22 October 2012

Eye Heart San Francisco

How does an unemployed graduate student score a weekend in San Francisco?

First, he has to have been employed, and in that state gotten used to some flexibility and freedom to travel. Then, he has to have some kind of relationship to an airline; something that will provide him with travel funds. Importantly, he will need a wife who is a whiz at tracking said funds, organizing life, and a fun travel companion. Oh, and it also helps to have a free place to stay, and a child with a car.

All that came together for my Karen and me when, the first weekend of my unemployment-for-studies, we headed off to San Francisco. Since my work for 3 decades has involved Sundays, we haven't exactly had the freedom to take weekend trips. But over the years we have enjoyed some of the perks of Southwest Airline; notably, for this trip, their policy of letting customers cancel a flight without penalty, and holding those funds for use at a later date. That date was to expire this month, and here we were with an open weekend which to go away for did not require making substitute arrangements for Sunday morning. Off we went!

Son Chris planned a delightful two days for us. We landed mid-evening Friday and settled in at his condo, anticipating a full Saturday in the sun. That included a leisurely stroll at Coyote Point Park, along the Bay, lunch with niece Jennifer Dew, Jose de Castro, Isadora and her friend Sweden. (Yes, a California teenager named Sweden.) This was my first Indian meal since India, and it was nostalgic to slowly work the excellent buffet table.

Jennifer recommended a visit to Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, at Moss Beach, on the ocean side of the peninsula. We thought we'd get that in after a hike along the peninsular ridge. Traffic on the beautiful windy road across was bumper-to-bumper, and it soon became apparent that we wouldn't have time for the hike and the tidal pools, so we just pressed on.

Many people know Half Moon Bay by name, if not by reputation. It is a destination along the coast. We almost always just drive through it on our way to someplace else. It turns out the traffic jam that turned a 20-minute drive into 2-hours wasn't traffic or construction related, just people getting to HMB for the pumpkin festival. Man, that was kind of annoying. But - wow - were there a lot of pumpkins in town! We just kept rolling, now north along Hwy 1 to Moss Beach.

Sunday found us at our go-to church when we are in the Bay: City Church San Francisco. (more on this at Te decet hymnus) Chris had arranged for us to take an architectural walking tour in the afternoon. We had some time between church and the tour, so we did some walking on our own, with the kind of people-watching that one gets so well in San Francisco.

The tour was fantastic, and deserving of its own post. Here I'll just give a shout-out to guide Rick at San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour. And um, Rick is that organization. Excellent and most highly recommended. Not to mention that we had a picture perfect afternoon for our leisurely, artistic, informative walk in the financial district.

It's hard to get enough of San Francisco on foot, so we walked even more - along the Embarcadero and through the Ferry Building - before catching BART to head home. It was two beautiful days in a place that is not Chicago but could be home. If only.

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