The drive was super quick and easy, despite it being a holiday weekend. Charlie routed us around the LA traffic and by the time we hit the 5 it was smooth sailing. Only one stop and we made it in about six and a half hours. We stayed at a Hyatt in Emeryville right at the base of the Bay Bridge. The boys' favorite feature of the room was the balcony overlooking the train tracks. Um yeah, a little noisy, but hey it was free.
After checking in and getting settled a bit we headed out to explore the nearby peninsula and watch the sunset, before going to grab dinner at a local diner.
The next morning Charlie and I traded off going for runs along the coast line before grabbing breakfast. By mid morning we were in downtown San Francisco meeting up with my friend Amy and her two girls (Paul was busy with home renovations). We met at the cable car turn around on Powell and Market Streets. In all my trips to San Francisco I had never ridden the cable car and we thought it would be fun for the boys too. Well we should have done a little more research because this was the WRONG spot to get on! We waited nearly two hours in line with whiny children (ours, not Amy's), when we could have easily walked one block up and jump right on. We were quite exasperated once we realized this.
At least it was cool to watch as the cable cars reached the end of their route and were turned around on a giant turntable before loading up again with passengers to head back down to the wharf. (I promise not every photo is of the back of my boys' heads.)
Charlie bought a few bags of chips from a nearby street vendor to rejuvenate the kids a bit. I was trying to capture a cute shot of Luke and Clara with their orange faces and fingers, but instead ended up with this rather hilarious photo bomb from Isaac.
I think I always set too high of expectations for photo ops. I imagined us all hanging off the side of the cable car while cruising down a quintessential San Francisco hill with the wind in our hair. But alas we were all jammed inside of the car with barely enough elbow room to get any photos at all! Once I got past my disappointment we all had enjoyable ride. Except for sweet little Rose who wailed the entire time. Her mother reports that the poor girl does the same thing every time she rides in the car.
Everyone (except for Isaac) agreed to humor my attempt at that imagined cable car photo before we got off. Not quite the picturesque gem I was hoping for - but fun anyway.
We walked around the wharf for awhile and Amy got Rose settled while Charlie took the boys and Clara on a tour of the old Balclutha pirate ship that was docked at the pier.
We had lunch at the super crowded Boudin restaurant and then boarded an old fashion trolleybus to take us back into the city where we had parked. Clara and Rose were both ready for naps and I'm pretty sure that ride felt like the longest one ever for Amy as she was trying to hush baby Rose while simultaneously attempting to keep Clara from falling over in sleepiness.
Thank you Amy for braving the city with your two little ones in order to see us! It is always wonderful to catch up and spend a little time together.
After parting ways with Amy we did a little bit of shopping and then walked towards China Town. When we told Isaac our intention of visiting China Town he nearly broke down with a sobbing wail "No! Not China again!" (he is just a little dramatic). Though he actually enjoyed many parts of our China trip and had a lot of fun experiences, there were also several things that he did not like about China and he is very quick to let you know about that. Despite his protests, we strolled down a block or two of China Town before moving on.
I forgot our stroller for this trip. I didn't give much thought to how much we would be walking and just completely forgot to load it in the car before leaving Irvine. By about 2:00 that afternoon my arms were aching from carrying Luke who had zonked out in my arms. It is rare for him to nap, but he was up late the night before and had been walking all morning. We found a City Target and purchased a $14.99 umbrella stroller. Best purchase ever!
On our way back to the car we passed a restaurant called Super Duper with a sign out front advertising chocolate dipped organic soft serve ice cream cones. That sounded wonderful to me and it was. I also wasn't sad when I had to eat Luke's ice cream cone too since we were unsuccessful in waking him from his deep slumber in the stroller.
Our last stop for the day was Lombard Street. Once again, we waited in a too long line to get to the top of the street (when we could have cut in from a side street closer to the top). We kept telling the boys how it was such a fun and crazy street to drive on, but once we finally began driving down it they were totally disappointed. Mostly I think because we had to drive so slowly due to the traffic, and also because the tall rows of bushes make it hard to get a good view of the actual road.
As you can see, Isaac was totally unimpressed.
They were both much more excited about driving down the big straight hills that they could see all the way down. Those were the "roller coaster" hills.
We drove the long way back to our hotel in order to go across the Golden Gate Bridge. Luke was disappointed that it wasn't actually golden. (He has adopted the favorite color "golden" from Isaac and labels everything yellow as such.)
That night we browsed around the local mall and then ended up at a dive Mexican restaurant for dinner.
The next morning brought us back to the city for more fun. Our first adventure was a Bay cruise that went under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz. The weather was beautiful, but the wind did a number on everyone's hair. And now for the photo overload.
I loved going under the Golden Gate Bridge. It is really magnificent. I've loved this bridge since I was a little girl - long before ever visiting it in person. My family had a whole collection of jigsaw puzzles (I love puzzles) and my favorite was always the 1,000 piece puzzle of the bridge - despite about 800 of those pieces being all blue ocean and sky. Little did 8 year old Carrie know that the Golden Gate Bridge would someday be the backdrop to her marriage proposal. Really, how could it get any better than that?
Luke got tired, or bored, or both (he was not asleep).
We looked into doing a tour of Alcatraz, but the available times were no good and we figured the boys wouldn't have much patience for it. However, Isaac was totally fascinated by The Rock and unloaded his typical question barrage as we sailed around it.
While heading towards food, we passed a street performer who was swallowing a metal clothing hanger that had been straightened into a long spear. We were initially intrigued but then quickly encircled by a crowd and Isaac was captivated and then we were stuck. So we ended up watching a 20 minute performance and dropping $5 into a hat. I didn't really appreciate all of the innuendos, but the guy was at least fairly entertaining.
We grabbed a quick lunch of fried shrimp, fish, calamari, and french fries and ate outside on the busy sidewalk.
Next we hopped on another trolleybus to a cool neighborhood in the SOMA (South of Market) district. Charlie wanted to visit a store called Timbuk2 to get a new laptop bag. Meanwhile I took the boys to play at a nearby park with this cool climbing structure. It ended up being a lot of drama because Isaac really wanted to climb to the top but was too scared to do it and backed down at least a dozen times crying, while Luke had no fear - even though his short little legs kept slipping through the ropes - and he persisted in climbing higher than where I could reach him. Totally exasperating.
After dragging them away from the play structure we trudged up a very steep hill to reach Alamo Square Park. I kept having to encourage Isaac on the way up, reminding him that this climb was sooo much easier than the Great Wall of China. He wasn't convinced but persevered anyway. I had been bugging Charlie to go see the Painted Ladies, which are the famous row houses from the opening credits of the TV show Full House. He humored me in going there, but upon arrival we were both taken by surprise with the grandeur of the place.
Alamo Square Park not only offers a phenomenal view of the city, but it's also a lovely park with huge shady trees, sprawling green lawns, charming play grounds, and surrounded by colorful row houses & beautiful architecture. It easily jumped into my top few favorite spots in San Francisco. The boys spent a long time playing on the playground and swings before we wrapped up our day.
We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Oakland and called it a night. The next morning Charlie & I each got a run in before loading up the car and spending our Memorial Day on the road back home. It was another quick drive and we even had time for a trip to the pool back at home. Thanks to Charlie for planning such a fun and spontaneous little get away!