Our saga continues! There is so much to this city that I knew that I couldn’t write about it all in a single blog post, plus there would be more photos than any one person would know how to deal with…let’s begin!
Everyday of this adventure had it’s own ups and downs but today was the day I was looking forward to the most of the entire trip. This was the day I was going to be able to check off a major bucket list item for me, walking across the Golden Gate Bridge.
While I have been in school I have done a lot of studying of American History and architecture history, some might ask what architecture has to do with a photography degree – I asked myself the same thing multiple times during the class but I have always appreciated architecture so I didn’t mind the classes.
One piece of architecture I have spent a lot of time writing about and sketching for said classes is the Golden Gate Bridge. This is one of the most iconic scenes of the city and I knew that driving across the 1.7 mile long bridge wasn’t going to be sufficient enough, especially with California traffic and speeds. So I decided a long time ago that I think to really experience and appreciate the bridge one would have to walk it, so with the stroller loaded up and my dad and sister in tow we set off!
I was forewarned about the crazy wind by my sister before setting out but it is one thing to hear about it and another to experience it. Brushing off the forewarning for myself (not for Harmony she was bundled up) I didn’t think twice about the wind. I thought to myself that I had spent countless hours on the upper levels of the bow of a Naval ship so this wind shouldn’t be anything in comparison…wrong! Oh my goodness! You wouldn’t think of it to drive across or even to look at the bridge. While walking across you can feel the bridge sway under your feet by the strength of the wind. Not giving credit where credit was due to nature the bay is walled on either side by hills…which tunnels the wind…which then gives what would have been an easy breeze out to sea 10 times the strength by how it was tunneled through the bay.
Phylicia’s Common Sense: 0
Thankfully I had thought a head for Harmony, bundled up by several blankets and protected by her stroller’s covers she was blocked from most of the wind. The walk across was walking face first into the wind. Whistling past my ears I am always amazed by the sounds that are carried on the wind. Even with the roar of traffic next to us as we walked I was still able to hear sea gulls distant cries carried in the wind, a man whistling in a kayak below the bridge, the waves crashing on the rocks below and sea lions in a distant cove howling like they do best. It is almost surreal when you really listen to what is around you.
When we finally made it back to the car, a little chillier than we were when we set off we turned around and headed back to the city. Under suggestion we thought it best to hit the more populated areas later in the day so I could capture some great people shots. So we decided to make a little detour to the “Painted Ladies”.
The “Painted Ladies” are also an iconic image of the city whenever you watch a movie that is based in San Fransisco I can almost guarantee that it will have at least one shot of the Painted Ladies in the movie. These homes are Victorian and Edwardian styled pieces of architecture in the heart of the city’s hills that over look the bay. Each of these homes for the history alone is worth at least a few million dollars but then the view on the backside of the house is worth a few extra million if you were ever want to buy one of these homes. These multi colored homes climb up one of the hills of San Fransisco and are placed across the street from one of the city’s many parks. Built between 1849-1915 these homes are now seen as landmarks of the city and preserved by the city’s Historically Society.
After taking a break to change and feed the baby with this view we decided now that small tummies were full we could set out on a more lengthy adventure…Fisherman’s Wharf!
This is one of the places I was looking forward to the most during my visit because I know about the history and the culture that walks the boardwalk everyday. If you are driving be prepared to spend a pretty penny on parking. We parked at the Anchorage Parking garage complex and decided to bite the bullet on the $50 a day parking fee. Looking more for convenience rather than price I pulled the automated ticket and found a spot where Luna (my car) would rest her weary tires for the day.
You could hear the heartbeat of the city’s historical location before you could see it. The roar of people talking, trolley bells ringing for pedestrians and vehicles to move out of their tracks, car horns honking, the cry of sea gulls, every kind of music you could imaging and the sizzling sound of food being cooked and steamed. We had arrived!
Where to start! There was so much to see and what felt like so little time! Fighting through foot traffic, I would suggest that if you could bare it to pack your babies and their things. One thing I would not want to do again was push the stroller through all of the people on the pier, fair warning.
What I loved most about Fisherman’s Wharf is the people! In 60-seconds you will hear at least five different languages, two different street acts, four food vendors, six salesmen trying to sell you a tour of some kind and at least two musicians.
The Wharf is one of THE most visited locations of San Fransisco and has always been heavily inundated with traffic since this was the heart of one of the largest shipping ports since it’s establishment as a city in 1776. Then we have Angel Island across the way which was the Ellis Island of the West Coast from 1910-1940, when the ferry brought immigrants from Angel Island who had cleared customs they landed at Fisherman’s Wharf.
Can you imagine being a Pacific immigrant during that time? No longer having the fear of being sent back to whence you came because you had been accepted to the United States to start a new life. Setting foot on the ridged and splintered wood of Fisherman’s Wharf and seeing the city rise up in front of your very eyes, crawling up every hill in sight, taking a deep breath and putting one foot in front of the other as you set out on a new life of freedom. That is a lot to take in!
Next we checked out the Musée Mécanique. In 2002 the historic collection of 1920’s arcade games was moved to Fisherman’s Wharf. The Musée Mécanique is a for-profit museum and is owned by and managed by Dan Zelinsky, relative to the original owner of the arcade games. The machines require constant maintenance, with some having undergone major restorations. More than 100,000 visitors a year visit the Musée Mécanique. While the museum is free, visitors must pay for use of each game. A quarter or two for each game making it the cheapest trip to the arcade you will ever take but the experience alone is far worth the quarter or two you will spend.
There is a strange atmosphere to the city. With visitors from every corner of the world this is how I always imagined America was supposed to be, the giant “melting pot”. Every religion, culture, language, food, social status. It didn’t matter where you came from, it only mattered where you were going, what you were going to make of yourself with the new start you had been given. Everyone has a chance to live their dreams and you can see them acting upon it as you see street acts gathering a crowd or a vendor selling their art as a struggling artist, or a painter collecting faces on his paper for a fee. “The land of opportunity”, this is how I always imagined our country to be, this was the reason why so many immigrated here in the first place…freedom to be who they want to be.
Deciding it was time again to rest our worn out feet we found a place to eat, with suggestion from my sister she said there was a little hole in the wharf location that served as fresh as you can get crab and chowder in a bread bowl, how can you argue with that suggestion? Planning our next move from there we took action on our bay ferry ride. Now if you are like me, and are wanting to visit Alcatraz while you are in San Fransisco BUY YOUR TICKETS WAY EARLY! I didn’t do this and you couldn’t get a ticket for DAYS. Not wanting to give up my dream of going to Alcatraz I did a little digging and though we never got off the boat we found a tour of the bay that took us around Alcatraz and underneath the Golden Gate Bridge.
Making a final decision we got our tickets, only to find out later that this is also something my dad had always wanted to do when he was younger and was living in the bay area. Making dreams come true without even knowing it! Thankfully the dock workers didn’t have an issue with Harmony in her stroller, mostly thankful because she was passed out. We got the stroller locked down and I heard the engines of the ferry roar as we pushed off from the pier, I could hear “Underway, shift colors” in the back of my mind as I remembered pushing off from shore when I was in the Navy.
I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t actually visit Alcatraz but that just means that I will have to come back and try again! I love how the buildings have remained the same the only change has come with age and being worn by the salt filled air from the sea eroding away at the sides and feeding the fast growing ivy that has infested into the rock and wood all over the island.
I could go on and on about San Fransisco but then what will you read later?
To be continued…
Traveling Photographer Out…