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Okay! So, this is old, but... at the end of August, I took a trip out to CA to attend my niece's wedding, and managed to make a nice vacation of it. I had never been to the San Francisco area, so I had a very little time to see a LOT of stuff, more than I could possibly fit in. But I was really zen about that. In all cases I decided to see what I could see, and not let it bother me that there was stuff I couldn't get to. All in all, it was still an incredible trip, and yes, I would like to go back at some point and have more time to spend in several of those places.

So, first up -- San Francisco!

(As usual, you may click through to find larger sizes.)

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The first few days of my trip were spent in San Fran, visiting with friend C. -- seen here, slightly out of order, taking me to the Marin Headlands very briefly for the obligatory ooohing and aahing over the Golden Gate bridge. I just so happened to land during a heat wave, although the temp on this, my first full day, was a bit more reasonable (still hot for the area, I believe, but not as bad as the day before). We had spent the day up at various places north of the bridge, so stopped here on our way back into the city.

I was really excited to get to see the famous fog actually rushing through the Golden Gate. (And indeed, by the time we crossed the bridge -- also exciting! -- and got to Cliff House on the other side, the temperature in the fog-covered parts of the city was a good 20 or 30 degrees cooler than it was out in the sun.)

It was also incredibly windy up there. Lean into the wind and it'll hold you up type of windy.

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The day had, in fact, started out with C. driving me up to Muir Woods, which was on my must-see list of places. There I got my first introduction to really really BIG, really really TALL trees. Here, C. helpfully provides scale.

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We had been intending to drive afterwards to Stinson Beach, but didn't make it that far, instead stopping at the overlook above Muir Beach. Here, the view north.

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And here the view south, with Muir Beach just visible. And a couple of really niftily-situated houses amongst the trees in the foreground.

I really loved the scenery in this area, and I loved all of the perched houses with their wonderful views. I confess, though, that I really could not get the earthquake danger out of my head the whole time.

This is where the Golden Gate pic above would go...

The next day was my day for exploring the city. I took the ferry across the Bay from Oakland, got off at the Ferry Terminal building, and walked up the Embarcadero. One of the stops I decided on was the Aquarium of the Bay, which really had some quite nice exhibits.

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Very pretty jellyfish tanks. It's neat to be able to get all up close to them. I just don't want to be actually *IN* the water with them.

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They had a couple of tanks -- an Inner Bay and an Outer Bay one -- that had these great plexiglass tunnels through the tank, so you could get the fish swimming right over you at times. They also had a moving conveyer-belt type floor, but I was glad it wasn't turned on, because I preferred going at my own pace.

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Lazy fish of unknown type decides to just sit on the top of the plexiglass tunnel.

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Neat circular column of schooling fish in a bend of the tunnel.

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In the Outer Bay tank, a couple of sturgeon swim overhead. It was really cool to get to see sturgeon up close! They had a bunch of them.

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A petting pool for skates and rays! In the second pic, a bat ray does a spyhopping maneuver to get a look at the people. The skates would do the same thing. They really were not shy about coming in range so you could pet them. There were a few small sharks as well, but those were not as interactive.

I got to pet all of them. The skates and rays felt kind of soft and slimy. Sharks, of course, are kind of sandpapery.

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Obligatory shot of the sea lions on the piers off of Pier 39.

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Utterly ridiculous private yacht. Apparently it is called the "A", and it is owned by a Russian billionaire. It cost like $300 million, and was designed by Philippe Starck, which makes a lot of sense. C. and I had seen the top of it docked over at Marin when we were on the Headlands the day before, and she pointed it out to me. (It was still over there when I took this photo from the other side of the Bay.) I guess it's *supposed* to look like a submarine. Here's an article about it, although unfortunately the link to the video tour doesn't work.

The thing is... look, if I had $300 million to blow on a yacht, let alone however much that thing must cost to maintain each year, I would not blow it on something that looked like that, no matter how luxuriously appointed it was. If I was going to blow that kind of money on a sea vessel, it would be a tall ship, obviously. I mean, really.

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One of my other must-do things was "eat a Dungeness crab". I have many fond memories of crabbing for blue crabs here on the east coast, and sitting down to take them apart and eat them. I had gathered that the Dungeness is the ubiquitous crab of the west coast. So darnit, I was going to eat one. I chose this restaurant purely based on how swanky and 50s it looked. It was equally cool in design inside (with that huge bank of windows facing the Bay and Alcatraz), but the pics didn't turn out as well.

Verdict: Dungeness crab is delicious, and, though I am loath to admit it, a lot more rewarding to dismantle and eat than blue crab, because they have a LOT more meat. Mmmm.

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The restaurant's charming logo. I was only sad that I didn't get to see it lit up, at night, because looking at it I'm betting there's a sort of "animated" effect to the mermaid's tail.

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I admit it. For someone who has become so interested in birds, I find gulls kind of boring. I think that's because I grew up with herring gulls and laughing gulls and certain kinds of terns, so they feel as ubiquitous as pigeons to me (although they also feel kind of familiar and homey.)

However! When you get gulls that are unlike the ones you grew up with, now THOSE are interesting! This is a Heermann's gull, west-coast specific.

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The Jeremiah O'Brien, an honest-to-goodness Liberty Ship built by honest-to-goodness Rosie the Riverter types.

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Obligatory shot of a cable-car. See, I wanted to ride the cable cars, as horribly touristy as that might be. But the line was ridiculous.

I also wanted to see Lombard Street. The reason I wanted to see it was that when I was small, my brother owned a lot of Bill Cosby albums, one of whichw was 1965's "Why Is There Air?", which has a routine on it called "Driving in San Francisco". (I hope that link will work; but if not, if you Google "bill cosby driving in san francisco", it should come up as one of the first hits.) I eventually had this routine memorized. I learned to drive on a stick shift (and still drive one), and on many occasions, bits of that routine pop into my head (and my brother and I can do bits of it in unison). Part of it, as you will have gathered, is a riff about Lombard Street, and thus I had to see it.

So, I said to myself, if the line's too long to take the cable car up to the intersection of Lombard and Hyde, I'll just walk up to it. It's only 4 blocks!

And for the first block, it was okay. I mean, it was a hill and you knew you were walking up a hill, but it was doable. And then the second block was steeper. And the block after that was steeper still. And then the block after that, they started putting these horizontal grooves in the sidewalk to give you purchase as you were going up (or down). Thank god they don't get ice, I thought to myself. (I thought that a LOT, in San Francisco.)

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Seriously. (Looking back down to my starting point, at harbor level, from the Lombard St. corner.)

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So the whole deal about Lombard St. for those of you who don't know is that for this 1-block section, which is very steep, it consists of a series of very tight S-curves, and this is so fascinating to people that they need to come and drive it (you can listen to Bill Cosby be sarcastic about it at the link above). (It's one-way down. And the sidewalks on either side are, in fact, stairs.) I took pics from the top, and pics from the bottom. I was disappointed that I didn't get to drive down it, but another time, perhaps.

And then I walked back down the Fisherman's Wharf, caught one of the historic F train trolleys back to the Ferry Terminal building, and took the MUNI line out to meet C. at a fellow fangirl's house for a very lovely dinner and watching some "Slings & Arrows".

And that was it for San Francisco. A whirlwind tour!

The next day I unaccountably made it across the Bay Bridge and the entire width of the city during morning rush hour in an actually reasonable amount of time, and took the coastal highway down to Monterey. There, I had a couple of days to spend with the lovely rednikki and emdiar, while they prepared to depart for Burning Man. So I spectated sympathetically (I remember what it was like to prepare to depart for Pennsic, and that doesn't include the extra dimension of taking place in a desert). The biggest thing I got to do was go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which was another must-see thing.

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How could I NOT take pics of the life-size orcas suspended from the ceiling inside?

More fabulous tanks, although not that many good pics to show for it. One of my favorites was the huge Outer Bay tank, with its floor-to-ceiling glass that you could get RIGHT up close to, so that 5-foot long tuna could swim right past your face.

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There were also a couple of hammerhead sharks (!!!), which coyly stayed far away from the windows, sweeping around the back wall and occasionally down to freak out the big school of whatever that was hugging the bottom.

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And sea-otters! Here, a nearly-grown pup nurses. Awwww!

It's odd, but I don't have other great Monterey shots. The thing was -- from Monterey, I was leaving for 3 days in Yosemite National Park, and then coming BACK to the Monterey Peninsula for the rest of the time (5 days with my family, in and around the niece's wedding). So I think I kind of assumed that I might go back to Monterey one of the days... and in the end, I didn't. But that just means there's still plenty to see for when I get back there someday!

Tomorrow: Yosemite!

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
troyswann
Oct. 13th, 2010 09:06 pm (UTC)
Isn't C. a great tour guide? She knows cool places to go and is full of info and brains. *loves C*

The aquarium pic--the one with the circular school--that's terrific.

It looks like you packed a lot in!
jenlev
Oct. 13th, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC)
These are fabulous shots. The jellyfish are especially astounding. Really, incredible. You have a wonderful eye. And I cannot say enough about this, I love your photos. *hugs*

I also adore the lazy fish photo, the swirling school of fish, oh and the gull!

:::twirls you:::
katie_m
Oct. 13th, 2010 11:15 pm (UTC)
Thank god they don't get ice, I thought to myself. (I thought that a LOT, in San Francisco.)

Yeah, Seattle's laid out very similarly, with those steep steep streets, and I always had to compensate when they got, like, two inches of snow and shut down. "Don't laugh," I would remind myself, "they're all driving at a forty-five degree angle over there."
rednikki
Oct. 14th, 2010 04:30 am (UTC)
Two words: Beacon Hill.

(My grandmother grew up on what was then the ghetto side of Beacon Hill. Walking down it in winter was...exciting!)

Boston was actually quite hilly in the 1600s. Then they started carting away all the dirt from the hills to fill in the harbor, and later the Back Bay.
m0usegrrl
Oct. 13th, 2010 11:58 pm (UTC)
Awesome pictures, and I'm glad you had a wonderful time there! (I really really miss San Francisco...)
cofax7
Oct. 14th, 2010 03:50 am (UTC)
Oh, your pictures came out great!

And I totally share your opinion re: crabs. Blue crabs are way too much work for a return measured in tiny scraps of meat. I finally decided that the point of blue crabs was sitting with friends all day wacking something with a hammer and drinking beer, rather than the actual calorie consumption. *g* Dungeness, though: YUM.
rednikki
Oct. 14th, 2010 04:31 am (UTC)
I'm glad you had a good time here, and glad we could amuse you with our packing franticness!

Did you get some awesome photos of Big Sur on your trip?
keiko_kirin
Oct. 14th, 2010 03:00 pm (UTC)
You packed a lot in! Great photos! I'm so glad you made it to the Monterey Acquarium, too: I *love* that place. :) LMAO re: Lombard Street & Bill Cosby's routine. How did I never hear that before? Wonderful.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )