BYO Chocks

Bec – 17th December 2011

We’ve hit San Francisco, after a wonderful week in Lake Tahoe, full of adrenalin and high expectations and after only two days, I can already report that the city of San Fran …… hasn’t disappointed and I don’t believe it will!

Our first activity on the San Francisco checklist was the Muir Wood National Monument, a pristine wilderness area filled with magnificent Redwoods trees that are between 400 and 600 years old. To put this in context, some of these trees were born hundreds of years before Columbus even thought about sailing to America!

The tiny, weeny people at the base of the trees are Foster and Jamie

The kids were blown away by how tall these beautiful trees were and I thought that the experience was really starting to have a profound effect on Foster when he turned around and told me to shhhhhh! I said to him “I agree, it’s a very special place”….Foster says “no Mum, look at the sign”……

Please be quiet for the bark!!!

I bet the rangers didn’t think the sign would be translated like that when they wrote it!

So we continued on through the Redwood Forest, although a whole lot quieter, when the children found a wonderful hollowed out tree, perfect for the winter hibernation…Jamie and I were thinking of leaving them there till Spring…but we changed our minds after seeing how cute they looked all tucked up.

Muir Redwood Forest done – check…onto the next activity on our list……crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. This is one of those sightings that never fails to make your heart beat a little faster. She is a wonderous bridge and much bigger than I remember. I drove, Jamie photographed and kids oohed and aahed in the back!

And so, we arrived into the heart of the city, the bay area, Fisherman’s Wharf and checked into a fantastic hotel that really welcomes families!! (A truly rare find). Set right next door to Victorian Park and Hyde Street Pier, we have been thrilled to be able to give the kids a park to run in and a beach to build sandcastles on. San Fran has put on a display on unseasonally perfect weather. The temperature is sitting around 15 degrees celcius, but with no wind to speak of and the sun shinning, the outdoors are constantly beckoning.

No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a ride or two, or six on the Cable Cars, so we grabbed our passes and found one to take us up those amazingly steep hills that this city is famous for.

Even in the most litigious country in the world, it is great to see that some traditions never change. You are still allowed to ride the cable cars, standing on the outer running board as long as you don’t lean out in the passing traffic! The boys were thrilled on learning this rule and proceeded to ride on the running board all over San Fran, calling out ‘hello’ to everyone who passed by.

Every city has their own special way of doing things, certain tools that help you fit in, or in this case, help you to stop your car from becoming a runaway when parking on the hills. Due to the incredibly steep streets, cars come complete with their very own ‘chocks’! Another invention borne out of necessity! Love it!

Note the attached 'chock' under the wheel

The Cable Car Museum was our next stop and it is housed in the Cable Car Barn at the top of Nob Hill. It is here, that all the underground cables, pulling these vehicles meet and go through the engines that drive them.

The underground cables with the name of the cable line above

Jamie could have stayed there all day simply watching these machines but the kids were eager to pull him in every direction, calling out “Dad, you have to see this”. The Museum was jammed pack with displays, working instruments and bird’s eye views of what goes on underground.

We loved this museum...a must for any family visiting San Francisco!

The kids even found a display that answered my questions about “what happens if a cable snaps” and “how long does a cable last?”, and for all you naturally cautious people out there, or as my husband would say ‘up tight and nervous’, there are checks in place to make sure cables don’t snap…they frey….but they don’t tend to snap completely. It made me feel comfortable enough to jump back on a cable car outside the museum!

Our final stop for the day was Lombard Street, or more affectionately known as ‘the crookedest street in the world’. We walked it and watched cars twisting back and forth, making their way to the bottom, struggling to get round the tight bends. You certainly wouldn’t want to be in a hurry!

And so, with the kids weary from a day full of fun and activity, we headed back to our home at Fisherman’s Wharf. Tomorrow will be another huge day….Jamie and the two boys are planning to bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausilito, then head back home on the ferry ! We still have six more days in San Fran, seems like a long time but we have a million activities on our list that we would LOVE to do. I believe the city of bridges is laying down a challenge a for us…..well I’m up for it…let’s see how we go!

I can guarantee there will be more blogs to come from this fine city!

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