Another completely filled and whirlwind day! We woke even earlier this morning to ensure we were in line for Alcatraz tickets and arrived in line by 630 AM. They were a bit more liberal with their available tickets this morning, so even those showing up at 720 AM were able to purchase tickets, but at least we got tickets and got tickets to be able to go in the morning. It was freezing outside (close to 50 degrees and windy), but the kids survived with electronics and Brooke and I survived with conversation. After finally getting the tickets, we hurried to the car to defrost and warm up, and then over to the closest Starbucks for hot chocolate, coffee and hot tea. Weston and Lila had to use the restroom and Brooke had to find the closest restroom down the block quite a ways. Without her cell phone on her, I started to get worried when it was taking so long.
After Starbucks, we drove up to the top of the famous Lombard Street (curviest street in San Francisco) and drove down it – very slowly. The speed limit was 5 MPH, so it took a while to go down, but the flowers, houses and views were amazing! I am glad we were able to experience this. Driving was such a challenge in San Francisco with all the pedestrians, bikers, public transportation, inclines and declines, street light placements and parking, so it was nice to have a great driving experience as well.
We made our way back to Pier 33 to board the cruise boat to Alcatraz, found some parking and boarded the boat. We had wonderful views, without much of a crowd, out the back of the boat on the way to Alcatraz.
We arrived, and headed up the 13 stories to the cell blocks. The audio tour was especially interesting and Emily and I were able to listen to the entire thing. Weston, Lila and Caitlyn only made it about halfway through before abandoning the headphones. Brooke had to deal with the kids much of the time, so was only able to listen sporadically. We saw nesting Sea Gulls and their young (they are huge Albatross out here) and followed the trail back down to board the boat back to the mainland.
We arrived back at the dock and headed over to Pier 39 and Weston had fallen asleep on the way. Lila (then Emily, and then Caitlyn) decided to do a bungie trampoline jumping activity (with their own spend money) and we bought a bucket of Trish’s mini doughnuts to share with the family.
We made our way over to the Sea Lions, but only one of the floating docks was full with them. Our timing here must not have been great. Then, Weston woke up, ate his share of the mini doughnuts and licked clean the bucket from sugar. We headed upstairs to go through the Mirror Maze (a great Groupon find!) and then out of Pier 39 to try and find some lunch (very late) for Brooke, Weston and I.
We got back into the car and a few failed attempts to find parking near an In-N-Out Burger, we abandoned the effort and just headed toward another playground – Joe Dimaggio Playground in North Beach area. Here we found a nice homemade Italian café, The Italian Homemade Company , and got some food (finally!) and watched the kids play on the playground. Next, we made our way to Coit Tower, found some great parking and headed inside. The line snaked around the entire inside and the estimated wait time was 90 minutes – too long for us.
Exhausted from the long day, we headed back to the vacation home, but this being our last night in San Francisco, we wanted to continue experiencing the city. After a vote, it was decided we would head back to Baker Beach to let the kids play in the sand, water and watch the sunset with the amazing views. To say that the kids loved it would be an understatement. They played tag with the waves and water, and I froze. I don’t know how they handled the cold water, wind and weather as the sun sank lower. The sunset was different than Florida sunsets – much bigger somehow and less color variations. We made it 8:15 PM at the beach and then headed back up to the car, dusted off and drove back to the vacation home to call it a night. The joy on the kids faces as they played was unforgettable. The pictures that Brooke captured will aid in that effort.
Brooke and I spent a long time recognizing the indelible mark we had just left on our family’s mind with just this first portion of the trip. Growing up, I clearly remember traveling and vacations, and we hoped that what we had experienced thus far would continue throughout the trip. We hoped that we would continue to capture this joy. Tomorrow, we head to Yosemite.
This is day 4 on our California Road Trip Summer 2016. Make sure to check out the entire trip!