March 30, 2013: San Francisco

Today is our one “free” day in Silicon Valley.  Not so much a free day as a free morning.  Our flight is out of San Jose at four this afternoon which means that we need to be to the airport at two and traffic is an unknown to us locally so we need a ton of time in order to be able to safely do anything.

So we got up early and checked out of the hotel and went with Rich and Mark to a little dinner-cafe place in Los Gatos that came highly recommended thinking that getting there for eight in the morning would mean that there would be no line.  Boy were we wrong.  A forty minute wait at eight in the morning!  Fortunately we are all hardy northerners and we volunteered to sit outside as it was a really beautiful morning and so we got to sit and eat straight away.  Once we did that everyone else decided to do so as well and within fifteen minutes the entire outdoor seating area had gone from completely empty to completely full.  We are trendsetters, even in Silicon Valley, apparently.

Breakfast was amazing.  We got a huge cinnamon roll that we split four ways and then eat got real breakfast as well.  Dominica and I both opted for the crab cakes with hollandaise sauce.  That was just irresistible.  Everything was amazing.  Really phenomenal meal.

While we were at breakfast Jeff got a hold of me and let me know that his back was hurting and that he couldn’t drive us around to see San Francisco today.  Bummer.  That really shot our plans, Dominica had really come along so that we could all hang out today and see the city.  We were assuming that we would just walk around Los Gatos a little and catch a taxi back to the airport instead then since we didn’t have transport up to San Francisco.

Rich jumped in and offered to drive us up to San Francisco with the rental car that he had.  He is staying in Silicon Valley until tomorrow rather than leaving today.  He is a life saver.  Now we will really get to see the area.  We were very relived.

We went back to the hotel and saw Mark get on his way to the airport.  He is the first one leaving.  Then the rest of us piled into Rich’s rental Ford Fusion and off we set to explore the area heading west to attempt to find the Pacific Coast Highway.  I took the back seat and let Dominica ride up front.  She would get very car sick driving in the mountains in the back seat of the car.

The drive out to the coast was awesome.  We took route 9 out of Los Gatos to the west to Castle Rock where we caught 35 and headed northwest through the mountains and forests going through Sanborn County Park, Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, Los Trancos Open Space Preserve and other gorgeous, wild areas.  A really awesome drive.  We were on the high ground up above such famous locals like Cupertino (Apple), Sunnyvale (Yahoo), Mountain View (Google) and Palo Alto (HP.)  We really could not get over how amazingly gorgeous it all was.  I definitely had no idea that the mountains were so dramatic or the forest so dense right in Silicon Valley.

We took 35 all the way up to the San Mateo area where we caught 92 going west by south-west to Half Moon Bay and here Dominica (and Rich) got their very first glimpses of the Pacific Ocean.  At Half Moon Bay we turned right onto Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, and worked our way north along the ocean stopping to take a few pictures along the way.

We drove all the way north into San Francisco.  We drove downtown and parked in a garage near Fisherman’s Wharf and walked there to hit the Hard Rock Cafe so that Rich could buy some souvenirs and then Dominica did some souvenir shopping on the wharf as well.  We got to see the Bay Bridge heading over to Oakland and a lot of the water front.

Sadly we did not have very much time and the traffic was horrific so we did not make it to see the Golden Gate Bridge or Golden Gate Park (made famous by the television show “Full House”) but we did get to see a bit of real San Francisco before getting back in the car and heading back down on the highway to get to San Jose for two o’clock.

The drive back to San Jose went pretty quickly and we made it to the airport in plenty of time.  We managed to get unloaded and went through security as the only people there at the time.  That was really simple and low key.  We had to wait a bit at the airport but that wasn’t bad.  Better to wait at the airport than to be rushing or late.  We did not want to be stressed out heading back to Houston.

Our flight out was fine and we got a three seat row to ourselves on the leg from San Jose to Phoenix so we spread out a little.  I finished reading the Microsoft Windows Server 2012 installation certification book that I had loaded on my Kindle on this leg.

We got into Phoenix a little early but had very little time to get to our next flight as the terminal was jam packed with people.  So it wasn’t relaxing but it went fine.

The flight from Phoenix to Houston was full but comfortable.  We got into Houston and drove to a Jack in the Box where Dominica got some food around eleven thirty and then on to the Grices’.  It was a bit after midnight when we got in and everyone was asleep.  We put ourselves to bed being pretty exhausted.  Tomorrow is a very long and very busy day so we need what rest we can get.  We have all day Easter events and I have tons and tons of class work to do for my two classes that is all due tomorrow by the end of the day and we have to drive back to Dallas tomorrow as well.

It was an awesome trip out to California.  It wasn’t cheap but I am really glad that Dominica was able to go with me.  That made it a lot more fun and I think that she appreciated getting the time to do nothing in the hotel room.  Sometimes enforced downtime is just what is needed.  It was awesome getting to see San Francisco and Silicon Valley and for Dominica to see California and the Pacific Ocean for the first time too.  That was very nice that we got to go do that together.

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