US of A: San Francisco
The trip that started this blog is one I didn’t even want to go on. For a variety of reasons, I tried to get out of going, but right before Justin finally acquiesced, I realized I would regret it if I didn’t go. By the time we saw the top of those bright red towers, we had endured quite a few of the worst parts of traveling, but I knew I had made the right choice.
A brief rundown of the start of our trip: We came from Orlando on non-direct flights. This in itself wasn’t terrible, since the alternative was being confined to an airplane seat for 5-6 hours. Our critical mistake was being relieved that the ‘hardest’ part of our trip was over when the first flight landed. We passed a departures board on our way to get lunch in San Diego. “Sucks for those people,” I casually commented to Justin when I noticed a cancelled flight. Those people, as it turned out, were us. Apparently, closing a runway during stormy weather is something that happens regularly in San Francisco, as the 2 runways are parallel to each other and jut out into the bay. Luckily, we were the first in line and pretty painlessly got onto a flight to San Jose instead – with a few drink coupons to sweeten the deal!
Since Justin would be driving later, he ended up with a very loopy and talkative travel companion for the rest of the evening. I, however, had a fantastic 2nd flight and a lovely time playing the Jurassic Park theme song and a couple of other brief tunes on the piano in the San Jose terminal. That was the end of our fun for the day, though, as right out of car rentals, we were dumped onto a highway that rivals Orlando’s I-4 during tourist season – in the dark, during a storm, no less. This must be how everyone who visits Orlando feels – how dare it rain on my vacation!
Undeterred, we soldiered on to the next day. We were in San Francisco for a friend’s wedding, so my one and only “we must do” goal was to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Rather than drive the shortest (and likely congested and overall unpleasant) route, on advice from another wedding guest, we drove west to Half Moon Bay, then north along the coast, stopping if we felt the need to get a better view of something – like the beach, or the coolest Taco Bell in the world, which also happened to be on a beach. The drive alone became its own little excursion and the terrain reminded us of places we’ve been before – Hawaii (to Justin, anyway – he has semi-promised to take me someday), St. Kitts, California-in-the-movies. We went up and down and sometimes through the hills and along beaches with different colors of sand, with me cheerily snapping pictures and generally failing to uphold the entrusted duties of Navigator. Justin didn’t seem to mind too much – other than warning me not to drop his expensive camera out the window and down the hill – and eventually we were deposited at our chosen destination. Or close to it, anyway…
My ‘seat-of-the-pants’ navigation method resulted in driving through some beautiful, quintessential-San Francisco, maze-like, narrow street neighborhoods. Personally, I think it added to our ‘local San Franciscan’ experience. Somehow we landed at the top of the hill in what was presumably a parking lot, but surprisingly uncrowded. Post-trip research tells me that it was the Golden Gate Overlook at Presidio National Park. And there she was:
As if on cue, the clouds lifted, the sun shined down, and we got to enjoy our first glimpse of the bridge from up high. Turns out, there’s a path from that fort to the actual fort we were aiming for. Fortuitously, Justin is not a big fan of walking and no sooner did we get back in the car than it briefly torrentially rained again and we drove the rest of the way down the hill to the Fort Point National Historic Site, conveniently located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge.
This place is cool. Driving up to this fort, you can see the city to the right, Alcatraz in the middle of the water, the fort and bridge in front of you, and, since the road borders the bay, you can see the other tourists getting nailed by the waves crashing against it! We spent almost as much time inside the fort exploring as we did on top looking at the bridge. As previously mentioned, Justin is not a big fan of walking and at that point, we were still sniffling and shivering, so while you can walk across the bridge, we opted to drive and after stopping for lunch on the other side, we continued on around the bay and back to our hotel for the wedding festivities.
Our last day in San Francisco was still stormy and we were still recovering from jet lag, so we limited our adventuring to a visit to the Redwood Regional Park, tried to go to the space & science center, which was closed due to clouds, and then went and saw a movie. And, of course, from everything we’ve heard, you just can’t stop in California without eating at In-n-Out!
The traveling home went much more smoothly. Bonus: I got to sit in the cockpit and talk to the co-pilot for a few minutes before takeoff (and this was before I used the rest of our drink coupons!). Until we landed in St. Louis for our flight change, Justin and I were pinned to the window admiring the incredible scenery. Until this trip, Missouri is the farthest west I’ve been and there aren’t too many mountains or deserts in lush Florida! Nothing like seeing the world from up high.
As we made our way home that day, Justin and I reflected on our trip. After 6 years together, we’ve travelled lots of times before. But something was different about this trip. Maybe it was the effort involved in just getting there. Maybe it was something in the California air. Whatever it was, it changed our perspective and made us think, “We need to do this more…”
What do you think of our adventure? Have your own story to tell of your time in San Francisco? Anyone have a story (and pictures!) of your own Great California adventure? Tell us in the comments!
Also, help us reach 100 followers on Facebook by being one of them!
Our Favorite Photos From The Trip:
Top Tip & Notes for Next Time: