Friday, June 24, 2016

Rockin' 'Frisco Part 4

So this story has been all about how.
My life got flipped, turned upside down.
I'll just take a minute, so sit right there.
I'll tell you how I became a tourist
In a town called... um... San Francisco.

So frequent readers of my blog will know that I am a Scavenger, that is a regular in the Chrysta Rae Photography Scavenger Hunt (if you are not a regular, and just say "what the f-", let me first say this is a family blog, please watch your language, and you can catch up with the awesomeness that is a click of Scavengers here.)

So while I was in San Francisco I hung out with some local Scavengers for an evening.  We started in China Town, where one was almost immediately recruited into a band.

Then we walked around China town, checking out the interesting architecture...
... and murals.
We also grabbed some chinese food (some of the best I've ever had!)

After vittles we drove up to Coit Tower to take a look.  Coit Tower is on one of, perhaps the, highest peak in the city, so I enjoyed checking out the views of the cityscapes:
... and Coit Tower itself, all resplendent in blue.
After all of this exploring it was getting late, so they dropped me off downtown near the office.

We did stop for one last group photo.
 After that I headed into the office to check out the views from the 7th floor balcony.  Not a bad view, eh?
So that was my time spent in San Francisco with the Scavengers.

My time here is almost up, but there is one last small adventure before I fly home.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Rockin' 'Frisco Part 3

So the past two posts have been a series on my adventures exploring San Francisco a little while ago.

When last we left I had finished unexpectedly exploring Golden Gate Bridge, while taking a tour bus around San Francisco, checking off sights, landmarks, and geocaches, from a pre-planed list of things to check out.

Todays adventure finds me back on script.  The plan is to check out a cool Yoda statue, then walk thru Golden Gate park to the pacific coast, then head north to Baker Beach to catch a sunset shot of Golden Gate Bridge.

So off I went.  I started by hitting up the Yoda statue. That statue also happens to be the first stage of a really well done multi cache, so I knocked that sucker off my list too.

Then I headed across the road to the Palace of Fine Arts, which is a cool greco-roman style structure made for the 1915 Panama-Pacific expedition, and looks thusly:
Having checked that out, I headed to the eastern edge of Golden Gate park, and started walking the few miles westward toward the coast.

I was actually thoroughly unimpressed with the park. I was expecting something like Central Park in NYC, but really its a hot mess of bleh, with most of the things I wanted to see requiring fees, which pissed me off, so I avoided em in disgust. I don't mind paying an entrance fee from time to time (after all that bus tour cost me $60) but I hate being nickled and dimed - it displeases me much.)  I missed a few photo ops, but with all the tourists around I'd likely not get decent shots anyway.  Anyhoo...

So I basically walked on thru. I did come across this gay pride flag waving thing-a-ma-jig.
Say what you will about the LGBT community, but you gotta admit they brighten up the place.

Along the way I also saw a cool Japanese pagoda type deal.
They even had a couple dutch looking windmills.
When I finally got to the coast, I took a break at the visitors center.

At this point in the day I had walked about 5 miles.  5 miles is just over half my record for longest distance on foot in a given day.  Add this to all the walking I did yesterday and you can imagine I was due for a rest.

However I had a goal, and this was only half way, so after a few minutes (and a well placed virtual cache), I was back on go, this time heading north along the coast. Ocean on one side, and town houses on the other.
San Francisco certainly likes their colourful houses, eh?

About a mile down the road I arrived at the Sutro Baths.

These baths opened in 1896 as the worlds largest swimming pool establishment.  It was a massive complex of pools. spas, towering glass roofs, and a crackin' good view of the ocean.  It burned down in the 1960s, leaving a busted foundation behind.  It looks like this now:
After hiking down to the ruins to check things out, and climbing back up, I continued on my way to my goal.  This whole area is a National Park, so I was treated to some nicely groomed trails, and some more crackin' good views.
I hiked the 1.5 miles or so to the end of the park, then kept walking thru some expensive looking neighbourhoods (I bet this view adds about $500K to the price of these houses).
A mile of suburban sidewalks, and a half mile trudge along a rather soft sand of Baker Beach, and I had hit my goal: an amazeballs view of the Golden Gate Bridge - right around sunset too.
Getting this shot took a lot longer than I expected as the rocks were crawling with stoners and other nefarious looking yoots (as well as some upstanding looking yoots, to be honest).  But I got my shot.

Then I stumbled (I was definitely at the stumbling stage at this point) back down the beach to the closest bus stop, and took public transit back to my hotel.

All told I walked over 29,000 steps, and 10.8 miles, besting my record by a whole mile, and my average step count by 22,000 steps.

I was sore, I was tired, I was hungry (I ordered room service as soon as I hit the hotel), but dang it, I got the shot.

It was worth every step.

Wordless Wednesday


Monday, June 20, 2016

Rockin' 'Frisco Part 2

When last we spoke (well, I typed, you read), our tale had left us at the weekend.

It is time to explore San Francisco.


So those that know me know that I am a big planner.  I like having an itinerary, or at least a list of places to explore, before I head to an area.   This trip was no exception.

I had over 30 things on my list, between landmarks, statues, historical areas, photographic vistas, and geocaches.  None of them included going across the Golden Gate Bridge.

It seems the adage of "No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy" also works with the transportation infrastructure of a city.  I say this because a large part of my day involved crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.


So I did not explore public transportation much before I left.  However when I arrived I noticed a hop-on/hop-off bus I could take that would, in theory, take me within easy walking distance of most places on my todo list, and give me some history along the way. So I paid the fare and hopped aboard.

It started off well, tho it was much slower than advertised (brochure says 2 hours to do a loop of the city, in reality its closer to 3.5 hours).  However I paid my money, so I stuck with the bus.

While on my way I got views of things on my list, like City Hall:

As well as many things not on my list, like a massive amount of gay pride flags (turns out June is gay pride month in the Rice-a-roni city).
So the bus's route had a stop on the far side of the Golden Gate.  It also included a secondary tour that had a stop on the near side.  What this meant, in my mind, that I could do a quick detour of my plan, and walk across the bridge one way, and take the other tour bus back, the continue on my way.

I verified my plan with the tour bus operator, and it all seemed like a workable idea, so I went for it.

Off on foot I went to explore the Golden Gate, starting with taking in the panoramic view of the bridge, and the San Franciscan skyline:

I also tried some long-exposure shots of the bridge to remove the traffic - it mostly worked.

On either side of the bridge are pedestrian and bike paths (respectively), so I had a whole sidewalk to use to cross the bridge.
The best thing about the bridge crossing is the unique views of San Francisco.
So I arrived at the far side of the bridge, and grabbed some lunch (clam chowder in a bread bowl, as any tourist should get when visiting San Francisco).    After lunch is when my plan unravelled like a cheap sweater.

I went to the spot where the secondary bus (trolley, really) was supposed to meet me.  It was supposed to come by every 20 minutes.  So I waited 20 minutes.  I confirmed with a local park ranger (the place is a national park, go figure) that I was indeed waiting in the right spot.  After a decent time later (after all, traffic is a nightmare), I decided I was led astray by the good people at Big Bus Tours, and decided to hoof it back across the bridge.

So despite being quite foot sore after my trek across the bridge (and my explorations the days before - the perils of being a fat guy), I started walking back across the red span.
When I got back to the proper side, a bus was (thankfully) waiting for me, which soon whisked me away for the rest of the tour, and the rest of my day (which was meeting up with old friends for supper)

So at this point my 1 hour detour to walk across the bridge had taken me 3.5 hours, but at least I had some interesting shots, an unexpected virtual cache find, and a new story to tell.

Also memories of that one time I walked across Golden Gate Bridge... twice!
So with my complaints about being foot sore, you'd think I'd take it easy for the rest of the weekend.

How little you know me!  For I am about to embark on a hike that is unparalleled in the history of Yours Truly.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Rockin' 'Frisco Part 1

 I have been a bit negligent in blogging about my adventures this past little while, so lets make that up by regaling a tale from a recent trip I have just returned from.

Last week I took a work trip to San Francisco.  Now if you are not overly familiar with San Francisco's location in the world, you may wonder where exactly that is.  Around these parts, it is described as being "over yonder", so I hopped on a plane and flew west until I saw something resembling San Francisco.

Well... almost.  I had to make a layover in Phoenix (cause it was on the schedule, that's why).  So we pulled over for a quite 90 minute rest stop at good ol' Gate A14.

89 minutes later I was informed that the 90 minutes layover would be extended by an additional 3 hours! Better yet, I was asked to explore an entire new gate!  It looked like this:
As exciting as Gate A21 is (I mean, it is pretty swank, no?), I decided to spend my time walking around the airport, and once that was complete, settled in to make some art.  Since I was in an airport, the art was airport themed, it ended up being a Star Wars impressionist piece:
This is another in a series I've been doing, so it was nice to be thematic on two levels. (Check the rest out in my collection Star Wars: A Masters Tale)

So long story short, instead of arriving in San Francisco at 3PM, I landed at 7PM, and by the time I got to my hotel, it was 8PM, so I decided to settle into my hotel instead of doing some planned exploring.  All of this was on a Thursday and I had work the next day, and my body was synced with East Coast time, so it was really 11PM body-clock time.  Time to get some rest. Bummer.

However, the next day I walked the mile-or-so to the office, ate breakfast, and enjoyed the view.
After enduring that hardship, I spent the day working.  Nothing overly interesting if you aren't on my team, so lets cut to 5PM local.

[.. snip ..]

So after work, I did some exploring whilst on the way back to the hotel, including some virtual caches, including the one at this WaaTeeKaa rail car.
 After supper I decided to walk over to Grace Cathedral and check it out, and do the virtual cache there.  It is only a mile from the hotel, but it was on top of one of San Francisco's famous steep hills.  I do not know the elevation, but it was several long blocks of roads so steep that back in the day they installed cable cars because it was too dangerous for horses.

I, of course, walked. As a result I got some views like this.
I apparently timed my arrival at Grace Cathedral perfectly... to watch it close. My entire visit can be summed up with the following:
Step inside. 
Hear "We're closing!"
Step outside.

As a result I did not get the virtual, nor check out the inside of the church.  I did, however, check out the outside. It looks like this:

The church has these amazing bronze doors, which are apparently replicas of ones Michelangelo made for a cathedral in Italy back in the 1400s.   The door is a series of panels with intricate carvings in them, like so:
So after I checked out the cathedral from the outside, I wandered back to the hotel, this time heading down those steep San Franciscan hills.
For those keeping track, this brings us to Friday night.  Tomorrow, in our tales timescale, is the weekend, in which much exploring will be done, including a fair amount around the Golden Gate Bridge.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

'Frisco

I am in San Francisco this week for work. In my down time I took my travel companion out for a recon sight-seeing tour.