Thursday, May 22, 2014

San Francisco Vacation

I've been absent from the blog for a couple of months.  If you are a regular, you know that my Mom passed away back in March.
I just haven't been the same since then.
Nothing can prepare you for losing your Mom and, so far, life is never the same without your Mom in it.  I've just needed time to grieve and to begin to heal.  I don't actually think my grieving will end or that the hole in my heart will ever completely heal, but I will figure out how to live with it all.  And I will be happy because that's what Mom has always wanted for me.
I sure miss my Mommy.

I went to San Francisco with my husband.  I took Mom with me (click here to find out how) and I fell in love with the city - just like Mom did!

We had planned to leave on a Friday morning, but we got a call Thursday night that our flight had been cancelled and we were rescheduled for Saturday morning instead.
Leading up to this trip, I had been full of anxiety.
What if I got there and I wasn't ready to have fun yet?
What if it was just too much?
What if I was weepy and a pain in the tushy to travel with?
The flight being cancelled only added to my anxiety.

We slept in on Friday and went to eat at our favorite breakfast place.  We hadn't been much lately because of travel and family things, so it was nice to go there.
Then we visited a friend and her 3-week old baby.  She had a gift for me from a group of my girlfriends.  It was a beautiful dove and pearl necklace that I got to wear for mother of the trip.  The dove is my symbol for my Mom.  Maybe I'll share that story sometime too!
Then I got to finally meet the finance of a very dear friend.  Turns out our cancelled flight wasn't a wasted day after all!
After a long day of flying on Saturday (over the Grand Canyon and snow-covered Rockies, we finally arrived in San Francisco.  It was my first time in California!  The first thing I saw once we were outside the airport was a huge dove on the side of the building - my sign that Mom was there waiting for us.  We got our rental car (a tiny blue Mazda with no butt!) and drove to the hotel to check in.
We stayed at the Columbus Motor Inn.  It was nothing fancy, but small and quiet and located within walking distance to a lot of things.  Once we unpacked a bit, we walked over to Chinatown.
It was so cute!  I knew there were a few pictures that Mom had taken on her trip that I wanted to try to find. And I succeeded!  I also knew that one of Mom's favorite souvenirs from San Francisco was a tablecloth from chinatown.  I wanted to find one like it - turned out to be more difficult than expected.  I don't even know how many little shops we went into!  But, I finally walked into a shop that had just what I was looking for.  It isn't an exact match, but it is the closest I found.
After a good bit of shopping, we stopped at Brandy Ho's for some Hunan food.  It was SO good!
On the way back to our hotel, we saw a group of people dressed in clothing from the 30s and driving cars from that same era outside of the theater next to our hotel - Bimbo's 365 Club.  It was adorable!
We unpacked some more and then went to Little Italy for some gelato.  Then we slept - HARD!

The next morning, we decided we would walk to Washington Square to try to have breakfast at Mama's.  Do you see this line???
We did not have breakfast at Mama's!  We walked a few blocks back towards the hotel to have breakfast at Pat's.
I have 5 words for you: peanut. butter. chocolate. chip. pancakes.
Then we took our first drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to head to Muir Woods.  It was beautiful!  The trees are so big and tall - it felt like a movie set.  It's hard to believe that they are real.  We hiked for a long time, no thanks to the awful maps!  If you go, make sure you know where you're going unless you don't mind wandering in the woods for a while.  We didn't mind it, but we were really hungry once we got back to the beginning.
We stopped for lunch at the Shoreline Coffee Shop on our way back.  It was a cute little place and so yummy!  I'm not even sure what we ate, but I know it was fresh and so tasty.
We left there to hunt down a photo spot of Mom's.  Turns out the large slice of redwood tree is no longer there.  But, I got a great shot on the bridge - just like Mom's!  We parked on one side of the bridge and actually walked under it to the other side.  That was loud!
We attempted Lombard Street, but it was soooooo crowded, being a Sunday afternoon AND Mother's Day. We parked at the hotel and walked to Fisherman's Wharf just to have a look around.  We visited Pier 39, saw the seals and a beautiful sunset, and ate diner at Boudin's.  I have yummy clam chowder in a sourdough bowl.
Then we watched a beautiful sunset over the Bay.

Monday morning we ate breakfast at Joanie's Happy Days Diner.   We drove down Lombard Street and took video and pictures.  I tried to get some similar to Mom's, but it wasn't easy!  Then we tried to drive down Haight, but it was too trafficky.  I guess we will do that on the next trip!
Then we drove through Golden Gate State Park all the way to the Beach Chalet at Ocean Beach.  We stopped to see one of the famous windmills, of course.  I was sad that the tulips were already gone.
Then we drove up to Land's End for the gorgeous views.  I got some great pictures without even leaving the parking lot!  I also bought several souvenirs there - it was the best of the National Parks shops we went into.
We walked down to the Sutro Bath Ruins.  It was pretty amazing to imagine what it was like there in the early 1900s.  I took a picture like one Mom took there too.
Then we walked over to Louis' for lunch.  Mom and Dad had eaten there with Carlos and Maria Gerchow back in 1991.  It has changed a little, but not much!
Then we took a walk on the beach.  WARNING: Wear shoes to walk to the shore in the sand.  That dark sand was SO HOT!!  Also, the water is shockingly cold!  I'm used to our white sand beaches and warm water in the Gulf! I found a couple of sand dollars and enjoyed people and dog-watching on the beach.  I love the sound of the ocean, the salt smell, sand in my toes, and the breeze in my hair.  It was a good relaxing afternoon.
We still had some time to kill before our dinner reservation, so we drove to see the Painted Ladies (as seen in the opening credits of Full House) and then we found the REAL Full House house!  We went back to Golden Gate Park to see the carousel and then we took a paddle boat ride around Stow Lake.
Then we went to Sutro's at the Cliffhouse for a fancy late anniversary dinner. We had the perfect table with a sunset view and a view of the ruins.  Dinner was DELCIOUS!  After dinner, we went outside just in time for the sun to go fully down.  It was so beautiful and got SO cold!

Our last full day to actually be in the city of San Francisco was Tuesday.  Since we were moving hotels, we had to pack and check out before hitting the town.  We walked towards the wharf and stopped at Starbucks for a bite.  This Starbucks happened to be right at the turn table to the cable cars, so we sat and watched them turn the card.  I didn't know they did it all manually!

We walked to Pier 33 to board a ferry for Alcatraz!  We were both excited to visit there.  TIP: Get your tickets ahead of time - they sell out sometimes 2 weeks in advance.  It was so interesting and HOT!  My favorite part of the tour was learning about the unsolved escape during the audio tour.  TOUR TIP: once you finish the audio tour, you should go back out to the recreation yard.  There are great views of the bridge and city from outside the wall.  We ate at the cafe when we came back, but not too much because we headed somewhere else for dessert!
Being a chocoholic, I was determined to get to Ghirardelli Square.  I had to get a picture like Mom's from Hyde Park first, but then I went into a few shops and bought some cute souvenirs.  Hubs went to get the car while I shopped and then he met me for milk shakes.  I recommend the Nob Hill!  I happened to find a fountain where Dad took some great pictures of Mom while we were there too!  That was an extra surprise.
With bellies full of chocolate and ice cream, we headed across the Bay Bridge towards San Ramon and checked into our hotel there.  We ate dinner at the hotel and then drove to Danville for gelato.  What a precious little town!

The next day, the Hubs had to work all day.  I stayed in my PJs for a while and got a little rest.  Then I walked across the street to get my hair cut and my nails done!  Then I had my first In N Out Burger!  It was a hot day, but West Coast hot is not the same as Deep South hot!  The temp was in the 90s, but it was still breezy and not humid at all. I thought it felt great!  I enjoyed my walk and views of the rolling hills in that part of California.  Once the meetings were over for the hubs, we walked to an Italian restaurant and had some ice cream for dessert.

He had to work again the next day, but only for part of the day.  I spent the morning eating breakfast in bed and packing our stuff to go back to San Francisco.  I'm sure anyone who saw me talking all of our stuff to the car by myself had a good laugh!  But, I got our tiny car loaded and picked Ken up.  We had lunch at a deli and headed back across the bay.  We checked into our hotel near the airport and turned out rental car in.  TIP: rental car at SFO are an ordeal. It isn't the fault of the companies there, just the size of the airport and the volume of business makes it take a while.  Allow yourself a lot of time.
Then we took our first (and maybe last) ride on the BART.  It got us where we needed to go, but it was so loud and so hot!  I'll avoid it if I can!  We got off near the Ferry Building (foodie paradise) and wandered around there a bit.  I got Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream at Humphry Slocombe. Yummy!
Then we walked towards Fisherman's Wharf where Hubs' coworkers were eating.  We had seen a "Popeye" boat there a few days before.  There was a cute family getting on the boat and the captain invited us aboard (for $10 each) and we road around the breakers to Pier 39 for an up-close visit with the seals!  It was fun!  Hubs' coworkers were there when we got back.  We decided we'd rather ride back to the hotel with them than ride the BART again!  They went to Ghirardelli while we went to eat dinner.  I just happened to notice Ciopinno's!  We had to get ciopinno because Mom had to have it on her trip, so that's what was for dinner!  It probably wasn't the best in the world - mostly tasted like the risk, but it was nice to try it like Mom had.

Departure day meant an early morning.  We got to the airport with enough time to spare to eat breakfast.  We flew to Dallas where our gate changed over and over and then we had to sit on the plane while they put a new placard on the emergency exit (seriously?).  But we finally got home, had pizza with our daughter, and got some sleep that night!

It was an AMAZING trip!
I want to live there.
I'm not kidding.  Love. It.

I had a wonderful time with my husband and a wonderful time with Mom!

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