Friday, February 21, 2014

San Francisco 2014 -- Day 5 (Last Day)

Pretty hard to get this photo wrong
Up before sunrise again. Even though there is only a two hour difference between Saskatchewan and California, neither of us has managed to adjust. Wendy wants to try and sleep in, so I am going to head to the Golden Gate Bridge. I think I can catch the sunrise.
SF skyline at sunrise
Not Alcatraz
I missed my first bus, but when I arrived, this is what the SF skyline looked like. Alcatraz is beside my pinky. To the right of the awesomely giant cable, you can make out bits of the Bay bridge and then... the other stuff. At this point I'm about 1/3 of the way across. There were no other pedestrians at 7am, but there were plenty of cyclists. Every couple of minutes, I was passed at high speed by a flight of whizzing spandex.
At the far side I managed to find a way to walk under the bridge. Their security is a bit more forceful than under the Broadway Bridge at home. The razor wire did, in fact, deter me (the shame).
Mario's Dream. Girders as far as the eye can see.
Had I dared the injury or found my way past the chain link, this is where I could have played.
When we determined to come to San Francisco I was excited to photograph the bridge. I didn't really realize that during a sunrise there is actually NO WAY to take a bad picture of it. I deleted lots of good photos just so I wouldn't have too many to edit.

After running back across the bridge I was waiting for the bus. I got a robot phone call on my phone telling me that one of my flights for my trip home was cancelled. Yeah.

FUCK! Really?

Right. So, Wendy was... annoyed. Cataclysmically.

Spidey in SF
How high will it take to distract her...?
This time it was a weather delay in Minneapolis and because we had pushed back our vacation by a day due to Day Zero's malfunction, Wendy was now going to miss giving an important presentation at work. The perception that she was extending her vacation combined with letting her co-workers down was almost unbearable for her. After it was clear that we were not getting home today, I did the best thing I know to help Wendy relax. We went for a walk in the park and I jumped around and climbed things to distract her :)

We managed to make a relaxing afternoon of it and are booked to leave tomorrow.

I'm not holding my breath. Still haven't been along Lombard Street...

Seriously, I think that will be it. Here is the final photo share(242 photos in all). I hope that's it. Thanks for coming on this journey.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

San Francisco 2014 -- Day 4

My Preciousss...
At 2am Wendy startled me awake. There was scratching on the roof. I leapt out of bed and closed our skylight fearing something big, like a racoon, skunk or jaguar might come tumbling in. We haven't quite worked it out, but at 8am, it seemed more likely that it was mice or squirrels and not jaguars. In the morning, when we awoke for the second time, we were tired and a bit too sore to get out of bed.

San Francisco hurts my ass! But, in a good way ;) The hills and stairs are really omnipresent. Also, we haven't been great about catching the bus (which SF folks call the 'muni'). Everything seems really close--and by Saskatoon standards it is--but the vertical is a really big thing. +david aschim, I have renewed respect for your trail running.

This morning we headed back to Golden Gate park. It is huge and there is still some stuff we missed. We stopped for breakfast at Amitis Cafe. Wen had a great toasted sandwich and I had a mediocre coffee.

We went first to the Japanese Tea Garden. We got there just in time to get in free, which after I saw how great it was, I kind of felt badly. The balance and serenity of the place was incredible. Every direction had something delightful happening. Wendy was extra happy just because it was free.
Japanese Tea Garden
Pop artist Mik D -- "Sour Jellies romance iPhone with daisy"
We then spent a couple of hours in the de Young Museum. Wendy says it's some big deal to people who know stuff about art and museums. Actually, I really enjoyed it but didn't take any pictures. To make up for that please enjoy this picture of my iPhone.

I suppose I could also link you to the museums permanent collection via the Google Cultural Institute. It doesn't include any of the temporary exhibits, which were some of the best stuff.

We were both wiped out after the gallery and with the sun shining, we found a patch of grass and relaxed had a cat nap. Refreshed, we headed to the Conservatory. Honestly, I expected more. It was a good thing they had butterflies.
Here's Mothy!
In her element
Did I mention that unwinding at our B&B is so much better than a hotel? It is.

Puppet photo from yesterday. This has nothing to do with Jennifer. Even a little.
And as if our day wasn't full enough, we had supper with +Jennifer Wang at Herbivore. It is a funky vegan restaurant. For once in my life, I had so many items to choose from that I had to send the waitress away while I weighed my options. In the end, the food was just okay, but our conversation with Jen was terrific. She is always discovering new things that radically change the way she perceives the world. I love people who are still willing to throw over everything they thought they knew because of new information. That takes guts. She would probably say that she is reevaluating how she sees the world. Potato potato.

Our walk to and from supper took us along Divisadero Ave. We hadn't been out in the evening before and the nightlife was vibrant and quirky. Along one street was a biker cafe. Not to be confused with a biker bar, like you would see in Canada with Harleys and leather. No, this was for cyclists. There were guys in helmets and spandex of every colour kicking back espresso and biscotti. Their bikes were all in the back on the floor and up the walls. Mojo Bicycle Cafe(photo via Google Street View).

Time to sleep I just hope the Jaguars are prowling elsewhere tonight.

This album is up to 192 photos and counting.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

San Francisco 2014 -- Day 3

Lots of these strange things in SF???
Went for a run this morning. I've had my eye on the Twin Peaks since I got here. According to my GPS, it is only 2.2 miles from where we are staying--Oh yeah, stupid Google decided that since I came to the US, I must now want all my measurement in imperial--anyway, I thought I would give it a try. I mentioned this to our hosts, Jorge and Nico, and they seemed to think it was a little odd.

It was only 240m worth of ascent, but I found it quite difficult. The grade on these SF streets is really something else. Had you ever heard that? It was pretty grueling work, but the view was totally worth it. Wendy suggested that I not take my phone while scrabbling up the slope so you will have to make due with an iPhone panorama. Sigh.
View From Twin Peaks -- Stupid iPhone :(
We spent most of today at Fisherman's Wharf and specifically on pier 39. We saw a pretty lame aquarium and went on a cool boat tour of the bay. My legs were really killing me by the time we got home.
They have this bridge here--you might have heard of it.
Alcatraz with the Bay Bridge misty in the background.
We aren't doing an Alcatraz tour, but I would love to do these steps... well, maybe not today :)
When we got off the boat, we did some shopping and had supper. It was Wendy's turn for a treat, so we found a highly rated crab place. She indulged in some amazing seafood (thanks +Djaii Pepper-Martens) and I had fries. We were both happy. Especially because I loved the dozens of ridiculous looking crabs lining the walls of the dining room.
Woody
When we brushed our teeth for bed at 9pm, our hosts commented that we seemed to go to bed pretty early. Wendy mentioned that I had done the Twin Peaks run in the morning before they awoke. That shut them up :)


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

San Francisco 2014 -- Day 2

Really, it is the first day that we will do anything other than land in a plane and take a cab to our accommodations.
This is where we are staying for about $160/night

There is a deep, wooden hot tub out here!
Speaking of which the cab driver was really interesting. We think he was slightly autistic or a high functioning skitzophrenic. When we said we were from Canada we didn't get to speak for 10 minutes. He was older, with white hair and reminded me of a cross between Donald Sutherland and Matt Frewer. Anyway, he launched into a dialogue starting with Tommy Douglas and Kiefer Sutherland and meandering through a bunch of tangents winding up with Tommy D. once again. Not the safest cab driver, but he got us to destination.
An Embarrassment of Riches

Day 2 -- Walking with J.P-M.

We got up before sunrise. San Francisco is two hours behind us right now so we were sure to have plenty of daylight. We walked around the neighbourhood that we are staying in and had coffee/hot chocolate and bagels with phenomenal amounts of cream cheese. Wendy had so much that she gave me the surplus and still had more than she was comfortable with.

The city is phenomenal. I have instantly fallen in love with it. And clearly, I'm not the first one. It is quirky, beautiful, quirky, cool, and oddly serene. I quickly developed whiplash from turning to photograph every astounding/ridiculous thing that I encountered. Being here makes Wendy and I feel so small town, the way it felt moving from Meadow Lake back to Saskatoon.

SF is unbelieveable -- Two Blocks from our B&B at Sunrise
The rest of our day was spent walking to and within Golden Gate Park. Unbeknownst to us, it was President's Day, so a few things in the park were closed, but the two big attractions that we were interested in were still open (and super busy).
Conservatory -- Closed. Hope we get back.
We met Jay after lunch and he helped us navigate to the best parts of the California Academy of Sciences. Wendy appreciated the efficiency and conversation that Jay was equipped with and I appreciated the easy access to frogs and bugs. I will only post a couple of favs ;)
It's orange AND it's a frog!!! About the size of my thumbnail

Cuttlefish or Cthulu? You're guess...

This is the Science Center as seen from an observation tower in the de Young Museum
100+ and counting photos... HERE


San Francisco 2014 -- Days Zero and One

Calming nerves isn't a sign of addiction, is it?

Day 0 -- Are we on Vacation Yet?

This is only the second time that Wendy and I will take a real "just for us" vacation since we were married. She normally doesn't like the stress of travelling and prefers the comforts of hearth and home. Failing that, she satisfies herself with managing any and all details that could lead to a vacation becoming too unruly. Camping, for instance, simplifies life to the degree that everything is within your control. Or, at least, anything that you don't control (like the weather) can be planned for and accommodated.

So, she is really happy right now ;)

Bit of a rocky start to our vacation. We arrived at the airport Saturday at 2:30pm. Our flight was a 4, so we left ourselves plenty of time to have coffee and clear security. Jodi was kind enough to drive us to the airport and on the way we got our first bit of unruliness. Our flight was delayed by 50 minutes. That was a bit of a concern. Our layover in Minneapolis was originally about 90min, and clearing customs and getting to our new concourse was now going to be tight. Good thing we aren't checking any luggage. As a precaution I spoke with a Delta service rep. and had her guarantee us on the next soonest flight to SFO (11:30am, the next day). She was confident that wouldn't be a problem.


It was a problem. We boarded the plane late and then after we had filled all the seats, there was still one person without a place to sit. Airline staff buzzed around for a few minutes and we were told they would have to take attendance. They also mentioned a tiny problem with the landing gear--a mechanic would be along shortly to look after it. 5 minute update... mechanic not here yet. 15 min update... mechanic not here yet, but should be along any minute. 20 minute update...

"I'm just going to give it to you straight," said the pilot, "we can't find the mechanic. In fact there doesn't appear to be a mechanic at the airport. We have two... theoretically. One is on vacation in Toronto and we don't know where the other one is. So, one thing is certain, there won't be a mechanic here to look at the plane anytime soon."


Minneapolis Airport where snow still exists... Ug!
And with that, they had the entire plane disembark. The next two hours had us standing in lines and Wendy managing the 'unruly' people on Delta's help line. At first, they thought we might make it out on a 10pm flight, but that was eventually scrapped and we were told they would create a new flight at 5:45--No, 6:45am. So which was it? I'm not feeling reassured at all.

During this time, I was progressing from my usual optimistic and cheerful self into someone on the verge of screaming and tears. My 4 day vacation was in danger of being cut by 25%... and counting! I staved off my own dark thoughts by buying a big box of Timbits. I wandered up and down the line a few times accosting women and children--asking them if they would like to be bad parents and let their children take sugary treats from a desperate looking 40-year-old man in the airport. Perhaps I used different words.

I ate a lot of Timbits.

With the early morning flight promised and Wen having sorted out a new connecting flight to San Francisco and Jorge, the proprietor of our would be bed and breakfast, allowing us to shift our stay to be a day later, we got a ride back home and sulked for a couple of hours before succumbing to fitful sleep.

Wendy just may have been right about this world travel stuff.

Day 1 -- Destination Vacation means you have to GO SOMEWHERE

I didn't get much sleep last night. I woke up at 3am and was concerned because the Saskatoon Airport Authority didn't have a listing for the flight that we were promised. A verbal promise--no bookings or boarding passes, mind you. A promise, that at 3 in the morning with the cats fighting in the dark and your thoughts swirling feels very sketchy.

In case you are wondering, there is no one to answer the phone at the Saskatoon Airport at 3am. By 4am, Delta's website was finally showing that we were booked on a new ghost-like flight. Existing in a half reality, it was essentially the black-ops of air travel. No one knew of it, and if you were to actually confirm it's existence, you own would be snuffed out--smoking like the extinguished candle of your former vacation hopes and dreams.


Quiet-ish... For an international airport at midday
Without getting ridiculous (have we crossed that bridge already?) I will tell you that our plane was late leaving, but when your projected layover is 8hrs or more you stop worrying about making your connection. Maybe I was a little bit worried. Waiting in Minneapolis was long (they didn't get us on that "guaranteed" flight at 11:30), but there are worse places to be stuck. They have a nice airport and we were able to get some food that didn't suck... too bad. I was particularly excited to discover the "quiet seating" area on the 3rd floor looking over the main strip of the mall. There was power for our devices and we were able to watch some Firefly and catch a nap.


We have just taken our seats on the craft that promises to get me to the city where Sulu will be born in another couple hundred years. With any luck, I will manage to get connected to wifi before bed. As you read this, I hope to be having my first adventure in San Francisco!!!

***UPDATE***
Wendy has been sleeping for 2hrs after our first full day here. I'm staying up late so that you can have a few pictures once I post this prologue :)

Above is San Francisco at night just before we land and just after they ask me to turn off all my electric devices ;) Golden Gate Bridge is centre left, The Bay Bridge (going to Oakland) is just above the wing of the plane. Our bed and breakfast is close to the top right corner of the long dark strip at the bottom of the photo (Golden Gate Park)