San Francisco – Last Day

We woke up around 7:45 AM this morning. Normally that would be late except that we went to bed around 12:30 AM. The night before, Jeri and I decided that we’d go out for coffee (for her) in the morning.

So after cleaning up and getting our stuff mostly packed, we finally left the house a bit before 10 AM. We knew that we had an 11:00 AM deadline to check out of the place.

We wandered around until we asked someone for help; he pointed us to a Starbucks about a block or two away. So we had two scones and Jeri got a cup of coffee. The Starbucks was located at the end of the trolley line. Jeri had an orange/cranberry scone and coffee; I just had a blueberry scone.

Coffee and Scones. Click photo to view full size.
Coffee and Scones. Click photo to view full size.

Here we are next to the sign for Fisherman’s Wharf.

At the Sign for Fisherman's Wharf. Click photo to view full size.
At the Sign for Fisherman’s Wharf. Click photo to view full size.

After enjoying our breakfast, we went back to our place and grabbed our stuff. Here is the inside of the apartment.

Inside the SF Apartment. Click photo to view full size.
Inside the SF Apartment. Click photo to view full size.

Here is the outside; it was interesting living in San Francisco just a few blocks from the wharf. However the next time that we come, we will stay in a hotel room so we can stay warm.

Outside the SF Apartment. Click photo to view full size.
Outside the SF Apartment. Click photo to view full size.

We drove down Highway 1 along the Pacific coast as we headed to Santa Cruz. We planned to have lunch in Capitola at Dharma’s Restaurant–a vegetarian/vegan place that we enjoyed when we lived in the area about seven years ago.

Driving Down Highway 1. Click photo to view full size.
Driving Down Highway 1. Click photo to view full size.

Stopping to see the Waves. Click photo to view full size.
Stopping to see the Waves. Click photo to view full size.

The drive was pretty–seeing waves, cliffs, lighthouses. Perhaps due to the beautiful weather (sunny, calm, temps around 70 F), there were lots of people. A heavy stream of cars flowed north from Santa Cruz towards Half Moon Bay Fortunately we were southbound. When we got to Santa Cruz, traffic was bumper-to-bumper in both directions.

Around 2 PM, we arrived at Dharma’s and ordered our meals. When they arrived, we had forgotten how huge the servings were. Jeri had the Szechuan Tofu with Vegan Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake; I had the Tempeh Rueben with Vegan Chocolate Cake. We enjoyed it greatly.

Jeri at Dharma's with Szechuan Tofu and Vegan Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake. Click photo to view full size.
Jeri at Dharma’s with Szechuan Tofu and Vegan Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake. Click photo to view full size.

Tim at Dharma's with Tempeh Rueben and Vegan Chocolate Cake. Click photo to view full size.
Tim at Dharma’s with Tempeh Rueben and Vegan Chocolate Cake. Click photo to view full size.

Following the meal, we drove over the mountain on Highway 17 to the San Jose airport. The one-hour, non-stop flight to John Wayne airport was perfect. One of the flight attendents enjoyed his opportunity to play stand-up comedian.

San Francisco Day 2 – The Evening

Because we were behind schedule, we didn’t get to eat at the vegan restaurant that we were considering for lunch called Seed and Salt. Instead we ate bars during our bike ride.

We headed back to our apartment to clean up and change. Miriam, the owner of the place where we were staying, told us a “trick” to getting free parking. We parked at Safeway and made a purchase (we got a bag of cookies) to get our parking ticket validated.

After changing clothes, wee set out to meet up with Rob and Chris in preparation of our business-related meeting with Jason. Initially we set out to the Moscone Convention Center but Rob later told us to meet at Holiday Inn at Fisherman’s Wharf. (Had we known that at the beginning, we could have just walked and saved ourselves $29 in parking fees. Oh, well.)

We all met up in the Holiday Inn lobby. We hadn’t seen Rob and Chris for quite a while. We met up with Jason and then walked down to Pier 39, the famous tourist trap. The streets are lined with shops filled with fun and interesting stuff. I had to take this picture for Lizzie.

Many Unique Hats. Click photo to view full size.
Many Unique Hats. Click photo to view full size.

Eventually Rob, Jason, and I sat down at Swiss Louis Italian & Seafood Restaurant. They ordered some drinks and we talked business for several hours. The time went well. Being able to meet in person was invaluable.

While we talked, the ladies wandered around Pier 39 looking at the many shops. Finally around 9 PM, we all met up. Jeri and I opted to go to a vegan restaurant for supper. (I had called to make sure that they were open late.) Rob and Chris decided to head home since they had a long drive ahead of them.

Here we are heading back to our car along the wharf. Notice Boudin Sourdough in the background on the right. They were making bread inside…just like at Disneyland.

Along Fisherman's Wharf. Click photo to view full size.
Along Fisherman’s Wharf. Click photo to view full size.

We pull out the GPS and head to the Herbivore Restaurant. When we finally arrive, we circle a bit looking for a parking space. In San Francisco, there is parallel parking everywhere. Not finding any place to park, we call the restaurant. They tell us about a paid parking lot not too far away. So we park there (for $11).

After perusing the menu, I initially planned to get a vegan cheese steak sandwich. However talking with the server, the quinoa “meatloaf” with mashed potatoes and gravy sounded good. I should have stuck with my first choice.

Jeri got the Phillo Dough Pie filled with spinach, tofu, cheese, mushrooms, onions, capers, artichoke hearts with roasted red pepper sauce and sauteed greens.

Jeri with the Phillo Dough Pie at Herbivore Restaurant. Click photo to view full size.
Jeri with the Phillo Dough Pie at Herbivore Restaurant. Click photo to view full size.

I got the Quinoa Cake with roasted red pepper sauce, mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy, sauteed greens and crostini.

Tim with Quinoa Cake at Herbivore Restaurant. Click photo to view full size.
Tim with Quinoa Cake at Herbivore Restaurant. Click photo to view full size.

Because they were closing at 10:30 PM, we didn’t have time to enjoy dessert there. We could have ordered something for take-out but that didn’t have the same appeal. Besides we already had chocolate/walnut cookies at home (from Safeway).

Finally we make it to the parking garage and walk back to our (still-chilly) place. By the time we are ready for bed, it is well past midnight.

San Francisco Day 2 – The Bike Ride

Initially we thought that we might had out to a coffee shop for bagels and coffee in the morning. But because we wanted to get the bike ride in by early afternoon, we opted to have fruit and bars for breakfast.

I called the bike rental shop (there are *lots* of places that rent bikes in SF). This particular store had great reviews on Yelp. So around 10 AM, we headed out. The plan was to rent bikes near Golden Gate Park, ride through the park, ride to the Golden Gate Bridge, and then ride back to the rental place. The plan looked great; however, I didn’t count on hitting several mammoth hills along the way.

Outside the Bike Shop near to Golden Gate Park. Click photo to view full size.
Outside the Bike Shop near to Golden Gate Park. Click photo to view full size.

After picking up the bikes at the shop, we headed to the park just a block away. We started the easy ride through the park. Jeri had heard about the Japanese Tea Garden (which is located in the Golden Gate Park); so we stopped to see it. After paying admission, we took a leisurely stroll through the grounds.

Japanese Tea Garden. Click photo to view full size.
Japanese Tea Garden. Click photo to view full size.

Although we had a map, I managed to get us lost after leaving the Tea Garden. However a kind jogger steered us back on path. As we continued through the three-mile-long park, we encountered a few mild hills. We were amazed at these skateboarders who would cruise down the main road going at speeds faster than us on our bikes. We even saw two guys cut between two moving cars. Crazy!

When we finally reached the end of the park, we were at the Pacific Ocean. The bike path turned north towards the Bridge. So we followed it. Soon we encountered our first monster hill. Even in first gear on our 15-speed bikes, we had to resort to walking. In hindsight, maybe we could have stood up and used our weight instead of our leg muscles to power us up the hill.

Walking up a steep hill. Click photo to view full size.
Walking up a steep hill. Click photo to view full size.

Unfortunately just when we thought we might be near the top, the bike path would turn and take us up another hill. Eventually we made it to the Golf Course where we stopped to eat a few bars and consult with a seasoned bike rider. She said that there was just one more big hill before the bridge. We also asked for suggestions on an easier way back to the bike shop. Our original route took us through Presidio Park which is quite hilly.

The scenery was beautiful along the way. Here we stopped for a photo.

On our way to the Golden Gate Bridge. Click photo to view full size.
On our way to the Golden Gate Bridge. Click photo to view full size.

Although we had to walk a good part of the hill, we eventually made it to the Golden Gate Bridge! The last time that we were here was probably in 2006.

The Golden Gate Bridge at Last! Click photo to view full size.
The Golden Gate Bridge at Last! Click photo to view full size.

Because we were behind schedule and because Jeri wasn’t mentally or physically up to riding back, I called the bike shop and asked for alternative ways back. They told us which bus to take.

I hung up the phone and as we turned to walk around the building to the bus stop, we see the very bus that we were supposed to take depart! No problem; we’ll just wait for the next one which should come in about 12 to 15 minutes. When it finally shows up, alas, its bike rack is already full with two bikes.

So we kept waiting and hoping that the next bus would be able to take us. Sure enough, it eventually came and had room for us and our bikes. We took it back to the Golden Gate Park and then made the easy ride back to the bike shop.

Biking to the Bridge. Click photo to view full size.
Biking to the Bridge. Click photo to view full size.

Alcatraz Tour

Jeri and I are taking a mini-vacation to San Francisco. The reason for our trip is a Saturday-evening meeting that I have with a former colleague and someone who is possibly interested in work that we performed years ago.

Initially I thought of going up by myself for the weekend–but that didn’t sound appealing. So I thought to take Jeri and make it a three-day weekend. My initial search for flights yielded only flights connections that not only would take eight plus hours but would cost $600+ each! I thought that we could drive up in less time and for far less money.

Fortunately I stumbled upon a sale that Southwest Airlines was having. We ended up with non-stop flights from John Wayne Airport (which is about 10 minutes from our house) to San Jose. Two tickets were only $500!

Today (Friday), we got up. It was challenging getting ready since there was a problem with the hot water…namely it ran out after a few minutes (fortunately it has been fixed). we walked down to the pier area. After picking up some bottled water at Trader Joe’s, we continued to a place called 3 Potato 4 which serves potatoes with *vegan* sauces. They hadn’t opened yet so we shopped around.

Close by was a place called Pepper Palace. They have hundreds of varieties of hot sauces.

The Pepper Palace. Click photo to view full size.
The Pepper Palace. Click photo to view full size.

They had a sample bar where you could try various sauces. We ended up picking up one of the favorite extra-hot varieties.

Picking out a sauce at the Pepper Palace. Click photo to view full size.
Picking out a sauce at the Pepper Palace. Click photo to view full size.

We went back to 3 Potato 4 and found them still to be closed. Just as we were walking away, we meet someone who was going to open the place. So we joined her inside and had a nice time visiting. We ordered a large of wedge cut potatoes with spicy jalapeno ranch chipotle sauce to which we added some (vegan) bacon bits. It was delicious! Unfortunately we had to walk briskly to Pier 33 as we ate in order to catch our 11:30 AM departure for the Alcatraz tour.

We very much enjoyed the tour. The place is run by the National Park Service and has a number of volunteers and workers. We watched a video presentation; we listened to a ranger tell the history of Floyd Hamilton who had tried to escape; we took the audio tour through the cell house.

Then as we were going back into the cell house to take some pictures, we meet Duane who worked for the park conservancy. He gave some behind scenes stories as well as a number of movie details. They say to allot 2 1/2 hours for the ferry and tour. We ended up spending the entire afternoon there.

We stayed for the demonstration of the opening and closing of the cell doors. We also learned that they used that sound in the movie “The Return of the Jedi” on the Death Star.

Jeri on Alcatraz Island with San Francisco behind her. Click photo to view full size.
Jeri on Alcatraz Island with San Francisco behind her. Click photo to view full size.

Here’s a picture of the island from the ferry as we make the 15 minute voyage back to San Francisco.

Alcatraz Island as viewed from the ferry. Click photo to view full size.
Alcatraz Island as viewed from the ferry. Click photo to view full size.

Leaving the dock, we walked back to our place, stopping at Trader Joe’s to pick up a few items. After dropping our stuff off, we walked down to Chinatown which was only about 10 minutes away. We went to a vegan restaurant called The Loving Hut.

Fresh Spring Rolls at the Loving Hut. Click photo to view full size.
Fresh Spring Rolls at the Loving Hut. Click photo to view full size.

Lemon Grass Deluxe and Spicy Noodle Soup. Click photo to view full size.
Lemon Grass Deluxe and Spicy Noodle Soup. Click photo to view full size.
Sharing a banana split at the Loving Hut. Click photo to view full size.
Sharing a banana split at the Loving Hut. Click photo to view full size.

After supper, we walked through part of Chinatown which by this time was closing down. We past Chinatown and felt uncomfortable as we stumbled upon the seamier side of town. We headed back to our place for the night.