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Doing San Francisco

Been a very long time since I have been in San Francisco so a day trip up there was called for. I found a coupon book at the campground in their adult lodge so I took that with me. You can get one yourself at the Visitor’s Center down on pier 33 I think once in town. There are coupons for food, parking, etc. in it. Too bad there isn’t one for the toll bridges. Criminy! It may only be $5 for autos to go across but they want a whopping $14 for cars with trailers. It doesn’t make any sense. They charge by the axle so my trailer only adds two more axles, the same as a second car. 2 cars going across would be $10 but a car and trailer are $14! Geez! I actually only hit that when leaving the area to go north. My day in San Francisco I went up the 101 up the peninsula right into town.

It is just as busy and hilly as I remembered it. Traffic is terrible. I can’t imagine living there and driving a car around there full time. Many residents forgo the car and either ride the many public transportation options or use a share-a-car program when necessary. Some staunch troopers brave the hills with bikes.

I headed over to the bay side and found free parking in a handicapped spot at the Alcatraz tour pier. It was a little confusing because their metro dept. seems to feel the need to stamp their name on all special curbs so I wasn’t sure if I could park there at the handicapped parking sign or if it was reserved for some sort of handicapped bus. When I got back at the end of the day, their was no ticket on the windshield so I was happy. I saw other special curbs in town with the same stamp so I figured it would be okay.

No luck getting on the Alcatraz tour there. It was a special weekend with the 75 year anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge so they were booked solid. Did get my usual postcards and patch at the nice little café there. Pier 33 was a good bit of a walk so I grabbed a pedicab ride to get there. A pedicab is the poor man’s limo. Pier 33 is a great place to start with lots of interesting shopping, the aquarium, carousel, and food smells to die for. I had to go for the Killer Burger when the delicious smell drew me over to their restaurant. A coupon also provided me with free pizza sticks there. Now thoroughly fortified for the day, I popped over to one of the nearby ticket booths to grab a slow cruise around the San Francisco bay and Alcatraz island. There is a faster jet boat tour too. While a bit cold out, I found the picture taking better out on the bow of my cruise boat rather than inside so I braved the elements and hung onto the rails to walk about and try to get that perfect shot. As we cruised under the Golden Gate Bridge, a big wave came over and drenched both me and my camera. Oops! Undeterred, I cleaned up the camera and continued shooting so if you see spots or sections out of focus in my pictures, now you know why. The ship in some of them was the USS Iowa heading out of harbor and down the coast. I got some great shots of Alcatraz too as we circled around it. Not as good as actually getting on the island but maybe I’ll get back there some time and make advance reservations. Live and learn.

Golden Gate BridgeAlcatrazSan Francisco

Next I headed over to Fisherman’s Wharf where the last running Liberty Ship, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, permits tours. Along the way, street musicians played for tips and other performers painted themselves in various colors while pretending to be statues or robots grooving to boom boxes. On the wharf, I got to use a cutout to be Rosie the Riveter in a pic. There was a submarine tied up for tours but I skipped that one since I have toured several before and these tours do have a cost attached. My first and only Liberty Ship tour was pretty interesting. The thing is as ugly as they say. It is a cargo ship with guns mounted on it to protect itself somewhat. Liberty ships were built fast and only meant to haul cargo for 5 years or at least one successful crossing before being sunk by German U-boats that were targeting them. I got to see the engine room which is the actual one you see in the movie “Titanic”. The engine technology from the 1800s was out of date and slow at the time the Liberty ships were built but cheap and easy to learn. I learned how the funnels are mounted with gears to turn them into the wind for fresh air below decks, particularly in the hot engine room.

Street performersRosie the RiveterSS Jeremiah OBrien

SS Jeremiah OBrienEngine room crewTitanic engines

I didn’t get a trolley ride while I was there and there was still plenty more to see but just this much took up an entire day so plan for several days to tour the area if you go.

For more pics and the full tour of the bay and Liberty Ship, click here.

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