to split up for the day, because we just couldn’t agree on where and how to get there. John got off the trail near the Pier, intending to go to Alcatraz. Ha! Booked until March 31. My goal was Golden Gate Park, so I stayed on the train for several more stops, and got off to wander. City Hall – home of many famous weddings (Marilyn Monroe/Joe DiMaggio being one of the most notable), was my first stop. 20160321_11004820160321_110537Up and down, through both good and sketchy neighborhoods, I plodded westward toward the park.20160321_114808In the (at times) pouring rain. Except for my $200 cycling rain jacket, I looked like any other homeless person moving along the sidewalk. Wet and miserable.

Finally, I get to the Park, which is loaded with spring tropical flowers and feels like a jungle. The Conservatory of Flowers is my first stop. Closed! (Monday). Crap! 20160321_122118So, I move along to the DeYoung Museum, intending to commune with my ancestors (my maiden name is DeYoung). Closed! (Monday) Crap! The only thing open is the Japanese Tea Garden, a serene beautifully-manicured sanctuary. 20160321_12381820160321_124156About that time, I’m seriously wet, and John texts – would I like to meet for lunch at Tadich Grill? I think I can bus/subway it there in about 45 minutes. If you go there, order the cioppino. We did, on advice from John’s brother, and it was fantastic. We sat at the long narrow bar in the center of the room, and we curtly greeted by our waiter – a sixtyish dour gentleman. “Wine?” “Red or white?”  “Two cioppino? Want some creamed spinach with that? There are no vegetables in cioppino.” John bet me $50 I couldn’t get him to smile. HA! Who does he think he’s dealing with. That guy and I are now best friends. After lunch, John went home, and I wandered for a while more.20160321_152838One thing we both agreed that we MUST do was to bicycle across the Golden Gate. Tuesday was the perfect day for such an endeavor, being the first day with a sparkling blue sky. 20160322_12203120160322_12294520160322_122743It was fun, and harrowing at the same time. Imagine hundreds of people on rental bicycles, most of whom have no real sense of cycling. The bike careens left and right with each pedal stroke – you know the kind. Hell, maybe you are that kind. But, it makes for an interesting ride. Picture it….all these bikes, combined with hundreds of people on foot, dozens with their selfie sticks, randomly stepping out into traffic to take the perfect photo of themselves. It’s crazy. And scary. Glad we did it, but I’m not anxious to do it again. I struck up a conversation with a former bicycle messenger who mentioned that he had only struck pedestrians twice in 30 years of cycling the bridge. It must happen every day. Yikes.

We explored the Presidio, stopping at the San Francisco National Cemetery.20160322_132744In the distance, we could see the curious dome of the Palace of Fine Arts, so we detoured to take a look. Built in 1915 for the purpose of exhibiting art for the Panama-Pacific Explosition, it’s an amazing structure.20160322_13510620160322_13542620160322_135349 The classic pillars glowed in the sun. What a fantastic sight.

We had some San Francisco failures, too. The icky clam chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf. The disappointing lunch in Chinatown. Lots of places we just didn’t see, some of it because we just were too wet to wander anymore. Wish I would have gotten a photo of the double-decker sightseeing bus with the passenger on top who had one of those clear rain ponchos wrapped around her head. It was that kind of weather for a few days.

This post isn’t what I had hoped for either. The WiFi here sucks, and most of my photos didn’t upload. It’s time to move on, so this will have to do.

Oh well.

 

 

16 thoughts on “San Francisco Days

  1. I’ve visited there twice – many years apart. It’s such an amazing city. And yet . . . I don’t know, I guess I’d say it doesn’t call me back the way many other places do. However, the idea of cioppino at the Tadich Grill – now that might.

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    • That cioppino alone would be worth the trip. I’ve always thought that San Francisco would be a great place to live, but only if you had LOTS of money. It’s probably a place that would lose a bit of its lustre though, in the daily grind of transportation, parking, tourism, and other big city grinds.

      But, oh…that cioppino….

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  2. Love seeing your photos! By the looks of the image of your “scenic” campground, some folks are full-timing it there. At $100 a night it’s still cheaper than that 1-bedroom apt. you mentioned! I do love San Francisco, though it can be extremely gritty and weird. The thing I remember most about it is the beautiful flowers and vegetation that seem to be everywhere. I bow down to your biking acumen. I couldn’t ride a bike in that hilly city if Godzilla was chasing me. You guys rock AND roll!

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    • I think there were a few people full-timing there, but lots of in and outers like us. The surrounding area was pretty rough. The nearby ‘park’ was fill of homeless, and cruising cars. There really weren’t any good spots to walk with Jezzy – think she was relieved to leave. But, we couldn’t really come up with any other spot to stay where we could just bike, bus, or walk. We never moved the truck until we towed the Fireball away yesterday.

      We never really biked too many hills. Certainly never any big ones! You can ride the perimeter for miles and hardly break a sweat. The most up and down was the area right by Candlestick, and getting up to the Bridge. You could do it, Jen.

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  3. Mary and I were married in the city hall, just like Joe and Marilyn! Fantastic, isn’t it? My experience with San Fran is that the best parts are where the locals go, not where the tourists go. Love your pics!

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    • I didn’t remember that you got married in SF. Did you stand on the bottom of the steps? What a fantastic spot.

      It’s hard sometimes not to fall for the tourist spots. We generally hang out at taprooms (as you well know), but every now and then we get caught up and find ourselves trapped in tourist hell. We thought we were on the right track with our choice in Chinatown, but the food was bland and fairly unappealing. Oh well.

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  4. Just started following your blog as a full-time dreamer about full-time RV’ing. I went to college in SF, worked in SF. The shine wore off about 30 years ago. Sorry you had such a soggy experience but it’s par for the course over there. I live 80 miles east of SF and when I pull out I will never see SF again, and I’m not at all sad about that. :)

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    • Aw, Dutch (may I call you that?), that’s pretty harsh. But, it’s easy to see how the grind of living in the city could wear you down. I’m sure that the locals don’t see the beautiful views, nor can you really appreciate how beautiful your city is, when it’s jammed with tourists and their selfie sticks (I HATE those things!)

      Hope you get to your retirement RV dream. We don’t full-time. Maybe half or two-thirds time. But I always love having my home and my city to come back to.

      Thanks for checking in. Hope you stay as a reader and continue to comment. I appreciate it.

      PS – we are now out at Samuel P Taylor SP, and the city is already just a dim memory.

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      • Samual P. Taylor is a much nicer place. No, I wouldn’t blame anyone for wanting to visit SF. I don’t think I was being harsh, I just don’t like it there, doesn’t mean someone else won’t. Heck, I was nice enough not to relay any of my experiences with SF! :D

        My advice to anyone else (unless you just want to say you did it) would be not to take your RV in SF or the peninsula. I’d say camp north of the bay and drive down and take the ferry in. Or camp out west (near me) and take BART. But I realize different folks want different experiences.

        Anyways, back to your blog. Looking forward to following and dreaming.

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      • Your camping advice is probably very good advice. But, outside of spending a ridiculous amount of money for a very sketchy RV park, we were happy being city dwellers for four days. For us the whole idea of visiting SF was to be in the city, and we were. Now back to our real lives….;-) We are loving Samuel Taylor.

        See you on down the road, Dutch.

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  5. SF is a city I love to visit but wouldn’t want to live there. I think the majority of the food at Fishermans Wharf is atrocious, especially after Tadish which is the real SF.

    I walking there but I do love the double decker buses and vintage street cars, not so much the cable cars.

    Happy you had a good time!

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    • I did love it – John may have been less enthused. But, the high point was Tadich for sure.

      It’s fun to travel and figure out local transit. Love that I could get on the subway, bus, or train and travel to any spot in the city for a dollar. It’s great when that all comes together.

      It was fun, but I think we are both quite relieved and happy to be camping in the dirt, surrounded by giant Redwoods, and cooking over the fire. Guess you will have to be the citified branch of the family, Phyllis can be the hunting’ and fishin’ end, and we can cover the rest of the outdoor stuff. Something for all the Crankshaws.

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  6. Expensive and crowded, not my kind of place. I think that if I ever think about visiting San Fransisco, I’ll just come back to this post to see the sights and remember why I would’t want to see them in person.

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    • Sad that you feel this way, Jerry. Your camera would love San Fran. It is crowded, but I had to keep telling myself that these are the iconic views that everyone wants to see. Standing on the Golden Gate was an experience I was happy to be a bit inconvenienced for. I do draw a line at queuing up for hours, so don’t hold your breath waiting for any Disneyland photos and posts. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Despite what you think, your photos are fantastic. Makes me want to visit SF and quite frankly, we had our fill when we had to visit in-laws in Marin County. However, I have no desire to stay in that RV park! :-) I do want to visit Alcatraz someday.

    When you head to your next camping area, and if you have a yen for Italian food, Marin Joe’s is a long-time favorite of ours (and Ken’s while growing up in San Rafael). It’s right off 101, after Mill Valley but just before Corte Madera. If I remember correctly, there might be parking for the trailer but it’s been a few years since we’ve been there. Sam’s Anchor Cafe in Tiburon (with a great waterside patio) is also a great place.

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    • San Francisco is a beautiful place to wander – it’s nice not to have an agenda, and just to go wherever your feet take you.

      Will have to look up the up Joe’s next trip. We’re sitting out in the woods right now, and think the next few weeks will be meals cooked in camp.

      Thanks for checking in Robin.

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