After a long day of conference going (the actual purpose of the trip, after all), we jumped on the streetcar to see a few more sights. Aidan absolutely wanted me to see the sea lions at Pier 39 that he had so much fun seeing the day before. But first, we planned to make a stop at the Coit Tower.

After a somewhat uncomfortable ride on a crowded streetcar (still a good way to travel), we arrive at a stop that, according to our transit map, would bring us pretty close to the Coit Tower. As we scanned the horizon, there it was–close in terms of horizontal distance, but nestled neatly [singlepic=357,350,350]The Coit Toweratop a small mountain without any apparent means of easily getting to the top. A sheer cliff face stood between us and the summit. After walking a few blocks, we eventually found a staircase anchored to the side of the hill that took us up–at least partway. From the top of the stairs, we still had to walk a couple blocks up what seemed a 30-plus-percent grade–to the top of Telegraph Hill. I don’t know how the natives do it day in and day out. Finally we arrived.

The first floor of the tower is adorned with a series of murals painted during the WPA era in 1933. Past the murals you’ll find a tourist-trap gift store where you can purchase your five-dollar-a-pop ticket to take the fifty-eight second elevator ride to the top of the tower. The ride up comes courtesy of an old Otis manual car switch elevator original to the 1933 construction of the tower. It’s quite a ride, complete with witty elevator operator (who’s always willing to accept your gratuity for pushing the elevator button).

After we had our fill of scenic vistas, we called for the elevator and took the ride down to head off to Pier 39 to see those sea lions. This time we caught the bus right at the top of the hill, which took us all the way to the pier. Aidan pulled me along eager to show me the sea lions which he had grown to love the day before. There can be up to 600 of these mammoth sea mammals congregated on these floating docks at peak season. The gawking crowds of picture-taking tourists (that’s me) don’t seem to bother them at all. It’s funny to watch their antics as they bark and wrestle, jockeying for a free piece of dock upon which to sun themselves. [singlepic=354,250,250]Barking sea lionsWe arrived here late in the day and the sun was directly in front of me, so making good images with proper exposure was difficult; still, I have included a few here.

We finished our evening with dinner at a place called Pier Market–one of Pier 39’s many restaurants. It was pretty good–even if a little touristy (to be expected given the location). After dinner we made a quick stop at the souvenir shops to pick up Aidan’s new stuffed friends–Whiskers the stuffed sea lion and Star Fisher the playful sea otter–along with a few other souvenirs for family and friends back home.

We began our journey back to the hotel, hopping the F-line streetcar again. We overshot our stop though by one and ended up smack-dab in front of a strip club complete with a colorful array of street hustlers adorning the entrance (sorry, no pictures). Needless to say, that’s homeschooling/road-schooling at its finest. (Actually, at this point Aidan was too tired to notice.) We eventually made our way back to the hotel and crashed–a little sad that our trip was soon coming to an end.