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Published: June 23rd 2017
Geo: 37.7792, -122.42
Biking, walking, jogging, swimming, you name it and the local San Fran's are doing it. They really seem to appreciate their green space despite the congestion of urban life. So, it goes without saying that we will do as the locals and check out one of their biggest natural features. The largest urban park in the United States, Golden Gate Park. Alex and I marveled at Central Park in NYC last year, so we were not going to be surprised by a large park in the middle of the city, or were we? Being a Sunday, they close off some of the roads to cars to allow the people to enjoy their visit without the noise and traffic. Yes, this is a park so large, there are roads going through it. There were Botanical Gardens, Chinese Tea gardens, Polo fields, baseball diamonds, lakes, and just acre after acre of woods, and lush green fields as far as the eye
could see. We took some time to park and walk around one of the lakes teaming with geese, ducks and turtles. We saw a small stone bridge from the 1800's and even witnessed a hummingbird sucking the nectar from the local
flowers. It is truly amazing to see such a large area set aside in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of city life that you can enjoy and, for a moment, forget you are in a city.
From the park I spotted a beach, so of course, I had to check it out. It was a bit cold and very windy, so sunbathing was out of the question. Swimming was also not an option as the signs I saw said something to the extent of strong rip currents, swimmers and waders have drowned here. Guess I got the picture. As I walked, I saw some locals setting up a volleyball net and thought, are they really play in this wind? By the time I got back they had put the net away and given up onthe idea.
I walked down the beach towards a roadside cliff leading down to the water and some large rock islands adorning the shoreline. What a beautiful change to our flat beaches. Nearby, taking advantage of the high ground, I saw the ruins of an old military fort used to guard the entrance to the bay.
Driving on, we went up a large
hill and found a trail that led to an overlook to view the Golden Gate Bridge. Leaving Alex behind, I hiked up the mountain, then down to the rocks below where I was greeted with an awesome view of the bridge and bay. Heading back, I was lucky enough to see some humpback whales feeding in the distance.
Hungry now, the three meal a day thing referenced in blogs of the past has not changed, we headed to little Italy so I could provide this boy a good Italian lunch. We found what we were looking for in an authentic meal, even the waiter had a heavy Italian accent.
Satisfied, off we went in search of the next planned activity, long anticipated by Alex and one I thought would be quite entertaining at the least, Go Car self-guided tour. What is this you ask? Let me try to give you a hint of what this was. Alex and I were jammed like sardines into this bright yellow plastic shelled carnival ride styled 150 cc car that had 2 wheels in front and one in the back. For steering you had a handle bar set up, similar to a motorcycle, with
Alex refused to take a picture with me.
gps provided by a phone hidden under the dash. A voice would boom through the speakers as you approached an area of interest half the time nearly giving us a heart attack. Road worthy, barely, you navigate this yellow contraption through the streets as you would a car, however, all the while, hoping they would see a flash of yellow alerting the other drivers of your presence. Alex, knowing these rental things don't approve of young adults driving, sat quietly as we navigated traffic. Of course, this was our vacation, and not really wanting to hog all the fun, once out of visual range of the renters of this death trap, I switched places and let the boy
terrify me with a ride through the city. We passed At&t stadium, home of the Giants, raced down Fisherman's Wharf, and glided through Chinatown. Now this is where I must digress. Keep in mind, there are two, pretty much grown, men, stuffed in this little bright yellow thing, wearing black helmets, cruising the streets of San Francisco (get my drift). Having done many goofy, silly, and embarrassing things in my life, I was not really worried about all the people pointing at us,
Golden Gate Bridge
Spectacular. I guess Alex was right, it is red.
taking pictures and video and snickering as we went by. I figured as long as Alex enjoyed it, I would just go along. And that is when he looks at me, as we are in the most touristy part of the Wharf, stuck in traffic with probably a hundred people just on the street corner, alone and says, This was really not a good idea. Now laughing, because I know how ridiculous we look, and how self-conscious a teen ager must feel jammed in this thing with his dad, all I could do was remind him we are just here in this moment to provide entertainment for the masses. No, really I wish I had thought of that at the time. I just put my head down and said step on it. Realizing we did not know these people, and really did not plan on meeting any of them, we enjoyed the rest of our ride through the city, dodging traffic and bicyclists. Quickly switching places, we returned big yellow and headed out in our car to see the Golden Gate Bridge.
Now I know this blog is especially long due to the many activities of the day, so I will skip the usual description of the beautiful view of the city and bridge and go straight to the part that had the most impact on me. Alex insisted on us driving over the bridge. Ok, not a big deal, we have, after all, the Skyway which I have no real problem going over. However, everyone else visiting also had the same idea, so traffic was bumper to bumper. Driving at walking speed over this 200 foot bridge was not really in my plans. Me, eyeballing an exit, fully amused Alex insisted, while referencing his Google maps, the traffic picked up speed in a minute. Sweating palms and all, I soon discovered he was lying, evidenced by the big grin on his face. Actually though, it turned out not to be a bad drive as we were rewarded with great views. Apparently, this was an extremely rare day being 30 degrees warmer than normal and no fog whatsoever. We were also treated to a very rare sighting of humpback whales making their way from the ocean under the bridge to the bay.
All and all, a very packed and fun day.
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