Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Tourist in My Hometown

One of the great things about living near a city such as San Francisco is that a lot of people like to come visit.  As people have come to tour this great city, I've had the opportunity to discover more about the place I grew up in.  I know what it's like to live here but before this year I hadn't known what it was like to be a tourist here.  And let me tell you, the Bay Area has so much to offer to both people who have never been here before and to those of us who have lived here our whole lives.

A few months ago, some friends and I went into San Francisco to see the lesser-known sites of the city.  Even though I grew up only 30 minutes outside of San Francisco, I had never really been to anything other than the touristy spots like Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square.  It was amazing to play around in South Park, to see the view from the heights of Grand View Park, to touch the Dutch windmills in Golden Gate Park, and to explore the cave at the Sutro Baths.  I came to know and love that crazy but beautiful city by the Bay.

So when my friend Trevor from BYU messaged me on Facebook and asked about visiting San Francisco, I was excited to act as the tour guide and plan out their trip.  A few weeks ago, Trevor, his cousin from Germany, and my old BYU roommate Heidi came out here to have fun in San Francisco.  Our first stop was Monterey.  It had been a long time since I had been down there so we drove a couple of hours south to go to the Aquarium and see some other sites.
Point Pinos lighthouse is the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast.  It has been guiding ships to safety since 1855!
When we found out that the lighthouse was closed, we walked down to the beach and looked out over the ocean.  I swear we saw a whale out there!
Heidi and I on the beach.
Trevor getting his feet wet.  I've never seen someone so content to just let the water wash over him in all of my life.
After Trevor got his fill, we headed to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  I went to the Aquarium as a small child but hadn't been back since so I was excited to visit it again.
This little section had all of the fish from Finding Nemo.

We saw the penguin feeding which was pretty cool.

The Jellyfish section was awesome!

Hammerhead Shark.  It took me forever to get a decent picture of it.
Sting Ray
Trevor, Heidi, and I outside the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
After we had a blast in the Aquarium, we headed back to the San Francisco Bay Area to grab some dinner.  Trevor wanted pizza so I looked up pizza places in the East Bay.  Cheese Board Pizzeria in Berkeley came up as a possibility.  Trevor found out on a travel app that it is rated the 3rd best restaurant in Berkeley so we decided to go there.  The line was super long (as in out the door and down the street) and they only offered one type of pizza.  (The kind of pizza changes daily or weekly but they only offer one kind at a time.)  The woman in front of us heard us talking and said that the line moved very quickly and the pizza was always worth it.  When she found out that Trevor's cousin was from Germany, she started speaking German to her.  What are the odds?  Then the guy behind us (whose name was Alex) was very friendly and chatty.  We met some very nice people in that line (which strengthened my faith in humanity) and then we enjoyed the best pizza I have ever eaten.  It was amazing!  Who would have thought that corn pizza could be so good?

The next day was our day to explore San Francisco.  We left fairly early to avoid traffic and headed to Grand View Park.  Grand View Park offers a 360 degree view of the city.  It's one of the best views I've ever seen in my life.  But it was still pretty early when we got up there so the fog was very thick.  Despite not being able to see anything, we still took some pretty fun pictures.  We decided we'd come back later in the day to see if the fog had dissipated.

After that we went to the Moraga Steps on 16th Avenue.  It was my third time going there and it never gets old.  The steps were a neighborhood project and it's fun to see all of the names of the people who helped create it amongst all of the colorful tiles.
We drove down through Golden Gate Park to get to the Sutro Baths.  These ruins of an old indoor swimming pool are among my favorite sites in the city.  The views of the ocean are beautiful, the history of the Baths is interesting, and the cave nearby is fun to explore.

Heidi standing amongst the ruins.

Trevor standing on top of a crumbling wall of the Sutro Baths.

To get decent parking that didn't cost us an arm and a leg, we headed over to Pier 39.  We walked through some of the shops, bought the necessary bag of saltwater taffy, looked out over the Bay to Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, and ate at Boudin's.
The sea lions at Pier 39!
After eating a delicious meal, we walked the short distance to Ghirardelli Square.  The ice cream is always fantastic!  Since it was Fleet Week, we also watched the planes fly all over the city from our vantage point at the Square.  It was awesome to see the Blue Angels and others show off their flying skills (even if there was far more traffic than we wanted to deal with as a result).

We went back up to Grand View Park to see the view and then headed toward the Golden Gate Bridge to take some pictures.  Trevor dropped Heidi and I off at home and we went and saw Meet the Mormons in theaters.  I definitely cried a fair bit.  It was a great ending to a really good day.
The next day Heidi and I went to my ward's Sacrament Meeting before meeting up with Trevor and his cousin.  Our plan was to go to Muir Woods and Muir Beach for a nice peaceful Sunday afternoon.  I love Muir Woods!  It's so beautiful!  And despite having absolutely nasty bathrooms, Muir Beach offers stunning views of the ocean.
So beautiful!

 Gotta love redwood trees!
Me between two large redwoods.
Beautiful Muir Beach!
We had some time to kill before dropping Heidi off at the Oakland airport so we decided to stop at the Oakland Temple first.  We walked up onto the top of the temple and enjoyed the amazing views.
My favorite temple!
It was a great weekend!  It was fun to catch up on old times and see cool sites with such great friends from BYU!  I'm glad you could come, Trevor and Heidi!  Thanks for giving me the opportunity to play the tour guide.  Come again!

Here's a video from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Heidi held a crab in her hand!

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