Monday, April 14, 2008

San Francisco, again

Monday was the last day of the conference, and I decided to go into San Francisco by myself. I am such a country girl, that this was a big step for me. I managed to navigate everything successfully, and once there, wandered around the Ferry building for a while. The ground floor is set up with many markets and shops. Most sell organic food, flowers, and hand made items. No junky tourists shops here! Then I went down to the wharf, and kept hearing seals or some other animal "barking" I went around the corner and there they were, lounging on the dock like they belonged there! They are wild but the city has placed these floating docks around for them, so they don't go in other places, and endanger themselves or someone else.
Later I took a 1 hr cruise around the bay. We sailed under the Golden Gate bridge, turned back and went around Alcatraz, and came back to the harbor.
The next day, our flight left the Oakland airport very early, and we were supposed to stop at Chicago Midway, then on to Orlando by 6pm est. Well, it was snowing HEAVILY in Chicago and we almost didn't get to land there at all. We did finally get on the ground, and then nothing was allowed to take off for several hours. So we sat. Finally we took off around 7pm, and landed in Orlando around 11pm. It definitely could have been worse, and we were very glad to get home. I have to say, Southwest employees were very kind through it all, and kept us regularly updated, and were in upbeat moods most of the time.

On to San Francisco!

Our first view of the Golden Gate bridge.

We stayed in Oakland CA, for the composting conference that Steve was attending, but we were able to go into San Francisco for the afternoon. Driving and parking are such an issue, that we were strongly advised to take the BART across the bay, then use the streetcars to get around. After some initial trouble figuring out the subway maps, we got the hang of it and actually enjoyed the subway. I didn't figure out until after we rode it, that the subway actually goes under the San Francisco Bay. I knew it went underground, but for some reason I didn't think about it going under the water too. Duh!

We took the BART to the Ferry Building, then took a streetcar to Fisherman's Wharf. All of the piers are numbered and the most well known is probably Pier 39, which has many restaurants, shops, etc on it. We wandered around there for a while, then went down to Hyde Park Pier, which is owned by the National Park Service. We were able to tour this beautiful old ship. It was built in Ireland, and hauled people and good from England to California, then took wheat and other crops back. They were in the midst of a famine in Ireland, so the wheat and other crops were badly needed. This was before the Panama canal was built, so that was a long voyage indeed!

Later the ship was used to take goods to Alaska, and brought canned salmon back

The interior of the ship was nicely restored with crew quarters (tiny!), captain's quarters, mess area, and cargo. These are some goods they might have brought from England. There were all kinds of household items, books, clothing, practical items and some luxury items.