San Fran Sunday 15th December, 2013. Biking the bridge

After a cruisey get up time and a late breakfast (we had to do laundry!), we headed off to Dylan’s Tours again, as with the Famous Tour, you get a free day hire of a bicycle!   We rocked up about 11am and picked up our cycles.  They come with helmets, and little satchels on the front, that have a bike lock in them, and place to put your bits.   They were weird at first, as they are cheap road bikes, no suspension, and you sit quite upright on them, which I wasn’t used to.  The gears were also a little temperamental sometimes, and you had to be gentle changing them.   The worst bit was my bell didn’t work properly.  Priorities!

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Bearded Statue, as it is SantaCon Day
Bearded Statue, as it is SantaCon Day

We headed off North, up to Fishermans Wharf, then headed west, along the waterfront.  There is a nice little bike/walking track, that runs along the coast for ages, and is away from most of the cars.  Tons of people along them, walking themselves, walking their dogs, and lots of tourists like us, biking.   A lot of serious bikers too, all in their skintight gear, and zooming around.    We also saw a couple of kiters out on the bay, zooming around on their foil boards.

A ship
A ship
Alcatraz in the background
Alcatraz in the background
Golden Gate Bridge in background
Golden Gate Bridge in background
Kiters
Kiters

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Chrissy Field,Used to be an airstrip, now they have a lot of sculptures
Chrissy Field,Used to be an airstrip, now they have a lot of sculptures

It was exceptionally pleasant to bike along the waterfront, the sun was shining (again), with clear blue skies.  We didn’t see the turn off, and ended up right under the bridge, where we found a fort, a big concrete thing, where they used to defend the edge of the harbour with cannons.  It was about four stories high, with super thick brick and concrete walls, and you could peer over the top to see the tide rushing past below.  We watched a video on the making of the Golden Gate Bridge, and it was quite informative.  Quite a feat.  Took the guy who designed it 3 years just to come up with a plan.     At the top of the Fort, you could look up to the underneath workings of the bridge, massive steel girders, and what looked like thousands of rivets (I think there were something like 600,000 rivets in each tower, so who knows how many they used all up.  A lot).

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How many angles can we get?
How many angles can we get?
Fort Point, under the Golden Gate Bridge
Fort Point, under the Golden Gate Bridge
Fort Point
Fort Point

After leaving the Fort, we made our way up a short hill to the bridge, and then crossing below the road, got onto the west platform, which was reserved for bikers today.   There were tons of people, both walking across and biking across, and as it was a weekend, they made the bikers and walkers go separate.  Probably a good thing, considering how many bikers there were, and how fast some of them went.

 

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A lot of rivets..
A lot of rivets..

We stopped at the first tower to have a look around without biking into a wall   It made me a bit nervous looking over the edge, as it was quite high above the water, and the tide was rushing past.   Apparently lots of unhappy people like to jump off the bridge, and most don’t survive, mostly because the very strong currents around the bridge get them.  There was also a phone with a sign saying, ’emergency or distress helpline, please call us’.

We stopped to take pictures, and admire the lovely orange-red, and the height of tower, and width of the cables.  I probably couldn’t have wrapped my arms around the top cables, I think they said the amount of wire used, if laid end to end, would go around the earth 3 times.  Instead, they cabled and wrapped it into massive cables to hold the bridge up.  It looks pretty sturdy.
It took quite a while to go over the bridge, and it was really quite noisy, with cars constantly going past, and having to keep right, and look out for oncoming cyclists.  We reached the other side, had a photo, then started back.  Back seemed much easier, a bit like going downhill, but I don’t think it actually is.  We did have a tail wind.

Coast near the bridge
Coast near the bridge
Coast near the bridge
Coast near the bridge

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Once we were done with the bridge, we had a sad hour or so, while we biked around, absolutely starving, trying to find somewhere to eat.  It was about 2pm by this time, and it was a sad state of affairs until we found some food, in a little cafe, somewhere between the Presidio and the Golden Gate Bridge.  Much restored after lunch, we felt we could go on, and headed down to the Golden Gate Park.  Apparently is is a park built from scratch, as the land there was just kind of sandy dunes, and they decided to have a park.  It is quite lovely, with paths throughout, and heaps of things to do.  We spent a while looking at a big black bird, that kept cawing at me, trying to decide if it was a raven or a crow.   Still don’t really know, but I didn’t know if we would find Ravens in town.  Anyway, we biked through the eastern part of the park, and it was quite lovely, if getting a little cold, as the sun was starting to go down.  Didn’t see any squirrels though, which is sad.

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Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park
Crows
Crows
A crow
A crow

Biked past the Painted Ladies, the houses that are pretty much the same, apart from the colours.  We then decided it would be great to bike down the crookedest street, Lombard street, on our way back.   A great idea, but did mean climbing to the top of the street first, which, I have to say, was quite steep.  Totally worth the hike though, it was a very crooked street, and very steep, but pretty, and very fun to bike down.

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Lombard Street
Lombard Street.  The full moon, Coit Tower, and the Bay Bridge in the distance.
Lombard st
Lombard st

The brakes on my bike decided that was the last straw, and started making metal grating noises by the bottom of the hill, luckily it wasn’t far on to the bike shop to return our bikes.  It was close to 6, and pretty much full dark by the time we gave them back.

To finish some of the last things I wanted to do, we walked back to the end of Fishermans Wharf, and got in line to catch the Cable Car.  A big line.  Was there for over half an hour.  But we managed to get on one eventually, the number 13, christmas decorated one, which was pleasing.  It was much more fun to ride the hills by cable car, than bike, and we rode it all the way down to Union Square.  Once there, we found a restaurant and bakery called the Cheesecake Factory, which was really quite popular, judging by the people all clustered around waiting for a table.  Probably expensive.  We just bought a piece of cheesecake to share, and sat in Union Square to eat it.  It was a super duper oreo cheesecake, was ridiculously rich, we ate half sitting in teh square, and then could barely finish the other half, later on after dinner.

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The pretty xmas cable car
The pretty xmas cable car
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The view over Union Square, from the top of Macy’s. The rree to the left, and the ice skating rink to the right
The Macy's bear
The Macy’s bear
Extreme oreo cheesecake
Extreme oreo cheesecake

We walked back up Chinatown, and found a deishuz vegetarian restaurant to eat in.   After sitting down and having jasmine tea delivered, we realised we only had about 14$ in cash, so might not be able to do dinner.  The waitress saved us though, and we had a lovely meal of tofu and mushrooms in a spicy sauce, with rice.  Eftpos is not a big thing in the states, so many places do cash only/mostly.
As we hadn’t walked the requisite hundreds of kilometers for the day, we walked even further to Safeway, to get food for the next day, as we are doing the Yosemite Tour!  Excited!

My phone power button decided at that moment to die, so we will have to get that fixed before we leave SF, as otherwise the phone is fine, and super annoying not to have a working button.
Tonight might be our first night without roomies, which will be great, as they have a tendency to come and go at ridiculous hours, and do things like sleep on teh floor, and hold very long whispered conversations at 3am.  Who knows why.

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Tofurky!
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Cookie dough, in whatever form you would like. A tube for easy eating? coming right up!
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A delishuz asian vegetarian restaurant in Chinatown