Category: Alcatraz

San Francisco

The amount of traveling that I am doing with Michael this year has me thoroughly spoiled.  I keep trying to remind myself that this is not a normal year, that I shouldn’t expect this every year, but I’m not sure it’s actually sinking in very well :).

Anyway, 2 weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend a week in San Francisco with Michael.  He was in between jobs (had 5 weeks vacation between ending at Brightlink and starting at his new company, SalesForce).  I, however, was still working, but I got the go ahead from my boss to work remotely that week, so I still got to go and meet his friends and see the city with him.  Although I did still have work to do, I worked pretty far ahead the weekend before I left, so I was able to mostly relax and enjoy my time there.

Michael had spent the week prior camping in Oregon, so we ended up flying to San Francisco separately on Sunday night, since he was coming straight from Oregon and I was coming from Atlanta.  I wanted to get as much work done early in the week as possible so I didn’t have to worry about it, so Monday was a work day pretty much all day, although we did get to go out to a Japanese ramen place in the evening with some of his friends, Nathan and Elyse W.  The next day I worked in the morning, but then in the afternoon we found a Stray Boots tour of the wharf area.  You may remember my post about the Stray Boots tour I did in Portland when I went to visit Rachel about a year and a half ago (The Amazing Race: Oregon Edition).  Well, I liked it so much that I decided to do it again in the Golden City.

So we headed over to Fisherman’s wharf, and spent the afternoon exploring the rich history and tradition that that area of town has to offer.  We stopped by the Boudin Bakery (where they make fantastic animals out of bread dough), the famous Ghirardelli Square, art galleries (my favorite one was the one with prints by Dr. Seuss!), the cable cars (which are the only method of public transportation to also be a protected national monument), the Hyde street pier (where we got to explore some old boats docked at the wharf), a nautical museum, and the Musee Mecanique (a famous museum full of antique video games) – just to name a few.  That was an awesome blast from the past!  Although admittedly the only game that I’d actually played before was pinball, it was fun to see the first versions of the subculture that is a part of so many peoples’ lives nowadays.  There are a bit more details of the tour in the captions of the pictures below, if you want to read them.

The next day, Wednesday, was pretty chill – I worked in the morning, and then we went to the Golden Gate park, a large park in the middle of the city that has a rather odd collection of items in it.  A windmill, fly-fishing ponds, and a bison are some of the eclectic artifacts that come to mind.  After spending the afternoon relaxing in the park and seeing the beauty and variety that it had to offer, we got ourselves cleaned up and went to find a dance club.  I can now say that I’ve danced West Coast Swing on the actual west coast.  Quite an achievement, if I do say so myself :).  I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to do it!  Bonus points for deciding to join the Jack and Jill dance contest that they had going on that night and placing second! 😀

The next day was probably the highlight of the week.  Michael and I took a day trip out to Alcatraz, one of the most infamous and feared prisons in the world.  We had to take a ferry to get there, but parking around the ferry landing is really expensive, so we decided to figure out San Francisco’s public transportation system and bus it over there.  We had a bit of an adventure getting there – google maps gave us a pretty direct route to take, but didn’t tell us that we would have to take a different transit system, so we ended up taking 3 buses instead of 2 and walking a whole lot more than we were expecting to.  It was fun, though – I like figuring out new transit systems.

Once we got to Alcatraz, there was a self-guided audio tour that we took to help us find our way around the complex.  It was very interesting.  I particularly enjoyed the stories of bravery and daring, cruelty and caring that we were told about the former prisoners and guards alike.  After Alcatraz, we went on a tram tour of Angel Island, Alcatraz’ bigger but lesser-known cousin.  It was used as a barracks and detainment center for immigrants, and now is a state park.  We didn’t have very long to stay there, but I enjoyed it.  It’s definitely a place that I would go back to on a day trip if I lived in the area.

Aside from the fun and “touristy” things we did – we also got to go on a sailboat ride around the bay on Saturday, our last day – the point of the trip really was to see / meet his friends on the west coast.  We had dinner with Jon and Julie K. and their 2 little munchkins after the Stray Boots tour, went to a housewarming party for Matt and Anna L. that was fortuitously scheduled while we were in town, saw Nathan and Elise again on Friday night (we cooked dinner together for them), and went out to dinner with Matt and Anna on Saturday.  It was lovely.  The whole reason I wanted to go was to meet and start to feel like I was a part of this portion of Michael’s life.  And I feel like we succeeded in that.  One of the best things about my job, one of the things that I am most grateful for, is how flexible it is, how willing my boss has been to find creative ways to let me run free (as free as I can, at least, in a regular job).  That’s something I’m definitely going to miss!