Sunday, July 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Brendan!

It is really hard to believe that it is already one year later and Brendan is such a big boy! Walking, talking, and eating by himself! I'm as proud as any momma out there even though I'm just Aunt Jenni! Thank you Rachel and Scott for allowing me to be a part of your child's life!
The "other" one is getting ready too :)

End of the Tour-Day 5

Day 5 and we have to go home! We slept in until 10, packed our stuff up (barely fit), and dropped it off with the bell man for our last adventures before our plane ride at 6:50. Our first stop was the Aquarium of the Bay on Pier 39. I love aquariums, but I think I've been spoiled from the Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach) and the Maui Aquarium (Hawaii).
All the fish were brown, which I understand is because they are cold water fish... but I wasn't expecting that. Here is a giant sea bass.
They have two giant tunnels with fish and little sharks. Although the flash makes it so you can't see them behind Melissa and I.
Melissa and her greatest fear, sharks.
Upon leaving the Aquarium, we walked to our favorite store on Pier 39--the Candy Baron! The first day we were in SF, I went into this store and bought some salt water taffy and ate all of it. Melissa went the second day and got more... the last day we needed enough to actually make it home.
They have chocolate chip cookie dough taffy?!? And cheesecake taffy?!? YUM!
We watched the sea lions for almost an hour.
The big black one in the middle was entertaining--he was clearly in charge and did not let any other males get on "his" terrority. He chased them off with barking and jumping over and over again. After the sea lions, we headed back to the hotel, got our stuff and jumped on the F bus which took us to the BART. We saved $0.10 by riding the BART an extra six stops.
And we're back in San Diego at 8 pm. Again, uneventful flight. Mom and Dad picked us up and home we went!
The End

Photo Tour, Day 4

Day four was, by far, our most eventful day. Starting at 10:30... Cable cars are on the adgenda today, so we walked over to the start of the line (right by our hotel), bought an all day ticket for $11 and waited in line. Although waiting in line wasn't fun, we did get to watch the cable car operaters rotate the cars.
We got a seat and quickly realized that we would see nothing sitting down because everyone stands in front of you... oh, well... at least they offered to take our picture :)
We got off the cable car at Lombart Street to walk down the "Crooked Street" which has eight turns in one city block. While we walked down it, there were cars driving on the brick laid street. The most amazing part, people actually live in the houses on this street... they must loath the tourists.
Back on the cable car, and off at the Cable Car Musemum and lunch at a little sidewalk cafe (yummy, turkey-cranberry sandwich). It was fascinating to see how the cable cars work and have worked since the 1800's.

Back on the cable cars to Union Center--the biggest shopping area with every high-end store you can think of and a mall with nine stories. Our favorite find, you ask... A four story OLD NAVY! Although it didn't look like they had anything different than other Old Navys, their clothes were displayed much nicer and farther apart. They did have one full floor dedicated to materity and plus size which isn't normal.
Every Sunday they have "Jewel's in the Park" and we decided to sit and watch the show. We were quickly surrounded by gay couples and then introduced to a dance that "supports love of every kind and marriage equality for all." We stuck around just long enough to see that their dance wasn't very pretty (very harsh movements and no grace) and left.
Instead of getting back on the busy cable car, we jumped on the F bus (sort of like a old fashion trolley car that only ran around Fisherman's Wharf) and ended up at our favorite place...
eating our favorite treat.
We sat in the park eating our ice cream and watched people for awhile--there were actually people swimming in the harbor! After a trip back to our hotel to stock up on warmer clothes, we headed to Pier 33 for our Night Alcatraz tour. Waiting in line.
We got on the "cruize" boat to ride over to the island.
The tour actually started on the ship. All 250 of us were given the background of the island and told which buildings were which as we approached the island. After landing at the dock, everyone walks up three steep hills as a National Park guide gives us more information. It would have been much more enjoyable if there weren't so many people crowding around and talking in 100 different languages. The history of the island before and after it was a prison were the most interesting part to me.

Originally, the island was used as a military base to safeguard the bay, then when they decided that it was escape-proof, the military used it as a military prison/work camp. The military prisoners actually build the building and structures that they were then held in. At that point, many civilians lived on the island in houses that still stand. When the military decided that it was too expensive to run (no fresh water, no sewer system, access of food difficult), they turned the prison over to the Federal prison system, who made it into the highest security federal prison in the US. The prisoners who broke out of other prisons or were extremely violent were sent here. When the Feds decided that it was too expensive for the same reason the military did, they left the island for the birds. For eighteen months, Native Americans lived on the island declaring it Indian land in protest of the US' policy on relocation of Indians. When they left, it only sat empty for 2 years before it became a National Park and hundreds of thousands of people began coming daily. The water tank held all water for the entire island. The four blocks of the prison were never completely filled. Although visitation was allowed, few visisted. Except for Melissa, of course, she wanted to come see Jennifer in the D block (isolation).
They have several small tours that anyone can take after the audio tour. Melissa and I went up to the hospital and on the "Escape" tour. Melissa is in the operating room.
By the time we left at 9:40, it was freezing (but still not dark). I wasn't cold (as you can guess by my outfit), but there were many people around me wishing they were dressed like me :)

Tour, Day 3-The Real Reason for the Trip.

The earliest day of the Vacation, Melissa and I got up and out of the room by 9 am! We walked two blocks to Starbucks and the rental car location tp pick up our very own silver Accent for the trip to Gilroy for Robin's Wedding.
I drove us 90 miles to Gilroy where we stopped at the outlet center, walked around, and got read for the wedding (in the car, haha).
Melissa and Robin helped each other get through the last year of nursing school and Melissa didn't want to miss the her special day.
The wedding was beautiful and we headed home at 7. We tried to stop at Walmart on our way home, but the GPS doesn't know the difference between Walmart and so we ended up at the headquarters. We got into downtown San Francisco just as a Giants game was getting out so it took us a twice as long to get back to our hotel. The Barns&Nobel guy wouldn't let us go to the bathroom without buying something (which Melissa did) and the parking garage guy was super confusing, but we were in bed by 10:30!

Photo Tour continued, Day 2

Day two started at 10:15 with a quick-trip to Burger King were we planned our day. After riding the double-decker bus the day before for the entire loop, we'd decided where we wanted to get off and spend some time. The bus stopped at each stop every twenty minutes. Our first stop of the day--China town. We enjoyed ourselves looking in all the little shops and even came home with some goodies for ourselves and friends.
The next stop was the famous park from Full House and the Painted Ladies (see the six Victorian house in the back with the beautiful decorative painting)We didn't get off, but we enjoyed the view of the Haight (pronounced hate) and Asbury district, known for the "free music, free love, and free drugs" according to our bus tour guide.
Next stop, the Golden Gate bridge. This is where the bus stops to let you out to walk across from the San Francisco side. We couldn't have asked for a better viewing day, no fog at all.
Walking across the bridge was interesting. It alternated between being hot and freezing, depending on how much wind there was at the moment, but the real danger was the speedy bikes that share the path with the walkers. If you hear that bell, get out of the way!

Melissa and I made it, here we are on the Marin County side of the bridge, waiting for the bus to pick us up and take us back over the bridge it took us 90 minutes to cross (suprising how long it takes to walk...)
Word for the wise: NEVER ride in the second story of a double-decker bus across the Golden Gate bridge. To be frank, it is painful, not pretty.
Simple Dinner at the Pizza Zone. I'm not sure I'd say it was the best in the west, but it was good and most importantly, cheap.
We spent the evening walking around the multiple piers and landmarks in the area. Headed home about 9:45 and celebrated the cold with our newly improved warm gear!