Morning at Julie’s
We started our day on the late side since our bodies needed a little extra rest. They had carried us all the way to the top of Half Dome and back the previous day, holding up for 15 hours. Even with a sufficient amount of sleep, we couldn’t expect to feel as good as new after such a colossal task! Luckily, we didn’t have many intense plans for today – just a road trip to San Francisco.
Thoughts About Life
Having spent four amazing days exploring Yosemite National Park, we took the time this morning to chat with our AirBnb host Julie. She was a really nice lady who truly enjoyed sharing her lovely home with visitors. We talked about a variety of topics, but one thing that Julie said really stuck with me. It was a general thought she shared about human mentality, and it made such perfect sense. She read somewhere that when regret was directed toward the past, it turned into depression, and when fear was directed to the future, it manifested itself as anxiety! It was something I remembered because it truly spoke volumes to me. Think about it! Isn’t it so true?
After we enjoyed our last breakfast at Julie’s Oakhurst home, we packed all of our stuff, and loaded it in the car. We were ready to start our road trip to San Francisco, but we couldn’t leave unless we took a few pictures with Julie and her cat Georgie.
Staying at Julie’s house was our very first experience that we booked through AirBnb, and it was truly great! It was so much more than a hotel room, and Julie’s sweet personality made our trip really special!
Back on the Road
When we were ready with taking our photos and saying our goodbyes, it was time to embark on new California adventures. We got in the car, and waved at Julie as we pulled out of her driveway. It was a little after 11:00 am, and we were officially on our road trip to San Francisco. As everyone who knows me would expect, that didn’t last for long! Having carefully studied the area maps and local points of interest, I knew there was a nice lake nearby called Bass Lake. Julie had also mentioned it a few times in our conversations, so naturally, I had to check it our. Hubby was in agreement, so he quickly and skillfully punched the directions on his phone GPS, and off we went.
Quick stop at Bass Lake, CA
We had been driving for about 20 minutes, when we spotted the blue water of Bass Lake in between the roadside trees. Hubby pulled over in a small parking area and the kids jumped out yelping and squeaking. This is how they communicate most of the time, especially when hyped up!
We all walked near the edge of the water and found a few comfortable rocks to sit on. Our kids took off their sandals right away and dipped their feet in the lake. It looked refreshing, and I was tempted to do the same, especially considering how hot it was.
There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky, and the midday sun was blasting full power. We tried to find a shady spot, but this turned out to be an impossible task, as the area of the lake where we stopped was quite open. Even though the temperature was somewhere in the mid 90s, we could still appreciate the beauty of Bass Lake. It had clear blue water, and for the most part it was encircled by rolling hills and tall pine trees. I could only imagine how wonderful it would be to have a picnic here on a cooler day.
Bribing Kids With Food
After about 15 minutes at the lake, hubby and I felt quite overheated and were ready to go. Getting the kids to proceed with the road trip to San Francisco was another story. They were having such a great time splashing their feet in the water, they really did not want to move. Fortunately, as soon as they heard we were going to go get lunch, they got up and put their sandals on. It’s a good thing they enjoy food as much as they do, especially under these circumstances!
We got in the car and went back to Oakhurst for a quick bite at a popular local diner called Pete’s Place. We ordered some sandwiches and salads, and finished our lunch as quickly as we could.
Road Trip to San Francisco at Last
After lunch, we got back to our car and we were finally on our way to San Francisco. We had about three hours to travel to the coast, which was about 30 degrees cooler. At the time, we knew what the temperature difference would be, but couldn’t quite process how much colder 30 degrees actually was. We had our summer clothes on, and light jackets to put on in case it felt a little chilly.
The drive to San Francisco was uneventful, and a welcome rest for our aching muscles. As one would expect, the closer we got to the city, the more traffic we encountered. This turned out to not be such a bad thing, since we got to spend a good amount of time on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
On the Bay Bridge
The Bay Bridge is truly an amazing structure, but gets nowhere near the recognition that the Golden Gate Bridge does. It is made up of two long bridges that meet in the middle of the San Francisco Bay on the tiny Yerba Buena Island. There, the bridges are connected through a short tunnel, which makes the whole experience that much more exciting.
It was a clear and beautiful late afternoon in San Francisco, and we could see the silhouette of downtown in a distance. We decided to use that rare occasion when the coastal fog is not hanging over the water, and drive to the Golden Gate Bridge. Our kids had been asking to see it forever, so this was as good a chance as any to enjoy it in all its glory.
On the Way to the Famous Bridge
As we got off the Bay Bridge and started winding our way through the city, I opened Yelp on my phone to check out the nearby restaurants. A small Ethiopian place caught my eye, and I saved it as a possible choice for dinner after our visit to the Golden Gate Bridge. Hubby and I are huge fans of Ethiopian cuisine, and this sounded like a delicious small dive, exactly the kind we like!
Caught up in a conversation about food, we found ourselves in the Golden Gate Bridge area before we knew it. As one would expect, the area was packed with cars and people walking or riding bicycles, segways, and the like. We were extremely lucky to find a parking spot almost immediately. A car happened to pull out right in front of us, so we gladly took its place.
At the Golden Gate Bridge
As soon as we stepped out of the car, the cold San Francisco breeze quickly cut through our thin clothes. This was something we hadn’t experienced for a very long time! These temperatures were in the mid 50s! When you have lived in Houston, TX for a number of years, you think of this as winter weather! We knew instantaneously that our light jackets would not do the job, so we opened the large bags and pulled out more layers of clothing. When we felt we were dressed more appropriately for the weather, we started walking toward the Golden Gate Bridge.
Although a bit chilly, it was an absolutely gorgeous, clear evening in San Francisco. The entire bridge was bathing in abundant late-afternoon sunlight, and it looked magnificent! The kids were thrilled to finally see the it in person. They had read and studied about the Golden Gate Bridge in school, but standing right under it gave them a whole new perspective on how enormous it actually was. When I asked them what they thought, the first thing they could say was, “Wow, it’s sooooo big!”
We enjoyed a wonderful walk along the designated path, which took us right under the bridge. As we moved to the other side, even better views opened before our eyes. We could clearly see Marin County on the other side of the bridge, and Alcatraz Island enclosed by deep blue waters. Probably the most fascinating thing I observed were the flocks of birds. They flew in perfect formations, rising every few minutes from the shore, gliding gracefully in the wind.
We made our way down a few sets of stairs, near the water.
Then, we took a short walk onto Torpedo Wharf, the closest pier near the bridge. There, we found quite a few people fishing while enjoying this perfect San Francisco evening. As one can imagine, the views here were stunning! On one side, we had the entire Golden Gate Bridge spanning the Golden Gate strait with its dark blue waters; on the other side, we could clearly see Alcatraz Island and the San Francisco skyline. It was spectacular!
After we marveled at this panorama for ten minutes or so, the kids started complaining that they were getting too cold. In all honesty, I was also nearly freezing, but I hadn’t taken time to notice. My mind was occupied with trying to process all this beauty, and figure out how to capture it in a picture.
The Sunset Is a Must
As we slowly started making our way back to the car, I suddenly decided that I had to stay, and wait to see the sunset. Hubby really appreciates seeing all the wonderful views that I do, although I’ve noticed he tends to enjoy them a lot more quickly than I do when mealtime is approaching! He grumbled something about wanting to eat dinner, while repeatedly looking at his watch, but I chose not to pay attention too closely.
By this time the sun was already pretty low, and soon orange and red tones would illuminate this whole place. I had to stay here to view and document it with my photos, even though I was quite chilly. Hubby and the kids decided they would wait for me in the car because they were also pretty cold.
The Colors of an Ending Day
I remained near one of the viewpoints and continued snapping pictures while enjoying the sunset colors and the flocks of birds. It was a vast and glorious vista, which truly served as a calming potion for the heart and soul.
From this location, I could see the hills of Marine County across the water, but it was difficult to catch the setting sun with the Golden Gate Bridge. Because of that, I decided to go back down the stairs to the pier in order to photograph it all together. When I got there, the sunset undertones were getting deeper and more vibrant. It was truly a moment to remember, and I tried very hard to capture it through my camera lens.
When the sun dipped below the horizon, I called my hubby, and he drove down near the pier to pick me up.
Time for Dinner
After this sunset extravaganza, we decided it was time to eat. Hubby and I really wanted to try the small Ethiopian place I had found earlier. It wasn’t too far, and it sounded delicious. We weren’t exactly sure what the kids would eat there, but were sure we could come up with something they liked.
The name of the restaurant we selected for dinner was Tadu Ethiopian Kitchen. We followed our phone GPS and found it at 484 Ellis Street. Without knowing much about the neighborhoods in San Francisco, I could tell right away this area looked a little sketchy. There were a lot of homeless people on the streets, along with stray dogs. We parked the car on the street, and walked a little to get to the restaurant. Despite the look of this particular neighborhood, I didn’t feel unsafe or threatened. I just felt sorry to see so many people who had no homes to go to.
Tadu Ethiopian Kitchen
We made our way to the restaurant and were seated right away. The delicious Ethiopian spices filled the air with mouth-watering aromas. When the waitress came by, we ordered the vegetarian platter, which is what we normally get at an Ethiopian restaurant. We figured that the kids would find some of the dishes on there palatable.
Shorty thereafter, our meal came along with the typical injera bread, the flat sponge bread that they serve in every Ethiopian place we have been to. Everything looked and smelled delicious, and it was! The kids managed to find their favorite dishes, and we enjoyed all the spicy ones. While enjoying our food, I also noticed that a lot of Ethiopians stopped by the restaurant to pick up takeout orders. This was definitely a good sign!
End of a Delicious Meal
We loved everything we ordered, as we always do when it comes to Ethiopian cuisine. When we saw the bill, we were even more pleased. It was such a reasonable price for such a special, delicious meal! This is one of the many things I absolutely love about big cities. You can find the most amazing food in the most unlikely little dive!
We left the restaurant very pleased with the whole experience, and walked back to the car. Looking at all the homeless people on the street brought on a very important conversation with the kids about problems in our society, and compassion.
Bay Landing Hotel
Engulfed in this discussion, and in our own thoughts about the day, we arrived at Bay Landing Hotel, our base for the next two nights. It was near the San Francisco airport, and looked like a lovely place. We checked in, found our room, and shortly thereafter, went to bed. The kids were out almost instantly. My thoughts of the upcoming new adventures kept me up for a little bit, but eventually we were all sound asleep.
Join us again on our California adventure, as we visit Muir Woods, and continue exploring San Francisco on the following day.