June 29, 2016
Breakfast this morning was enjoyed beneath a pergola in a sunny courtyard at the Best Western in Sonoma, California. The hotel was recommended by my dad, and much appreciated. I wouldn’t have stayed there otherwise, and very glad we did. We had a fireplace, large bathroom, and deck that overlooked the pool and hot tub areas.
On our way out of town we passed many wine vineyards with their beautiful rows of grapes striping the low, rolling hills. We stopped at one to take pictures of grapes, which was fun.
When we got to San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge should have been visible, it wasn’t. A thick fog had enveloped her in a blanket that concealed her from us almost entirely. We braved the hard and gusty winds on the hills above, hoping for an opportunity to snap a photo or two. All we got was clouds whipping by at a high velocity, following the undulations of the hills as they blew past. It was cool to see, but not a phenomenon that could be photographed and not what we’d come to see. At the other side of the bridge, and at sea level, we found a pier from which we could get better pictures. A few fishermen were catching crabs, and I talked to them about their technique and successes. They were very friendly, pausing from our discussion only to shoo away hungry scavenger gulls attempting to steal their bait.
The drive over the Golden Gate Bridge was fun. The fog was a couple hundred feet above us, so only the very top was encased and obscured from view. When we got to San Francisco, Skye and Jenna navigated us to a parking garage near the Cable Car Museum. We spent a few minutes in the museum before walking down the hill to Pier 43 1/2 where we would catch the Red and White Fleet® for a cruise around the bay. My Uncle Ken recommended we take the ferry, and I’m glad we did. It took us under the Golden Gate Bridge and next to Alcatraz Island. The wind was very strong and at some point in the cruise took my hat and flung it violently and without regard into the Bay. There was an audio tour available, of which the girls each took advantage. For the rest of the day they kept telling me interesting facts about the city they’d learned from that presentation, which was nice.
We ate lunch at Bistro Boudin after we returned to shore and disembarked. I had a burger on a sourdough baguette, which was amazing. Skye said her club sandwich, on three pieces of sourdough, was the best sandwich she’s ever had, which is saying something. When we’d finished dining, we took the complimentary bakery tour, which Hayley was particularly excited about. We learned about the history of the bakery and its processes, about “Mother Bread” sourdough, then watched the bakers and their machines turn out fresh and wonderful smelling sourdough breads.
From Boudin we walked up Jefferson Street. We stopped in a couple souvenir shops and got t-shirts, sweatshirts, and postcards. No hats. Then we turned up Hyde and then again on North Point, which got us to Ghirardelli Square, where we bought chocolate, of course, and shared their world famous hot fudge sundaes.
It was getting late and we had a two-hour drive from the city to our hotel in Modesto, so we walked down Columbus to Mason, where we hoped to catch a cable car to the top of the steep hill. When one finally came, the conductor told us where to stand on the packed car, and off we went. I was holding my heavy camera, selfie stick, and the cable car handle as we lurched slowly up the hill. When he asked for the fare, I had to retrieve the cash from the wallet in my back pocket and hand it to him without dropping everything or letting loose from the handle and falling from the car and, probably, rolling down the hill. Thankfully, the women sitting directly in front of me offered assistance and handed the man a couple of twenties from my wallet, then returned to me the change. I was able to snap one selfie and enjoy the ride for a few blocks before we’d reached the intersection near where we had parked the truck in a garage. When we got off, I snapped a group selfie with the cable car in the background. It was fun, and I’m sure the girls enjoyed the experience, too.
We got the truck from the parking garage and Skye navigated me through the financial district of San Francisco before getting us on Interstate 80, which we hadn’t seen since Salt Lake City. We crossed the Oakland Bay Bridge and continued to Modesto. The city quickly turned to high golden hills with massive wind turbines spinning on their peaks.
Tomorrow we will visit Yosemite National Park!