Sunday, June 17, 2012

San Francisco & the last day of our vacation

It's almost time to go home and I am not ready.  It is 72 degrees here and it is in the upper 90s at home.  When we get home I have to do my laundry and immediately travel to one of my least favorite places - Houston. 

Also, this is our first vacation.  Ever.  David and I never went on a honeymoon and other than a couple of weekend trips revolving around an event (graduation, wedding, birth) we have never been away together.  If I could call home and say - sell the house and all of our stuff, we aren't coming back, I would.  But that isn't reality for most people and certainly not for us so we will have to make the most of our last full day.  Tomorrow we have time for breakfast and then the airport.

Home base for this part of the trip is the Westin St. Francis on Powell St in Union Square, San Francisco. 

We picked this hotel because we heard that this is where the Texas Rangers stay when they are in town.  They are in town and we have plans to see them play tonight at AT&T park against the Giants. 

We get up for breakfast and walk to Lori's (up the street also on Powell though I get turned around and we walk around the block to get there).  They have changed the decor since the last time I was here from Lucille Ball to Barbra Streisand.

I want to go to the Haight-Ashbury district and David is aware of this.  I have only been there once, several years ago, at night.  I don't remember much, only that there were independently owned type stores that I thought David might like.  Although he doesn't say this directly, I can tell by his questions over breakfast that he is unconvinced.  "How many stores?"  I don't remember.  "What kind of stores?"  I don't know.  I reiterate, I was there once, in the dark, by myself.  Not considered a good plan so I didn't stay too long.  I went to the store I needed to go to, got what I needed, went to one more store around the corner and got out of there.

He seems pretty resistant but again, doesn't exactly refuse to go.  I don't really want to force the issue so we are at a quasi-impasse.  Walking back to the hotel we see a tour bus, the kind with the open top.  I have never done one of these and wasn't in a big hurry to either.  Too obviously tourtisty.  But we walk up, they are hustling customers, we ask a couple of questions and next thing you know...

We are smooching on the upper level.  This tour is going to take us through "Downtown".  There is another one that runs across Golden Gate Bridge and one more that goes to Golden Gate Park and down Haight Street.  We have time for two so after this one is done, we are planning to do the Golden Gate Park tour.

This tour fits with our attempts to not be too rigid in our plans.  We walk up and bam - we are on the tour.  You can't tell from the photo but it is a little chilly and we didn't bring jackets.  Or sunscreen.  When we get back to the hotel and the end of both tours, we are quite cold and David's face is sunburned.  Mine is burned a little but my makeup provided some protection.  It was pretty windy up there too so it could have been windburn/sunburn combo.

We sit in the very back and it isn't a full tour.  This makes taking pictures off the side easy though I didn't do too much of that.  The Downtown part only takes us through a few places I am not familiar with.  The second tour takes us to lots of places I am not familiar with.

Here is what I know because of this bus tour:

I want to go to Golden Gate Park.  This appears to be an all-day affair to see even a reasonable amount.  We see a very small area on the tour but it is enough for me to realize I have missed out by skipping this in the past.

David would have enjoyed Haight Street.  As we drive it on the tour, he mentions that he could have spent an entire day there.  There are TONS of shops (the kind we like with unique items, not like a mall), restaurants, bars, etc.  We pass this doorway with a bluegrass band playing inside.

The biggest thing I learn is that I will likely be able to talk David into coming back to San Francisco some day.  That, in itself, is a victory.

The tour also took us past Alamo Square Park and the "Painted Ladies".  These houses known for being in movies such as Ms. Doubtfire and in television shows such as Full House were the only homes in this area not destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires.  Unlike the herds of cars going down Lombard St (the crooked street), there is no stopping or idling in this area so no crazy throngs in front of your house.  The bus slows some but never stops here.

We could have exited the tour in Golden Gate Park or on Haight Street and they would have another bus by later we could ride back to Union Square.  But we have tickets to the game and don't want to be rushed so we stay on so we can eat and then get ready to go.  David kindly allows me to pick our lunch destination, my favorite, Sear's.  I have my favorite salmon dish so all-in-all this has been a good day so far.

Based on the map I had on the last trip, I have an idea of a good way to walk to the park.  We agree on this and leave returning to the hotel open - we can either walk or try to get a cab.

It is still cold.  It is June and I am wearing a sweatshirt and am carrying a jacket that I will eventually wear.  As they did in Oakland, they sell hot chocolate during the game.

Unlike Oakland, this is a really nice ballpark.  They do a lot before and during the game to get the fans involved, something that was non-existent in Oakland.  We are on the second row right by the Ranger's bullpen.  This means that Nolan Ryan (on the left) has to walk directly in front of us to reach his seat which is, of course, closer to the dugout.

When I booked the Westin, I had no real way of knowing if the rumor that it is team hotel is true or not.  It was.  Between our two bus tours we went into the lobby to use the restroom.  The men's room and women's rooms were, according to the map, not together.  I head one way, David heads another.

I see pitcher Yu Darvish, new Texas Ranger, instant star, walking in the lobby (this is him at the park signing autographs).  David sees Tom Greive, Rangers television announcer, eating lunch.  I win!

The next day we both see a couple of players in the lobby, including Yu Darvish again.  We don't ask for autographs.  Maybe this is the point of staying at the team hotel but it seems intrusive to me.  No one comes up to me to ask for my autograph in the hotel lobby, why would I do that to someone else?  I like baseball but ultimately, they are just people.

As I mentioned, the park is really nice and has a lot of things to do and see, and a nice variety of food vendors.

Statue of Willie Mays in front of the park

If you go to guest services, they will give you a certificate for your first game.

Home runs can end up in the bay.  This is the view behind the right field seating area.  There is a digital sign that tracks the "splash hits".  It read 60 when we were there.

There is a nice kids area including a slide in the Coke bottle that I am fairly sure I won't fit in.  Those white blurs are birds.  When the game is over they swarm the park to eat food that was left in the stands and on the ground.  One of the people near us that has been here before said they know when the game should be over and sometimes become a nuisance when the game goes into extra innings.  There were a LOT of birds starting to land in the outfield bleachers before all of the people even clear out.

When the game is over, we walk back to the hotel.  We are in good spirits because our team won this time and we had a better experience here .  This doesn't mean that this park was without its issues, primarily with people in our vicinity.

  1. The girl seated to David's left, between him and home plate sits perched on the edge of her seat and leaning forward, making seeing the batter difficult.  Unless HE leans out which blocks my view, creating a domino effect of leaning.
  2. The man and woman behind us aren't watching the game.  They talk loudly to each other and sometimes he talks loudly on his cell phone.  He has his body turned towards the woman, away from the game.  At one point I notice that the woman's voice sounds weird so I peek and see that she is crying.  Hey - There's no crying in baseball! 
  3. The girl sitting to my right sits down with her food and proceeds to sit with her body forward and turned towards me so she is holding her tray of GARLIC french fries over my lap while she shovels them in her mouth very rapidly and in large chunks.  When her male companion arrives a little later, she continues this while also eating from his tray.  He sits down, starts talking and NEVER STOPS the whole game.  On and on and on, explaining baseball to her, quoting statistics.  He is paying attention to the game but really?  SHUT UP for 5 minutes PLEASE!

Now that we have been to a few parks (we have been to Los Angeles Angels, Kansas City, Oakland, San Francisco & our park in Arlington, Texas together, I have been to Wrigley in Chicago for a Cubs/Braves game), I know what I like best...

The view of the game from my living room.  David is "watching" the game, or checking his eyelids for cracks, one or the other.  Peanut, our crazed Pappihuahua (papillon/chihuahua mix) is guarding something.  Could be a treat or food.  Could be David.  Could be air.  He is a psycho.  Our other dog Karma is napping behind my empty recliner.

Back in Texas watching the game on TV I realize this is all I need.  I pick the food, I pick the temperature and best of all, I pick who sits/naps near me.  These are the best seats in baseball.

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