Sunday, April 1, 2012

California Spring Break!

We've been dreaming about making a San Francisco trip with Lindsay and Carson for some time and this year, we finally did  it during our week off school for Spring break. We left Saturday night and drove Stacy and Jer's Chrysler 300 (THANKS GUYS!) all night, going to church in the garlic capital of the world (Gilroy, CA) and ending up in San Jose where we stayed at the lovely San Jose Airport Hotel. We visited Japan Town that day but weren't greatly impressed, then ate at a diner in downtown San Jose where we had excellent shakes!

We started our planned stops Monday morning with The Winchester Mystery Mansion. We weren't allowed to take photos during the tour (inside the mansion) but walked over a mile, visiting countless rooms accessed through a maze of hallways and stairways.

That day we drove to San Francisco and drove to Muir woods, a redwood forest north of San Francisco (we actually took a wrong turn and ended up stopping in at Muir Beach before arriving at the park).

 At the beach I asked Megan to sit on this rock so I could get a picture of her with some of the formations there on the beach. Some big waves brought in enough water to virtually submerge her little rock by the time I took the picture below where she had moved to another rock!

 That night we went to Pier 39 and Fisherman's Warf and had some fun there. There was a skilled jazz musician on the sax Andrew had to give some cash upon arriving at the pier.
Tuesday morning we went to Alactraz and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It is an incredible piece of US history, starting as a fort for the military, then becoming a prison, then host to a movement of Native Americans seeking greater equality before being siezed once more by the government and finally turned into a national monument. Below is a vision of San Francisco from the island as well as a picture of the actual prison house from the recreation yard. It turns out the island actually functioned as a small community of families including the guardsmen's families as well as a grocer, schoolhouse, etc.

 That night we headed back to Fishermans Warf and had clam chowder in bread bowls before visiting the Musee Marque. I finally proved to Megan that she's Hot Stuff using one of the machines in the arcade museum and after a few other attractions Megan and I narrowly lost a gripping game of Ice Hockey.

 Another great point of the trip was Magowan's Mirror maze at pier 39. Pay $5 per person and you can explore the mirror maze as long as you like. We were even invited to come back as much as we liked through the day if we needed to get out of the rain (our only non-rainy days in Cali were Sunday and Monday). We played hide and seek and raced and just had a blast.

 We had to stop and see the sea lions of course. They didn't seem to mind the rain much and it was interesting to watch them heave their massive bodies out of the water and onto the floating docks (sometimes landing on one another). Below are Lindsay (left) and Megan (right) watching the sea lions.

 After our final visit to the pier we found (with the help of Sheela, Lindsay and Carson's GPS device) Little Italy. We ate at a nice little place and enjoyed the endless bread and  butter that went along with our lunch. Then we drove to Ghirardelli Square where we learned about the way they make chocolate and ate a rich peanut butter chocolate shake.We then headed home taking far too long to escape from town thanks to the rush hour traffic, arriving back in Cedar City early Thursday morning. Below you see our family in our Alcatraz attire. Megan: Rejected for being too cute, Andrew: Outpatient, and Alex: Alcatraz Swim Team. We loved the trip and really were so grateful for the help of Marion in watching Alexander while we were gone as well as the aforementioned borrowing of a more reliable car so we didn't have to worry about breaking down in one of our 100,000+ mile cars.

Have you been to San Francisco? What was your favorite site? We would gladly recommend all the sites above except for Japan Town in San Jose. The San Jose Airport Garden Hotel was a great place to stay because they had rates which included a pair of tickets to go on a tour of the mystery house and subsequent tickets were purchased at a discounted price.