Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Summer vacation, day 2

Waking up this morning I was glancing through the news and noticed this story. I had no idea Elvis was a terrorist:

While waiting in the lobby for Craig to finish his hair, Marie and I watched a lady order 2 guys around as they wrestled a large-screen LCD TV up to her room. She was telling someone on her iPhone that “I hate the crappy TV’s in hotels these days.”

I do not understand this. But, as they say, whatever.
Today we took a bus tour of San Francisco.

This was given by our friendly, but hyper, tour guide Nicole. Apparently fluent in several languages, she often seemed to forget the nationality of her group that day, and would frequently switch into Italian, French, Spanish, or German at random intervals for a few sentences before returning to English. This made the monologue confusingly entertaining. She’d often refer to us as her “love children” and herself as “Mama Nicole.” So while trouping around you’d hear her say stuff like “My love children, follow Mama Nicole this way!” You'd think this would get you some weird looks, but in San Francisco they're used to such. You get the impression Nicole has been doing this forever.

We walked down Lombard street, which is clearly one of the worst places in the world to buy a house. Your street is constantly jammed with tourists driving down it bumper-to-bumper, tourists walking down the sidewalks and taking pictures of cars full of other tourists weaving slowly back and forth, and tourists randomly walking out into the middle of the street to take selfies of themselves with cars coming downhill behind them driven by other tourists. I have to wonder how many of those pics ended up being in their obituary when they get mowed down. Those who live here have to deal with pulling in & out of their driveway with this mess going on.

We stopped and briefly toured Grace Cathedral. This lovely building has a stained glass window celebrating one of my heroes, Albert Einstein.

There are also windows for John Glenn, Jane Addams, Robert Frost, and Thurgood Marshall.

Heading elsewhere, Mama Nicole had us go look at the city's famous row of Victorian houses.

She really outdid herself on this one. As we stood in a nearby park looking at them, she said "These are some of San Francisco's Victorian houses, and this group is called the Painted Ladies, also Postcard Row. This is because so many postcards of San Francisco feature this group of Victorian Houses, or Painted Ladies. As a result, they call it Postcard Row, because it features the Painted Ladies, which is this group of Victorian Houses." Then she switched to German.

The timing is great on this sort of tour. You frequently heard Mama Nicole say stuff like, "This is a lovely building, so many things to see, so be sure to explore it all and enjoy. It's 10:45 right now, so let's meet back at the bus at 10:47 so we can head to our next destination."

A teenage kid on the tour began complaining about not having had lunch yet starting at around 9:30 in the morning, and only kept getting louder about it. At 10:00 it was “unreasonable.” By 11:00 it was “unbelievable” that we hadn’t had lunch. 11:30 he was pleading with his parents to discontinue the tour so he wouldn’t starve to death. When we finally did stop in Sausalito for lunch he was apparently on his deathbed, until he began arguing with his parents about where they should stop for lunch. When they picked a place he didn't like, he refused to eat lunch.

We took a ferry back to San Francisco, then walked through the Market Building and passed this place:

Later on we toured the U.S.S. Pampanito, a WW2 submarine. If you've never been aboard a WW2 sub, it's definitely something to do. You walk through the cramped spaces and imagine spending more than 2 months at a time inside. Today's nuclear behemoths are luxurious in comparison, and they ain't that big, either.

To give you an idea, here's Marie, at 5'4", standing next to a hatch that, when on patrol, a bunch of big guys had to race through when the alarm sounded:

There was another ship at the pier, the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien, but I'll talk more about her another time. She's a good story.

Tonight we met with numerous family members for dinner in Chinatown, where my kids where horrified by some of the things we passed hanging in grocery store windows.

If I have any regrets about San Francisco, it's being here 31 years too late for my kids to see the infamous waiter Edsel Ford Fong in action. I'd prefer that to the hyperpeppy types you get at TGI Fridays and such.


Anonymous said...

My son and Marie have the same shirt. They should meet. He's almost 14. Prom? ;)

Anonymous said...

Ah, that crooked street. On our honeymoon, after a long day sampling the liquid delights of Napa Valley, we carefully and slowly drove back to San F. to get to our hotel. At one (of many)intersections which thanks to the steep hills of SF points your car up towards the sky, we could not see where we were going beyond the intersection. We could make out cross traffic so we knew when it was our turn to proceed. Once we went through the intersection we found ourselves going down Lombard Street! It was totally unintentional. Not fun at all when a bit too full of wine and fighting a bad headache.

Anonymous said...

Ibee, your blog is pure comedy gold. Thank you for brightening my morning.

One question: what's with the blue uniform in the 80 men poster? Was it designed that way or did someone/vandal color in that one shirt?

Grumpy, M.D. said...

Probably photoshopped in.

Nurse Lilly said...

Is "hyperpeppy" a new word? I like it. Between that and "fuck-ton" this blog is better than Word of the Day.

Anonymous said...

When we went to SF, the best part was buying a bag of rejected fortune cookies. The cookies were just round circles or broken parts of cookies. Best $4 we spent.

clairesmum said...

Boccaleone - hubby's favorite place in the Market - they sell a sampler that he refers to as 'the cone of meat'. It's a conical paper cup with five or six slices of different meats layered inside. Like an ice cream cone for carnivores!

Anonymous said...

I hope nobody had to go to the hospital on Guerrero Street.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they were referring to Nixon?

Packer said...

And not a single mention of some teenage kid hanging off a cable care scaring his parents to death.

What no DUCK Tour ?

Silliyak said...

A tourist just got shot on Lombard a bit ago when he fought a guy trying to steal his camera. They caught the thieves after a high speed chase to Oakland.

Anonymous said...

I hope your kids appreciate what a fun dad you are! All of the spots you visited make for good holiday memories. If you ever find your way down to Mobile, Alabama, you can visit the USS Drum (another WW2 sub) and the USS Alabama (a WW2 aircraft carrier that makes you appreciate how big and roomy modern nuclear carriers are).

Anonymous said...

What? No, take the kids to Alcatraz, "lock" them in a cell and pretend to leave?

Anonymous said...

What gorgeous weather to engage in all the exploits! How did you get so lucky? Or, is S.F. always that nice?

We had an incredibly smart friend fresh from Hong Kong that occasionally invited us over for cook's holiday meal. (He roomed in a boarding house where my future husband was staying until the Danish home-owner freaked the students out once too many times and my husband moved in with the Malaysian kids--the ones in the basement that weren't the strict Muslims. My future husband was Buddhist. The Malaysians upstairs followed strict dietary and other rules and their house (the upstairs) was where the Muslim Student Association meetings were held on campus. My husband was friends with all the Malaysians, Chinese, Indian, native, and the strict ones and not so strict. The point was that my future husband did not speak English too well, and neither did anyone else. They had no problem with written language, but one was never too sure what they'd hear. That Chinese kid, was something else, and he was always saying, 'Dat's crazeeee' with his Mandarin accent.

So, this guy was a professional cook, and cooking at a local restaurant was only one of his zillion part-time jobs that first year of college before he was accepted into med school and moved to Vancouver.

Anyway, the knives would be flying and the pots and pans crashing, sizzling, and boiling and the whole nine yards, as he spoke a mile a minute, in very plain, basic English, interjecting inadvertent puns, insults, wrong word-orders, and malapropisms. After the first few minutes, his guests would be laughing so hard, that, despite the excellence of his cooking, we'd leave with our sides aching.

That was one thing about attending a land-grant state college. There weren't a whole lot of snobs, and all the foreigners because of their student visa restriction could only work on campus. In the time of Pell Grants, a backwoods yokel could get an international education just by working in the dishroom.

Locations of visitors to this page