Save Me, San Francisco!
Jason has tagged along with me to many work-related conferences. A couple of weeks ago, for the first time in years, I went with him as his tagalong. My hubby had to go to San Francisco for a convention of the nerdy variety and his offer to take me with him was graciously accepted.
Although our sightseeing time together in the City by the Bay was limited since Jason had to be at his conference for a large portion of our stay, our first couple of days were spent jointly exploring some of San Francisco’s famous landmarks and unique beauties.
Jason and I began our first afternoon in San Francisco by walking to the midpoint of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a lovely sunny day until we neared the bridge and then the conditions changed almost instantaneously. Dense fog seemed to materialize out of nowhere to dampen our view and freeze our faces. Still, even with a misty breeze carrying away our heat in its hazy fingers, the Golden Gate was something to behold and a fun stroll.
We went straight from the bridge to the Marin Headlands near Sausalito. With fragrant evergreens and windswept grasses edging sheer craggy drops into the ocean, the Marin Headlands were blustery, foggy, cold and beautiful. Sadly, we barely missed the small period of time that the Point Bonita Lighthouse is open each week but the scenery was worth our trip with or without the novelty of tunneling to a lighthouse.
On our way back into town we hit the famously twisted curves of Lombard Street. Jason loved navigating its bends so much that he had to loop back around and ride them a few more times.
The following day, we took the short clipper voyage to the infamous island of rock known as Alcatraz. Both Jason and I expected Alcatraz to be fascinating but we were surprised by just how much history, before and after its penitentiary days, was etched into its carved hillside and isolated buildings. It was striking, interesting and haunting.
Our last outing before Jason’s conference began was to Coit Tower. Unfortunately, the tower itself was closed for renovations but the stairs leading up to its commanding position atop Telegraph Hill were a neighborhood tale in of themselves and the views from Telegraph’s pinnacle were pretty spectacular. For the record, we took the stairs up Greenwich and down Filbert. If you find yourself headed up that enormous mound, I’d recommend taking one relentless set up and the other steep set down.
While Jason was stuck in his conference, I didn’t let his absence deter me from exploring the city. I spent a day solo at the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park run by the National Park Service. There, on the Hyde Street Pier, I boarded bygone boats from different eras of maritime domination. From the little but tough tug Hercules to the majestic three-masted Balclutha, these ships were remarkable. Although a look inside a few of their crew quarters permanently dispelled any romantic notions about a sailor’s life I might have had, my awe for the solitary existence of seafarers couldn’t be dislodged. The park’s museum also proved captivating. Did you know that there are many ships buried under buildings and in subway tunnels in San Francisco? It’s true, look it up yourself.
Along with my nautical exploits, I also went to the Exploratorium on my own while Jason was busy geeking it. The Exploratorium is more of a laboratory than a museum really. All of the exhibits are hands on and encourage tinkering and creativity. I spent the greater part of a day there and found myself fascinated many times over.
Jason had a couple of free nights once his conference began and on one of those we went to see Beach Blanket Babylon, the longest-running musical revue in theater history, with a couple of Jason’s work buddies. This show has been a standard in San Francisco for forty years. It was highly entertaining and the ridiculous hats just kept getting bigger and bigger.
Did I mention that we ate most heartily in San Francisco? From sourdough bread at Boudin Bakery to succulent seafood at Sotto Mare, we kept the yummy food coming. We sampled delicious wood-fired pie at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana and enticing Indian cuisine at Amber. Many of these meals were consumed in the fine company of friends and coworkers that were also in town for the conference. You can’t beat chowing excellent food with an excellent crowd.
Jason and I had a great time in San Francisco. I hadn’t been there in decades and Jason had never had that privilege. We saw some of the main attractions, gobbled as much delicious fare as we could fit down our gullets and I got a chance to do a little independent exploration. Being a tagalong ain’t too shabby.