Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Very Best Day

I am TRYING to adjust to normal (i.e., not itinerant train-traveling) life around here, but it's hard. Last night I went to bed at 9:30, exhausted. Which is always a mistake, because then I am wide awake at 1 AM.  Oh, well...

Never knew what these were called before
Also, Rachel basically welcomed me home Friday with "I have rehearsal Saturday morning and then you need to pick me up and take me to buy character shoes. Also, can we go to Target tonight to get the makeup I need for the play?"

Yeah, she missed me. Sort of. So I put those driving shackles right back on and drove to Target, and the next day to the special dance shoe store for the shoes she needs to be part of the ensemble for Beauty and the Beast. She will also be playing the part of a spoon, but thank goodness someone in the drama department took care of those particular wardrobe requirements.

I'm just not that good at silverware costumes.

Surprisingly non-PC for California...
All this driving is making me look back with longing at my days of riding the train and wandering around strange cities, which only goes to show you how deceptive nostalgia can be, right? But, truly, once I called Amtrak from our hard-won hotel room and realized I still had one segment left on my rail pass that was good for taking the bus into San Francisco, our California trip brightened considerably.

The next day we used Uber (FINALLY) to go to the train station and take the Amtrak bus straight to Pier 39 (Fisherman's Wharf). We saw sea lions, which delighted Susie; and we (well, I) enjoyed clam chowder in a sourdough bowl while Susie satisfied her vegetarian self with grilled cheese (on sourdough, natch) and onion rings. Susie bought saltwater taffy. Also, a little wallet that said San Francisco on it that was probably made in China by 10-year-olds locked in a windowless factory 15 hours a day. But Susie thought it was pretty, so there was that.

Literally PILES of sea lions...
Then I looked at the city map and realized there was NO WAY we could walk all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge (especially after what I had put my daughter through the night before) and still enjoy our day. And this, dear reader, was the point where I let loose my inner tourist and plunked down an obscene amount of money for tickets on one of those double-decker Hop-On, Hop-Off buses that will take you around the city.

It was worth every penny.

Free chocolate bunnies from Ghirardelli
We rode to the Golden Gate bridge where we got (nay, hopped) off and wandered around for half an hour enjoying the scenery and also desperately looking for an electrical outlet to charge my phone. Then we hopped back on the next bus, and I managed to persuade heights-averse Susie to ride on the open top where we experienced a fantastic tour of most of the city - the Presidio, the Haight, the Painted Ladies, Chinatown, Union Square - you name it, we saw it.

We finally disembarked at Lombard Street to walk all the way up and see the cars zigzagging their way down the steepest part of the hill (and I have NO pictures of that or of the view because my phone ran out of charge, and really I will regret that forever). Then we inched our way down the hill and over a block or two to Ghirardelli Square, where Susie ate THE MOST EXPENSIVE SUNDAE I have ever had the privilege to buy (she did share a little with me) while I (finally) charged my phone.

Probably, at this point, Larry was sitting at home, watching the credit card charges mount up and regretting he ever encouraged this adventure.

We don't have these at home
And we weren't done! We meandered along the wharf all the way back to where we had started, watched a lady making bunny bread and turtle bread and alligator bread (because San Francisco is wonderful like that), picked up dinner to eat later at the train station, and then spent another small fortune to Uber back to Emeryville. (Yes, there is BART, but one look at the bus maps and schedules and I knew I would never figure it out in time to make our 10 PM train north. Seriously, San Franciso, WTH?)

In San Francisco, even doggies use Uber
Being pros at train travel by this time, we had the Uber drop us at Trader Joe's so we could stock up on food for the ride. Then we summoned another Uber (poor Larry, sitting at home, shaking his head) to get us back to the hotel (where they had held our bags all day, thank goodness) and then to the train station.

Susie was enamored of the palm trees - "Just like Dr. Seuss!"
Seriously, it was a perfect day. We did everything we had planned and we didn't get lost even  once. And then we got on the train for Seattle where we sat directly behind the parents from hell for 22 straight hours, but that is a different story for a different post. Let us leave this day alone in its pristine perfection, one beautiful shining memory, okay?



  1. That does indeed read like a perfect day. Congratulations!
    My hazy memory of being Susie's age (or possibly younger) and being dragged all over SF with my family is not a particularly pleasant one.

    *If you read that sentence multiple ways, it is still correct.

  2. Reading through all of your posts makes train travel sound perfectly wonderful and perfectly horrible all at the same time! Regardless, it sounds like an adventure of a lifetime and one I'm sure you guys won't ever forget!

  3. San Francisco sounds amazing! What great memories to have with your daughter. Can't wait for the "parents from hell" story!

  4. Sounds like a wonderful day and it looks as if you had perfect weather for it!

  5. This is a memory that will burned into your memory's for a life time!

  6. One time I lost my boy on pier 39. Worst day of my life! I found him after 20 minutes. That's quite a crowd to lose someone in. However I would go back in a heartbeat for some of that clam chowder in a bread bowl. Yum. (And he is a bit older now :) ).

  7. One of my all time favorite cities.....Nice trip.

  8. I really enjoyed SF. But I will have to go back now that I know Ghirardelli gives away chocolate samples. So glad you enjoyed it!

  9. I've never done the tour other than the "getting lost tour" haha. Did you know the city is only like 7 miles wide? That helped me not freak out as much about getting lost there ;)