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sf day 2: a crooked street, the bridge, and a visit to the rock

Well, we recouped some from our afternoon adventure after arriving in San Francisco yesterday and headed out to catch a few other sights. Our plan today in order to avoid 5-year-old-fatigue syndrome from setting in too early was to take advantage of SF wonderful mass transit system. We bought a day pass that allowed us full use of all transit options–cable cars, street cars, and buses. It was worth it. We started our adventure with a ride on the famous Powell-Hyde Street cable car which pulled us across town and up the famous Nob Hill to Lombard street (the crookedest street in the world, supposedly). We got off there to take some photos and walk up and down Lombard, poking fun at all the sorry motoring tourists who were braving the twists and turns of the 31.5 degree grade.

From here we hopped back on our friendly cable car and enjoyed a breezy ride down to Fisherman’s Wharf where we walked for a bit–past Ghirardelli square over to the edge of Fort Mason to catch a distance glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge. Our hope was to actually get a closer look of the bridge. Originally, we thought we’d walk along the Presidio over to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, but after estimating the walk to be about five miles, we remembered our (or rather Aidan’s) tired legs from the day before and consulted our transit map. We grabbed the 30 bus to Laguna and Chestnut and then, following the advice of our bus driver, walked up a block to Lombard to grab the 28 bus, which took us right to the base of bridge. We spent a couple hours exploring the recreation area and taking far too many photos of that magnificent red bridge as we made our way gradually down the steep embankment (via stairs) to the water’s edge. We grabbed lunch at the Warming Hut (great tuna sandwiches on the crunchiest baguettes you’ll ever taste), and took a few more pictures before heading back up to catch the 28 back the way we came to grab the 30 again back to Fisherman’s Wharf at Hyde Street Pier.

By this time it was about 3:30 and we were racing the clock to catch the ferry to Alcatraz that we booked before we came to SF. We started walking along the Wharf but quickly realized we once again underestimated the distance we had to traverse. We had to get to Pier 33 by no later than 4:00 to catch our boat to the Rock. Another quick look at our trusty transit map led us to the F-line street car which took us sailing smoothly along the street rails, arriving at our destination with time to spare.

It was about 4:00, the sun was hanging low in the sky, and we were about to embark on a ten minute ferry ride out into the bay to spend the next couple of hours on the infamous Alcatraz island–site of the first west coast lighthouse, civil war era military outpost, military prison, federal penitentiary, Indian uprising, and the largest population of Western Gulls on the northern California coast.

After circling the island, we docked and made the quarter mile walk up hill (a 13-story climb) past dilapidated guard barracks, through a guardhouse (built in 1857), finally to arrive at the entrance to the Cell House where we would spend the majority of our time on the Rock. We walked its haunted halls for the better part of an hour before exploring other areas of the island–the lighthouse, the warden’s house in ruins from a fire long ago, and the yard for inmates who earned the privilege of 30 minutes of fresh air.

Our time on the Rock was a memorable one. We all enjoyed the tour. The ride back on the ferry afforded a beautiful (even if chilly) view of the city lights, and the sun setting behind the Golden Gate Bridge.

Despite the promises we made to ourselves the day before, we found ourselves on the streets of San Francisco once again with an exhausted five-year-old. To our dismay we learned that our trusted F-line streetcar would not arrive back at Pier 33 for another 40 minutes, so Chris loaded Aidan on her back (I’m telling you, she’s got superhuman strength) and we started hoofing it. We eventually grabbed a bus, took our trusty cable car back across town, grabbed a couple of pizza slices to go, and walked the remaining blocks to our hotel. Once again, we were all out when our heads hit the pillows. Tomorrow, we’ll take it easy, really.

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