Monday night I got into SFO and hit the road for Modesto to see old friends who are family to me. I hadn't seen thsheem in over three years and this was a long time coming. It was a dark 90 minute drive. Upon arrival we were greeted warmly and didn't get a wink of sleep. My gf and I were up till 2 am just talking and catching up. The kids didn't sleep because they were up playing and talking too.
While in Modesto, we did nothing spectacular. Well, not spectacular to some. For us, it was. It was the best 2 days of the entire trip so far. To be able to be with them and do nothing. Just hang out. Let the kids spend time with each other and give my gf a much deserved and long overdue "break".
After our goodbyes, we headed to Gilroy. This time to meet up with my fellow Wolfhound 1/27 wives who I have not seen in a very long time. We had brunch at her home and although it was just a few hours, the barrels of laughs had me hurting! I love those ladies! After brunch with them, I headed over to the Galvan Hills Memorial Park to pay respects to her husband, SSG David H. Gutierrez. Romel served in Iraq with him in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004 to 2005. Per his request, I left a dime on David's gravestone to signify that he was visited by a fellow soldier who served in the same unit as he. Not only is David buried there, but their infant daughter Reyna too. It was nice to be able to stop and see them.
After our brief visits, we were off to stop at Garlic World. Although Patty gave us tons of garlic goodies, I wanted to see the worlds longest garlic braid. I love weird stuff like that. Garlic World is right next to the freeway which made it a perfect place to stop on our way to San Jose. Garlic World is a big general store that sells produce and other fun things.
Now we're off to SJC! We went to the Winchester Mystery House. Shelby did the tour alone since I saw it already. She enjoyed it and I enjoyed the quiet hour of doing nothing. We have been on the go since our arrival and that break was great. After Winchester, we picked up a quick bite at Chipotle. I love Chipotle and wish we had one in Hawaii.
Then, off to church. This INC chapel in SJC was even bigger than the chapel in Seattle. The pews were wider and much more cushier. It was so comfortable! After church, we head up to the airport area to bed down for the night before coming back to SFO to do a full day of touring. It was a little odd to stay in a travel lodge considering we always stay in really nice hotels, suites, or condos. But, I just needed a cheap one night place to sleep and freshen up. What worked out great was it's location. It was right next to the 101 and there was an IHOP right next door.
So, we got up bright and early, filled up at IHOP and then hit the road to tour SFO. We found decently priced all day parking at Pier 3. We needed to be at Pier 1 by 830 am. We arrived at 8 am and was fortunate to find parking for $20 for the entire day. Yes, that was cheap. Parking here is ridiculous and I understand why people hate to drive in this area. I also see why most people choose to not have cars in this area.
We walked all around Pier 1 and the farmers market vendors were getting set up,. The produce was amazing. The asparagus were colossal! I have never seen asparagus as large as those. Off we go on our 5 hour tour of SFO. We saw so many things including Grace Cathedral, Chinatown, and Lombard street to name a few. The tour is $110 per person and well worth every penny. The amount of driving, parking, and time needed to hit up all these spots would've cost more and induced a ton of stress on anyone trying to do this on their own. We had lunch in Sausalito which was a bit hairy due to the congestion of all the tour buses in the area at lunch. The ferry ride from Sausalito back to Pier 1 was great! To get from Pier 1 to 33 for the Alcatraz tour is a 20 minute walk. Instead, we took the old electric street car tram (F line) to take us there. It was pretty cool to be on it but probably won't ever do it again. The trams are extremely crowded and each ride is $2.
Then, we did the tour of Alcatraz from 4-7. For those who have never been there, expect to spend 2 hours MINIMUM there. I wish we had more time so I could cover every inch of the island. But we were on the 4:00 tour and the last boat back from the island is at 6:30. There was a former inmate and author there who was signing his book. That was cool. To think this old man was once housed there made me wonder about him. I can't wait to read his book.
After Alcatraz it was finally time to get to the hotel and rest. Now, we have to get back to Pier 3 from Pier 33 where we parked the car. Rather than wait and cram back into a street car, we walked. It was a nice brisk walk and it was starting to get cold and windy. I was able to find our hotel without a problem. It's the parking that is a HUGE issue in this area. There really isn't any. That forces us to valet for the two nights were here. Guess how much it is? FORTY FIVE DOLLARS A NIGHT!! Ugh! I already knew this and really have no choice being that I need the car to get around since Im not just staying in the wharf area.
This room didn't cost me anything. I used our timeshare points for it. So, that helped soften the blow of the valet cost. Our room is a simple one bedroom with a king bed. The room is actually well dressed and comfortable. The bathroom is great. I love the big counters and the adjustable shower head. The clothes line in the shower is a huge plus. There is a decent breakfast buffet in the morning and the best part about this property is its location. It's 2 short blocks away from the Wharf and about 3 short blocks or a quick 10 minute walk to Pier 39.
After settling in, we hit the pavement again. We walked to Boudin's to get clam chowder in a sourdough bowl. Delish! We then walked down to Pier 39. It was WINDY and apparently bone chilling cold. I had my cabelas jacket and that kept me warm even in slippers. Shelby on the other hand was freezing her butt off! She was wearing a sweater, two scarves and a beanie and complained the entire walk. LOL!
Although most of the shops were closed or closing, it allowed us to pull some recon of the area so we know what to hit up tomorrow. The seals were honking their horns nice and loud though we couldn't really see them all. And the walk back was even colder than the walk there. We headed back up the "strip" and to Ghiradelli Square where we get a cup of hot chocolate. Yum! Then we head back to the room.
Originally, I had planned to take her to Napa tomorrow. But, after looking into the time it takes to get there, plus the traffic, tolls, and entrance fees, we've changed our plans and will be staying in the Wharf area tomorrow to really scour the wharf and different piers. Then, dinner with more friends before we leave on Saturday.
Of all the trips I've taken without my family, this one was by far has felt the longest. I've been gone for two weeks before. But those trips would fly by. For some reason, this trip just felt so long and I can't wait to get home.
Next month, the real vacation will come. A weekend in Princeville. Kauai is the island perfect for rebooting.
Thanks for reading!!