Friday, August 12, 2011

Pegynthia Part Two

In the second installment of an ongoing series exploring what fun you can have in the San Francisco Bay Area when family visits, we embark on the long-awaited Pegynthia Part Two!!

When last we left our intrepid travelers, we had just finished up our inaugural visit to wine country, Napa to be specific.  Next stop, a real live forest in real live mountains near a real live beach!

Before we go there though, I should tell you that one day of their visit included the obligatory tour of Alcatraz.  They had purchased their tickets in advance (it's not a sales pitch, they frequently sell out those boats/tours) and it worked out perfectly because I had an interview in the city that day and was able to drop them, do my interview (spoiler alert, I got the job), and pick them up after waiting a couple of hours in the parking garage of the building where I interviewed.  Note to self, make sure to carefully read the parking cost sign at any garage.  I saw $17 maximum and thought, "oh good, it won't cost me too much.", but when I exited owing $36, I figured out (through this thing called REE DING) that that was the weekend price, not the weekday price.  Live and learn.  Anyway, they seem to have had a great time that day and got some cool souvenirs and memories to last a lifetime or some shit like that.  :)  We now return you to your regularly scheduled outdoorsy trip.

The Bay Area is home to many beautiful outdoors areas.  You can get your fill of beach, forest, and mountains, all within an hour's drive.  We settled on Muir Woods as our destination for seeing the coastal redwoods.  Muir Woods is part of the National Park Service and has the added benefit of all of its paths being paved or boardwalked so that everyone can enjoy it, regardless of mobility.  If you use a cane or are wheelchair bound and want to see the redwoods, this is the place to go.  Best piece of advice about Muir Woods is to get there EARLY!!  We were super happy to have gotten there early so we didn't have to park and walk a mile (literally) like people who showed up after us.  We were shooting for 9AM and got there around 10 which is the latest I'd recommend arriving.  When we left probably around noon, people were circling like vultures for an empty spot and as we drove out the long winding path, the road was lined with parked cars and people walking a mile to... um... walk a mile.  Anyway, get there early.  Once there, we found several loops from which you could choose, based on how much time you wanted to spend walking.  We walked at a leisurely pace and took photos, some of which are here:

The Gang
Coastal Redwoods

While the woods were lovely (dark and deep... I know some of you were thinking it), the best part for me was the drive.  It was amazingly, gut-wrenchingly beautiful.  By far the twistiest road I've ever driven; it wound its way through mountains, forests, and along the coast.  You couldn't go very fast for fear of careening off into the abyss, so we were able to really enjoy the pictureseque scenery.  Unfortunately, the pictures Cynthia and I tried to take mostly consisted of lovely views of guardrails.  It's ok, they wouldn't have done it justice anyway.

We had planned ahead that day and brought a nice big picnic in a cooler.  After enjoying the woods, we took a friend's advice (who lives in the area) and went to a local beach area called Stinson Beach.  We had a bottle of that "party in your mouth" sparkling wine, fruit, cheese, mom's homemade potato salad (yum!), olives, hummus, pita chips, on and on and on... tons of food for four people, and it didn't cost us $98 (and we didn't eat it all either).  We picked a nice spot at a picnic table and relaxed in the beautiful weather (well Cindy and mom bundled up in their blankety, jackety things, but I think they were still relaxing).  After lunch we took a walk down to the beach where we saw kids at a Summer learn to surf thing (there was a board rental place that seemed to be in charge of it).  Mom walked down looking for shells but didn't find any, and I had to go help her make it  back up the shifting sands of the dune.  Pretty sure she was no longer cold after that jaunt!

We spent a whole day in Chinatown and started at the place where Traci and I first ate dim sum on our first visit all those years ago.  It was still just as good and a great place for a first experience. Later, Cindy got to experience an authentic Chinese foot massage which she said was fantastic.  We walked all up and down the major Chinatown streets and were frequently stopped by Asian kids who were offering to sell us some real deal fireworks.  I would totally have been down for that if I didn't live in an apartment.  Next year, Chinese kid, next year.  Traci bought a kite in a Chinatown kite shop (awesome).

Ancient Chinese Secret
These things didn't happen on the same day, or even back to back days, but we did eventually make a trip to Japantown.  You would be hard pressed to recognize Japantown if you were driving by (unless you happened to see the Peace Pavilion which includes a large metal pagoda structure) because it mostly looks like a few depressing, grey, utilitarian buildings.  However, those buildings house loads of shops and restaurants with stuff you can only find in Japantown.  We spent a rainy afternoon shopping for knick-knacks we all could have done without, but hey they were all a dollar!!  Well at least at one store they were.  We also had an excellent lunch at an authentic noodle house.  We divided and conquered by ordering one of each type of noodle - Ramen (mom) Udon (Cindy) and Soba (me).  Traci had to work that day or else we would have had to make up a new, fourth kind of Japanese noodle and since the first three took centuries to perfect, I think in this one instance it was a good thing that Traci wasn't with us.  We shopped till we dropped, tried to stay dry, then got stuck in hella traffic trying to get out of the city around rush hour.  Good times.

I think this was mentioned in another post, but something else we did while Pegynthia was here was attend a Giants game.  Here is a picture of our view from the cheap seats:

Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a sports fan, but damn we had a good time.  I think it's like live music for me, I don't like country music  but if someone gives me a ticket or I get a cheap ticket to go along with someone who does enjoy it, I'm there and I'll have a good time.  It is apparently the same with baseball as I really had  ball.  We had peanuts and Cracker Jacks (natch) as well as a Giants dog and a beer.  I fully plan to go back and see another game.  In fact Traci posted about our visit to see the local farm team in San Jose.  There are occasionally Giants tickets available from my work (if they're not used for clients) and apparently they're pretty good seats so if I can get those some time, I'm doubly there!

So that's all for part two.  I think part three will be shorter as I've almost chronicled all of our fun times, but as I've said before - long-fingered - so who knows.  I would like to take this opportunity to point out that today is my sister Cynthia's birthday so this is her special birthday card from me.  Happy Birthday, Sister!!

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to partake in the areas interesting points,and to see you guys as well.