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 594 OUT OF Beijing: You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til It’s Gone!

 

After coming through the Marin Headlands Tunnels approaching the Golden Gate Bridge.

After coming through the Marin Headlands Tunnels approaching the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

Jill and I ventured into San Francisco today to do more research for SF Tourism Tips.

We love taking the bus in, relaxing while we ride, and just watching the traffic as we pass by it.

Once in a while we get stuck in the traffic, since even the carpool lane is full, but most of the time we have a pretty fast ride and we enjoy sitting in the front seat so we can talk to the bus driver a bit and see the best views.

Most of the other riders are usually reading on their tablets or phones or working away but we prefer to be present in the ride and the enjoyment of being back in Northern California.

You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.

We do know what we have because it was gone and now we are back.

At least until February 28th when we head off to Los Angeles.

We’ve already set up plans to see lots of friends and relatives down there and can’t wait to hit Cancun so Jill can see her sister and her sister’s family and I can finally meet some of Jill’s family in person instead of on Skype.  Being that we met 8 days before I left for China, I’ve never met her family, in person, and she’s never met mine.  This will be a fun trip around the USA!

The Bus driver, this morning, seemed a bit grumpy, which was oddly out of place since he looked a lot like Santa Claus with a huge white beard and big belly.

We thought he’d be friendly and happy, since basically every driver we’ve met on the Golden Gate Transit system is incredibly happy and friendly, but he wasn’t.

Since I started out using a silly phrase, might as well use another one: I guess you can’t judge a book by it’s cover also.

We made sure not to ask any questions and just took some pictures and said “Hi” to passengers as they got on and off the bus and most of them replied with the same.

We weren’t in any hurry to get in since we knew exactly what we wanted to do, what times the places we wanted to visit were open and when we wanted to be home.

It is a wonderful way to live a carefree life and even though it seems as if it is all easy, it isn’t.

Jill puts in many hours of work, especially over the last 4 years, to make her site well respected and easy to use for tourists and locals alike.

She receives a lot of compliments, on her page and on her Facebook page, about how well it is put together and how “real and down home” it is.  That is something Jill specifically worked at instead of just being the generic, “This is what you want to see and do” kind of site that so many other people have built.  It took many hours of walking, busing, and hiking around San Francisco and it still continues to each day.

The fact that she continued to build the site, and her business, while living in China for 1.5 years just goes to show that incredible research, photographs and knowledge that she had stored up in her mind and her computer.

Now that we are back, we will be updating a lot of stuff and building even more pages because we are so excited to help people see more about San Francisco and see it through our eyes so that they can then see it through their own.

 

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Karl the Fog in the distance.

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Karl the Fog in the distance.

 

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!

Day 591 OUT OF Beijing: Tiny Tesla.

 

The All-Electric Tesla Roadster.

The All-Electric Tesla Roadster.

 

Strangely enough, on the same day that Jill and I saw the Austin Healey, we also saw this tiny little Tesla.

Many decades apart but both on the cutting edge of design for their time.

If you don’t know about the Tesla cars, they are all electric powered vehicles and Elon Musk was the originator of them.

Also, if you don’t know about Tesla, research him.  He was a genius and wanted people to have power that was free of charge and easily accessible.

Thomas Edison basically stole his ideas of Tesla and ruined him.

If you’ve never seen a Tesla coil in action, go Google it now and watch it on YouTube.  It is truly magical.

There was movie called “The Illusionist” directed by Christopher Nolan of Inception fame.  It stared Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman a few years ago where a Tesla Coil was a major feature. If you’ve seen the movie, you know of what I write.

Either way, I wanted Jill to stand beside this car so people could get a good representation of how small it is beside her.

It barely came up to the top of my hip when I stood beside it.

It must be like driving a go-cart and basically sitting on the ground.

I can only imagine how fun it is to take corners, at high speed, and just know your car won’t flip or lose traction since it is set so low to the ground.

Fun for kids of all ages.

 

Jill standing beside the All-Electric Tesla Roadster.

Jill standing beside the All-Electric Tesla Roadster.

 

Day 589 OUT OF Beijing: Upwardly Vagabonding.

 

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.

 

As most of you know, Jill and I are traveling around and only staying with friends or family.

I’ve titled this new way of finding a place for us as “upwardly vagabonding.”

A vagabond is someone that is essentially homeless and is just trying to find a place to live and survive.

We are more Upwardly mobile about our vagabonding so I’ve joking called it just that.

We are staying in nice places, with good people, and don’t have to worry about shelter or really being homeless.

As Jill continues to build her site, SF Tourism Tips, and we are now building our new website together (to be released to the world in a month or so) we want to stay as frugal and with as little limitations on us as possible.

We also are traveling by plane, train or bus wherever we go unless friends are driving and we can hitch a ride.  We also use uber or taxis if needed to get around.  It saves us money and saves us mental strain as we don’t have to worry about driving and possibly being in a car crash, paying insurance or worrying if we are going to get lost.  We leave the work to the driver or pilot.   We also then have time to enjoy the scenery or work on projects while we travel.  Win-win.

We have gone through another round of minimizing our stuff and donated all our winter clothes and whatever we think we won’t need.

Our plan is to be down to one good sized backpack and one daypack each by the time we head off for Los Angeles on February 28th.

It is rather amazing we’ve been home for a month already because it seems like we just arrived and are still settling in.

Part of that is the reverse culture shock after being in China for 1.5 years but it is also that we have stayed in 4 different places in one month so we didn’t really “settle” down in any one place and feel at home.

We will be staying at our friends, Randy and Alethea’s house, for most of the the rest of our trip in the bay area so that will make life more comfortable and easy on us.  Hopefully it will on them also as they are being incredibly generous letting us stay and hang out with them.  Randy is like a second brother to me so it is wonderful to spend time with him and his family and just be “home.”

Here are a few pictures from the Golden Gate Bus as I was upwardly vagabonding home to Randy and Alethea’s recently.

 

Day 584 OUT OF Beijing: Moving Around.

 

A view of downtown San Francisco from the deck from where we stayed one weekend.

A view of downtown San Francisco from the deck from where we stayed one weekend.

 

Since Jill and I have started to live the “vagabond” life, we’ve had to adjust to moving around already.

We’ve house sat for two different people, stayed in 4 different houses, and taken care of 4 different cats or dogs.

We will be heading back up to Petaluma, to stay with our friends, Randy and Alethea, and their son, Cyrus, for the next month or so.

It will be great to be able to relax and settle in more, go for runs in the morning, and just be in nature for a little bit.

We are giving a huge, “THANK YOU” to everyone that has allowed to us to stay at their place and will allow us to stay at their place.  It makes our life so much easier and hopefully we can repay you in some way.

We love staying in San Francisco, as it allowed us to get a lot of work done for Jill’s site, SF Tourism Tips, but it is also very stressful and hectic as she is on 24 hours a day since there there is always something more she can research, see or do while she is in SF.

We are planning on coming into SF about once a week, and if needed twice a week, so that we can continue to build the website but it won’t be as stressful or as hectic.

It will be a fantastic little break as we are still finding our way, and going through re-entry into the USA after being in China for the last 1.5 years.

It has been challenging, and yet great, to be back home especially without a car and without a home since we have so much freedom.

We didn’t realize how having this much freedom, mentally and physically, would be challenging and difficult.

It seems like it would be so simple but it isn’t.

Having to be your own boss can be very difficult and very freeing.

There are many options available to us and that can be confusing and frustrating.

Luckily, we work together to figure out what is best and when we start getting burnt out or feeling lost, the other brings us back into balance.

Off to catch the bus to Petaluma.

Have a wonderful Monday!

Day 582 OUT OF Beijing: The Beauty of Ocean Beach.

 

A fisherman waits for his catch of the day at Ocean Beach.

A fisherman waits for his catch of the day at Ocean Beach.

 

Jill and I have been running like mad since we’ve returned from China.

Her site, San Francisco Tourism Tips, takes a lot of work, and time, and even though we love working on it, it does wear us out a bit.

We decided to take a day off and just cruise around San Francisco and see it as tourists instead of work.

Here a few of the pictures we took at Ocean Beach.

It is a wonderful place to spend a few hours and just relax.