September 23-26, 2016
San Francisco, California
San Francisco is a city that I’ve always wanted to visit. So even though Brad would prefer a buffer of about 100 miles between us and the nearest big city, my entire family joined me to explore for 2 full days in the Bay Area. We seemed to have visited on the hottest weekend of the year, even though we had come prepared for the seasonally expected mild weather with pants and jackets. But instead we sweated our way along the streets and my biggest souvenir was the worst sunburn I’ve had all year.
Despite the heat, we had a fantastic time. We had the treat of meeting up with one of my long-time friends from high school and his girlfriend. They showed us around the city and taught us interesting things about each neighborhood, but were still willing to play tourists with us.
I thought everyone rode the cable car across town every day to work while eating rice-a-roni…but it is not so! The cable car was an expensive one-way ticket and an hour + wait in a line of other tourists. But we had a blast.
On the second day we had the pleasure to meet up with another friend on a beach north of the city where we enjoyed some great conversation, play time in the sand, and even got to watch dolphins playing in the surf.
We purchased an annual membership to the UASTM for our family and got to use it for the first time at the Children’s Creativity Museum. So far I’m really happy with this membership since it almost paid for itself in one use! Ryan & Alisa even joined us at the museum to play with robots, make stop-motion animations, and perform in our own music videos!
Our campground north of San Francisco was in the Olema Valley, which we learned after arriving sits within the San Andreas fault. So everything to the east of us was on the Continental Plate, and everything west of us was the Pacific Plate. We were just outside of Pt Reyes National Seashore which would have been a great place to explore if we’d had more time. One sign we read said that this piece of land moved 20 feet in half an hour during the 1906 earthquake. There was a short hike to learn and see more, but we didn’t get a chance to check it out. We heard that there was a chance to see bioluminesence in the water at the shore, so we struck out on our last night after dinner to try to see this bucket-list phenomena. Spoiler alert – we didn’t see any. But it ended up being a bit of an adventure in and of itself. On the moonlit drive we saw numerous deer, 2 foxes, and a skunk’s tail lifted in our direction from the bushes on the side of the road. When we got out of the truck at the end of the twisty-turny 20 minutes drive out into the park, the stars above us were breathtaking. I could clearly see the bright line of the milky way in a big stripe down of the middle of the sky. My more cosmicly-educated friends might correct me on what I was actually seeing, but whatever it was it was beautiful. We could hear the booming of crashing waves as soon as we started on foot, but we had a 10 minute trail hike to the beach. In the dark. With flashlights. Once we took a wrong fork in the trail and accidentally started heading out the peninsula. Once we happened upon a couple of raccoons rummaging through a trashcan. We had seen so many deer along the route (who did not seem alarmed by cars drivng straight at them) and warning signs for elk that my primary concern was that a huge elk would suddenly be on our path and startle the beejeesus out of me. That didn’t happen, but hiking along an unknown trail in the dark to the soundtrack of an enormous ocean forced me to push through my fear at several points. When we finally got to the coast line, the black ocean was too intimidating to interact with too much. So we splashed and dug around in wet sand for awhile, trying to catch a glimpse of the glowing microorganisms we were hunting, but to no avail.
And because we were all just slightly terrified (50% of us were pretending not to be, 50% of us were loud dissenters) we hiked back up to the truck to enjoy a few more minutes of stargazing from inside the safety of our truck’s cab.