Satisfied Tourist

Today was an extremely satisfying day – especially after all of yesterday’s mishaps.

The girls were perkier, Songbae caught his re-scheduled flight to Bangkok, and the weather has been absolutely spectacular. Very lucky for us, as Songbae told us that it has been cold, wet, and miserable for the last three weeks. So it’s appropriate that I preface this post with a picture of the Tibetan Buddhist deity Simhavaktra Dakini who clears obstacles from the path of those who seek enlightenment (or of those who seek less stress while traveling…)

We caught a cable car at Hyde Street and rode it clear to the other end at the Powell Street Station (near Union Square). We got to the Hyde Street stop around 9 am, which was early enough to avoid lines and get a seat on the outside benches of the cable car. The views weren’t really better from the outside, but the girls and Chad were able to hang off the sides by the poles in style. There, we dropped the girls off at the seven-story Westfield mall and made our way back to the Asian Museum, where Chad and I were able to spend a leisurely few hours perusing the permanent collection. Chad and I stopped to share another gyro (our weakness) before we met the girls back at the mall. They, of course, ate what they always want these days: clam chowder in a bread bowl in the food court. We did have a strange experience while we were there: there was a fire alarm and everybody was evacuated from the building The girls finished their soups in some random lobby upstairs almost outside the mall. It was a false alarm.

Next we headed home via the bus, which dropped us at the Ferry building on the wharf. While the girls scanned the outdoor market for souvenirs, Chad and I enjoyed the fountain. I think it might be the coolest fountain I have ever seen. It is entirely made of huge square pre-cast concrete “pipes” gushing water in waterfalls of varying heights. There is a walkway through it – which makes you feel like you are under a waterfall. When I walked through I saw two young boys having a mock sword battle on the edge of the walkway. The fountain was that cool – it made you feel like you were in Never-Never Land and excited the imagination. I tried to memorize the name of the artist – but it’s completely slipped my mind now. All I remember is that he’s Canadian and the fountain was built in 1973.

We got home, put our feet up for an hour or so, and then headed back out. This time we walked because the Coit Tower is only a few blocks away on Telegraph Hill. [Note: It is best to find parking in the neighboring streets, because the parking lot there is very small and cars were lined up along the winding narrow road to the top waiting for a parking spot!]

Coit Tower was built in honor of fighter fighters with the funds that Lillian Hitchcock Coit left to the city (over $100,000). She was a woman who had been rescued from a fire at the age of seven – and was basically a wealthy eccentric who loved fire fighters and even wore a fireman suit and accompanied the firemen of the 5th division to all their major blazes. Walking up was good exercise and we caught some great views at the top.

We walked up Filbert Street to the Coit Tower steps. It was pretty steep and I thought it was great that Bella and Dawkins raced to the top.

We finished off the night with dinner at home: pan-fried cod with zucchini, butternut squash soup, and mashed potatoes. I’m posting, Chad’s listening to music on his ipod, and the girls are listening to Harry Potter after having done some school work.

We’re all hitting the sack early because we’re on the first boat to Alcatraz tomorrow morning!!


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