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We’re heading up north people.  Tuesday the 17th is the wedding, so we need to make our way from San Fran to Fortuna.

I was going to say sunny San Fran, but the truth is most of the time we were treated to this:

Hey!  Where’s the rest of the bridge?

Remember that planning we did where we determined it would be about a 6 hour drive between the two locations?  Yeah, you can start laughing right. about. now…

See, we also thought that being a vacation and all, we should opt for the scenic route.  So we drove Highway 1 all the way between the two.  We left our hotel at about 9:30 am.  We arrived in Fortuna…much, much later.

First, we crossed that nice foggy bridge.

Then we stopped at our first beach.  Stinson Beach actually – a whopping 15 miles across the bridge.

We raced each other around the beach.  We wrote our names in the sand.  We played on the lifeguard station.  We picked up a few shells and a piece of a sand dollar.  You know, all the stupid tourist “hey look!  The ocean!” things.

(Love my green toes! Someone send a copy of this to Aunt Marge, will ya?)

Some of us even put our feet in the chilly water!

We figured we’d find plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy the oceanside view and play on the beaches.  So back into the rental and off we went!

Again with the laughing.

156 miles and 6 HOURS of fog later we pulled into Mendocino and stopped for an overpriced hum-drum lunch.  We couldn’t even say it was worth the view since you still couldn’t see anything.  But on we will go though the weather be foul, on we will go though the Hacken Cracks howled.  Oops, sorry, wrong story. (Oh the Places You’ll Go, Dr. Seuss, for the unfamiliar.  We have no enemies who prowled.)

Shortly after our lunch stop we did find another beach to enjoy, just before Fort Bragg.

It was still foggy, but it had these cool rocks and some cliffs all around.  (And a few seagulls.)

One of my favorite photos of the whole trip.

A nice gal who was spending the day with her young daughter and mother was nice enough to take this photo for us.  We mentioned where we were headed and she commented we still had quite a ways to go.  We figured it was only another couple hours or so (about 150 miles).  She looked at us funny.  If only we knew…

Following our beach stop, the road quickly turns into windy twisty forest with glimpses of the ocean.  The Boy was miserable.  His tummy hurt, he was hungry, he was thirsty, no he wasn’t either of those things.  Truth be told it was probably a bit of car sickness combined with lack of naps combined with being tired of this whole trapped in my car seat thing.

40 miles and 1.5 hours later we made it to Leggett, where Highway 1 ends and rejoins the 101.  We took this opportunity for a small break and a chance to drive through a tree.

No kidding!

We had arrived at the Redwoods!  Only another hour and a half to go…

We finally arrived in Fortuna at 7 pm Monday night.  Not quite 10 hours later.

The one thing I haven’t mentioned is our hotel catastrophe.  Originally we had booked three rooms at the Six Rivers Motel, one for us, one for Josh’s parents, and one for his sister’s family.  Josh’s parents and his sister arrived in Fortuna on Sunday night to find they only had rooms for us Monday through Wednesday nights.  Red flag #1.  Oh, and they only had two rooms, not three.  Gah!  Big red flag #2!  I jumped online back at the Embassy Suites and quickly snatched up a suite at the Comfort Inn instead.  Granted it would more than double our cost, but at least we’d have plenty of room.  Mom, Dad, Jess and family all spent Sunday night on the floor of his youngest sister’s (the one getting married) house, intending to check into the Six Rivers Monday morning….

When they returned on Monday, they discovered the proprietor of the Six Rivers had given away ANOTHER of the rooms and some friends who were also there for the wedding and had stayed Sunday night were quickly baling to find a better hotel.

Upon our arrival in Fortuna we called Jess to find out where they were.  They were standing in the parking lot of the hotel next to ours trying to get a room.  Our suite turned out to be two full size hotel rooms connected together, so we offered to let Josh’s parents stay with us, and Jess picked up a room at the Comfort Inn as well.

And commence the cousin craziness.

Oh, okay, these two are more just cute and cuddly than crazy.  But the other three?  Sheesh.  They were bonkers.  You would be too after that long in a car!

We unloaded all our stuff, the oldest cousin volunteered to stay with the babies once we put them to sleep, and the rest of us headed over to the Eel River Brewing Company for a late, late, late dinner.  By the time we were all seated and had our noshes it was nearly 9:30.

Shortly after dinner…sleep.  Perchance to dream.

Sunday dawned bright and not so early again.  Hey!  We were on vacation!  Nearly same scene, different day.  Except this time Josh brought breakfast up to the room.  Still just as yummy.  And just as free!

As we were packing up to grab the shuttle back to the BART, I realized I couldn’t find my cell phone.  This is not unusual.  It’s bright and red and shiny:  it makes a great child distractor, so it’s often stashed in strange locations.  I searched the room, but no luck.  I thought maybe I’d left it in the stroller and it fell out when we loaded up on the shuttle the evening before.  So down we went to the front desk to see if it had been turned in.  The nice gal made a few phone calls (the shuttle services a number of hotels), but no luck.  *shrug*  We headed out to walk along the Bay front while we waited for the shuttle.  A few minutes later….face?  Meet palm.

See, during that fuss ridden late lunch we’d had at Lori’s, I’d given the Girl my cell to play with.  And of course she didn’t want to be amused, so she pitched it.  Under the table.  To a spot I couldn’t reach.  So I noted to Josh that we needed to have the Boy crawl under before we left to grab it.  Of course, by the time we left, the Boy was pitching a fit along with the Girl.  So Josh grabbed the kids to hustle them out, I paid the bill pronto (no pay at the table service) and we flew out…totally forgetting the phone.

Okay!  Slight change of plans!  We’ll take the BART to the same station, run by the Diner and see if they’ve found it.  Off we went.

When we arrived, of course they were in mid-brunch rush.  The gal I spoke to was ruder than rude.  Like Ed Debevics rude, but without the fun.  I waited until she had served 3 tables and filled up another tables coffee before I asked her about the phone.  Without looking anywhere she spits at me “There’s no phones turned in.”  And you know this because?  I noted it had fallen pretty far back under the table, would she mind if I checked?  (That table looked as if it was about to be vacated.)  She looked at the group of people standing waiting to be seated and said, “No, you can’t.  We have a night cleaning crew.  If they found it, it’d be here.”  And promptly turned her back on me.

*Sigh*  O.Kay.  I figure I’ll come back later in the afternoon when they were dead.  Like when we were there.  Of course long story short, we never went back.  I called, I emailed, no sign of my phone.  I called and had the phone suspended right away, and now I’ve got the same phone only in a different color.  Thank you ebay!  (And yes, if I must be truthful…this is the 4th one in probably 5 years.  One was inflicted with the blue screen of death, one was stolen after I dropped it in a theater, and then the one I lost in San Fran.  Yes, maybe I should get a chain that connects it to my wrist or something.  No I won’t really do that.  No I’m not getting insurance for it.  The replacement was only $35.)

After leaving Lori’s, we head back over to Powell to try to hop a cable car.  We’d ride the cable car up to the end, then catch the 28 bus over to the kids museum we thought the Boy would enjoy.  Uh-huh, right.  After standing and watching 3 go by, we decide to try to catch a different bus instead.  Enter much chaos, bus drivers pointing fingers at various tourists, and we finally hop on the 45 bus…going the wrong direction.  But the buses go in big circles so we sat back and enjoyed the ride.

(You can take the Manager away from work, but you cannot take work away from the Manager.)

Riding the bus was a total blast for the Boy.  Maybelle has a friend (in the end) in Big Bill the Bus.  Hence each bus we rode was dubbed Big Bill.  Plus he enjoyed the people and sights we were treated to.  A trip around Yerba Buena Gardens (alas we never went), Chinatown and its many markets, North Beach (where an Italian family joined us, the kids playing an interesting hand game), and finally the Presidio.

It took us much longer than expected to reach our destination, but was worth the comfort of riding the bus and seeing the Boy’s face through the many changing characters of San Francisco.

Finally, we reached the Exploratorium.  Holy Hands on Science Batman.

The adventure begins…10′ inside the doors.

What’s down this long line of lenses?

Ahhh!  A monster!  Oh wait…it’s Papa.

Fun with water spouts and blocks

And giant bubbles!  (Yes, his shirt is off.  It was wet.  Refer to one photo up.)

This is one of the most fabulous science museums I have ever been to.  There are plenty of activities for kids of ALL ages, as evidenced repeatedly by my photos.  But finally the Boy was reaching over stimulation levels and we decided to head to a more calming location.  Armed with a Good Humor strawberry shortcake ice cream bar and a push-up, the intrepid travelers set out…

…to catch another bus.  But first we had to FIND said bus.  Half an hour and a half mile detour, we finally locate a bus stop for the 28 bus.  The sign says a 7 minute wait.  20 minutes later, a full bus bypasses us without even stopping.  Uh-oh.  Then another 28 bus rolls up.  Also full.  Thankfully, right on its heels was a third bus on the same route with plenty of room for us.

Off we head to Golden Gate Park.  Here is where we discover that the great map we were given at the Visitor’s Center is wonderful downtown.  Not so much once you pass Divisadero.  The map I had looked like the bus would drop us right at our destination.  Instead we were dropped right on the edge of the park with vague directions.  We walked some more.  We were obviously lost.  We finally found a lake (which was on the map) with a concession stand to get directions.  Said lake had water fowl to amuse the Boy, along with drinks to sustain the whole family.  Thankfully we weren’t too far out of the way.

We arrived at the Japanese Tea Gardens about 1 hour before closing time.  And despite the fact that I’d read online it was free…it was not free.  Oh well.  It was worth the money.

We were given a very friendly welcome.

We spent time exploring the gardens and walkways.

(Sorry, it’s a bit fuzzy.)

We climbed bridges.

I took photos that my husband finds irrational.

But which please my soul.

We drank sake.

KIDDING!

But we did take the time to enjoy the tea house.  Josh chose a black tea, I opted for a green.  We shared a small sushi plate and the Boy had a chocolate filled pancake type sweet baked in the shape of a fish.  And did I take a photo of this?

Sorta.

Finally, it was nearing 7 pm and we headed back out of the park to find our trusty 28 bus.  We didn’t wait long and were soon on our way back to the BART, the shuttle, and the hotel.

It may have been filled with mishaps, miscalculations, and a bit of miscommunication, but it was a great day spent in the City by the Bay.  Tomorrow – we trek north.

Fares please…ting ting…Let’s go.
Not too fast…and not too slow…
Stop at the crossing…
Wait for the light…
Then ride the cable
right up to the top…
Stop…and look at the view.
 
Down we go
on the other side.
‘K out for hte curve.
HoooOOOLD ON
 
Down again
to the end of the line.
Turn around and do it again
Fares please…ting-ting…let’s go.
 
No hill to steep…
no load too heavy…
Always cheerful…
and most polite…
She rang her gong
and sang her song
from early morn
till late at night.
 
From Maybelle the Cable Car
Virginia Lee Burton
 
Day two dawned bright and early..or not.  Being one time zone over, we actually slept in until almost 8am!  First up, showers and get dressed.  Next – breakfast!  The last great surprise at our hotel.  Made to order omlets.  Bacon.  Sausage.  Pancakes. Scrambled eggs.  Fruit.  Yogurt.  All you can eat.  FOR FREE.  Who doesn’t love that?!?  With our bellies full of sustenance we set out for our first real foray into sunny San Fran.
 
Our hotel also provided a free shuttle back to the airport where we could pick up the BART into downtown.  Cool!  Another train!
 
We hit the BART about 10 am and stepped off at the Market & Powell exit.  Right out the station doors is the San Francisco visitors center where you can buy Muni passes – basically pay a flat rate for unlimited rides on any public transport except BART.  We picked up a couple passes for the ad-ults as the two chillins are young enough to ride free.
 
We were off to a bit of a late start – I’d read you really ought to get to the Cable Cars as soon as you can in the morning.  Those folks are right.  Especially if you have a traveler with you like my beloved hubby.  Upon emerging from the very stinky elevator (oh please I don’t want to remember that!) we caught a glimpse of the folks waiting for the cable cars.  Wrapped around the turn point and probably a quarter mile long.  Josh is not very good at standing in line.  My bigger fear was seeing the masses of people hanging on the cable cars and wondering if they’d let us take the ginormous stroller.
 

(This photo makes me think we’re going to be in trouble in about, oh, 10 years.)
 
Luckily the line moved quickly and we even had entertainment!
 
(For the unfamiliar – those are some shiny gold tap shoes.)
 
We opted to just jump on whatever cable car was available when we reached the front of the line.  The brakeman was great and grabbed the stroller no questions asked (I had it collapsed for him at least).  Our car was actually relatively empty at first.
 
 
Good thing, because I was able to get some awesome photos.
 
Even the Girl thought this cable car business was a whole lotta fun.
 
 
 We rode the Bay Line up to the end, which is at Fisherman’s Wharf.  From there we walked along checking out the sights (and a quick stop at Starbucks).  We were also looking to pick up a blanket for the Girl.  I’d packed blankets for both the kids, but we’d left them at the hotel.  We new it was going to be relatively chilly (hence the long sleeves and pants), but the wind proved to be more brisk than expected.
 
Cue heavenly music…
 
 
We found a sweet little shop and picked up a flannel blanket for the Girl which just so happens to perfectly match her bedroom. (Don’t worry, I’m sure there are photos of it coming some where in here.)  Ghiradelli Square was, of course, one of the key “must do’s” on my list.  Although I was a bit disappointed –  I thought we’d be able to see more of the original factory.  But it’s really just a big shopping center.  Not that that stopped me from buying about 5 bars of chocolate.  And no, I won’t share.
 
We spent some time walking around the stores, checking out some of the construction that was going on, and enjoying the view of the waterfront.
 
 
The Boy and I enjoyed the fountain.  He had fun splashing in the water until I went to take a quick photo of the dediation plaque…which wasn’t a dedication plaque.  It was a notice that the fountain used reclaimed water.  Oops.
 
We decided to forgo the additional 45 minute wait to pick up a Cable Car right at Ghiradelli Square and walked back to the Bay Line.  On the way back we hopped of to tour the Cable Car Museum.  What a great place!  First off – it’s free.  Second – it’s full of such great history.  Third – you get to see how the Cable Cars work!
 
 
You get to actually look down and see the cables and the big wheels turning that make the cable cars run!  What I found the most fascinating was how many cable lines there used to be.

There are only 3 lines left now.   In 1947 the city was going to get rid of them all!  Mrs. Friedel Klussmann started the Citizens’ Committee to Save the Cable Cars which staged a public campaign that successfully saved the Cable Cars – this is the story told in Maybelle.  What a tragedy it would have been to lose such a wonderful piece of the city’s history.
On with our journey…By this point we were nearing nap time.  The Boy was getting crabby and insisting on riding in the stroller.  Not on the front, but IN the stroller.  Which means carrying the Girl.  So we didn’t spend as much time as I’d have liked at the museum.  We did purchase some postcards, a small metal cable car for the Girl, and a larger (ting!ting!) cable car for the Boy. 
We hitched a ride on the Cable Cars one more time to head back to Powell and Market and the BART station.  Along the way the adults were not so adult like, arguing weather it would be best to go straight back to the hotel or stop and have a late lunch.  I argued for stopping (I admit, I just didn’t want to go back to the hotel yet), Josh wanted to go back.  I regret to say I won.  We walked around a half dozen blocks, and finally landed at Loris Diner, a 50’s diner.  The food was okay, nothing great, but at least it wasn’t very expensive.  Unfortunately we were all worn out and crabby at this point and the real casualty of this decision won’t be revealed until tomorrow.
We hopped back on the BART, rode to the airport, hopped the shuttle, and finally returned to the hotel.  Naps were had.  Swimming was done.  More free beer, soda, and snacks were consumed.  And another early night was called to an end.