Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Adventures in San Francisco

San Francisco is one of my favorite cities in the world. I have fond memories of it as a young child, as a college student, and now as an adult.

When I was five, my family spent a year in Davis, California, close enough to San Francisco to visit the city fairly frequently. I have fond memories of the Exploratorium and Golden Gate Park from those days. As a college student, I spent a summer doing research at SRI International in Menlo Park, California, close enough to San Francisco to visit the city on several occasions. I have fond memories of Golden Gate Park, the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Cable Cars, and more, from those days.

On Friday night, Jeff and I rode the cable cars and it was a lot of fun. Just riding the cable cars is fun, but sharing the experience with him is what made it a wonderful experience. On Saturday morning, we took a ferry to Alcatraz. I had never been to Alcatraz before, so this was a new experience for both of us. The audio tour is narrated by a former correctional officer of the prison, and also features the points of view of another officer and two former inmates. It was just fascinating. Alcatraz was a very safe and efficiently run prison. The hardest thing the prisoners faced was the feeling of deprivation. The view from the island is just spectacular: San Francisco on one side, Marin County and the Northern side of the bay on the other. The punishment of seeing and sometimes even hearing all that you're being deprived of must have been severe.

On Saturday we also visited Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman's Wharf. At the wharf was a museum called musee mechanique, with a lot of old amusement machines, such as one that showed 3-D slides of the 1906 earthquake, and another that was a dummy that would just laugh and laugh.

On Sunday it rained all day, but we didn't let this stop us from having fun. We used our bus passes to go to the Golden Gate Bridge, where we took a lot of pictures and walked part of the way across the bridge. Because of the cold rain, we did stop touring a little earlier than we might have otherwise.

We woke up early on Monday morning, took the shuttle to the airport, and got home by 9 p.m. It was a fun trip, but we were glad to be home.

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