San Francisco and my Painted Lady (October 6th - 9th, 2011)

Thursday, October 6, 2011
...please tell me this isn't a bad omen...
Amy and I had a 7:30 flight from DFW to SFO. We were flying American, and, even though I booked our flights at the exact same time on the exact same transaction, we had seats on different ends of the plane...and we were both in the middle. Since the flight was completely booked, there was nothing the gate agent could do (even though the kiosk had just told us we could pay $26 each for preferred seats together). So Amy got row 15, and I had row 24. (I am grateful we both got on the flight. I am also glad that my seat didn't look like the one next to me on the plane.)
The person sitting next to me had to contend with this swinging the entire flight.
The complimentary movie selection of the evening was Captain America, which I hadn't seen.  Hooray for free entertainment.  After the flight, we got on a shared Super Shuttle to the apartment. It was a full van, but we got on last and got off first. There is a coupon for $4 off in the Entertainment book that we were able to use. (My first sign that things were looking up.)
Our Painted Lady
I adore our Painted Lady. We booked the apartment through AirBnB. For a reasonable $150 a night, we got an entire large apartment with two bedrooms and beds, kitchen, bathroom, and more. I will definitely give another go on a later vacation. Naomi, who owns the apartment, has amazing fashion sense. We loved her dresses and shoes. So classic! She also left us a great history of the house and guide to the nearby. Thanks Naomi. This was her listing.
Bathroom with clawfoot tub

Kitchen - loved the antique stove

Bedroom #1

Bedroom #1 - love the boas and the shoes

Bedroom #2

Art in Bedroom #2
Bedroom #2 heater

Amazing household fashion

Household Kitty
Friday, October 7, 2011
What a gorgeous day!
We woke up and got ready for a fabulous day in San Francisco. The weather was beyond amazing. We grabbed a taxi and went off to the Japanese Tea Gardens. *Note: Fridays between 9am and 10am, admission is free.
Tai Chi in the park
The grounds near the Tea Gardens are phenomenal. It is a huge area surrounded with various museums.
Amy and the Sphinx

More Tai Chi (in a different part of the park)

There were many busts of musicians in the park
Getting around the area to find the Tea Garden was actually tricky, but we finally found it, and, at the entrance, were greeted by a squirrel hanging out at the ticket booth. The ticket master seemed to have a friend in this squirrel. He seemed cautious, but not afraid, of humans.
Amy enters the Tea Gardens



We spent over an hour exploring the gardens. There were gorgeous pagodas, ponds, flowers, trees, bridges, nooks, and crannies.

Buddha statue

Kristy and Amy

Skitler in the Japanese Tea Gardens

This sucker was steep...

but we made it to the top!
The gift store was fun too. I got Kris forkchops...but I like to call them sporkchops.
Forkchops - made in the USA
After we left the Japanese Tea Gardens, we explored the grounds of a local museum. We then hit up a hot dog cart for lunch. It was actually pretty tasty. I got a large skinless dog with sauerkraut. Being the picky eater I am, Kris still seems surprised by the fact that I like pickled cabbage.

We found the local bus stop, and we headed over to the Seal Rock area. We were so lucky to be there on such a lovely day.
Seal Rocks, Camera Obscura, and Cliff House in background
The beach was teeming with waves, and surfers were taking full advantage.  There were a lot of people with their pooches too.
Surfers and doggies enjoying the beach
We made it quickly to the Camera Obscura. This was (they believe) made by Leonardo DaVinci. It is a large 360 degree camera that projects images that appear to be 3D.
Old Camera Obscura advertisement
Looking at the Camera Obscura and Cliff House

Camera Obscura
Cameras outside project an image onto a round concave table painted a flat white. The shape and color make the image appear three dimensional. The image was quite realistic. Whenever the camera was paused at a view of the beach, you could almost feel the waves...they seemed so touchable. This camera and its technology are seriously advanced and sophisticated. When you think about when the Camera Obscura was kind of leaves you a bit flabbergasted.
The image projected by the Camera Obscura
Next up was a quick walk to see the ruins of what was the Sutro Baths.
(For contrast, I have linked to a few photos hosted by another site of what the Sutro Baths once looked like.  I think it's fascinating.)
The Sutro Baths (late 1800s/early 1900s)
Sutro Baths on 10/6/2011
The Sutro Baths were made by Adolph Sutro, a gentleman highly influential in San Francisco's history. The attraction was a collection of many public swimming pools of varying temperatures with slides, diving, boards, and other attractions. It cost a whole 10 cents to enter. By 1896, the Sutro Baths were open to the public and were advertised as "the largest salt water natatorium in the world...three acres of light under one roof." The laundry alone was so large it could wash over 20,000 wool swimsuits a day and over 40,000 towels a day. (I can't imagine how heavy and itchy a wool swimsuit would be.) There were over 500 dressing rooms as well.
Photo linked from

Amy photographs the ruins
The baths wound up being repurposed several times over the next 50 years. It was made into a beach environment and an ice skating rink. In the 1960s, the Sutro Bath complex burned mysteriously. Luckily, it had been closed for a while, and, due to its planned closing, many of the artifacts inside of the building had already been relocated. Later in our trip, we were able to see some of these artifacts at the Yerba Buena Gardens and the Musee Mechanique.
Amy overlooking the ocean

The water hole to the left of the ruins was part of the complex too

One of the old stairwells (no longer safe to traverse)

I wanted to go down them so badly!

The Sutro Baths Ruins from another angle
If interested in learning more about the Sutro Baths, click here for a wonderful resource complete with video, photos, and a photo tour. You can also visit for lots of lovely photos.

While exploring the ruins, we came across four people filming an independent movie.  Isis will be the title.  Isis Starr is the actress.  We got a few photos.
Filming a movie

Isis Starr - note the guy with the mirror peeking in

After exploring the ruins, we walked more of the Golden Gate Park.

Skitler hangs out near the Golden Gate Bridge

For Carol
Unexpectedly, we found out we were in San Francisco during Fleet Week. The Blue Angels were practicing their air show over the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a strangely clear day, and we got a great view of their practice. We took in the wonderful weather and made conversation with a nice gentleman writer during the airshow practice.
Can you spot the plane?

After enjoying the atmosphere, we went to the park where Sutro's home used to be located.
One of the lions is still left from the original entrance (see photo below)

Marker outside of Sutro's Garden.  Adolph Sutro is on the left.  This was the entrance to his home.
We were able to climb ruins for another great view of San Francisco...I had no idea the city had two windmills...before heading back on the bus to Japantown.
What is left of Sutro's home

Sharpies are the new wood carvings

See the two windmills?  (You may have to click on the photo to enlarge it.)
Japantown has a lot of character. I liked the statues and the feeling of authenticity. The vibe I got was one that seemed to cater more toward locals rather than tourists.
Walking across the Webster Bridge to Japantown

Due to this, we got to see stores that aren't typically found in a North Dallas suburb. We went to a great little Japanese hardware store called Soko Hardware (great stop). We walked across the Webster Bridge, saw the Peace Plaza with Peace Pagoda, saw the Origami Fountains, and then went to the Nihanmachi Pedestrian Mall for a bit of browsing and dinner at Mifune.
Nihanmachi Pedestrian Mall display

Opps...I wouldn't have ordered a Diet Coke if I knew they gave free tea and automatically brought ice water.

Amazing garlic bread

All I could manage with the chopsticks was a single tomato

My meal - the soup was beyond divine.
Chicken Teriyaki

This 5-tiered Peace Pagoda was a gift from the people of Japan.
We completed our evening at Ghirardelli Square for ice cream and Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. Delicious!
This salted caramel hot chocolate was beyond delicious!

Saturday, October 8, 2011
Although exhausted from walking at least five hours the day before, Amy and I started our day with another very long sight-seeing walk. We headed from the apartment to see the Defenestration Building at the corner of 6th and Howard Street before hitting the Yerba Buena Gardens complex.
Defenestration Building

I love the fridge peeking out of the window partially opened.

Looking up at the Defenestration Building
The Yerba Buena Gardens is a large area containing several entertainments as well as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Cartoon Art Museum. It was a peaceful area with lots of fountains, sculptures, and a rescued 1906 carousel that used to be at Playland by the Sutro Baths.
1906 Carousel

Skitler gets a hand

It's such a peaceful place to take a minute to relax.  I would want to eat my lunch here every day.

Onward we went toward Fog City News for unique chocolate and soda. They let you try some chocolate asking you key questions like "dark or milk" and "any allergies" before giving you a blind tasting. I tried dark chocolate with rose water. Quite unique. I liked it. I ultimately purchased, however, some Curiosity Cola, an Elvis chocolate bar, and a dark chocolate (oh so amazing) peanut butter bar that melted in my mouth like no chocolate I've ever had before. I also picked up a few postcards while Amy tried a dark chocolate spice-rubbed bacon bar.

After leaving Fog City News, we passed through a demonstration for Occupy San Francisco with prayer circles and lots of very clever signs.
Occupy San Francisco

Occupy San Francisco
We continued along until we finally reached the farmer's market at the Ferry Building.

Ferry Building and Farmer's Market
We had lunch inside, and I got an amazing banana cream tart from Miette Bakery (featured on Food Network). We browsed the farmer's market, Amy purchased a great little travel purse, and then we walked along the Embarcadero while watching the Blue Angels begin their performance.
Yes sir!

I adore the smell of the food at the farmer's market


The Stealth just snuck up on us.

The synchronized flying is incredible!
Amy had reservations for Alcatraz at 2:50pm, so we separated.

I continued along to people watch (and watch the Blue Angels) at Pier 39, Hyde Pier, Fisherman's Wharf, The Cannery, and Ghirardelli Square.
Fisherman's Grotto

The Cannery

Fisherman's Wharf

Another manhole cover (of sorts) for Carol
I also went inside an old houseboat at Hyde Pier.

Inside of the houseboat on Hyde Pier

Inside of the houseboat on Hyde Pier
There were small street markets set up along closed areas of the street, and I was able to purchase a soda to go with my amazing tart I'd purchased earlier. I sat on the grass at Fisherman's Wharf and enjoyed the Blue Angels before I couldn't resist the urge to go view the people watching the show.
It was packed!

People were gathered everywhere.
Some were swimming

Others were boating

I imagine being in the water would afford a great view.

I caught one guy parked at a stop sign with his hazard lights on poking out of his moon roof filming the planes with his iPad! 
Filming on the iPad out of his moon roof

I caught many others filming with their iPads on foot or in the grassy area as well. I finally parked myself on a bench outside of Ghirardelli and wrote postcards while watching the planes pass overhead.
Another iPad filmer

This photographer claimed her bench early.

It appeared Amy wouldn't be making it back at our appointed time, so I headed back to go inside and photograph the Musee Mecanique at Pier 45 proclaimed by their website to be "one of the world’s largest privately owned collections of mechanically operated musical instruments and antique arcade machines." I certainly believe it. They had a massive amount of really neat machines. I could have spent far more time inside than I did. I only spent one quarter to watch an old silent picture of Marilyn Monroe...she's my sister Jenny's favorite.
Entrance to the Musee Mecanique

Old baseball game 

I was scared to look...what must every married woman not avoid?  It's located next to the Triple X machine.

Marilyn Monroe silent film inside a hand-crank machine

She was a huge carnie fortune teller.
The Opium Den Arcade Game???
The traffic was abysmal, so Amy and I opted to skip going back to the apartment to change. Instead we headed to North Beach to try to get seated at The Stinking Rose early. We saw many interesting buildings on the journey including a few more painted ladies.

The Stinking Rose is an Italian garlic eatery. You truly follow your nose to get there. I got the neon ravioli which was superb. It was potato filled ravioli with a cheese garlic basil sauce. Scrumptious. I cleared my plate and the bread. Amy got the Gnocchetti with garlic gorgonzola, asparagus & toasted pine nuts. Her meal was outstanding too.
The Stinking Rose

We opted to go to a small Italian cafe for dessert before heading to Beach Blanket Babylon.
Heaven on a plate
We finished dessert and got into line. It paid off. We had front row seats! (You pay for your section, but, seating within that section, is first come first served.)

The show was fabulously funny! I highly recommend seeing this musical quest for Snow White to find her prince. The pop culture references, huge wigs, and great acting/singing (especially by the ladies) made this eight person show worth every penny. Snow White (played by Rena Wilson) couldn't have been more perfect.  The hand motions...the facial expressions...she was a spot on cartoon character.  I was beyond impressed!  All of the females were superb singers as well.  Since the show didn't begin until 9:30pm, we didn't get back to the apartment until fairly late. I can say I'm feeling a bit tuckered out.
Photos weren't allowed, so this is a link to another person's Flickr page

Photos weren't allowed, so this is a link to Don Grigware's  review 
Sunday, October 9, 2011's our last day. I'm so sad that such a lovely trip is coming to an end. Amy and I took public transport to the Yerba Buena Gardens and had breakfast at Mel's Diner.
We had a bit of trouble locating this bus stop...marked only by a bit of paint on a pole.

We then transferred to China Town. A bit of shopping commenced (as well as people watching). They always have some very interesting things to sell in China Town.

Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory

Pretty to photograph, but I don't believe I'd eat it.
I headed over to the Cable Car Museum after a while in China Town. Amy was determined to find a certain gift for her sister Ariel, so she said she'd meet me. The cable cars were ironically having some trouble going, and I saw several block streets so that cars had to turn around. One guy walked off of his cable car and stood on the ground next to it while waiting for the car to run again.

Empty cable car...I was so tempted to jump in.

Stalled cable car.  I love the little boy holding on to his dad's leg.
After touring the Cable Car Museum, which also had fascinating history on the huge San Francisco fire, we caught a cab, grabbed our bags from the apartment, and headed to the airport.

Still in operation

The San Francisco airport is quite nice. It's well furnished with unique touches (like the xylophone below) and has several restaurants with food inspired by notable chefs.
Xylophone in SFO Airport?

Old record display at SFO Airport
I had a fantastic quatro formaggio airport pizza that was unlike any I've ever tried before and quite tasty. I also grabbed a caramel banana cupcake for the plane. (I seem to be on a caramel and banana kick.)
Quatro Formaggio Pizza

Caramel Banana Kara's Cupcake

Amy and I were sadly separated once again for the flight home. I was seated next to a rather loud, active, hair-pulling child. The mother tried, but she couldn't get him to sleep until the last 20 minutes of the three hour flight.

Passing over the mountains in the plane
So...I had bad luck with American Airlines, but this was a great trip otherwise.

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2 Responses
  1. Kris McCoy Says:

    I like the photo of the jet trail around the traffic light.

  2. Brent Jordan Says:

    I really enjoyed this post. Great job!