2 On The Road Blog

After 12 years of full-time rving, we've sold our truck and trailer but we're still traveling. Email us at wowpegasus@hotmail.com if you would like to contact us.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

San Francisco, CA

May 1st we drove into San Francisco because I have never been there. With the AAA book and some online research, I mapped out a walking tour starting by North Beach, San Francisco's Italian section. North Beach used to actually have a beach but a lot of the bay was filled in with debris from the 1906 earthquake and fire so it's far from the water now. This is the Church of Saints Peter and Paul on the north side of Washington Square. People were gathered in the park doing Tai Chi.

..We walked out the NE corner of Washington Square to Lombard Street and started walking up Telegraph Hill. Yes, this is the famous Lombard Street, crookedest street in the world, just not the crooked part. It's very steep though. This is just a view of some of the row houses on the way up the hill.
What we noted is that most of the row houses have garages. Very narrow garages. The drives are very tilted and the garage doors have all been trimmed to fit the tilt.
Just a look to the north as we climbed two blocks up. Notice the steepness of the street. That's a view of the bay with the Richmond -San Rafael Bridge in the far distance.
Looking backwards we could see the crooked part of Lombard Street in the distance. Up another hill of course. Nolan stood in the middle of the street to get this shot.
We were climbing Telegraph hill for the view and to see Coit Tower. Some say it resembles a fire plug. A pretty one though. We didn't go inside because it wasn't open for the day yet.
Standing on the stairs and looking to the north we see the back of the Christopher Columbus statue. On the left, right under the tree in the foreground and right above the trees in the distance, you can see Alcatraz Island.
...To the east we see Oakland Bay Bridge with piers in the foreground.
...To the NW we see the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin headlands. There's a big frieghter loaded with containers headed into the bay.
Here's proof I was there. That's the crooked part of Lombard Street and the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.
This photo shows what is just south of the last photo.
Alcatraz Island closeup.

This is a San Francisco public restroom. After each use the restroom cleans itself. If you stay in longer than 20 minutes, the door automatically opens so get your business done and get out of there before it exposes you!
...We took a walk down the Greenwich steps on the east side of the hill. There were lots of nice plantings along the way with paths leading to some of the buildings. I can't imagine living here.
Once we came back up the Filbert Steps, Nolan took some photos of the scenery starting with the finacial distrist to the south.
The next few shots are to the right of the previous one. In this one and the next one you can see the church on Washington Square.

....On the way back down Lombard street I saw that this water heater had a great view of San Francisco Bay. Now why would anyone put a window in a utility room?
..Oh this doesn't look good! But everything was A-ok. The vehicle was just pulled up to the garage door. They must have a good drainage system to have the drive slope down like this.
...We followed Taylor Street to Bay Street where the Powell-Mason cable car line ends. This shot is to the south.
Turning the cars around involves getting them to this turntable in the street.
Cable car in place and ready to be turned.
This is a manual affair. A couple of the cable car employees push and pull the car around.
....Ok, now it's turned around and ready to go back downtown.

..We continued north on Taylor Street to Fisherman's Wharf. It's about 10 a.m. at this point. Don't smell much fishy stuff but food is cooking and smelling good.
..We could have paid to have a ride in this RocketBoat but we didn't. We didn't go down to the end of Pier 39 to see the seals because we've already seen a bunch of them lately.
But we were getting hungry. So we stopped at this eatery.
..The menu listed a few items but its featured item was the fishwich. I got a fishwich and Nolan got a chickenwich.
...I'm not into cole slaw and I figured the jalapenos would be too hot but they weren't. Not a bad sandwich.
The USS Pampanito sits along Pier 45. We didn't do the tour but we got some information in the next couple of photos.

Also on Pier 45 was a museum of mechanical shows, coin machines and arcade machines. All were in working order so I figure the owners made their money when people shoved their quarters in the machines.
When we got to the arcade games in the back, there were many that Nolan and I remembered. I suppose computers and handheld games have made them all obsolete.
Next stop the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Four antique vessels comprise the nation's only floating national park. We could walk along the pier for free but had to pay a fee if we wanted to tour the boats.

..No this isn't one of the antique vessels even though it is displayed on the pier. Read the next photo and have your mind blown!

...A look down the pier.

Next stop was to the end of the Powell-Hyde cable car line for a ride on one of San Francisco's famous cable cars. We headed up Russian Hill, one of the city's steepest.
Looking forward in the car you can see the bell with the line coming back to where the gripman operates the car. Yes the gripman was right behind us.
The car stops at the top of Lombard Street so people can get out and see the curves. We elected to stay in and ride to the Cable Car Museum. Notice Coit Tower in the distance. This was the only part of the tour that we weren't on our feet.

Nolan said the Cable Car Museum was his favorite part of the tour. It was very informative. The first cable car went into action in 1873 but there were up to 8 different cable car companies during the years cable cars were run as private commercial enterprises. I think it was right after WW II that cable cars quit running because trolley cars were less expensive to operate. The cable car lines were resurrected in the early 1980's to attract tourists and preserve a little of San Francisco's history. Millions were spent to get the lines up and running.
First off, it is very, very noisy in the museum because it is the operations center for the cables. Double-click and read the following photos to learn how the cable car system works. Fascinating!
Looking over a railing we could see the cables running through these huge sheaves.
....I wished these photos were clearer so you could see what we saw. Each of the sets of sheaves was labels with which cable line they were operating.

What they didn't say was how much those cables weigh. Has to be tons!

...A grip
Cables have to be replaced every 70 to 200 days, depending on line and use.

There was a gift shop in the museum so I am pointing out where on the cable car we sat.
...So what's the difference between a cable car and a trolley? Read the next two photos to find out.

Next stop - Chinatown. As if you couldn't figure that out by looking at the photo. With over 10,000 residents, San Francisco's Chinatown is the largest Chinese community outside of China.
Just another street scene.
...We climbed up steps to a couple different temples which smelled strongly of incense.
Somewhere I read we should stop at Eastern Bakery, the US's oldest Chinese bakery and try the moon cakes. So we bought a Golden Yolk moon cake. It just wasn't to our taste.
Eventually we made it to the "start" of Chinatown at the junction of Bush and Grant Streets. This was the farthest south our walking tour took us.
..To get back to the parking garage, we walked up the other side of Grant Street. This is one of the street lights. Aren't they pretty?
..We walked up Stockton Street to get a look at the Chinese markets. I'm glad we weren't there earlier in the day. Saturday mornings are the time the markets are the busiest. It was hard enough getting around at 3 p.m.! We walked into a market that had barrels of items for sale. I didn't catch what these were but they weren't pretty.
There were lots of varieties of dried sea cucumbers for sale. Can't imagine eating something that looks and smells like this. They are pricy too.
There were also lots of varieties of dried mushrooms. I can't believe how many vegetables were on display that I didn't have a clue as to what they were!
Headed south on Stockton Street in the car. Notice the trolley car electric lines above.
Stockton Street runs through a tunnel for a couple blocks. I saw at least one other tunnel during our tour.

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