California Trip

6/9/2013: A morning flight out of Detroit brought us to Oakland around 1PM local time by way of Phoenix.  The hotel was near the airport, and we checked in quickly.  The room had one king-sized bed and a pull-out couch, so the kids shared the bed while I took the couch.  This turned out to be a mistake as the mattress on the couch seemed to be a thin cloth covering spiked springs.  At least placing one of the extra comforters over the mattress made it less like sleeping on a bed of nails.

For dinner we headed to Jack London Square and ate on the waterfront.  It was windy and cold.  After not packing a jacket and long pants on a previous vacation and having to purchase something there, I was at least somewhat prepared this time.  Unfortunately, I had only packed one pair of long pants for each of us and we were going to be in the area for three days.

We walked around the square a little before it got too chilly, and we returned to the hotel.

6/10/2013: My father picked us up early Monday morning and drove us to his hotel in Berkely for breakfast.  My brother, his wife and four-year-old son arrived soon after followed a little later by my other brother.  We then headed to San Francisco and Fisherman’s Wharf with the idea of hopping on a tour bus or boat.

After walking the pier and seeing the Sea Lions, we ended up on top of a double decker tour bus.  As we started out the tour guide mentioned that it was a two-hour tour.  I hadn’t expected to be outside much that day, so hadn’t packed any sunblock.  It was a hop-on/hop-off tour bus, though, so figured I could pick some up at one of the stops.

The tour bus wound its way around the waterfront, through Chinatown, around Union Square, past City Hall and the Opera House, through neighborhoods with really neat Victorian-style houses, down Haight Street and around Golden Gate Park before depositing us at the Golden Gate Bridge.  None of the stops seemed to be near anywhere that would sell sunblock, and we were already pink at that point.  It was also well past lunchtime.  Unfortunately, all they seem to sell at the bridge are hot dogs, chips, ice cream, and a selection of beverages.

After eating we wandered along a path that went under the bridge and followed the ocean to places unknown.  A steep cliff edged one side.  The kids and I hopped over the protective rope to creep to the edge and look down to see a small sliver of beach and the ocean.

Back to the tour bus to finish the trip.  The kids and I decided that the tour guides just made things up.  Whenever we were stopped at in traffic or something they always seemed to have something to say such as, “over there is the first underground parking garage in the country,” etc.  We decided to take everything told to us with a grain of salt.

After dinner we went for ice cream at Godiva.  The menu had all sorts of ice cream offerings, but Ann was interested in something else, so I asked the waitress if they had any fudge.  The lady looked at me with a dumbfounded look on her face and asked, “are you serious?”  After stating that yes, it was an earnest question, the response was that “fudge is our specialty.”

6/11/2013: Lombard St./hills, Chinatown, Union Square, GG park, GGB overlook, Sausalito.

After dinner we decided to take the northern bridge and head down to Oakland through Berkeley.  I remember doing this before when I lived briefly in the area, so we headed out without too much worry about looking at the map.  After the bridge there was a sign to exit for Interstate 80.  I remembered taking 80 to 880, so made a U-turn at the next exit figuring I had missed the interchange somehow.  This proved to be a mistake for several reasons.

The first issue is that the road was under construction and the exit to 80 that we saw going the other way was closed.  That found us hurtling toward the bridge thinking we’d have to cross it again the other way and then turn around and cross a third time.  Fortunately, right before the bridge was an exit.  We took it and followed the detour signs.  This led us to an open gate with some cones, a pickup, and a construction worker with a stop sign.

We told the construction worker that we were trying to find 80.  He told us to follow the pickup and then take the first exit and follow the signs.  With that he said on his radio that a white minivan was on its way and the pickup started out.

At first the road appeared normal, but quickly constricted into a pathway barely wide enough for the van with tall opaque fences on each side.  We finally realized that we were following a bike/pedestrian path under the bridge to the other side.  Although it reminded me of walking through a haunted house, we reached the other side in one piece and without anything jumping out from behind the fence and yelling, “Boo!”

This time we made the exit to 80 and followed the signs.  I didn’t remember taking side roads on this path, but the signs definitely said that we were heading towards 80.  However, for some reason the signs were leading us north.  But the signs wouldn’t steer us wrong, right?

Technically they didn’t.  We finally reached 80 and followed it back south to our hotel.

(The journal entry abruptly ends here.)

2023 Update: I sometimes take notes of highlights in my journal with the expectation that I will fill in the details shortly after while the events and feelings are still fresh. However, sometimes too much time has passed since the journal entry was first written (over10 years in this case), and many of the details of that time have slipped from my memory. That said, here are my remaining notes for this entry:

  • 6/12/2013: Half Moon Bay/cafe/jellyfish, Oakland to LA
  • 6/13/2013: Old LA/Mexican Town/Union Station, Venice Beach (sand in eye), Aunt Jerry
  • 6/14/2013: Universal Studios/Burger Joint/Hollywood Blvd
  • 6/15/2013: LA to MI

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