Summertime in San Francisco

Our first stop as we worked our way into the San Francisco Bay area was in Sausalito. We walked the streets and the piers. We met Diamond Dog Sausalito and his owner. They were a joy-filled welcome to the city. He sang “This Little Light of Mine” and “KUUMBYA!” What can we say …….. it felt like love and individuality were embracing us with two arms!

Under Scott’s excellent guidance (and our GPS) we made our way to our hotel which bordered the financial and union square districts. We let the valet park the car and didn’t see it again until we loaded up to head out on Monday morning. We bought three-day Muni passes which gave us access to the buses, street cars, cable cars and underground trains. Hamsteads do mass transit in San Fran! It took us awhile to get our bearings straight but we managed fine. It was a great opportunity for Griffin and Beck to apply real-world map reading skills!

Overall we had some very good meals in San Francisco. Some of our favorites included seared scallop and pear salad, cioppino, crab and corn bisque in a sourdough bread bowl, crab sandwich, Niman ranch
burger and cubano sandwich. Scrumptious!

My favorite day was Sunday. The day began with our family doing service at Glide Memorial in the Mission district. They serve three meals a day, 365 days a year, to the needy. It’s an impressive outreach program. We made sandwiches for a few hours and then headed upstairs to experience the service. It was a spirit-filled experience for sure. A huge ensemble of singers and musicians fill the sanctuary with soul-stirring sounds. The atmosphere is one of acceptance and love for all. It is always beneficial to step outside of your regular pattern of worship and experience grace and gratitude through another lens.

After Glide we met an old friend for brunch at Starbelly. It was a yummy, local spot. It was so fun to reconnect with him and spend the rest of the afternoon strolling around the famous Haight-Ashbury district. The day was relaxed and an organic San Francisco experience!

Later we walked to a restaurant near the hotel for dinner. On the way back we came upon two young men. They were both totally lost in a world of dysfunction and homelessness. Their eyes were glazed over with the addiction that haunts them. They haunted me. Young men always bother me most- probably because I am the mother of two sons. I felt myself laying awake praying for them, wishing I could do more, knowing they probably have parents and loved ones somewhere missing them. I think that in the pattern of my normal life I become accustomed to or “numb” to the neediness around me. This journey is “out of our norm” in so many ways- including the depths to which homelessness SHOUTS out to me.

I enjoyed San Francisco but was ready to trade it in for more nature!

When I think of San Francisco I think of cool mornings and chilly afternoons as the fog rolls in off the bay. Another iconic image that comes to mind is the Golden Gate Bridge. On Friday we made the mandatory trek to the Golden Gate Park and Bridge. At the park we saw the de Young Museum, California Academy of Sciences, Stowe Lake and the Japanese Gardens. Then we moved on to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge which was jammed with bicyclists and other tourists. We did find it to be magnificent in structure and had a great view of a variety of Bay activities and sights- kite surfing, sailing, cargo ships and the San Fran skyline. It was really windy, foggy and cold. It is definitely not an adventure for those afraid of heights or wearing skimpy outfits!!

We caught a bus to Chinatown. We ate at a recommended restaurant called Oriental Pearl. It was good food and we were happy to be cozy inside. After dinner we explored Chinatown- taking in the culture, atmosphere, shops and street vendors.

It proved to a long day and we headed back to the Galleria Park Hotel for some much needed rest.

San Francisco is a large and diverse city. One of my favorite days was Sunday and our Glide experience! I am glad we made the stop in San Fran but it won’t be my #1 city.

Saturday was a busy, bustling, crowded day. We did end the day with a jewel of an experience.

That morning we went down to Market Street to catch the “F.” It was a futuristic looking streetcar that actually ran back in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The driver was a real comedian and entertained us along the route to Fisherman’s Wharf.

We ate at Boudins, visited Ghiradelli Square and laughed as the “bush man” scared people on the sidewalk. We also went to Pier 39 where we bought Hard Rock San Fran pins and watched the magnificent sea lions. As we left we watched Paco the spray paint artist that dazzled us with his spray paint and simplistic tools. His talent was amazing!

This day the best was saved for last! We boarded a cruise for a night tour of Alcatraz. It’s hard to put into words how magnificent it was. The wind nipped our faces as the island came into view and we entered the realm of Alcatraz.

The audio tour informed us as we viewed the prison. The narrators were former prisoners and guards and their voices added an authenticity to the experience. We saw cells and other prisoner facilities. The tour included escape stories and other fascinating information.

Interestingly enough, from 1969-1971, after its use as a federal prison, Native American activists occupied the island. They were making a stand about reclaiming Native lands and Native American rights.

We ended the night tour with the “sounds of the slammer” which was a reenactment of the cell doors closing each night.

All in all San Francisco was a neat experience for us but it was a little too big and crowded. Glide, meeting Andy and visiting Haight-Ashbury (including the purchase of our new stylish hats) were also really fun.

Griffin and Beck