Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Tommy and I went with our neighbors the Palmers on vacation at the beginning of August. You may ask why it is that it has taken so long to post this trip. 1- Vacations take forever to post because there are so many pics and stuff to write about and let's be honest it is kind of overwhelming. 2- I started school the day after we got back and have been dealing with the hustle and bustle of that too. So here is my attempt to getting this vacation posted.


This was a much needed vacation for us since we haven't been on vacation since our honeymoon which was almost 4 years ago. We picked Tommy up from work on Friday, Aug. 1st and drove to Lake Tahoe that night. It was about 2 AM when we got there. Tommy and I had never been to Lake Tahoe and woke up to this beautiful sight! We hung around there until lunch and then we were off to San Francisco!

Our Next Stop...

This is not "The Redwood Forest" but it was still completely incredible! These trees have been around for so long. It is extremely hard on camera to really capture how tall and huge these trees are. As we walked through the forest we felt like we were surrounded by giants!
Our Next Stop...

From the mid 1930's until the mid 1960's, Alcatraz was America 's premier maximum-security prison, the final stop for the nation's most incorrigible inmates. Today, Alcatraz is a place of contradictions, with a grim past and an enduring future as one of San Francisco 's most prominent landmarks and tourist attractions. This is a MUST see! As you can see from the photos it was EXTREMELY cold and windy. We took the night tour because the views of the city from Alcatraz were amazing. As we walked down the halls where the inmates walked and spent much of their lives it was a very humbling experience. We learned a lot about many of the high profile inmates and their attempts to escape Alcatraz. We toured the entire facility from the cells, solitary confinement, the library, the mess hall, the gardens, and the workers quarters. One point of great interest to Tommy and I is that even with the hardest of criminals on the island, because of the difficulty and time required to travel back and forth from the city to the island the majority of the employees and their families lived just outside of the compound where the criminals were detained. What a way to grow up, knowing that Al Capone and his buddies are just next door. Alcatraz was eventually closed because the cost of maintaining the facility was too great. How ironic that it is now a major source of revenue for the city of San Francisco with millions of people visiting each year.

Our Next Stop...

As soon as we starting planning the trip Tommy insisted that we go to at least one San Francisco Giants game. He started researching and scored us some amazing seats on the 8th row. It was so cool to be so close. Before the trip we each purchased a SF Giants hat to show our spirit to the team. Although it was a bit chilly (I had to go to the gift store and buy a long sleeve shirt to stay warm) it was a lot of fun. You can see from the photos what a beautiful place AT&T Park is.
The city of San Francisco is a very interesting and fun city. This page just highlights some of the many icons of San Francisco. The first is the trolley cars. I had never been on one of these or seen one except in the TV show Full House. We used these to get just about everywhere. I was a little nervous of the big hills at first and mostly sat on the inside with the other millions of people who wanted to sit and stay warm. I know I am a whimp! Tommy insisted on standing on the edge every time we rode it. I got braver by the end of the trip and so we had to take a picture.

The other pictures that you see are pictures taken from the free glass elevator in a local hotel. Did I say FREE? I swear we rode this almost everyday because the view was breathtaking. At the beginning of the ride it took awhile to get up because of the other people using the elevator. One of our favorite views was of Union Square. This is the "hang out" of SF. There is food, shops, concerts, and a lot of socializing going on there. Once we got to the 32nd floor, we pushed the lobby button and when down very quickly. It was a bit scary. I thought we were going to fall to the ground.

So those of you that think it is a little odd that we took a picture eating ice cream let me explain. Tommy grew up in Las Vegas and grew up eating this dirt cheap ice cream called Thrifty. It was located in the local grocery store. He would pay about 25 cents for a single scoop. WHAT A DEAL! So our wonderful neighbor Kristin grew up in California and spent her childhood eating this ice cream as well. One day before the trip they were talking and somehow got on the topic of ice cream and Thrifty came up. They both were oohing and aahing about how great this ice cream was. Kristin mentioned that there was a Thrifty in SF and that we would have to make the stop. So one afternoon Kristin said that she thought we were close to Thrifty. Tommy said then let's go. Sure enough we found it in a Rite-Aid. I don't think I have every seen Tommy get so excited. He and Kristin were scoping out all their favorite flavors, the cylinder shaped scooper, and best of all the price. $1.50 for a double scoop! We all got ice cream and I have to admit it was pretty good. I think for them it is was about the memories of their childhood.
I know this page is labeled Fisherman's Wharf but not everything was on the wharf. A lot of them were just things that we saw close by Fisherman's Wharf. This was one of our favorite places to be. We went down everyday and saw something new. Of course we had to go and see all of the lazy sea lions. I could watch these crazy animals for hours. They are so entertaining.

As we walked along there were beautiful boats in the harbor. I couldn't resist a picture. Tommy and Boyd were going to go shark fishing, but they couldn't find anyone to take them for a reasonable price. The other pictures on this page are just all of us being calm, cool, and collected. The sunglasses were just too crazy to pass up a picture. The picture of Tommy and I by the face is some sort of art. Pretty interesting but we couldn't pass it up. As we walked through the shops on the wharf Tommy found a furry little friend and started dancing. It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. These two can dance!

The Conservatory of the Flowers was a little ways out of the city but well worth the ride...especially because it was FREE day! This place is just a greenhouse type building that people can walk through. They have thousands of flowers and plants that are unusual and something I have never see before. You need to click on the page and get a closer look at some of these pictures. You will be amazed! Those of you that know Tommy know that he loves this kind of stuff. Needless to say we took a ton of pictures at this place. Check out that leaf that Tommy is getting some shade under...it is HUGE.

At the Conservatory of the Flowers they had an incredible butterfly exhibit. They had real butterflies flying all of the place. They would land on your finger, or on flowers. We spent quite a bit of time completely mesmerized by these little creatures. Upon exiting the exhibit there were many information boards that patrons could read to learn more about the butterflies. I saw this one and just couldn't resist, I knew this would be the highlight of the trip for Tommy! Finally...Tommy's life has been validated.

On the trip from Lake Tahoe to SF our friends had to stop off at a family reunion so we went to see Tommy's Uncle Jessie in Rocklin. One of the things that they told us we must do was to bike the Golden Gate Bridge. We asked repeatedly if it was an easy ride. They assured us they had taken all of the children and it would be something we wouldn't forget.

So we talked to the Palmer's and we all decided it would be a fun thing to do. Now many of you know that exercise it not my thing. All of the walking that we had done in SF previous to this I thought for sure I was ready. We went and picked up our bikes down on Fisherman's Wharf. They gave us our instructions and we were off. We were all excited and ready for a relaxing ride. After uphill, after uphill, after uphill we were ready to be done, but their was one big problem we hadn't made it to the bridge yet. So we forged on. Once we got to the bridge it was really awesome. The walkways were crowded and made it even harder to manuever our bikes but we did it and the view from the bridge was great. Needless to say the way back was a lot better because it was all downhill.

Every big city has their own version of Chinatown. I have to admit this was the real deal. If I wouldn't have known that we were in California I probably would have mistaken it for China. We saw so many Chinese people running these little shops as we walked down the streets listening to Tommy sing "My little China girl" (take a listen in the play list, it's great). We had a lot of fun outside of this one little shop. I swear they were just asking people to stop and dress up with a few minor props and take some wonderful souvenier pictures. Tommy was of course the one who instigated this dress up party. He grabbed the hat first then Boyd joined in with the sword for a wonderful pic. Kristin and I went for something a little more feminine. Don't we look cute?

This was one of my favorite places to see because it was so unbelievable. As you can see from the sign this is a fortune cookie factory. I am not joking these two ladies work in this little alley in Chinatown all day making fortune cookies. So over the years this has become a huge tourist attraction so these ladies got smart. If you wanted to take pictures of them working you had to pay them money. We agreed because this process was so amazing. You need to click on the picture to get a closer look. This is the way the process works. Obviously I am sure they make the batter (we didn't see this part) but they have a little thing that squirts some batter on to each of these little skillets. The batter then hardens as it cooks. The ladies then take the round cookie off the skillet when it is still pliable and adds the fortune and bends the cookie into the normal shape. That is it. We watched it from start to finish. Tommy tried to talk to them throughout the process, but they weren't the most friendly people. What can you expect they are making cookies! When the lady was taking off the round cookie he mentioned that it must be hot. The little Chinese lady said, "VERY HOT! VERY HOT!" After we watched and got the pictures we wanted we decided to buy a few cookies. Tommy handed the lady some money. When the lady took the money we saw the box that she was keeping the money in. It was a mess. There were bills going everywhere. It wasn't a cash register, and get this- She didn't stop working while she took the money. So when she handed Tommy his money it was going all directions and a complete mess. She politely said, "Here yo money." I guess you just had to be there but we laughed about this for hours!

As we walked down the streets of SF we saw some very interesting sights. I took pictures of the best ones.

We saw the person with the rolled down blue socks. How weird you don't see that anymore. This was Tommy's favorite because he loves to do this to little babies and kids socks when he around them. Never thought we would see a grown person do it on purpose.
We saw the afro guy enjoying his lunch while we were walking along the street. I just couldn't resist this. I made Tommy stand by the building so it looked like I was taking his picture. Tricky huh?
We saw the Chinese lady in the yellow coat at the zoo. Wait is she wearing anything but that yellow coat? Check out how bow legged she is.
The rest of these pictures are all of citizens of SF trying to make a little extra cash. They knew the high traffic areas and I think they were pulling in more money than most of us working people. Is is a little extra cash or a career?

We saw this Chinese lady several times around the city. She walks around with a big bag and big long tongs that you use to cook with. She goes around to the different trash cans and fishes out items of trash that can be recycled. She turns in the trash for cash. A little different take on dumpster diving right?
The guy in the red sweatshirt is a painter. He and his buddies are on the wharf all day and night. They have the most amazing talent. They use spray paint and create the most unusual pictures of the city. If you click on the picture you can get a little better idea of what I am talking about.

The two silver guys were some of our favorite. They had their boomboxes and were dancing like robots. I have to admit they had some pretty good moves. Also check out their killer outfits. I was taking some pictures of the guy on the bottom right and he saw me and motioned for me to come to him. I went and he was kind enough to pose for a picture. Too bad it didn't turn out.

The last guy was by far the funniest. As you can see from his picture he looks like a glorified bum. I think we are mistaken because I watched so many people give him money. He was incredible on the banjo. He was singing and playing and all of a sudden his string broke. He took a short break to fix it and he was singing again in no time. Get this the name of his "band" was Spare Change!"

This National Park was amazing. When we got there we went to see the "Giant Sequoias" first. We hiked to the Grizzly Giant. It was a BIG tree. We hiked a little further and we found a tree that you could drive a stagecoach through. It was amazing. The pictures that we took don't do it justice...THEY ARE HUGE and very incredible.
The views in Yosemite were amazing. The most famous landmarks there are these mountains. They are called El Capitan and Half Dome. Kristin has climbed Half Dome before. She said it was an amazing experience. It wasn't an easy trip, but really cool to be able to tell people that you have hiked all the way to the top! Way to go Kristin.
As you can tell we had an incredible vacation. We want to thank Boyd and Kristin for taking us under their wing on this beautiful adventure. They have a timeshare and hooked us up big time. We would never have been able to afford it without them. Not only did they help us out by hooking us up with a place to stay they showed us some amazing sights. We couldn't have naviagated this beautiful place without them. Thanks again Boyd and Kristin. YOU ARE THE BEST!