Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Summer vacation, day 3

Today we walked over to Ghirardelli Square. I had no idea how dangerous a city this was:

"This is not going to look good on a headstone."

We did the obligatory stop in the chocolate store there, where I noticed this:

"Serves 4?" Really? Who are they kidding? I mean, my twins could knock that off easy. For that matter,  I know plenty of people who could handle it as a solo project. $40 seems like a lot of money for an ice cream sundae, but San Francisco is nothing if not expensive. Even a trip to the famous Exploratorium is $150 for a family of 5.

In the store there was a lady walking around, handing out little sample squares of chocolate. The twins made several attempts to leave and come back in through different doors to see if they could get more than one, but she wasn't buying it. I'm pretty sure she's used to seeing this tactic many times a day. The fact that they were wearing matching "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" T-shirts didn't help, either.

After the chocolate place we took a cable car toward the center of the city. The highlight of it was the brakeman working on the back. At one stop a group of people seemed unsure as to whether this was the car they were supposed to ride, and he yelled "Heading downtown! Now or never if you want to get on!" They started to take a few steps, stopped, and looked at a map. He muttered "the hell with this," turned the brake, and yelled "too late! Catch the next one!" It reminded me of Mary handling the day's victims patients.

We passed a hardware store, with this sign advertising a brass nozzle:

After having lunch and wandering around for a while, we decided to head back to the wharf. We were relying on my wife’s map-reading skills (far better than mine) to figure out what connections to use. Mrs. Grumpy walked over to the nearest stop, checked her iPhone, and said “this is the line we take. It goes one block that way, then loops toward the wharf.”

So, when it came, we all trooped on board. The bus carried us down a block, then stopped, and the driver yelled “that’s it people, end of line, everybody off.”

So much for that idea.


Now what? As we climbed off, Mrs. Grumpy asked the driver which line to take back to the wharf. He pointed to a spot across the street and said “You want that bus stop over there. You’ll have to wait for the next one.”

So we crossed the street (which can be pretty hazardous in San Francisco) and sat down at the new place. Marie noticed a pile of dog shit on the curb and took a picture of it. Frank's phone began playing "Amish Paradise." Mrs. Grumpy and I idly watched as the rest of the passengers cleared off our previous bus across the street, and it drove off...

... And after about 50 feet made a U-turn, and came over to our stop. The same driver who'd just tossed us off re-opened the door and yelled “F Line, heading to the wharf, have your passes ready.” So we re-boarded, and were back in our previous seats less than 3 minutes after getting off the same bus.

I don't understand this.

In a line of people waiting for a cable car was this group of tourists:

Frank said "Dad, do you think they're all together?" Before I could think of a suitable response, Craig beat me with, "No, Frank, they're a bunch of prison escapees in orange waiting for their getaway bus."

Back toward the water, we wandered over to the wharf. We passed a bunch of guys hawking cheap tours on their boats around the harbor. One kept offering to let anyone who wanted to try to drive the boat around Alcatraz. Frank loved this idea, but since I can't afford to buy the guy a new boat we went on.

Fisherman's Wharf is a big tourist attraction, and as such brings out a large number of street performers. There's no shortage of guys covered in gold or silver body paint dancing to boom boxes, people dressed as celebrities to take pictures with, one guy in a cow suit wandering around on all fours and mooing (maybe he isn’t a performer), a teenager with an iPhone that randomly plays "Amish Paradise," street mimes, guys working as living statues, people playing a variety of instruments, and a whole host of other previously unknown talents. It's like a 78-ring circus. Or a mass episode of The Gong Show.

But THE star wharf performer is The Bush Man. This guy has been here for over 35 years, which is a pretty long time in any career, especially busking. His act is pretty simple: He carries around tree branches, hides behind them, and, when unsuspecting tourists wander by, jumps out screaming “OOGAH BOOGAH!” Then people pay him for this. Occasionally small kids will join his show to scare others.

He scared the crap out of my kids. That alone made it worth handing him a few bucks.

Of course, as is typical of such places, very little of Fisherman's Wharf has anything to do with the city's history as a major fishing center. What may have once been an interesting site is now mobbed with unrelated T-shirt and souvenir shops, Build-a-Bear and Build-a-Model-Car franchises, idiotic theme restaurants, ice cream places, coffee stands, and various other touristy stuff.

There was also this place, apparently decorated by someone unfamiliar with sports:

Another store had these signs for sale. I texted the pic to Mary, who said she wanted one of each for the office.

One guy we routinely saw cruising down the wharf was a fellow in a fairly old motorized scooter that, for unclear reasons, had a remarkably high-tech, LOUD, stereo system mounted on it. So as he headed down the sidewalk at 5 mph he was blasting music at more decibels than a Metallica concert. In fact, we never seemed to get away from him. No matter where we went, regardless of time of day, he was rolling along behind us.

Even the panhandlers have a sense of humor:

Walking through the hotel garage on the way back I noticed this parking job. I guess I never considered SUV's compact cars (unless compared to, say, a cement truck), but hey, I'm not a valet, either.

At dinner tonight the twins had one of their weird fights, this time about the kind of soap to use in the dishwasher. As usual, they turned to Siri to settle it (because, you know, parents don't know shit):


Heidi said...

"He scared the crap out of my kids. That alone made it worth handing him a few bucks."

That made me laugh so loud my dogs looked worried. Really loving your vacation stories!

Erin said...

You are so witty! I really enjoy reading your vacation stories! I love visiting San Francisco. That bush guy scares me every time.

Moose said...

Siri: For people too lazy to use Google.

Anonymous said...

Priceless commentary! It's so much better to see the funny, er absurd, side of life. Love these vacation stories.

Loren Pechtel said...

As usual, they turned to Siri to settle it (because, you know, parents don't know shit):

Well, they're right. You're a neurologist, not a proctologist. You stay as far away from the shit as a doctor can.

McDuckGA said...

If Bush Man tried that here in Georgia, he'd likely get himself shot.

Just Me said...

What's that in ICD10?

The Condign Gentleman said...

"Come on, folks, don't you pay any attention to the ads? You know perfectly well that people who use Apple products don't do unglamorous things like wash dishes! Why don't you let me steer you to a nice French/Vietnamese fusion bistro in the Mission District, and then afterward I'll send you to a place that offers paragliding tours of Napa Valley?"

The Bush Man said...


Candida Gomez said...

This was excellent. I want some of those signs too!

And for the record, no, don't use dish soap in the dishwasher. I was getting the last of the dish soap out of the bottle by sticking it upside down in a glass -and didn't bother to rinse the glass out after extracting the usable soap. The floor was nice and clean by the time I was done, though.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful 'classic' family vacation memories. What will you do when you rent a car next time and Marie or Frank wants to drive? The trolley line is like that in Toronto, too. If you want to go from Dufferin Street downtown through Chinatown to visit the CNN Tower near the lakeshore and return back to Dufferin, you have have to watch the map and get on the correct side of the 'loop'.

gloriap said...

As much as I love your office/nerse stories, your vacation/kid recaps always leave me giggling out loud.

Anonymous said...

Marie, Marie, my sweet summer child, odds favor that it wasn't dog poop. Apologies in advance from this Bay Area resident. Market St and several other SF districts are literally cesspits. Watch your step, for realz. P.S. Current hometown plug - Ghirardelli manufactures their chocolate in San Leandro. They even have an outlet store. Om. Nom. Button popping squee. P.P.S. Do not pass go on Intense Dark Cabernet Matinee. Crazee good and I don't even like dark chocolate! Belated Bon Voyage. We're porting out and back again in December for a Mejico Riveria cruise.

frostedlexicharm said...

... I'm a local, and the Bushman died in Feb 2014. Maybe someone else has taken over his schtick, but last few times I've been at the Wharf I didn't see anyone doing it

Shae said...

Maybe the twins need reversible shirts that say Thing 1 & Thing 2 on the "outside" and Thing 3 & Thing 4 on the "inside". Bet they'd get more chocolate then.

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