Even though I love writing my Blog – it’s total “me” time – I still had to bribe myself to get here. (Diet Pepsi and some ridiculously bad for you sugar-coated-in-amazingness almonds). The issue is that my brain is still stuck in Vacation Mode. It’s taking me a while to get back to Normal Mode – which isn’t the same as everyone else’s Normal Mode, mind you; it’s the more spacey-mom version of Normal. Anywhoo, I’m here now, so let me make the most of my time (and my combined highs from the sugar almonds and caffeinated Diet Pepsi).
A week ago, Mike and I departed (at the butt crack ‘o dawn, remember) for two days in San Francisco and two days in Napa Valley for Mo’s wedding. As you may well know, I ADORE the airport and was quite disappointed that despite my constant vigilance to discover some airport wackos (aka: blog material), people were just kinda normal-to-boring. They gave me very little to work with, therefore I will move on.
We arrived in San Fran at 8:30 in the morning. We caught the BART to our hotel where we checked our baggage. Equipped with running shoes, city map, camera and purse we headed out like the prepared tourists that we were. Mike had mapped out a route for us, and for the most part we stuck to it. Our hotel was in a great location – right near Union Square, the shopping and theater districts and not far from Chinatown. We went past Chinatown, towards North Beach or “Little Italy.” We made brief stops in a little used bookstore – my favorite kind (and no, they didn’t have my bookclub book!) – and then in the first church we came to. For some reason, every time we saw a church, we would assume, “Ooh! That must be the Cathedral.” And we’d pop in, soon realizing that yes, while it was beautiful, it ain’t no cathedral. We stopped in three churches, each progressively larger than the last. By the end of the day, we saw the ACTUAL cathedral from the outside but were too tired to go inside!
After the first church stop, we started our first ascent of San Fran hilliness. Holy Ma-Joly. I forgot how hilly that city is. And for some reason, I decided that because I would be missing one of my run mornings, I would run EVERY hill. What the?! So, Hill One (which included stairs for an added workout), took us up to Coit Tower. We would’ve had an amazing view of the city, if it weren’t so foggy!
A bike policeman was taking a breather along the railing. A tourist – I believe Italian – approached him and said, “Excuse me, but where is Golden Gate Bridge?” In total seriousness, the officer replied, “Oh, it’s gone. They took it away for cleaning. I believe it should be back late tomorrow.” I started chuckling as the poor tourist man looked bewildered and confused…and then finally got it.
From Coit Tower, it was a brief downhill jog to Fisherman’s Wharf. We watched the sea lions for a while – who fascinate and amuse me to no end. I kind of wonder if they aren’t paid performers who are bused in early every morning. We lunched at a place claiming to be the “home of the sourdough bread bowl” or the “best sourdough bread bowls in the world” or “our sourdough bread bowls rule” or “your bread bowls are crumbs compared to ours.” I don’t remember. One of those. So, we had, you guessed it! Sourdough bread bowls with clam chowder which we insisted on calling “chow-dah” even though we were no where near the East Coast…quite frankly; I think we were like the opposite of the East Coast.
From Fisherman’s Wharf, we walked along the waterfront heading towards Ghiradelli Square. The best attraction we saw was the most off-the-wall. A homeless man, on the opposite side of the street, was sitting on an overturned bucket. In his hands he held this ‘thing’ that to approaching tourists looked like a bush. Really, it was a bunch of branches and leaves woven together to make a little wall for him to hide behind. He’d even built in handles for ease of use. Mike and I were like, “what are all these people looking at?” The sidewalk was lined with people just stopped, watching him. Then, I understood. As three women approached, completely unawares, he suddenly popped out from behind the “bush” yelling “ARRRGHHHHHHHHHHH!” which was met with an “AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” scream from the ladies. It was the most bizarre thing. But instead of sitting and asking for money, he was spending his time entertaining and making people laugh.
OK, fast forward a bit…we went to Ghiradelli Square where we HAD to buy something delicious. We opted for a mint chocolate chip with dark chocolate hot fudge sundae. It pretty much rocked my world. After sufficient face-stuffing, we again began a long hilled ascent, this time to Lombard Street – the twistiest, curviest (and quite short) street in the world (or at least that claims to be all of that). By this point, it was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the clouds had lifted, the sun had burst through and it started to get pretty warm. We’d been up for 12 hours and had already walked several miles. Unfortunately, to get back to our hotel, it was uphill THE WHOLE WAY. After jogging up each hill, I’d stop at the flattened out intersection, wait for Mike and say, “Ooh! Look at Alcatraz!” or “Ooh! Look at Coit Tower!” or “Ooh! Look at the bridge!” and take a picture. However, with every block, we climbed higher, so every single intersection provided a better panoramic view. In the end, I think I had about 6 different versions of the same picture, each one taken from a higher elevation.
We stumbled back to our hotel to check in and were informed that we’d been upgraded – for free – to a suite. Sweet! We explored the room on sore feet and then crashed for a cat nap while Oprah played in the background. AT 5:30, we forced our angry feet back into our sneakers and walked a mile to a movie theater to see Batman. It would have been a great experience – sitting in the AC’ed, cushy seats if it weren’t for one fact. At this theater, when you purchased your tickets, they showed you a diagram and you picked/reserved the seats you wanted. The map showed that all but a handful of seats in the ginormous theater were still available. Mike picked the front row of the second section (behind the aisle). His usual. More leg room, you see.
We located our seats and hunkered down. Two seconds later a group of three women start walking towards us – with nearly an ENTIRE EMPTY theater to choose from, they picked the seats RIGHT NEXT TO OURS. And to make matters worse, the woman sitting next to me was the JUMPIEST movie-goer I’ve ever experienced. Any little excitement in the film caused her to flinch or jump or gasp or stifle a shout OR a combination of all of the above.
After our movie, we headed back towards Chinatown for a late supper. We walked PAST our hotel and a gajillion dining options to the Chinese restaurant that had been very highly recommended somewhere (I think on-line). Sure enough, there was a line wrapping around the sidewalk. But we’d walked that far, of course we would stand in line for 45 minutes for food on our tired feet even though there was a nearly empty Chinese restaurant right next door and right across the street and right around the corner. The food WAS good though. I’d say it was worth the wait.
Arriving back to our hotel around 11:30pm, we calculated that we’d walked a total of 10 miles that day. I don’t know why we didn’t just tack on a few more and make it a full half-marathon!
Part Two of our California Adventure to come…