Monday, July 14, 2008

Michael and Liz Come to Visit

When Max and I packed up and moved to San Francisco, we put our house in the care of Amber who lived there from last October until April. In April, Amber cut the final cord and set off to Chicago to start a new life, a new program of graduate study, some new jobs, and a new blog: Replacing her in the homestead were Michael and Liz who moved in as Amber was moving out, and who are taking care of the house until we return sometime in the Spring of 2009.

But Michael and Liz spent last week here in San Francisco, and we spent the week trying to cover their list of sights to see. We actually did a pretty good job of it experiencing a few things that weren't on their list. It's always so much fun to show "our" city off to our friends and family. Taking Michael and Liz about had the added attraction of seeing through the eyes of someone who had never been here before.

They arrived on Friday, so we just spent the afternoon driving around the city so they could get some perspective of how the city is organized. But one of the things on Michael's list was to eat sea food. I was surprised when we heard that Michael likes sushi- so we were determined to make sure he got sushi here in San Fran- and as you might suspect- it is not hard to find sushi in San Fran- much more common than say McDonald's- or Wendy's- or Taco Bell. So we started with our local Japanese restaurant and got Michael the first of his sea food meals, Sushi for dinner.

Then on Saturday we started the tour in earnest. Now that specific Saturday happened to be July 5, something that I hadn't taken into consideration given that it was a holiday weekend in the middle of tourist season. Our plan was to take the bus to Farmer's Market at the Ferry Terminal and then take the trolley to Pier 39 for a late lunch. The Farmer's Market was bustling. We didn't buy anything but did get some pictures from the area. I love the Farmer's Market here- so bustling with energy- And of course every kind of food imaginable- to eat on the spot- or to shop for home. But- you can't shop much if this is the first stop on a full day. So I showed restraint- and bought only one small can of jalapeno peppers with adobe sauce. This before we found out that Michael loves sushi- he does not love Mexican- especially spicy Mexican- and I'm not sure there is any Mexican that is not spicy!

We weren't able to get on a trolley since they were all packed with people by the time they got to our stop, so we took a cab instead. Pier 39 was the sight for most of the July 4 weekend festivities and it was packed with people. We did get a table for lunch and provided Michael with one of his many sea food meals.

When we did finally get back to our neighborhood, Michael and Liz a little flavor of walking the hills in San Francisco. We try to warn people before they get here- bring the walking shoes- there are lots of hills, no parking, and even the buses require a hike.

I must admit that when Max and I first got here and saw those hills, we didn't even consider walking up them, so we knew how they felt as they climbed this cliff back up to our street.

Sunday's plan was to go to Sonoma and see the wine country. We took them to the Benzinger Winery: which has a great tour of the vineyards, the crushing & fermenting facility, the storage cave and of course, the tasting room. Benzinger is a biodynamic vineyard which means that they use no pesticides on their vines, they plant gardens of plants within the vineyard that attract "friendly and helpful insects", and they recycle all of their waste into compost which they reapply to the fields.

The vines were full of clusters of grapes waiting to ripen in the California sun. And the samples in the tasting room were enjoyed by all of those who weren't doing the driving.

We finished the day at Horizon's our favorite place to eat in Sausalito where Micheal got more sea food.

Of course no trip to San Francisco is complete without experiencing the Golden Gate Bridge. When we crossed it on the way to Sonoma, it was so foggy, the we couldn't see the towers. On the trip home we drove up to the Headlands overlook which is on a hill above the bridge. You might note that these two are holding onto each other pretty tightly. This display of affection also had the effect of keeping them warm and steady as the wind was blowing around 40-50 mph at this particulary moment. I actually sat in the car during this little excursion- didn't want to blow off into the bay! It was really, really, windy!

On Monday the weather was supposed to be clear and warm (warm for San Francisco) and so we had plans to go to Alcatraz. Once again we took the bus down to the Ferry building and then the trolley to the dock to catch the boat to Alcatraz. I didn't make this trip- I was working.

This time we actually were able to ride the trolley since the holiday crowds had dissipated. The weather was nice and as opposed to when Amber went to Alcatraz on a foggy day, we could actually see the city

The Alcatraz tour was quite impressive. It was surprising that Alcatraz Island was only used as a federal prison for 29 years which closed in 1963. The rest of the time it was used for military purposes and now obviously as a tourist trap. At least we were allowed to leave when we wanted to.

Tuesday was scheduled for Muir Woods, my favorite place here in the Bay Area. We got there early and had a great walk through these giants before the daily crowd swelled. I love walking among these trees when it's quiet. Did I mention I was working again.

Following Muir Woods, I always go to up to the coastal view of the Pacific at the Muir Woods Beach overlook. It's perched on a cliff several hundred feet over the Pacific and provides a great view of the coast.

On Wednesday, I got part of the day off as tour guide because I had some P&G work to get done, and let Michael and Liz explore China Town on their own. But first I took them down on the bus to Union Square, and we walked down to the Powell Street Cable Car turn around to take a traditional ride on the San Francisco Cable Cars. I was working- or have I mentioned that yet.

That evening we went down to Max and my favorite sea food restaurant, Pacific Catch. Though I did not miss a meal. More sea food for Michael, this time an eel rice bowl.

On Thursday the schedule included the Exploratorium. Have I mentioned yet that I was working? The Exploratorium is kind of a Children's Museum, but is really oriented for any age. The museum is set up with hundreds of hands on exhibits, each of which demonstrates some facet of science. There were exhibits in all areas of physics, exhibits that demonstrated how our senses work, exhibits to demonstrate the processes of biology and exhibits that demonstrate mechanical properties. All of the exhibits are simple enough that young children can run up to one and do something like spin a wheel or blow a bubble, but they also have text that describes the science behind the property on display. It's really a fascinating place for all ages.

After the Exploratorium, we went to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. It is a beautiful garden and provides tea in a small tea house.

On Thursday night we gave Michael another sea food meal, this time prepared by Max. She made her sea food chowder which I won't discuss further here since she has a following blog all about it's preparation.

On Friday we focused on Asian Culture. Need I mention I was working? We went to the Asian Art Museum. We had been told that it is an excellent museum and it certainly covers years of Asian Art. There was a special exhibit of art from the Ming Dynasty on the first floor, and then two more floors of art from all of Asian. The work was mostly in statuary, pottery, and carving in jade and ivory, but it was impressive.

After the Museum, we did more sight seeing by going up Telegraph Hill and to the top of Coit Tower for a 360 degree view of the city.

Our final experience was dinner at the Cliff House. You might be surprised to know that they specialize in sea food and a view of the Pacific as it crashes into the rocks on the beach below. It was a great way to finish up. Michael got his sea food and they both got to see a lot of this city.


Liz said...

We had so much fun! I loved visiting you in San Fransisco. It was so hard to come back home and go back to work this week. Thank you so much for having us out.

Anonymous said...

Wow, looks like Michael and Liz had a great time and saw almost everything there is to see! The chowder looks delicious. love,b

Lucas said...

There were some things on their tour that weren't on mine. Hmmmm....I think I may need ANOTHER visit out there!

Looks like a terrific visit! Glad you guys had such a fun time together.

Max's Dream said...

Hey Lucas, you only get to do the things that are in your tour package. Next time order the whole banana and stay a week.

Anonymous said...

geeze... by the time we get there you'll be so sick of all the sights... we'll need to find something new to explore! :)