Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Our Golden "Golden Gate" Day

We decided to make the move north to Santa Rosa, because we still had things to see in the northern section of San Francisco. Our main priority today was experiencing the Golden Gate Bridge. So we were up early this morning, because we needed to get one of the few parking spaces on the northwest side of the bridge. We got our first glimpse of the edge of the bridge from that parking lot in the early morning light.

We are parked on the west side of the bridge, but the only walking/biking lane open during the week is on the east side.

We got a little early morning exercise by hauling our bikes first down the stairs, going under the bridge, and then carrying them back up the steps on the other side. Yes, those steps are as steep as they look.

Then it's an easy ride to get onto the walking/biking lane of the famous Golden Gate Bridge.

Yes, it's as cool as it looks. That's cool in two ways. Riding across a bridge we have seen in pictures all our lives is really cool. The temperatures were also cool, and we were glad to have our jackets.

Winds over the cool salt water can be cool, and we weren't getting any sunshine yet this morning. The good news is that we weren't shrouded in fog, as that happens many mornings. We could clearly see the San Francisco sky line as we crossed the bridge.

It was an easy ride across the 1.7 mile bridge, with cars zipping in the opposite direction right beside our shoulders. But we had the biking/walking lanes almost to ourselves this morning.

Mark is getting really good at riding a bike and taking pictures with the other hand. Denisa is not that talented, so she had to wait until we got to the other side to take this picture as proof that Mark made the trip as well.

On the city side of the bridge, there are several bike trail options. We chose the one that headed downhill towards Fort Pointe, the old military building that is tucked under this side of the bridge.

We made it all the way down to water level for another view of the bridge. The Fort is behind Mark, and we rode all the way down here only to find that it is closed during the week.

At water level, we also got to see a few brave surfers in the chilly water this morning. We took a picture of Golden Gate surfing this morning. As we watched the surfers, we also saw dolphins popping up in the far waves.

The next destination on our bike ride was to the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District of San Francisco.

Built in 1915 as part of the Panama-Pacific Exposition, it was intended to be a temporary structure. In fact, the rest of the buildings built for the exposition were demolished soon after. But the palace became a beloved part of the city, and has survived for over 100 years.

It was upgraded in 1965, and is now a favorite place for weddings in the city. We saw that wedding pictures were being taken while we there this morning.

The wildlife picture this mornig is the white swan that was patrolling the pond that encircled the palace.

We also biked through Crissy Field and the Marina district of San Francisco. Biking is really a great way to get around this part of the city, with wide paths to ride that are separated from the car traffic. The other good news is that unlike a car, it's easy to find a place to park a bike.

Even though we visited here a couple days ago, we decided to ride our bikes all the way to Fisherman's Wharf. Here we were serenaded by one of the street musicians as we ate our lunch under the sign.

Our musician proudly named himself "One Leg Chuck," and was singing in front of some of the famous street-side restaurants on the wharf. The main reason we made the ride all the way to Fisherman's Wharf is that Denisa didn't think we should leave without eating the signature dish here.

So we ordered clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl. They split open the top of the bread, and trim out the bread inside. Then it is filled to the brim with clam chowder. Between the two of us, we ate every morsel of chowder and that crispy bread bowl. The resident sea gulls were a little miffed that we didn't share with them.

It was a good thing we had consumed all those carbs to give us the energy to ride our bikes back uphill. It had been so easy to glide downhill, but Denisa had to walk her bike up that long incline now.

Mark is a stronger bike rider, but his bike didn't like those inclines. He had to do a little mechanic work on his gears on the way up the last hill to the entrance of the bridge.

It had been an uphill ride all the way from the wharf, but we got an afternoon view of the Golden Gate Bridge before we started over it again. We wouldn't have any blue sky pictures today, but we still thought it was lovely.

But we soon realized that the return ride over the bridge wouldn't be as pleasant as our solitary ride this morning. The afternoon brought hordes of tourists ambling slowly or blocking the path while trying to take pictures. It was like riding through an obstacle course, trying not to hit or get hit by anyone.

We don't have any pictures of the worst congested areas because even Mark had to keep both hands on his bike to avoid wrecking into tourists that weren't watching. It was a stressful ride over the Golden Gate Bridge in the afternoon, and not as magical as this morning.

We had thought about riding our bikes over to the little town of Sausalito, but our legs had seen enough hills for the day. So instead, we drove the car through this little tourist city that reminded us of some little European villages clinging to the hillside.

The reason we are driving on through Sausalito is that we have a date with some tall trees and a national sea shore this afternoon. Even though this isn't a great weather day, it's supposed to be raining tomorrow. So we are plodding on through this beautiful landscape today. But there's too much to describe in one setting, so we'll continue our day's wanderings in the next blog. 

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