Rednecks in San Fran

So last night Laura said meet me at the Hyatt. After hanging in their suite, a combination office and party room, we wandered off in search of dinner. It was decided it would be the Buena Vista for Irish Coffee. Apparently they invented them there and they are pretty darn good. What wasn’t good was the kitchen had closed 10 minutes earlier. And this apparently was the traditional Sunday night wind down do. I am just hoping the pictures on the Internet today aren’t too incriminating. One of the women passed his camera to Greg and he spent the next 30 minutes snapping at least a hundred pictures. They’ve all known each other for many years and as professional people-people they are a boisterous lot. Fun… I think…

At one point I was reminded that referring to your partner in SF is a bit misleading. I don’t do it often but I’ll have to remember to refrain completely when next I’m in San Fran. And no, I didn’t make a new friend.

The occupancy laws in the US must be awfully loose because there was barely enough room in that place to shuffle. After a lot of ‘coffee’ and some scrounged up sourdough bread we headed off to Fiddlers Green, a pub down the street. After about 10 minutes my good sense kicked in and I wandered off in search of food. Nothing good would come of me staying and it was a very disconcerting scene…

Pretty much everything was closed but In and Out Burger so I grabbed a burger and fries to go and munched on my way back to the room. It was pretty good and came with the traditional “I can help who’s next!”… you can’t beat that.

Well the next morning is a slow start. 10 am and I’m finally out and about. I have no agenda today so it’s more of a “Hmmmmm, now what?” day.

But I’ve got a few things still on the tick list so cable car it is. It’s misty and drizzly so maybe it won’t be crowded. First stop though is sunscreen because with my luck the rain will stop. $14 gets me a muni day pass. Cable cars, street cars, busses etc. At $5 a car ride and $2 a bus it’s a good deal.

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Apparently cable cars, as the name implies, run on a continuously moving cable power from a central facility. There are a lot of hills between downtown and Fisherman’s Wharf…steep hills. I can see how a cable car might be the only practical way of negotiating the inclines. Think underground T-bar. It runs through Chinatown (boring and I didn’t see Kurt Russell anywhere), Nob Hill and a few more places I don’t recognize. Unfortunately at the end of the line you have to disembark and line up again. This line is way longer (at least 4 cars) and it’s pretty much raining now. Good thing I packed my raincoat; I’m sure it’s keeping my suitcase nice and dry.

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I’m starting to think the yellow flashing lights down the tracks and the total lack of cars after 3 left in a row doesn’t bode well. Yup… looks like a tow truck with a cable car in tow. Not sure how they are going to get it home? … Apparently they will tow it the whole way. They pushed it down to the turnaround and the hooked up again. I am wondering if they have to shut down the whole line to do this because there are no cars stacked up behind.

Soon enough the cars started showing up and I hitched a ride to the cable car museum. I hadn’t planned getting of but a very pushy very angry Frenchman was arguing with the conductor and continually jostling me because he wanted to stand where he wanted to stand. Getting off was easier.

The museum was free and pretty cool. The cables are one continuous loop and when they need to be replaced specialists splice them together over 90 ft of length. The diameter of the splice needs to exactly match the diameter of the cable. I have a hard enough time understanding how they do that with rope, let alone with steel cable. The museum is actually the power station so you can see all 4 cables spinning.

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So all in all it’s after 12 and I’ve done very little today so far. As soon as another cable car comes by I’ll be back at Fisherman’s Wharf and aimless again. Contrary to expectations my ability to think ahead is not particularly improving. I’m going to guess this isn’t going to improve substantially over the next week or so. At least the rains stopped for a bit.

I got one of the hangers-on positions on the ride back. When 2 cable cars pass your ass is only a foot or so from the other guys… Whee.

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Driving these things is all mass and muscle power. Yanking on friction breaks and grabbing wire, between the trolleys and the cable cars, the transit guys in SF put pretty much everyone else to shame with the amount of hard work they do in a day.

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I grabbed my coat and a ticket from Pier 41 to Alameda and hopped the 1:45 ferry. After an exciting and action packed trip of about 2 minutes, we arrived back at Pier 41… and then left again. I’m not sure, but I think the Coast Guard wanted to check in because I saw them boarding the neighboring ferry when we touched in.

Once again, at $6.50 each way, the ferry is a way better deal than a tourist boat. You get to see the city from the water (metaphorically in my case as it’s pretty foggy) and all the ships in port, including the missile cruisers and, I hope, the Vinson.

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Nice short ferry ride, long wet walk. I think I logged another couple of miles getting there and I think it rained most of the way. That drizzly moist rain where you keep insisting it’s not raining but you get wetter and wetter anyway.

Well the Hornet was pretty amazing. Big, complex and dead simple in some interesting ways. We got a tour of the bridge etc although the Pri-fly was closed due to the wet conditions. The docent who toured us had actually flown Panthers off her deck in Korea. Pretty cool.

2 of the tourees mentioned they were from Canada and it turns out they were from the HMCS Nanaimo, one of the Kingston class ships in the parade. In fact one was Lieutenant-Commander Jeff L. Chura, Executive Officer… (he gave me his card). I now have an in with the Navy! (or Maritime Command or RCN or whatever it is now)

The rest of the time it’s just wandering around 2 of the open decks and visiting the exhibits. It’s pretty impossible to describe so I just might not try.

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The walk back seemed shorter, was a lot dryer and made my feet hurt… cue violins… stupid violins… never work right.

Unfortunately I timed it all badly so another 30 minute wait awaits. At least there’s a seat and a bathroom and only a lonely bicyclist and lonelier guard to take up my space.

The ride back ended at Ferry Terminal not Pier 41 so I got to ride the F Line again.

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Back at the hotel I am trying to dry out, check my pics and decide whats up next. It’s 6:50 and I’d like a beer.

Nighty night.