Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Riding the Streets of San Francisco

Our first full day in SF, Ryan suggested that we get a passport ticket, which allows a person to ride the public transportation system for a full day. The cost is $11.00. As we were busy in San Jose and chauffeured by Ryan, we didn't use our passport until our last full day. We began our day taking a street car to the pier for our tour to Alcatraz. $1.25

A few hours later, Julie met us at the Pier and we had lunch and did the city tour. We were done at 6:00 pm. And we had only spent $1.25 of our $11.00.

We decided to take the cable car to the shops - the cost - $5.00.

Ryan met us at the other end and we had the BEST Thai food ever, shopped, and then it was 9 pm. And we had only spent $6.25.

We decided to not squander our passport so we caught the cable to Fisherman's Wharf (another $5) and then lined straight away to catch it back ($5.00).

The streets the cable cars travel on are not exactly flat...

As you can tell most of our riding was done at night. I saw a laundromat called - Missing Sock, beautiful buildings, and we experienced a whole lot of fresh air. We rode standing...

Hanging on the outside of a cable car is an experience! In a way it is more comfortable than sitting on a seat, and sliding your way into the next passenger as we went either up or down a hill.

The Cable Cars of San Francisco keep their operators busy - there is a lot of levers, and pedals and cranks. No fossil-burning products - it is earth friendly.
By the time, we made it back to the shop-end of Powell Street, it was an hour from midnight - we were exhausted as we had been out for over 12 hours. Our passport was about to expire. We caught the train home ($1.25 on the passport), and were back in the neighbourhood by midnight.

Total expenditures on the passport - $17.50!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ryan's SF Apartment

Now is a month after Aimee and my big adventure in California - when we originally booked the Tina Turner concert, Ryan was living well and truly in Seattle. And then life, as it does, shifted and Ryan (and Julie) moved to San Francisco to a new job with a company called Stumbleupon. They do the searching on the web for you.

Years ago when Ryan moved to Seattle, I just happened to be there on holidays when his papers came through - and so I met him at the airport.

This time, he (and Julia and Aimee who had already landed) met me at the Oakland airport. We had the double bill of seeing the concert and exploring Ryan's new world! And apartment - both him and Julie spent some serious time finding the perfect place, and were all moved in by the time we got there.

The apartment is very bright - windows in every room - even the closet. The closet is a walk in with two doors, which got me to thinking about the designer, and how that came about. The most intriguing window is in the bathroom - it is covered with a film so no one can see in (or out I suppose) when the window is closed - the window opens into an air duct which is about 2 feet by 2 feet and is open right to the sky. Is it an air duct or a light duct?? It does both. Directly across is another window, which was mostly ajar (as was ours when someone took a shower).

When I opened the window for my shower, each time I saw the bare midriff of a young man. Others in our place said they said it too. That was a lot of showers. And then it occurred to me that perhaps it was a different midriff each time. More than one roommate?

Really, though, here is where we spent most of the time...

This view is looking towards the bedroom - yes, there is French doors to the bedroom. In the corner is Ryan's work station.

This view is of the living room looking towards the front door, and vestibule. Ryan's new couch - hideabed - and underneath it a new carpet protecting the lovely hardwood floors!

And here is the kitchen...

Notable in a different way is the elevator. It actually has a door to it, on each floor. That might give a bit of a time period when it was made. As is such in these places, one says a little prayer as they push the button. The underground parking has space for 7 vehicles, very cozy - but it is not as cozy as the laneway into the parkade (I'm thinking parkade might not be the right word). Say a little prayer for the side mirrors.

One of the best selling features of the place is its location - close to Starbucks and Jamba Juice, and public transportation. And really not that far from Trader Joe's.... how perfect is that???

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Land Far Away

This weekend was the anniversary date of Ryan, Aimee and I leaving Manitoba for the mountains in the West. We officially left Manitoba on November 11th, so nobody would forget us. We landed in our new home at the end of the following day, so the anniversary date is November 12th.

That was 14 years ago. It seems both like a long time ago, and a short time.

Earlier on November 12th, 1994, we left Medicine Hat, and found snow in the East Kootenays. I can remember sitting in a restaurant in Fernie BC, and seeing snow up the sides of the mountain, and the snow meeting clouds. I had no idea what was above that line. What I learned over the years is that clouds are very greedy with mountains - they like to hold on tight to them in the winter.

By the time we started ascending the Kootenay Pass, the snow was falling - it got heavier the more we climbed. Our friend Ron and Ryan (who was 17 at the time) were in the rental truck ahead; I followed in my Toyota Tercel. Never for a moment did I think about the fact that I didn't have winter tires. Now, I wouldn't dream of climbing that Summit without my "winters."

In the car with me was Aimee (age 15), our dog Portia and the cat Nina. By the time we crawled our way to the Summit, the light was gone from the sky. Everywhere was white. Portia crawled onto Aimee's knee, and they both looked out the side window. All was quiet; my eyes never left the road. Out of the silence, I heard Aimee's voice - "Look, Toto. We're not in Kansas anymore."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Long Weekend in Spokane

Because I worked Saturday of the previous week, I took off Monday as a lieu day, and that gave me four days off in a row. I followed my second year tradition of spending this weekend starting my Christmas shopping in Spokane. Aimee, who is a very smart shopper (and very smart in many other areas as well) advises that there are many problems with starting Christmas shopping in December. #1 is that many other people are doing that too so there are crowds. #2 is that this is not when the sales are. And it is always crazy busy enough already.

All in all, my shopping was not as successful as last year. Though I spent over $200, I wasn't really inspired. You know that kind of inspired - where you can hardly wait until you get to see their faces when they open their gift. I did find one inspiring gift but it appears that it might need to be returned.

As in the rich tradition of Christmas shopping, I bought myself a gift. A book that I had misplaced, and so I decided it was time to replace it. Now there is an interesting addition to this story because when I was having my dinner this evening, I tipped my glass and it spilled on the bookshelf (all have been rescued, I am relieved to say), and then I noticed that the misplaced book was indeed on the bookshelf. Right where I looked for it before.

There were a lot of sales in Spokane so I went through the papers on Sunday morning, and cut out coupons for my next two days. At JC Penney, I had not bought a $50 item so thought I could not use the $10 coupon. When I got to the cashier, she totalled my purchases and they came to $45 - she said I could have used the coupon if it added up to $50. *sigh* When I went to Michael's today, they told me that my item was on sale so I could not use their 50% off coupon. And when I looked at the Borders coupon today, it expired yesterday.

So, I bought a gift that needs to be returned, a book that I have already, and couldn't use any of the coupons that I diligently cut out.

I hope your weekend was more productive.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Streets of San Francisco

The first night I was in San Francisco, Ryan took us on a tour of the city after our time at the beach. The San Francisco that I had seen so far was nothing like the movies. I had imagined being on the top of a hill and looking down at city and water, and though we had found our way to the water, it was relatively flat. What else I noticed was that the houses and buildings were not that tall, for such a large city; they were close together and there were a lot of stairs. So our driver, Ryan, took us downtown. What I realized after getting my bearings was that the water in all the movies and television shows is actually San Francisco Bay, and not the ocean. Here's our first view of the Bay....

There are hills in San Francisco - there is Russian Hill, Knob Hill, and as Ryan said, if there was a lot of precipitation there, it would be a problem. Here is a down view...

As you can see, cars are parked in a rather unique way. Great idea as it is difficult to slide sideways.

There is also up...

Here is a leap of faith in that there is something on the other side. To me, the painted STOP on the road almost looks like a vertical sign.

Ryan also took us to Lombard Street, a favourite for people touring San Francisco. The sight to see is a part of the street that has 8 switchbacks - it is called the Crookedest Street in the US. Ryan was delighted to take us down the hill, and in keeping with his hidden desire to be a Nascar race car driver, we zoomed down the street. I protested as I was so occupied with putting on the imaginary brakes and swirling around the corners, I couldn't see a thing. He had a lot more faith in the brakes than I did. At the bottom we joined the many photographers.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Sights of San Francisco

Julie met us when our boat arrived at Pier 33 and we were off to Pier 39 where all the action is. When Julie first came to visit San Francisco, she took and tour of the city so she did some research on the street to see if they were still around. How does a city tour sound? We were inspired and after some sweet talking a different tour company, they decided that I could have the child rate. And that is how we met Vance. The three of us were the last tour of the day, and as it turns out, Vance's only customers. He pronounced Julie's name like this - Jewel-y. Our mode of transportation...

A motorized cable car. Vance had a lot to tell us. Also to others on the street because there were no doors or windows and Vance talked to everyone. To one woman who walked in front of the bus he said, "See, girls, I told you there would be celebrities on the tour."

This is a six-sided building - Think of all the light in that house...

The Transamerica Pyramid - the tallest building in San Francisco. Apparently only 2 of the 18 elevators go to the top.

On the Golden Gate Bridge. At last we get to experience it by daylight.

From the north side...

At this viewpoint, there are several coin-operated binoculars. We inserted our two quarters and then, maneuvered our cameras to get the picture. Here's what we saw, through the looking glass...

And here is a different view of Alcatraz...

We also got to see China Town, the Crookedest Street, North Beach (where I would love to hang out), many beautiful, huge homes, parks, and churches...

This church's address is 666 Filbert Street. (hmmm...)