Monday, April 27, 2009

Warm Ewe Up Winter Final Swap Package

I received my final swap package for the Warm Ewe Up Winter Swap. The mystery was revealed that Megan C (Kniteurope) from Monoma Wisconsin was my spoiler. She's apologized for not being in touch much, her computer died on her. However, her packages have all been wonderful. This one was no exception. See the beautiful green yarn. One is Knitpicks Shadow in Lost Lake Heather. It's is so beautifully soft. And the other is a silk merino from "the plucky Knitter". I can't describe how beautiful it is. I'll definitely be checking out the website too. if you are interested. I'm not sure what I'll make yet with the Knitpicks but I definitely see a scarf in my future out of the silk merino. There was a book from my wishlist "Knitting without tears", some sheep clips, a cute little sheep filled with hershey's kisses and some shamrock mint smells awesome!!!! Thanks Megan!!!!!
It's been fun and I'll miss the packages. I may do another swap in the future. It was definitely a positive experience. I enjoyed receiving packages and making packages for Brenda in LA. It's funny on my recent trip to San Francisco Brenda sent me a recommendation for a restaurant at Fisherman's Wharf. Of course I didn't ask for the recommendation until we were almost through our vacation but the first place we ate in San Francisco was the place The Pier Cafe she recommended.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

San Fran Day 5

I got behind on my blogging on the last few days of our trip. When I got home I was slightly jet-lagged all week and I had two evenings out so it was really hard to get back to it. So I will now attempt to finish up.

Day 5 we spent some time down at Fisherman's Wharf. We started off at Aquarium of the Bay on Pier 39. There are two tunnels that go right through the middle of the Aquarium so you are surrounded by fish. It made for a great photo op.

Then we headed down to Pier 23 to view the Submarine Pampanito and the US Liberty Ship Jeremiah O'brien. I've never been in a Submarine before and I'm not sure how comfortable I'd feel to be part of the crew underwater for too long but I was definitely game to tour this ship. It was very interesting to see torpedos with bunks overtop. Can you imagine sleeping over a torpedo...not me.

Then we took the cable car up to Nob Hill and found the Top of the Mark bar. What a fantastic place to relax, enjoy a drink and see the view. Below are the doors to the Top of the Mark, the view from the Top of the Mark and a shot from down the street of the Intercontinental Hotel where you can see the bar at the top.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

San Fran Day 4

Day 4, we purchased a three day pass to take the transit. Our hotel is so conveniently located that it's about a 2 block walk to the cable car turn around at Fisherman's wharf. We decided we would take the cable car downtown and we were going to attempt also to get to Nob Hill and find the Top of the Mark that the young fellow we met Day 2 told us about.

The Driver on the cable car was a trainee, and I think he was truly excited to get to drive this original cable car. He'd been driving regular buses in the residential area so this was new for him. He said there is so many more people. The car has two levers, one that engages the cable and the other that engages the brake...there is also a brake on the back I noticed on my last cable car trip that the conductor operates. It seems all very physical and mechanical. The driver was so friendly and answered all our questions. We jumped off the cable car right by Union Square. If someone was a real shopaholic, this place is their heaven. The selection of stores is amazing. Some I've only ever heard of in movies and media, being from the boonies.

Cable Car Driver

In the distance, we saw the gates to Chinatown and we suddenly had a destination. There was definitely lots to photograph here and we definitely enjoyed our walk.

We headed back down towards Union Square and the turnaround to take the cable car back and find the Top of the Mark. There were a couple of guys busking at the turnaround. They were dancing to a "Doors" song which seemed a bit bizarre. I never really thought of the doors as dance music. But they were working for their money. The one guy reminded me of Hayley's roommate Richard.

Cable cars are the greatest spot for meeting people, especially when you sit at the open end of the cable car, because someone always ends up standing on the edge beside you. And of course conversation starts. The conversation starter this time was the crankiness of the next driver. I said "wow our last driver was much nicer". The lady and her son holding on were laughing with us. We were going to exit at the cable car museum and go to the "Top of the Mark" but we got mixed up and we ended up staying on until we got to Lombard street, the crookedest street in the world. We're on vacation and I like that we can just play it all by ear. We'll try tomorrow for the "Top of the Mark"

This is a very cool spot and I wonder what the people who live here think of all the tourists walking past their houses constantly and the traffic. We were at the top so luckily we only had to walk down. From there we realized how close we were to the hotel so we headed back.

All I can say it's a good thing it doesn't snow here or get icy.

Today is our actual 30th anniversary, so we went back to Cellar 360 in Ghiradelli square and sat in the courtyard, and toasted 30 years with a glass of California wine. On our way to Ghiradelli Square on foot, we walked past the Turnaround, we watched as a cable car pulled in and the riders disembarked yelling thank you to the driver. Yes it was our friendly driver making more friends. It's people like this that make one's trip special, it isn't always just the place you go to see.
For dinner, we stopped at the Boudin Bistro which is in a big Sourdough factory overlooking the water. It was very nice and the service and food were excellent.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

San Fran Day 3 (Alcatraz)

To start off our day we took the Hop On Hop Off Tour one more ride in entirety which was kind of nice to hear the whole thing in one shot.
We had booked the night tour of Alcatraz because the website said it was the most extensive tour. We also thought it might give us some nice night shots. Once we landed we started the trek up the hill with Drew the tour guide. It doesn't take much to imagine how a prisoner would feel shackled and handcuffed walking up this hill. Once we arrive in the prisoner building the staff outfits you with a headset and you take a tour directed by former Alcatraz inmates. There is also some talk from guard's children who grew up on Alcatraz. It's a really good tour and lends a certain personal touch.
Approaching Alcatraz

San Francisco View from Alcatraz

We heard about John Paul Scott and Darryl Parker who over several months, used string they impregnated with baking soda, to cut through the kitchen window cell bars and escape. They were then faced with the tall barb wire fence so they climbed the pipes up the side of Alcatraz and onto the roof where they went down the other side and down the cliff and began to swim towards San Francisco. Parker, exhausted, landed on a pile of rocks in the water called Little Alcatraz and waited there until he was "rescued" by the guards. John Paul Scott swam and swam and was carried by the current until he landed under the Golden Gate Bridge. He was laying there on the rocks, exhausted and suffering from hypothermia, when some teenagers came along and found him and called the police.

There was also the fellow who worked down at the dock and over the years managed to steal, one piece at a time, from the laundry that was brought in at the dock, a full sargent's uniform. Then he snuck on the boat dressed as a military man but unfortunately the boat was going across to angel island (military base). It didn't take long for his absence to be discovered at headcount and a call was made to the boat that discovered they had one more soldier on board than they came with. He garnered a new nickname in prison; Sarge.

In the cells you can see where 3 prisoners used spoons to chisel away the concrete from the air vent in their cell. In the end, they drowned trying to swim to freedom.
Alcatraz at night just before departure.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Thematic Photographic Edible 2

Ghiradelli Chocolate Shop at Ghiradelli Square San Francisco

A zillion calories in one cup!

San Fran Day 2

Yesterday, was a beautiful day. After we got out of our hotel we wandered down towards the water where we purchased two tickets on the Hop On Hop Off Tour. It's a double decker bus and a ticket gives you access to the tour for two consecutive days. The tour part is a recording but still not too bad. We got off at Union Square to tour around and find the highly rated Dottie's True Blue Cafe for breakfast. When you stand right a Union Square you are surrounded by retail giants like Macy's, Tiffany's and Sak's Fifth Avenue. An art show was taking place at the square. Even though it was Easter Sunday there was a lot of people milling around.

We walked toward the vicinity of the cafe. Now the reviews of the cafe said that it usually is a 45 minute-1 hour wait to get in. I guess I didn't really believe it. There was some conversation in the line on how long it would take. Luckily, we met a really nice young couple and her parents who are from San Francisco. We had a great conversation with them and they were quick with the suggestions of what we "must do" and where we "must eat". The young lady had grown up here and she said she is always excited to meet someone who has never been because she loves her city so much. Our wait was 1 hour 15 minutes. Once in service was quick and the food excellent. The sausage was not regular links but a homemade patty with a distinct fennel taste. The young couple ended up getting a table for two right beside us to break up the size of their party. We joked about how they could laugh at her folks in the line and wave at them during breakfast. They were there a few minutes ahead of her folks so it was only right that they got served first. :)

You can see all the people still lined up outside to get in.

After breakfast we wandered back to the Hop On Hop Off and continued on the tour.

City Hall

We had to see the Haight Ashbury district. There was many interesting sights and sounds here I thought I might have an acid flashback...well not really. There was many windows decorated with old rock and roll memorabilia, hippie clothing and lots and lots of drug paraphernalia stores.

Take a walk with us.

Hippie Houses

Not sure who these two were but they looked interesting.

The next stop on our tour was the other side of the Golden Gate bridge. What a beautiful view from here.

San Fran from other side of Golden Gate Golden Gate from San Fran side

Then back on the bus where we got off at Ghirardelli Square which is within walking distance of our hotel. We checked out the square where we both ate ice cream at the Chocolate Shop. I can definitely attest it was excellent.

We bought some Californian wine at Cellar 360 and then headed out on our walk. We watched a wonderful street performer (check out his website Share the Love! What an upbeat guy! He had everyone moving to the beat! Sorry for the poor quality video. Its my first.

We had a quick dinner at Fisherman's Wharf and headed back to the hotel to rest up for Day 3.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thematic Photographic "Edible"

Even though I'm on vacation I'm going to take the time to post a for this theme. In San Francisco, there is many things that are "edible" from seafood to chocolate to coffeee. This picture of Salt Water Taffy was captured in the Candy Baron on Pier 39.

San Fran Day 1

We had set our alarm for 3:40 at the hotel to catch the 5 a.m shuttle. The front desk told us to make sure and be downstairs and ready by 4:50. Even though I was really tired that night I seemed to wake up frequently and poor Jeff didn't fall asleep until after 2:30. Probably just the excitement of the trip ahead.

Check-in and Security at the airport went very well and then we took time to relax and have a bite to eat and a coffee. Our first flight had very few people on it and actually took off about 10 minutes early which was nice. We had a short layover in Chicago's O'hare Airport to prepare us for the 4.5 hour flight ahead. We were both pretty tired by the time we got on and we both took a bit of a nap on the flight. It got me thinking about long international flights and how do people do it. On the happy side, the flight, even getting a 5 minute late start, we ended up arriving a half hour early. As we started the descent into San Francisco you can see the Sierra's.

Once we landed, I was happy to see that our luggage arrived with us. That's always something I fret over especially when you have to switch flights. I've heard the horror stories and I just don't want to live them. I thought I had booked a shuttle service through Travelocity but I don't see anything on the paperwork. We found a shuttle that would take us to Fisherman's Wharf and we were off. It was wonderful to drive through the city and see all the sights. I can't believe though that I didn't pull out the camera and capture some of those shots. We will try to capture as many shots as we can over the course of the week.

For today let's take a stroll out of our hotel and down to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39. Our first perception is how busy it is. Aren't we in a recesssion? Or is it just this busy because it's a holiday weekend? It's cooler than you think it will be and you see people with winter clothes and summer clothes on. Alcatraz is very close. Take a look for yourself.

Alcatraz from Fisherman's Wharf

View from the Wharf towards SF

Monday, April 6, 2009

Thematic Photographic 43 Reflective

Carmi's photo challenge this week is reflective. A quick trip to Bloomfield to taste some wine and enjoy some dinner that turned into a 30th anniversary/50th birthday surprise celebration had me reflecting on how wonderful people can be. Sunday morning we visited the Art Gallery next door where I got this perfect shot for this theme. It even has a reflection of my brother in law captured in the stone.