Wednesday, January 23, 2013

San Francisco Weekend Part 2

After a full night of sleep, my mom and I woke up nice and rested on Sunday morning.  We set off on the hilly streets for our morning walk.  After a few rough hills, we came upon the Grace Cathedral.  The cathedral was open to visitors and so we headed inside.  It was beautiful! The cathedral is huge and very open.  We continued on our walk to find some breakfast and found a cute little coffee shop where my mom and I enjoyed yogurt with fresh fruit (the pineapple was divine!) and a Greek breakfast sandwich.  My mom also ordered fresh squeezed orange juice and I got a pick-me-up of a small coffee.

Once our stomach's were full we headed back to the hotel to prepare for our next adventure - Alcatraz! I had purchased tickets online the night before so we just hopped on a trolley car and picked up our tickets.

Alcatraz Island is only a short boat ride from Pier 33 on a solar powered boat.   The views from the boat were awesome.

The city skyline.

The Bay Bridge.

And the Golden Gate Bridge.  

The island includes lots of plant life and many species of birds. 

Once we we deboarded the ship we headed up another steep hill to pick up our headphones for the audio tour.  The audio tour for the prison is set up very cool.  They've included several inmates and former guards' voices and stories in the audio tour.  I learned about escape attempts both semi-successful and unsuccessful.

We happened to be there on a day when a former resident of Alcatraz Island was also there.  Jolene Babyak  lived on "The Rock" as a child when her father was associate warden of the prison.  She's the author to several books about the prisoners of Alcatraz and Eyewitness on Alcatraz which details life on Alcatraz for the guards, families, and prisoners.  I'm hoping to pick up this book soon!

We walked around the whole island and I wish we could have stayed longer, but we were getting hungry.  Once back on the mainland, we headed over to the Pier 39 area for lunch.  First we were side-tracked by some loud barking coming from a hoard of sea lions.  

We found a lunch spot and I had some clam chowder.  I was definitely taking advantage of this seafood thing  while I was near the ocean.  This is slightly ironic considering the clams in my clam chowder were most likely not fresh.  

My mom and I were debating how to spend our last hours in San Francisco and eventually decided on renting bikes and biking to the Golden Gate Bridge.  I knew that San Francisco was hilly, but we both underestimated how strenuous of a bike ride we had signed up for.  Funny that they didn't mention the physical challenge when we were signing up for our rentals.  Good thing my mom and I both exercise regularly so we were able to power up the hills.  I estimate that we probably did about 15 mile ride.  

We biked all the way across the bridge and down into Sausalito.  I wanted to stop and take a picture on the bridge but I was a bit too much of a chicken to stop.  It's not that I don't have faith in the design or construction of the bridge, but bridges like this do tend to sway and vibrate and that feeling creeps me out.  Random sidenote:  I can also feel the movement of the floors at the Schaumburg IKEA since it made mostly from concrete (I think).  The feeling makes me a bit quesy.

By the time we arrived in Sausalito, it was already getting dark and cold so we ended up taking the ferry back to San Francisco.  To celebrate our bike ride we stopped back at a Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop for a decadent sundae.

Since I was meeting my boss in the morning and my mom needed to catch a flight, we caught the train back out towards the airport Sunday evening to our second hotel.  The next morning, my mom and I enjoyed a quick breakfast together before I headed out for my customer visit and she flew back to Chicago.  My mom caught another round of bad luck and her flight ended up being delayed over an hour! Her drive home ended up being a bit later than she wanted but she made it safe and sound!

I was able to sneak in one run along the bay before I left San Francisco.  The weather wasn't too bad and I caught to enjoy some gorgeous views as the sun was setting.  I wish I could have this scenery on all my runs.  

On Tuesday, I squeezed in a short yoga session at the airport! San Francisco Airport has a small yoga room and I enjoyed getting away from the crowds for a few downward dogs!  Then it was back to a very chilly Chicago.  Even though I complained about the cold weather in San Fran, I would gladly exchange the single-digit days we've been having in the Midwest for those 40 degree days!

I wish that my mom and I would have been able to spend a few more days exploring San Francisco as we definitely missed out on a few things we wanted to see.  But, overall, we both had a great trip.  I really enjoyed traveling with my mom and I am so grateful she is willing to explore new places with me.  This was our first trip together without the rest of my family and I hope we will be able to do this again in the future.  (And Dad, if you are reading, we can take a trip to go golfing somewhere!)

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