Day 603 OUT OF Beijing: The Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco City Guides.

 

Don Tussey from City Guides San Francisco.

Dan Tussey from San Francisco City Guides teaches us about the cables built for the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

Jill and I needed to get some pictures for SF Tourism Tips and wanted to take a San Francisco City Guides tour of the Golden Gate Bridge.

We hopped on the 7:11 commuter bus out of Petaluma and settled in for a relaxing ride to San Francisco.

It takes about 1 hour, depending on traffic, and the bus drops us off right at the tool booth on the Golden Gate Bridge.

We then walk underneath the bridge, through a tunnel, and over to the side that allows us to have amazing views of the San Francisco Bay.

We ended up getting there pretty early and decided to grab some coffee and talk with the staff about the Golden Gate Bridge, their jobs, and their dreams.

There were two men there and they both talked about how they will move out of San Francisco when they retire, as it has become quite expensive.  It is sad since they love their jobs but can’t really afford to live in San Francisco anymore.  They both stated that the best part of their job is being able to interact with people from all over the world and to make so many friends.

Both of them said they were probably going to end up overseas, in some place like Costa Rica or elsewhere, when we brought up we were planning on traveling there in about 6 months.

It is interesting to me how many people are talking about leaving San Francisco, because of the financial burden of living there, and where they are thinking of going and what they want in their lives as they make this change.

It seems as if a lot of people are being “forced” to make a change but are also quite excited about this change as it allows them to figure out what is really important to them and their dreams.

These are the kind of people we want to work with helping them figure this out when we debut our new website.

As 11 am arrived, we walked over to the Joseph Strauss statue (no relation to Levi Strauss of Levi pants fame) and noticed our guide was already there.  Dan Tussey was a very friendly, happy and welcoming person and probably the best person to introduce newcomers, and even locals like ourselves, to the Golden Gate Bridge.  He does 4 walking tours a month, one a week, and rotates the tours so that he does each one each month.  So, this was his once a month tour of the bridge.  He also does City Hall, the Gold Rush and one other.  The City Guides also don’t get paid so this is a very generous gift that he, and the other city guides, give back to this beautiful and magical city.  They do ask for a $5 donation, to keep City Guides running (with a paid staff of 2 people) which is more than fair.  We, of course, gave $10 for the two of us at the end of the tour.

 

 

About 15 people, from all over the world, ended up being on the tour with us and Dan told us historical facts that neither of us knew.  I’m not surprised I didn’t know them but I was surprised that Jill didn’t.  Her site is so well researched that she usually knows as much, if not more, than most the tours we go on at this point.  She did, however, give Dan a few new facts that he didn’t know because he hadn’t done the tour for over 2 months and things have changed since then.  One wouldn’t think that this bridge would have many changes in 2 months, but it does, and Jill and he had a great time discussing some of them as we walked around with the crowd.

We went out to the vista point and looked over the SF Bay.  It was a very windy, and for San Francisco, cold day but we did our best.  Since we are minimizing, I only have a fleece jacket at this point.  It is something that I will probably keep as long as possible because I earned it by completing the Hopi Reservation 100 mile challenge.  This is a challenge, to anyone that wants to join, to walk or run 100 miles over 4 months time.  There is a lot of diabetes issues on the Hopi Reservation and this is one way to help reduce it and encourage people to be more healthy.  I’ve had this fleece for about 6 years and I love it.  Luckily it was just warm enough to keep me from freezing.  And I rarely get cold so you can believe the wind was howling today on the Golden Gate Bridge.

We also walked over by the cable installation so Dan could show us how many cables were strung together to build the massive main cables that run all the way across the bridge.  In case you didn’t know, each of these two cables runs the whole way, without a break, across the bridge.  They go up to the top of each tower, and then drop back down to lock into the bases on either side of the bridge.  The main cable is about 3.5 feet wide and utterly impressive.

After that, we walked on to the bridge and up to the first tower.  Dan told us more about the bridge, including the number of people that have committed suicide, which is about 1,600 at this point, and that people usually commit suicide every 2 or 3 weeks by jumping off of it.  I saw a report that 2014 had about 1 a week commit suicide off of the bridge and no one knows why there has been an increase.  I won’t hazard a guess.

The bridge is truly a monument to beauty, and for some reason, one to suicide also.  I think the reason for that is it is so iconic and it is a pull for people to memorialize themselves and “fly away” to some place better.  They are going to put in a suicide barrier, at some point, and I’m glad that they will because studies show that iconic places, like the Golden Gate Bridge, do actually represent something special to people committing suicide and when they are stopped from doing it, they don’t use other means to kill themselves.  There really is something special about places like this and spending some money to save peoples’ lives is more than worth it.

As we walked back to the vista point, we talked more about the bridge and Jill, Dan and I talked about Jill’s site and we gave him a card to check it out.  He was incredibly sweet and said, “You should be tour guides” but after we told him about our idea to do this work from the beach, he agreed that we had a more interesting plan.

Last note: I highly recommend the City Guides of San Francisco Walking Tours to anyone that is visiting San Francisco.  I would definitely recommend finding a tour that Dan is running as he is an incredible tour leader and has a wealth of knowledge.

 

 

Day 602 OUT OF Beijing: SF Tourism Tips and SiteSell.

 

Jill's Success Story on SiteSell.  Picture by yours truly.

Jill’s Success Story on SiteSell.

 

Jill has been building her SF Tourism Tips website, and business, for about 5 years.

It has become successful enough for us to do it full time and for me to quit my job as an “office based psychotherapist.”

I may, at some point, start doing psychotherapy, over the internet, but I doubt I will ever work in an office again.

After working for a few major corporations, Jill also doesn’t want to be stuck in an office anymore.

The company that hosts her site, and her business, is called SiteSell.

From what she’s told me, using their website, and learning all about SEO, how to build a site, and how to find succcess, has been invaluable to her.

There have definitely been tough times, and times when she did want to give up, especially while we were in China and the internet was almost impossible to use, but she didn’t.  I made sure she knew that this was her future and that she had spent so much time, and energy, that to quit now would have been a loss and going back to the corporate world, working 80-100 hours a week, just to make money to accumulate things we don’t want, was a major step backwards in our future plans together.  I was working and making enough money for use to survive in Beijing so even if she didn’t make any money, it would have been okay with me.  As long as she believed in what she was doing and kept at it.

Luckily for both of us, she did.

Actually, luck had nothing to do with it.

It was 100% perseverance, determination and a desire to not fall into a past routine that would have made both of us miserable and unfulfilled with our lives and choices.

Jill has also been using SiteSell’s forums to help other people achieve their dreams and figure out how to better their business/website models.  This is something she does for free and one of the true benefits of using SiteSell: They have a massive forum that is very lively and people really try to help each other succeed.  I haven’t seen this on the other web hosting sites and I’m glad Jill decided to use SiteSell when she started.

According to her own knowledge and experience, she jokingly states that she has almost achieved a Master’s degree in building a business online without having to go to college and have massive student debts.

The beauty is that anyone that wants to do this can do the same.  It does take a lot of hard work, and effort, but most goals worth achieving do.

Jill’s hard work is really starting to pay off.  She had her first $5,000 month in December.  Not only that, but after she posted that on the forum, she actually ended up making a December total of $6,600!

Consider that in February, she only made $150 and yet 12 months later, she was not at $6,600!

The owner, Ken Evoy, noticed this and decided to write a blog post about Jill.

After writing the blog post, he decided to feature her as a “Success Story.”

Jill is now featured on their Facebook page!

Jill is now featured on their Facebook page!

This all happened in just the past few weeks and it was because Jill decided not to give up, to keep working hard, and to be okay with some failure as long as the long term goals are still in focus.

That is what it takes to run an online business and not give up.  Lots of perseverance.

There is still a long way for us to go to get to our dream level of “success” but we are on the right path and will continue to do whatever we need to get there.

If you are interested in learning more about how Jill was able to do this, check out the article linked below and feel free to contact us.  We want to help others live their dreams and figure out what is right for them and how they can achieve it.

Jill’s Success Story on SiteSell.

And if you want to sign up for SiteSell and start your own website, click on this SF Tourism Tips – About Jill page and it will take you directly to the information page for SiteSell once you click it.

 

Jill at the Golden Gate Bridge for SiteSell’s Success Story article.  Taken by yours truly.

 

 

 

Day 601 OUT OF Beijing: Bartlett Hall and Cellar Maker Brewery.

 

Cupid's Span on the Embarcadero. An art installation on the Embarcadero. It is a bow and arrow but I've cropped it close.

Cupid’s Span on the Embarcadero. An art installation on the Embarcadero. It is a bow and arrow but I’ve cropped it close.

 

Jill and I are headed back to our cross San Francisco tour to gather more information for SF Tourism Tips.

We decided to walk down the Embarcadero and then up Market Street until we arrived at Barlett Hall.  This is a relatively new establishment, just over one year old, and they have done a beautiful renovation on the location.

It is all mahogany and dark wood inside the restaurant and brewery, and the there is a very long bar with TVs hanging above it to watch news and sports if you so choose.  There are also a lot of tables and booths if you want to enjoy your beer in a more quiet setting.

We showed up for happy hour and were glad we did.

They choose one of their beers to sell for 5 bucks at happy hour and also a bunch of delicious appetizers for the same price.

Sadly, since SF Beer Week is in just a few weeks, they had to save their own beer as they are very small and are afraid they will run out!

So, we had a different beer, which was just fine but a bit disappointing as we really want to taste all of the locally made beers and compare them for a page Jill is writing on her site so people can do a full SF locally made brew pub tour very soon.

Did you know that there are already 17 different locally sourced brew pubs in SF?  And that SF is adding another 10 more this year?  It is true.  Also, a little known fact that SF has finally gotten back to the amount of brew pubs in SF that it had before prohibition happened in the USA.  It took almost 90 years to get back to where we were.  History repeats.

After talking to the two bartenders, drinking our beers, and eating our appetizers, we headed out to Cellar Maker.

We walked down to it, about 20 minutes away, and loved this tiny, hole in the joint, brew pub.

Actually, it is more like a bar than a brewpub since they don’t serve food and don’t allow anyone under 21 years of age there at this time.

It probably only holds about 40 or 50 people and the beertenders were very friendly while also moving around like lightening to serve everyone.

They had about 12 beers on tap and we tried all but two of them because of time constraints.

We really enjoyed all of them and were pleasantly surprised that they have a “5 oz” tasting option that allowed Jill and me to share a beer (about $2.50 per 5 oz) and therefore try them all and not get drunk.  We also were taking a bus so we didn’t have to worry about drinking and driving.  Just another benefit of going car-less as we travel this world!

We called my dear friend Sonia, who showed up, and we caught up with her after not seeing her for almost 2 years at this point.  Sonia is one of my dearest friends and we met salsa dancing about 10 years ago.  It seems like we’ve known each other for ever and we almost have.  She’s quite a bit younger than me and I sort of think of her as my younger sister in a way.  She’s incredibly sweet, talented as a producer and sound engineer, and an amazing salsa dancer.

We hung out for an hour or so, talked about what changes have happened in our lives, and she was able to meet Jill and Jill was able to meet her.  Sonia sort of “knew” Jill because of my blogs and Jill sort of knew Sonia from my pictures of us dancing and my stories of her but this was a first meeting and it was fun to see how quickly they got along and that they both enjoyed each other so much.

After we finished our beers, we headed off to the bus and back to Petaluma. It was a nice, quiet, and easy ride home.

Good times, good fun, good food, good beer, and good friends.

A perfect day in San Francisco.

Day 600 OUT OF Beijing: More Minimization And 600 Blog Posts.

 

The rare, and gorgeous, albino peacock.

The rare, and gorgeous, albino peacock.

 

I’m going to take a little break in our San Francisco Tourism Tips update day and jump forward in time one week.  I’ll return to our dairy of what we did in San Francisco after this post.

I also realized that I’ve done 600 blog posts in 600 days.  What started out as a fun idea has continued for over 1.5 years and I’m rather amazed at how well it has been received by my readers.  Thanks so much for your comments, support and questions.  You continue to inspire me to write of Jill and my experiences, dreams, and travels.

It is one of the fun parts of writing this blog in advance of it posting, instead of the same day, so I can change it up or add things that I believe will interest people reading this website.

Jill and I have been working on minimizing, as many of you know, and she finally emptied out and closed down her storage area.

She had it, amazingly, for almost 4 years.  This includes the last 1.5 years of her living in China with me and not having any ability to even use anything inside of it.  That means major need for minimization since almost everything in it would have been deemed as “wasted space and material” according to my “if you don’t use it within 6 months of packing it up, it is to be donated/sold/recycled” rule.  This rule is based on the idea that if you pack something up, thinking you need it at some point, and yet don’t need it within 6 months, you can get rid of it.  I actually am down to a 3 month rule for myself but I’m pretty hardcore about minimization.  Jill agrees with me on the 3 month rule also.

Jill spent the weekend clearing out her storage area and donating about 2 car loads of clothes to charity.  She also got rid of electronics like a massive old tv and other stuff.

We gave her friend, Leslie, a fantastic mattress and bed set worth about $3,000 since she let Jill stay with her, and is letting us stay with her, for free.  We feel that a major part of being upwardly mobile vagabonds is to pay your way.  This means if people won’t take payment for staying at their houses (and most of our friends and family won’t) you either buy food, resources or give them things that they want and like that we don’t need.  This way everyone benefits and things aren’t wasted.

Leslie had an old bed that she wanted to get rid of so this was a perfect fit.  I put the frame and mattress up on Craigslist.org’s free list and the frame was gone within minutes.  The mattress?  Not so much.

We waited a day and no one wanted it so we took it to the San Anselmo dump.  We tried to recycle it but they wouldn’t take it and it was pretty beat up so we decided to throw it away.

After we did that, we started to drive away and saw this amazing collection of peacocks that live around the dump and just hang out there.  There were also some chickens walking around and a pig farm right down the road.

It had to be the oddest collection of animals, around a dump, that I’ve ever seen.

As I was taking pictures of the peacocks, Jill started pointing to my right and telling me, “Look at the white one!”  I wasn’t sure what she meant but then I scanned over and saw this amazing white peacock.

Sadly, it didn’t flair out its tail and show its feathers to us.  Maybe if I go back again it will.

 

Day 599 OUT OF Beijing: Pier 24 Photography

 

PIer 24 and traintracks.

Pier 24 and long unused train tracks.

 

Jill and I headed to our 1 pm appointment at Pier 24 to get more information for SF Tourism Tips.

We arrived a bit early and hung around outside and enjoyed the gorgeous sunshine.

We are still getting used to having sunshine and fresh air every single day and being able to go out of the house whenever we want without fear of getting sick and having to wear a M95 mask to breathe safely.

It is a joy that we will never forget or take for granted.  Sadly, the first thing we would do when we woke up was look at my phone, check the Air Quality App and decide whether we would go outside or not.  It truly controlled that much of our daily lives.

I suggest you think a bit on your ability to breathe freely and not have to wear masks, drink bottled water, or worry about where your meat came from a few times today.

We had to do that for 1.5 years.

It gives us more to love and enjoy whatever we are doing in the SF Bay Area.

As the clock ticked down to 1 pm, we walked back to the gallery and pushed the “click to talk” button beside the door.

They told us to come inside and we entered.

There were four very nice people behind the desk and they told us about the show, called Secondhand, about re-attributed photographs, and a book that explained how to enjoy the gallery and not get lost.

The reason I mention not getting lost is that it is a huge gallery and it has about 20 or so rooms.  Some are tiny little alcoves but it could take a long time if someone got lost and confused and wanted to leave quickly.

I am not sure I like re-attributed photographs but I understand the idea: someone (not sure I can call them artists at this point) takes someone else’s photographs, manipulates them in some way, and then calls it their own.

I guess, in a way, this is sort of like “sampling” in music but there may be almost no difference at all.

In fact, say you found my family album at Goodwill and decided to buy it.  You could them frame my pictures and sell them as your own because you framed them and made them yours.  This is a simplistic example but there was work there that was basically just that: someone had found a person’s family album, bought it, and then took the pictures they liked, photographed them again, printed them out and adjusted the colors, and then it became, “their art.”

As a budding artist/photographer, and a person who has a mom who is definitely an artist, I have some issues with this.  I’d hate for someone to take my photographs, change a few things like color or brightness, and then sell them as their own art.  It seems somewhat unethical and immoral but maybe that is just me.

There was one specific part of the exhibition that I truly enjoyed: Eric Kessel’s 24 Hours.  It is a room full of photographs that he asked to have downloaded, and then printed, of everyone single person that posted their photographs to Flikr within a single 24 hour period.  I believe there were over 1,000,000 photos all laid out on the floor, and up the walls, and it was very powerful to stand in the middle of all those memories.

Eric Kessels 24 Hours.

Eric Kessels’ 24 Hours.

As we walked up to the exhibit room, one of the staff told us we were welcome to walk inside it and view it from the center of the room and see how we liked it.  We both picked up some photographs and looked at them.  Many were very disparate but there were still some that were obviously of the same kid or baby and had not been scattered yet.

Interesting enough, I really didn’t like any of the other parts of the exhibition by Eric Kessels as they seemed to be more like the ones I wrote about above and made me feel very uneasy regarding who is the artist and who deserves credit for these photographs.  I liked seeing other peoples’ histories and stories, but I’m not sure it quite sat correctly with me and that he would be getting credit for what they’ve actually done in the past.  Then again, Eric Kessels did manipulate the photographs and, if he hadn’t make these exhibits, they’d be lost to space and time.  Again, a tough question to figure out regarding right and wrong.

The different photographs that have been re-attributed.

The different photographs that have been re-attributed.

 

We also saw a photograph of the famous 1911 Hebron, Nebraska tornado that someone had taken.  Jill is from Nebraska so she knew of it immediately and it is a beautiful photograph.  Just utter desolation and very powerful.

As we left the exhibition, we were a little unsure whether we liked it or not.  We both feel strongly about artists doing their own art and having credit given to them.  However, a lot of this art would have been lost to the dump if not for these artist that found them, changed them, and kept them alive.

Is this really art?

Questions without answers.

Day 598 OUT OF Beijing: 7D Experience at Pier 39!

 

The"Legendary"score that I got.  Almost hit 100,000.

The”Legendary”score that I got. Almost hit 100,000.

 

The next stop in our fact and fun finding mission for SF Tourism Tips was the 7D Experience.

It has to be one of the most fun rides Jill and I have ever been on. We both totally loved it beyond belief!

First off, I have to comment about how friendly Phillip and Richard were when we visit stepped in to visit the attraction.  It is obvious they love their job and helping people have a good time!

Secondly, it was a total blast and worth every penny. We loved it so much we actually went back and did it a few more times. We started with the Zombies one (which was awesome) and then did Gigamom (a very cool sort of like Godzilla like creature and adventure) and then did the Los Banditos which is a bit more “family” like because it is a bit more fun for kids and younger adults since there are just evil robots to shoot and it isn’t quite as scary as the others. I loved being able to fire the guns and blow up stuff while laughing at my fiancee and our silliness as we bumped around in the chairs and had fun “falling through space” as it really feels like you are moving in a car, train or helicopter depending on which experience you go on. I saw lots of people laughing and having a great time while also trying to be the best shooter and get the highest score.

 

Two contestants that didn't fare very well.

Two contestants that didn’t fare very well.

 

The price, for the ride alone, is $10 and you can do a second ride for $5. Trust me, you will want to do a second, and a third, ride. You can also get pictures of yourself after the ride is done as you are in action during the ride. I believe they are $5 each.

We also did the LaZer Challenge, which is a room that has all kinds of lazer lights criss-crossing it. You try to move around them, as carefully and as quickly as possible, without crossing them to touch a yellow light on the other side of the room. After you touch the first yellow light, a second one appears and you have to go through the lazers to touch it. When you reach that one, a final red light appears and you have to touch it before you finish. It is actually quite a workout and a lot of fun. If you hit a lazer light, you lose 30 seconds off your time and, believe me, if you are at all competitive, you won’t want to hit any. Time wise, I did great (something like 30 seconds) but hit 3 lazers so I added 90 seconds to my time and ended up at 120 or so. Just means that when we go back, I’ll will definitely try to beat my time. The cost of the LaZer Challenge was only $5.

 

The LaZer Challenge Room. This picture won't help you figure it out.

The LaZer Challenge Room. This picture won’t help you figure it out.

 

Click HERE to watch a video of me trying to get through the LaZer Challenge.

If you buy both the ride and the Lazer Challenge together, you get a deal as they are only $13.

It is definitely worth it and I would suggest doing that. Also, it wasn’t very busy so we were able to get on the ride without much of a wait and the same with the LaZer Challenge. I asked about how long the wait can be, when it is super busy, and they told us that, at most, it is about 20 minutes because they can move about 20 people at a time. So don’t worry about it if it does look like there is a line, there isn’t really one. 🙂

Lastly, the 7D-Experience ride is wheelchair accessible. I thought that was quite cool and was glad they pointed that out to us because they want everyone to be able to enjoy this fantastic 7D Experience!

Day 597 OUT OF Beijing: Boudin’s Bread, Mrs. Field’s Cookies and Pier 39’s Sea Lions.

 

Jill loving her delicious Mrs. Fields' cookie!

Jill loving her delicious Mrs. Fields’ cookie!

 

After a wonderfully crazy hour at Musee Mecanique, Jill and I knew we needed to get more info for SF Tourism Tips at Pier 39.

On the way, we stopped by Boudin Bakery as we wanted to catch the bakers working early in the morning.  This is a fun way to start the day because the bakers are usually in great moods and at least one of them will have a intercom connection to the crowd standing outside on the sidewalk watching them make the bread for the day.

We were pretty lucky in that there weren’t a lot of people and we were able to get right up in front and talk to one of the ladies that was building the bread creations.  And I mean creations.  They make teddy bears, clowns and, my favorite, a massive alligator!

As you can see in the video, she asked where we were from and we told her, “San Francisco.”  She later said, “A nice way to start your day, right?”  I agree 100%.

 

 

We were starting to crave a little sweetness so we walked over to Pier 39 and stopped by Mrs. Fields.  We bought 3 for 5 bucks and they were all freshly made and delicious.  You can see Jill is enjoying her cookie immensely!

We knew we needed more pictures of the sea lions so we headed out to the west side of Pier 39 and were happy to find some of them hanging around and just relaxing on the pier.  They are pretty loud, and quite rambunctious, and a lot of fun to just watch and laugh at while they jostle each other and make loud barking noises.

By the way, these are all sea lions and not seals.  You can tell the difference by their brown coloring and their longer fins.  This also allows them to jump on the platforms which seals are not able to manage with their shorts fins.

You can see, and hear, the sea lions making lots of noises and pushing each other around right here:

 

 

 

Day 596 OUT OF Beijing: The Musee Mecanique.

 

The terrifying Laffing Sal.

The terrifying Laffing Sal.

 

Jill’s and my excursion to update SF Tourism Tips next stopped at the amazing Musee Mechanique located at Pier 45.

The Musee Mechanique is a one of a kind place that can not be found anywhere else in the world, at least as far as I know.

It is full of mechanical toys and games that kids of all ages can enjoy.

Some of them are from the late 1800s/early 1900s and they have been rebuilt and maintained with lots of love and devotion.

I am rather amazed at how people can put such time and effort into salvaging and saving games like these and I truly appreciate them.

If you are from the San Francisco Bay Area, the second you walk in the door you will recognize Laffing Sal.  Just for your information, if you spell her name, “Laughing Sal” you are spelling it incorrectly.  Sal is from around 1930 and when you paid your money (now 50 cents) she will start moving around and laughing at you.  She used to live at Playground At The Ocean (now Ocean Beach).  Now, if you were a kid and saw Sal laff, or if you are a kid and see her do it now, you will be pretty terrified.  She was a freaky character and most people I know remember her fondly, with fear, as she is about 7 feet tall and scared most of us out of our wits.

We continued walking around and checked out some of the video games (from my childhood) and the game that went back to the earlier times.  We really enjoyed the massive collection of over 300 toys and automatons.  My personal favorite was the massive county fair carnival that moves when you deposit your coins into it.

 

The massive country fair carnival automation.

The massive country fair carnival automation.

 

This collection is all because of one single man, Edward Galland Zelinsky, and his love of these contraptions.  He started collecting when he was 11 (well before World War II) and seems not to have stopped even until today.  He is a 5th generation San Franciscan (which is a HUGE deal to people from San Francisco) and has done so many different careers in his life that it is impossible to list here.  Trust me, go to his page and check out all of his accomplishments.  He is a renaissance man.  I love the stories of people that want to live a different type of life and figure out a way to do that successfully and take a different route to their dreams.  Mr. Zelinsky definitely has done that in a very special way all his own.

A jukebox from days ago.

A jukebox from days ago.

Me failing miserably at Pole Position.  A game from my childhood.

Me failing miserably at Pole Position. A game from my childhood.

We took our time walking around the Musee and just taking in all the games, sounds, and excitement of other people playing the games.  One of the truly generous gifts that Mr. Zelinsky has given to anyone entering the Musee if that the entry is absolutely free!  You only have to pay to play and most of the games are only one quarter, or at most, fifty cents.  I remember playing some of these games as kids and that is the exact same price as then.  How many things can we say are the same price as they were about 35 years ago?  I don’t know of many.

 

 

 

 

Day 595 OUT OF Beijing: Cable Cars, Alcatraz and Clam Chowder.

 

A cable car getting ready to leave on its journey.

A cable car getting ready to leave on its journey.

 

As Jill and I hopped off the bus, we knew we had a number of places to visit today and needed to be time sensitive since we had so much to do and research for SF Tourism Tips.

The first place we needed to visit was the Aquatic Park area and get a few pictures, and videos, of the cable cars there.

It would be a long day of walking all along the Embarcadero and this would be a perfect first stop.

The Buena Vista Cafe, which is world famous for its Irish Coffee was right across the street but we decided we’d wait a bit and take our time before imbibing as we planned to hit a few of the new breweries later in the day.

The cable cars were running, on their usual 10 minute schedule, and we were able to get all the pictures we needed.

We enjoyed just hanging out, watching the fog roll away, and seeing the signs of pure joy on the peoples’ faces as they began their journey on the Cable Cars through the San Francisco hills.

 

Waiting for the journey to begin.

Waiting for the journey to begin.

 

After getting what we needed, we headed down to the waterfront, to grab some breakfast. We had left the house around 6:45 am and it was already about 10 am and we were starting to get a bit hungry.

One our way, we spied Alcatraz prison, off in the distance and shrouded in fog.

As people say, “It is a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

It always amazes me how close Alcatraz is to the shore and yet how desolate it feels when you are there.

It is definitely worth a trip, if you haven’t gone, and worth visiting again if you have!

 

Alcatraz peaks out of the fog.

Alcatraz peaks out of the fog.

 

We walked down Jefferson Street and listened to the barkers as they called out different attractions people could enjoy, like renting bikes or little go-carts, to travel around, and finally got to the area where all the fisherman sell their clam chowder in sourdough bread baskets.

We both love these delicious treats and missed them greatly while we were away.  The clam chowder was delicious and the bread was nice and toasted.  All in all, a perfect way to start our getaway in San Francisco.  It also only cost $7.07 for a meal that filled us both up and warm us up at the same time.

Doing research can be wonderful if you love your job as much as Jill!

 

Delicious Clam Chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl!

Delicious Clam Chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl!

Day 593 OUT OF Beijing: Hidden Gems of SF Tourism Tips.

 

A close up of the Giant Buddha on the second level of the Hua Zang Si Buddhist Temple.

A close up of the Giant Buddha on the second level of the Hua Zang Si Buddhist Temple.

 

Jill’s site, SF Tourism Tips, is in a never ending process of being updated and improved.  Jill wanted to update her “Hidden Gems” page and so we decided to head into San Francisco for the day.

I really admire Jill’s trait of never being happy with “enough” and always wanting to better her site and the experience for the people that visit it and want to learn more about San Francisco and how to improve their trip to our lovely city.

We went into San Francisco, by Golden Gate Transit from Petaluma, and then walked around the rest of the day.  We did have to catch one bus ($2.25 USD) to the Columbarium in the Richmond District, but otherwise all our travel was on foot and for free.  Since we are car-less, we didn’t have to pay a toll to get into SF ($6 USD on the GG Bridge), parking ($2-3 USD per hour) or deal with worries about car crashes, gas, or tickets.  The cost to get into SF on Golden Gate transit was $10.75 per person.  A very good exchange for comfort, relaxation and 1.75 hours to either talk or check emails as we rode in on a very comfortable and clean bus.

A longer shot of the bridge with the new movable divider on the left.

A longer shot of the bridge with the new movable divider on the left.

This is also part of our frugal living in that we want to see how realistic it is to live car-less and only use mass transit.  We actually really enjoy mass transit and we’ve met some wonderful people who are traveling around the world and living a upwardly mobile vagabond life like we are at the same time.  I also had a great conversation with a bus driver that will be retiring in one year and his hopes to do a ’round-the-world trip right after his job is over.  We talked about where to go, what to see, and I sent him some links on how to get great deals on flights and cruises.  I’m hoping we catch the same bus he drives, again, and we can see how he has progressed on his plans!

Our first stop was the Columbarium and it was magnificent.  It is one grave site in San Francisco that is taking interments and it is kept up beautifully.  Harvey Milk’s memorial is there as is Carlos Santana’s father’s ashes.  There are also many other people, and memorials, that are stunning and touching.  It sounds a bit strange to think of this as a place to visit and enjoy, but it is, and we actually were there during an interment and the family and friends were quite joyous and happy.  If you are interested in seeing it, make sure to call ahead and ask for Emmit to give you a tour.  He has been with the Columbarium for many, many years and knows stories and the history like no one else.  We will have a tour when we go back next time with him to learn more about this amazing structure and final resting place.

We walked over to Pizza Orgasmica and had their lunch special of salad, beer and a pizza for $10.50 each.  It was delicious and utterly filling.  I also was able to check in on one of my favorite apps, Untappd, and add the beers that Jill and I tried for lunch.  It is a fun social app and keeps track of how many beers you’ve had and gives badges for different categories.

Jill's pesto pizza.  Yummy!

Jill’s pesto pizza. Yummy!

 

We then headed down to Hua Zang Si Buddhist Temple.  This is a Buddhist Temple in the middle of the Mission District.  That, alone, would make sure it is a hidden gem.  It was originally a Lutheran Church and later became a temple.  We were blown away by the two Buddhas, especially that massive one on the second level, and the friendliness of the monks that were at the temple that day.  Most of them didn’t speak a lot of English but they seemed so happy and content that words weren’t needed to express what they were feeling.  As we walked back outside into the Mission District, we saw this gorgeous mural of Carlos Santana.  The cultures are so different and yet they are side by side.

 

After the temple, we headed down to Southern Pacific Brewery in the SOMA district.  Again, this was all just walking around and seeing the sites so we could experience it as if we were tourists and make sure to give people a “true to life” impression of what they can expect as they cruise around the Streets of San Francisco.  By the way, where are Mike Douglas and Karl Malden when you need them?

Our refreshing beers at Southern Pacific Brewing.

Our refreshing beers at Southern Pacific Brewing.

 

This brewery is only about 3 years old and it is inside a very cool tin roof hangar type building.  The beer is good and the food seems to be fairly priced.  We didn’t eat any food while we were there but had a great time talking to the bartender and just digging the atmosphere.  It will be added to a new page Jill is writing about all the different brewpubs in San Francisco.  Did you know there are over 15 at this point with 10 more scheduled to open during 2015?

By the way, this was also the same day we say the Austin Healey and the Tiny Tesla I’ve just posted about.  There is so much to do in San Francisco when you just walk and observe so check out SF Tourism Tips and find out all the newest information for all your San Francisco tips!