Like Duck to Water, thats how I have taken to life :). This blog is the saga of love and adventures of a small duck in a large water body called LIFE....

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Friday, July 02, 2010

From L.A to San Francisco Part 2

Part 1 is here.

7th June 2010, Monday, the first thing we did was to visit the Mystery Spot at Santa Cruz (Point F in the route map in Part 1 :-D). Sri and I visited another place similar to this in Tennessee..

Waiting for the tour..

The mystery spot is a place where people just cannot seem to stand straight, they seem tilted in a dramatic fashion. The tour guides there claim that its all due to some kind of gravitational variations and magnetic anomalies in that particular spot. For eg:

But since I saw the one in Tennessee, I have believed it all to be an optical illusion. The cabin itself is built in a way that it distorts your vision. Once you step into the cabin, there is no reference to ground. So even though you stand straight, due to the effects all around you, you feel like you are tilted. See this one:

Compare Snugli with the trees and the cabin. She and the trees are straight, while the cabin is not. The description on wikipedia does seem to support my POV :-D. Well, we somehow stood and took the photos, but poor Snugli was totally bewildered by the place. She obviously didn't understand what was going on and was actually scared - you can imagine how it'd be for her. We got out of there soon enough and had lunch somewhere near Sunnyvale (Point G).

We headed west first to Redwood shores which is home to the Oracle headquarters. I am an ex-employee and always hoped to go and work there sometime. Oh well, better outside than nothing :-D.

It was very overwhelming for me, the company has been a plus point of my career and I can never forget that..

From there we drove further west to reach a place called Half Moon Bay. All this because I was still hoping for a sunset. Well, no such luck, it was misty again and cold yet again!

The currents were pretty bad there, so no one was allowed into the water. What I did like about the beach was that there were campsites right next to the beach and I thought "Wow, now I'd love to camp in such a place". Sadly we are nowhere near a beach :-\. We just took in the place for quite sometime and then headed back to our hotel in Santa Clara. On the way, there were a few more vista points..

We had dinner at Udupi Palace, oh man, now that was something. I miss vegetarian Indian restaurants so much here. And that was it for the day..

Early morning on 8th June, we set out, bravely facing the horrendous morning traffic and went directly to another lodging for the day at San Francisco (Point H). We parked our car there and carrying only a bag with all the essentials we set out to explore the city. It was very windy and chilly and the hotel owner did warn us that it may get colder later. So we bought a couple of jackets (for me and Sri) at a nearby store. Thankfully we carried a jacket and a shawl for Snugli from home. But it turned out to be more miserable than we thought.

We did check the weather, but never thought that wind chill would matter so much. I had packed only summer clothes for myself and Snugli, so there just wasn't a way out. I mean Lexington was hotter than San Francisco, can you believe that? Plus we decided to take the city transport to avoid expensive parking fees which turned out to be another mistake.

We planned to go to Pier 35 first to book tickets on an Alcatraz ferry. First of all we didn't find a bus for a long time and later walked for a long time assuming that the pier wasn't very far off. Snugli who is always on her feet at home, simply refused to walk (we didn't take the stroller with us - another mistake) and so Sri had to carry her. In turn I had to carry the heavy bag and it was a mess all around :-p. Plus when we reached the Alcatraz cruise, it was closed for the day and we had to buy tickets for the next day. We also found out that they had a ticket-booking online! Mistakes happen and lessons were learned :).

Things were a bit better after that - we caught a tram and had lunch at an Indian restaurant. Then walked around the Fisherman's wharf and Pier 39. A view of Alcatraz island from Fisherman's wharf..

And the famous sea-lions at Pier 39:

From there we again caught a tram to the Ghirardelli square..

I obviously insisted on going to the shop and we had a nice strawberry milkshake and a fabulous sundae :-D. It did compensate a lot for the morning's woes.

Our next stop was the San Francisco Cable car station.

Our plan was to take the cable car to the Crookedest street and back. But moods again got worsened as there were mile-long queues to catch a cable car. The wind felt like it had a mind of its own and was upto cause lots of misery to people around. Plus the cable cars were very very slow. La-di-da they are cable cars! :-D. Meanwhile atleast Snugli had a bit of fun - a roadside artist was playing some fast songs on his guitar and she had a nice time jumping and dancing to his tunes :-D.

Finally we caught the trolley and landed near the street. Here's the road on which the trolley travelled..

SFO, let it be known, has some crazy up and down streets. The only thought in my head was that I wish I could ride a cycle there, hehehe :-D. Here's the view from the top of the crookedest street (or Lombard street)..

We got down the street to the see it from below:

The curved street was created because its very steep to have a straight road down! And its not only tourists who use the road but also the people living in the adjacent houses who have garages in almost every corner of the street. We did take the usual snap :).

Climbing back up was a horrible horrible thing. Sri carried Snugli all the way (she absolutely refused to get down - would cry a lot if we put her down) and I had to carry the heavy bag. We were totally tired by the time we got to the top. Yeah it was that steep :-p.

After deliberating for sometime, we were still torn between going back to the hotel room and ending what hadn't been that good a day and going to the Golden gate. Though Snugli promptly fell asleep on me, we decided to tackle the Golden gate and be done with it :-p. We soon caught the cable car back and then climbed a bus to the Golden gate.

The Golden gate bridge was the longest suspension bridge when it was built. Again it was misty and freezing, as you can guess from our appearances :-p.

Poor Snugli's nose turned red due to the cold :-\.

Thank God, that was it for the day.

The next day, 9th June, our last day in California, we decided not to take any chances. We packed up everything, cleared out hotel room and went in the car to Pier 35 and parked it to head for our Alcatraz cruise. We certainly didn't want a repeat of the previous day :-p. As the boat ventured out, Alcatraz island and the surroundings were encased by mist and it was somehow very mystical (mist-ical :-D). The Golden gate had turned invisible due to all the mist :).

It was a short ride, but once on Alcatraz, we had to climb quite a bit to see the actual prison. Knowing Snugli would make a fuss again, she and I took a tram ride (offered only to people with needs) while Sri volunteered to walk. When we entered the prison we were provided with devices for an audio tour and I had my first view of prison cells (Sri had been there once before).

It was a bleak and depressing place :(. Yeah they did have a library facility and a big prison yard, but it somehow didn't make me feel better (I know they were bad people and they probably deserved it, yet I felt bad for them). Anyways we also saw the solitaries where my cute prisoners struck a pose :-D.

We also learnt how only a few people ever tried to escape the prison and now they were not successful. By this time we just wanted out and next saw the gardens (the crew and their families lived on the island) and the lighthouse there. By this time the mist had also cleared and we could see the Golden gate stretching across the bay.

The gardens were the best part obviously since my photography skills happen to gel well with those :-D.. The island is home to Snow Egret herons and we saw several of them...

Here's another shot from the garden that I'm proud of..

There were a lot of seagulls flying around too. We soon got down and climbed onto the boat to head back. The mist had completely cleared up by then and here's a view of the island from the boat, you can see the prison, the lighthouse and a bit of the gardens..

It was noon by then, so we had lunch and went across the Golden Gate bridge to see it from a different angle..

We also tried to go to another view point from which you can see the bridge from way above, but the route was closed due to some construction happening. We just stopped someplace before the construction to get this pic..

It was still about 4PM and our flight back was not till midnight. Since we had hours to spend we decided to drive to Napa (Point I). Napa valley is very famous for its vineyards. There are miles and miles of grape vines and though most of it is plain land, its somehow fascinating to see. Sadly by the time we got there, it had crossed 5:30PM and all the vineyards were closed for business. It'd have been nice to go on a tour, maybe some other time ;-). We did stop on the way though..

We didn't spend too much time as we had to get back, drive to the SFO airport and drop our rental car. On the way we did stop a while for a night view of the Golden gate :).

That was not it. After we reached the airport and our gate, it was chaos. The earlier plane hadn't yet left at the time our flight was supposed to leave and we literally panicked thinking its our flight. The board showed our flight while the earlier one was boarding. There were hoards of people waiting for both the flights leading to further confusion. Our flight to Detroit was delayed by an hour and in turn we missed our flight to Lexington from Detroit. Since it was a weekday, thankfully there was no rush and we were able to get tickets on the very next flight. Guess what the compensation for missing our flight was - a $6 coupon each for breakfast courtesy of the airline :-p. Well, flight delays have become such common things that they know they won't hear any complaints :-p.

Anyways, that was it :-D. We had a good time all in all, except a few minor mishaps :-D. There are a couple of places that we'd have loved to go to, but 5 days aren't enough to cover everything right? So hopefully there's another time (have to go to Yosemite). The major achievement for me (other than finally going to California :-D) was that this time I took about 90-95% of the snaps in complete Manual mode of my camera. And all 884 (!!) of them came out great :-D. Well, many of them were repeats because I was petrified that all snaps would be either underexposed or overexposed, so I didn't want to take any chances :-D. It feels good knowing that I am capable of what I set out to do :). So..

Photos taken in total - 884
Photos filtered and sent to friends/relatives- 254
Photos uploaded to Orkut/Facebook - 36
Photos on the 2 blog posts - 56
Self satisfaction - PRICELESS!!! :-D

Heading to Milwaukee today for July 4th fireworks, so see ya after I'm back :).


SK retorted...

Nice travelogue Deeps. :--)
Made me look at this place with touristy eyes. Memories indeed! :--) How come you didnt go to Saravana Bhavan?

Deeps retorted...


Wanted to go to Saravana Bhavan, but didn't get time. That SFO night, we did have time, but we were so tired that we didn't feel like moving anywhere :-p.

Srivalli retorted...

Nice travelogue ! Great Job...

Deeps retorted...


Thanks a lot :).

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) retorted...

Nicely written ... You seem to have covered most of spots ...
The golden gate drive is my favourite ... i drove past golden gate to work for almost 2 years and simply loved it. The timing was perfect too... the sunrise and sunset coincided with my drive time and more than made up for 2 hrs of driving :)

Deeps retorted...


Thanks. The Golden gate did seem pretty fascinating while I was there and hence had numerous photos of it from different angles :-D. But after I came back, I was like, did I really take so many photos of a bridge? Hehehehe :)).

Sweet Nothings retorted...

Again Deeps, you are making me want to travel:(
Nice..very nice enjoyed the post and beautiful shots!
Your camera is no less than a DSLR.
And I believe there is a movie based on this prison you were talking about..just can't remember the name.

Deeps retorted...


Thanks, you are very liberal in your compliments :). The movie is "The Rock" yaar, starring Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage :).