For over a decade, the “West Coast Roadtrip” has been on our list so to further celebrate our 20th anniversary we made our plans for June 2017 with the route of San Francisco to Vancouver. The game plan was as follows:
1.Fly to San Francisco and stay two nights
2. Rent a car for six days upon leaving the city, drive up Highway 1 to Mendocino for the night
3. On to Trinidad/Redwoods for two nights
4.Drive the Oregon Coast, stop for one night in Yachats and one night in Astoria
5. Continue the drive to Portland (end of car rental) and stay two nights
6. Fly to Victoria, British Colombia and stay one night
7. Take the ferry from Victoria to Vancouver and stay two nights there
8. Original plan was Amtrak train back to Seattle (**more about this snafu later)
9. Two nights in Seattle and fly home
The idea was to cover highlights of the Pacific Northwest in a two week period and overall it was a success. Exhausting, but a success!
This trip will be broken into five blog entries: San Francisco, Northern California, Oregon, British Colombia, and Seattle.
And so begins Part One—San Francisco
The arrival to San Francisco went off without a hitch. They really know how to do public transportation in SF. The BART is a great way to get from the airport to the Union Square area. Our hotel, the Taj Campton Place https://taj.tajhotels.com/en-in/taj-campton-place-san-francisco/ was about one block from Union Square. Every hotel on this trip, with the exception of the inns/B&B’s, was booked on the Hotwire site so they were basically blind picks that turned out great and we saved hundreds of dollars.
After settling in, we embarked on a walk through Chinatown, just two blocks from the hotel, and after meandering through the area stopped for lunch at Great Eastern Restaurant http://www.greateasternsf.com/. Dim sum is the hot ticket here and the place was packed, but we ended up going with a dinner for two of hot & sour soup, short ribs, shrimp balls (insert middle school sense of humor here), Cantonese beef, and shrimp with scallops. Yum.
To burn off those calories, we walked to the Cable Car Museum and then jumped a cable car for the requisite, short, pricey ride back to Union Square. After a change of shoes we caught a public bus to Fisherman’s Wharf. I must add here that even though it was June, it was very windy when we were there and we were glad to have packed our down jackets! The wharf is a touristy area but on a Friday was enjoyable and not too crowded. We drove past on Saturday and it was a Disney-esque hell. As we love boats, we took our time strolling along the wharf until ending at the famous Pier 39. Here we checked out the sea lions barking away and grabbed bowls of clam chowder at Boudin. Sorry, no trip out to Alcatraz Island—we aren’t interested in going to prison. Even voluntarily…
And so we called it a day and returned to the hotel via a vintage streetcar.
The following day we were blessed with perfect weather and did a hop on, hop off City Tour bus with our first stop being the Golden Gate Bridge. The views from this spot will leave you breathless: the bridge, the cityscape, Alcatraz Island, sailboats—perfection! As you can imagine this is one of the most popular stops of the bus tour so when we got back on the bus, there was only one other couple continuing on in the loop so we all had a “private tour” upstairs in the front row for the next hour. It was great!
Stomachs began growling so we hopped off at the North Beach stop and dined in the Italian neighborhood at Caffe Sport, http://www.caffesportsf.com/ an adorable Sicilian restaurant. Because we ate lunch so early (no breakfast!) we were the only ones in the place and we received excellent service and were able to soak up every bit of the old country ambiance inside. We had one of the best lunches of the trip here—Caprese salad, followed by cioppino bianco (I’ve never met a cioppino I didn’t like!) and rustico penne with shrimp and scallops, washed down with a lovely bottle of Montepulciano wine.
Walking out of the restaurant the City Tour bus was pulling up so we had a nice food nap while we rode to Golden Gate Park. This huge, beautiful urban green space was an excellent place to walk around, complete with a statue dedicated to Cervantes, Don Quixote, and Sancho Panza. (Hmm..I teach about this. Suppose this trip is now a write off as a business trip? Maybe not.) Moving on from Spanish literature, we were able to sit by the band shell for a bit to listen to a classical music competition and we checked out the DeYoung Museum and their Summer of Love 1967-2017 exhibit. It was fascinating to see their comparison of social issues in 1967 and social issues in 2017. Sadly, not much has changed. A big change, however, was when Russell and I went to use the bathroom facilities in the museum. It was our first encounter with gender neutral bathrooms. The signs were up, but in reality the men were in one and the women in another although they were not marked as such. I headed into the one with women by the entry and turned and told Russell to follow me and he froze until another woman at the sink said, “Come in! They’re all genders.” And so he did. Reluctantly. It was great! As many couples know, there is always that post-bathroom confusion when couples separate for their respective bathrooms. (Did he already come out? Am I waiting in the wrong place?) So, bravo, San Francisco! This hetero cis female found it very convenient.
Leaving the park we headed to the bus stop in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, the center of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. Our bus returned us to the Union Square area after passing through the rest of the city and all of its architectural gems. From there we checked out a huge Indian festival going on in the square and then tucked into the Last Drop Tavern http://www.lastdrophappyhour.com/ for their excellent happy hour specials. With the jaw-dropping price of drinks (and food) on the West Coast, we began to make happy hour our new friend on this trip.
Afterward, we walked all over downtown for one last soaking-in of San Francisco. The following morning we picked up our rental car and made our way out of the city, hitting Highway 1, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, and heading north toward Mendocino. Stay tuned for Part Two—Northern California!