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Front Page » February 21, 2006 » Scene » Riding the rails to California part 2
Published 4,021 days ago

Riding the rails to California part 2

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The Fauvers, Hansons, and Walters pose for a photo at the Chinese Tea Garden.

After this group checked into their rooms, they went to the Caf� Pescatore, an Italian restaurant adjoining the hotel. The food was perfect, the steaks were tender and juicy, cooked to perfection, the seafood, shrimp and scallops were sauteed in butter and garlic just right, and those who ordered salads were well satisfied.

Our waitress/waiter at the Pescatore Italian restaurant was very efficient. However, the group could not decide whether that person was male or female. The men in the group believed the person was a man, while the women in the group believed the person was a woman.

After a good nights sleep, we boarded the Gray Lines tour bus which arrived at the hotel at 8 a.m. It was to take us on a three and half hour tour of San Francisco as ordered by Price Travel. We were assigned the Gray Line city tour bus.

This double decker tour bus with its two levels, was a new experience for those of us from Utah. The upper deck was crowded as most people chose the top level where viewing the city was better. In this bus they used a computerized recording to tell the tourists, about the areas of the city they were seeing.

This tour bus traveled around the historic Fisherman's Wharf , then up Market Street, to Castro (with hip cafes and mod clothing), the Civic Center (for a view of the architecture of city hall, a public library and War Memorial Opera House), the Mission, for a rest stop and tour of the Spanish Church popularly known as Mission Delores.

The tour then continued on to the Marina, Cow Hollow and Pacific Heights. The fog was in and nothing could be seen of the bay. Next the tour went to Russian Hill a charming part of old San Francisco, Haight-Ashbury (famous for the 1960s summer of love), Union Square and Nob Hill (the heart of the city's shopping), through Golden Gate Park (where there is a Chinese tea garden, the Strabing Arboretum and the De Young Museum), through the Presidio to the Golden Gate Bridge. As we traveled across the Golden Gate Bridge the fog began to lift, but taking photos of the bridge was impossible.

The tour crossed back across the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco traveling through the Marina, past Fort Mason, back to Fisherman's Wharf, and Pier 39, the end of an informative three and a half hour introduction to San Francisco.

The view of San Francisco Bay from the north end of the Golden Gate bridge.

This tour gave everyone a view of the city and allowed them to decide which areas of the city they would like to explore in greater detail. From Pier 39 it was possible to see the sea lions resting on the pier and hear them call for mates or food, and watch them compete with the local fishermen.

Up the street to the west of Pier 39, is the Boudin Sourdough Bread Factory where it is possible to watch bread being made and to have lunch. It was decided by our group to have clam chowder in a bread bowl for lunch and eat it at tables on the outdoor patio. The temperature was in the mid-50s, and the Boudin Sourdough Bread Factory's management had placed electric heaters in strategic locations around the patio, to keep their customers warm.

The next item on the agenda was to take a San Francisco Trolley ride to Chinatown. The trolley fare was 50 cents for seniors citizens and $1.50 for other adults. These historic trolley's are a collection which came from around the world. Every trolley is shaped and painted differently.

Entering the streets of Chinatown is to enter a different world of Chinese grocery stores, herb shops, silk, antiques, jade, colorful merchandise, golden dragons and tourist souvenirs. Entering Chinatown for the first time, is an exciting adventure. As one enters the streets of Chinatown, he or she is at first, attracted to all of the Chinese lanterns or Chinese banners and posters hanging across the streets. The brilliantly lighted Chinatown shops with all manner of strange looking merchandise and Oriental people hustling and bustling about the streets cause the tourists to stop and spend their money.

In Chinatown Phil purchased two suitcases with wheels and a tall handle, one for him and one for Marilyn. He remembered how heavy the bags were as they walked through the Emeryville train terminal.The Hansons and the Walters purchased souvenirs in Chinatown to take home to their grandchildren.

Chinatown was explored until well after dark, when it was decided to go back to Fisherman's Wharf by trolley for the evening meal at Alioto's Seafood Restaurant, famous for many years serving fine food to the public, who come to San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. In front of Alioto's Restaurant, along the street, were many street venders offering fish, crab, lobsters, shrimp and sampling cups of cooked shrimp, crab, lobster and their own special spicy sauces.

The Alioto's menu offered a variety of food. This restaurant served food that was well prepared, succulent, tasty and cooked just right. The shrimp, scallops and salmon combination plate was sauteed in butter, herbs and spices, for the discriminating taste. This was one of the major reasons we came to San Francisco to enjoy San Francisco cuisine at its finest.

After eating so much food, Harry suggested a walk was needed. This walk led us up the hill to Ghirardelli's Chocolate Factory, where chocolate fudge sundaes and banana splits were consumed.

Ghiradelli's is close to the famous Hyde Street cable car turn around and everyone decided a ride on the cable car from one end to the other and back was appropriate. The fare was supposed to be $5 per person, but the conductor did not take any money. The conductor said after 9 p.m., riding the cable car is free.

The view of San Francisco Bay from the north end of the Golden Gate bridge.

Riding on a cable car in the open air can be kind of cool during a January winter evening even in San Francisco. There was a slight breeze blowing off of the bay, which made riding in the open air on a cable car somewhat uncomfortable, but very enjoyable.

As the cable car traveled up Nob Hill five-six people boarded the cable car. When asked where they were from, they all reported they were school teachers from Utah and were in San Francisco for the Mac World Computer Convention. Jack discovered he knew the schools where these teachers were teaching.

The cable car traveled up and over Russian Hill and Nob Hill and back down to Fisherman's Wharf. The comradery that exists while riding the cable car allows people to become acquainted with other riders on the cable car. We found it to be a very interesting ride and a good place to meet people from other parts of the world. This cable car ride was the last event of the day and the thoughts of a warm hotel room and bed was on everyones mind.

The next day Jan. 11, Jack rented a minivan for a trip to Oakland and to Muir Woods, a few short miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The trip started with Jack trying to find a way over the Bay Bridge, getting lost and crossing the Bay Bridge again and again. Needless to say he had plenty of help from his passengers. We finally arrived in Oakland.

We went to Oakland for two reasons. First we had to go to a hat shop, so Phil could purchase a Stetson dress hat. He said he could not find one in all of Utah. Phil requested that we go to the Hat Guy's hat store on Broadway in Oakland to purchase the dress hat. This large hat store sells hats of many different kinds. Because Phil knew the style and brand of hat he needed it did not take long for him to find the hat he wanted. Phil purchased a Stetson dress hat of the style commonly worn by detectives in old movies.

The ladies in the group were anxious to visit the Oakland Temple, sitting high on a hill above Oakland, overlooking Oakland and the San Francisco Bay.

Driving down I-580 going south, the Oakland Temple could be seen on the hill to the east. After trying many dead end streets that looked like they led to the temple, but did not, the Oakland Temple destination was finally achieved.

As we drove into the parking lot, the sun broke through the fog and the golden spiral pyramid on top of the Oakland Temple gleamed brightly in the sun making it a glorious sight to behold. One thing interesting about Oakland is the great abundance of flowers in the yards of the homes.

At the Oakland Temple Visitors Center the group was offered an opportunity to see the new movie Joseph Smith the Prophet of the Restoration, which they viewed with interest. This movie is emotionally charged, and brings tears to the eyes. Anyone viewing this movie would be advised to bring along a box of Kleenex.

From the windows in the visitor center, one can see the San Francisco Bay. The fog had lifted and the sun was reflecting off of San Francisco Bay, making this scene before us of trees, houses and the bay spectacular.

The Mission Delores in San Francisco.

At the Visitors Center, Marilyn met a cousin, she had not seen for many years. This cousin and her husband are on a mission at the Oakland Temple Visitors Center.

Jack next guided the group to Muir Woods National Monument a few miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, to see the redwood trees. On the way to Muir Woods after crossing the bridge, traveling north we stopped at a Subway sandwich shop for lunch.

Then up over the hills and into the valley where the Muir Woods National Monument is located. Here in Muir Woods are some of the tall, giant California redwood trees we have so often read about. Walking along the damp trails beside Redwood Creek, under the foliage of the giant redwoods, passing some ancient tall living redwood tree or a dead, fallen redwood tree, feeling the heavy moisture in the air, causes one to reflect on how old many of these trees are. The trail is three miles long, crosses three bridges, through a grove called the Cathedral Grove and through the Bohemian Grove. This is a very enjoyable place to visit. The subdued lighting, under the foliage of the trees makes it difficult to get good pictures.

After crossing back across the Golden Gate Bridge and driving from the west to the east side of San Francisco, we returned to the Ghiradelli's chocolate factory to purchase chocolate souvenirs for grandchildren. Harry purchased a large box of macaroons, which he shared with everyone.

For the evening meal,we had learned at the Tuscan hotel about a Chinese restaurant, that was considered to be popular by the hotel desk clerk. This restaurant is called the House of Nanking on the edge of Chinatown.

Arriving at the house of Nanking in Chinatown, we found the restaurant very crowded with a crowd of 10-15 people waiting to get into the restaurant. When we were able to get into the restaurant, the waitress gave out menus, consisting of a brief typewritten sheet of paper, in laminated wrinkled plastic.The small tables did not have tablecloths on them. The chairs are rough and old looking. The room was sparsely decorated. It had a large open serving window at the end of the room where you could see the cooks, also steam clouds rolling out of the kitchen window.

The restaurant was crowded with noisy boisterous people. Soon the waitress returned with glasses of water for all. She then collected the menus from us and asked if we were hungry? There are six people at the table and all said, we are hungry. She said, do you want me to order for you? Jack asked how much it would be and she replied. "That will be $100." Then the waitress started bringing plates of food, plate after food plate was brought to our table, served family-style. The food was a variety of Chinese delicacies, and was very tasty. With the exception of the last plate of food, which was spicy hot, and some complained it was too hot for them.

Marilyn observed on exiting the restaurant that Chinese restaurants on either side of the House of Nanking restaurant had little or no business. After the Chinese dinner, our group revisited Fisherman's wharf for one last look before returning to the hotel.

After eating so much food on this trip, we will all have to go on a diet.

The trip home and the interesting people we met topped off this adventure and we are anxiously awaiting the next one.

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