Saturday, April 9

Into the City

On Thursday, Rich Wood, is out front with two vans to get us back to the plane. Starship One had shared the hanger last night and we are hopeful to get there in time to see our two planes together. Alas, Rich was delayed by a wreck in getting to us, and the Starship is gone when we arrive. Then we are delayed by a hydraulic leak. Here, in the maintenance hanger is a good place for that to happen and workers swarm all over, working, cleaning and polishing. It turns out the leak was just caused by a strain on the controls while fighting the wind the day before. When we finally taxi to the terminal, about ten ground crew men ride with us and are as thrilled for the taxi ride as most folks are for a flight.
Today we are set up back in the old terminal, giving a few tours of the plane and manning the table where we hope to sell memberships, which come with a ride. It is decided that rides will only be on Friday and Saturday due to the wind. With no flight today, Gene is now free (he has to be aboard all flights) and we decide this is the day to head to the city. The Gorrells, Lemons, Mary and Patti will stay to man the display and the remaining seven will go into San Francisco. Steve lived here for fifteen years and will be the tour guide.
First step is catching a shuttle back to the hotel, where we put on warmer clothes and walking shoes. Second, we ride the shuttle back to the airport to catch the BART train. Figuring out how to get a ticket on BART from the automated machines proves almost too much for us. One looks at a chart of destinations and prices, then presses a button that starts you with a $20 ticket. From there you press buttons that add or subtract dollars and nickels until you get the amount you want, then you print and a card pops out. The card is inserted into a turnstile and pops out the other end. Finally we are underway. Most of the trip is underground, but we catch glimpses of the distinctive San Francisco style townhouse dwellings sprawling across the hills. After about a 30 min ride we disembark and ride an escalator up to the surface, popping right into the center of a very busy city. It is a shock. All around there is much hustle and bustle and wonderful buildings and strange people. Sidewalk performers are everywhere working for tips and some panhandlers approach begging for money. One black man with dreadlocks is singing opera so well that until I see him, I think it is a recording. Others are doing acrobatics of a very professional nature.
We head up the street at a rapid pace until locating a trolley car. It is an antique, and interesting in itself, but we also have the scenery to take in. The trolley takes us to Pier 39. There we walk through a myriad of shops until Steve directs us down a narrow passageway. On the other side we see a group of platforms anchored at water's edge crowded with sea lions. They are basking in the sun, but from time to time, one will become dissatisfied and begin bellowing and thrash around to find a better position. This generally upsets the others and they all express their opinions quite loudly. Someone asks if I had noticed Alcatraz, and sure enough, there it is, off to our right, and closer than I thought it was from the mainland. Between it and the sea lions is the Golden Gate Bridge. So right here is a flavor of San Francisco. We go up to the second level to Neptune's Landing and have tasty appetizers. We are right by a window and the view is breathtaking. There are seagulls riding the wind within inches of the glass. We celebrate eating real San Francisco sour dough bread.
After this interlude it is back on the street into the wind for a walking tour. We go by Cannery Row, most of the old buildings transformed into residences or offices. We see the Maritime Museum. Then we get to Ghirardelli Square, which used to be the home of the chocolate factory. At the chocolate store, they are giving a free sample just for stopping by. At the back of the ice cream parlor, there is a display showing the different steps of making chocolate and that was quite interesting. Next stop is a wine shop which also has gifts. Peggy and I admire two reasonably priced grasscloth totes which have zippers and are roomy. We decide they must belong to us. She gets lime, I get red. Seventeen year old Jacob seems to be having fun hanging with six sixty somethings. Then it is uphill and on and on a trek to locate the No Name Bar, enjoying a peek at how residents of the Bay Area live. Steve decides it is easier to herd cats if you do it from the rear of the pack. There is much meowing and "Here, kitty, kitty." It really does have a name, just no sign outside. An old haunt of Steve's. We arrive to find it very cozy and charming with lots of dark wood and stained glass. We are nestled in a corner. Somehow the conversation goes to a line from a Robert Frost poem about miles to go before I rest and Peggy Googles it and then reads it. The waitress waits patiently until she is finished and then tells us she was an English major. Our second mini meal is again appetizers.
Unfortunately it is dark and cold when we emerge and the next destination is to find a cable car. After a long, long, long walk we get to a cable car stop only to find it closed for maintenance. We give up and take cabs back to the BART for the ride back to the hotel. A real good and quick taste of San Fran.

No comments:

Post a Comment