In the City by the Bay

Trip Start Apr 20, 2012
Trip End Sep 01, 2012

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What I did
Fishermen's Wharf

Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, June 17, 2012

Today was our day to spend in San Francisco and enjoy a small sampling of the sights, smells, tastes and sounds that the great city by the bay has to offer. Tim and Odie voted for a day off from driving so we instead took the public transportation "BART" (Bay Area Rail Transportation) from Oakland, under the bay and into the city. We were riding the rails under the waters of the bay by 9am and arrived at the Powell Street station in downtown San Francisco without a problem. Our first act was to buy round trip tickets on the cable car in order to go up and over one of the hills and spend a good part of the morning at the very touristy and well-advertised Pier 39 and Fishermen's Wharf. This is the place overlooking the water where you can buy any fresh seafood imaginable, charter a boat ride to the bay and Alcatraz and watch a myriad of street performers vying for the tourist dollar. 
We walked along the embarcadero and looked at all of the shops and restaurants and decided to visit the Aquarium by the Bay. As a small bonus, Tim got in free because it was Father's Day and we enjoyed looking at the fish and creatures that are found in San Francisco Bay. This was quite a neat aquarium as the majority of the visit was spent riding on very slow-moving walkways through clear glass tunnels with the fish swimming over, around and past us. It was a cool view of the marine species and a nice way to spend part of the morning. We then continued to walk around the Pier/Wharf area and spent a little bit of time staring at the Sea Lions that have moved in and are now a resident part of the scene since the great San Francisco earthquake. Locally, these marine mammals are referred to as SeaLionebrities?!?!?! By now we were feeling a bit hungry and the smells wafting from the various vendors was becoming a bit much for us (Tim) to resist. The kids and Jess had fish n' chips and Tim went for the iconic sourdough boule filled with clam chowder. We completed our time here by spending some time and quarters in the old school arcade. There were a range of very old games with wooden components and fortune-telling to arcade games from the 1980's. The kids really enjoyed playing air hockey and ended up each winning a game.
We were then ready for our return trip up and over the hill on the cable car. Having ridden over, we were now aware of how to space ourselves on the seats and give the kids the opportunity to stand on the outside and hold on to the poles while we whooshed up, over, and around the streets. There were a couple of times when the kids had to squeeze in close in order to avoid being clipped and picked off by parked buses and by cable cars going the other way. However, we/they survived intact and I could tell it was a great success of a ride, not just because we, as a family, got to ride the famous cable cars, but also due to the stream of "yippee, woohoo, and yippee" that came cascading out of Eli's mouth.
The end of our day was spent wandering the crowded, slow-moving and merchandise laden streets of Chinatown. It must have been due to the (not-so-fantastic) fish n' chips, or due to the 6 hours of wandering San Francisco, but we stopped into a small Mom and Dad restaurant for some afternoon Dim Sum. As much as the fish and chips were cold and disappointing at Fishermen's Wharf, these small plates of goodness were flavorful, hot, fresh and stunning! We had bbq pork buns, spring rolls, potstickers, vegetable dumplings, siu mai and shrimp and pork dumplings. All were made while we waited and each small plate was better than the last. Our tour ended with some new scarves for Jess, a headband for Lily and nunchuks for Eli. 
We then simply found our way back to Bart (well done Dad for all your location skills today), cruised back to the hotel where we enjoyed a light tea, a final shower and a sleep before heading back to the tent life and Mackerricher State Park outside Fort Bragg tomorrow. 
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