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Sunday, August 26, 2012

••◊ Never trust San Francisco schedules, part 4.

Welcome to my final installment about San Francisco travel. I think I saved the best for last.  Today I am declaring this work my "blue period" for reasons that will soon become obvious. 

Tuesday morning I woke up and was really looking forward to visiting Muir Woods, best known for miles for rigorous hiking and Northern California giant redwoods.  I had looked up the ferry schedule on the web and it was a leisurely 10:20am departure from Pier 41 to get over to Saucilito.  No problem, we made it there in plenty of time...however the information I found on the web wasn't quite right.  The Pier 41 ferry services was a different company ("Blue and Gold Ferry") that left at 10:50 and didn't take a clipper card!  The ferry service I actually wanted ("Golden Gate Ferry") was at Pier 1.  So we all had to pay cash to get on the ferry and hope it arrived by 11:20 so we could connect with a bus to Muir Woods.  This was just the first sign of how my day was going to go.

The ferry arrived on time, however as I quickly found out the public buses only run to Muir Woods on the weekends and the company that runs the tour buses during the week had closed recently.  A taxi is $40-$50 one way, so that wasn't going to work.  After walking around Saucilito with a great deal of heavy disappointment and grabbing lunch at a local pub we headed back on the correct ferry to Pier 1.  At least I could use the Clipper Card this time.  I was really looking forward to gathering photos from a nature hike.  The disappointment drained my energy for a bit until I realized I still had my camera and plenty of daylight.

The ferry boats like to give everyone their money's worth and take the long route to show off Alcatraz and the Golden Gate bridge.  I figured I could try to salvage the trip by at least taking some pictures I wouldn't be able to get otherwise.  Below are a couple fly-by's of the well known Alcatraz Island prison.  The prison operated from 1868 to 1963.  Now you have to reserve your visit in advance with the National Park Service, otherwise you can't get on "the rock."

Here's a couple photos I took off the back of the boat looking toward the bay bridge and downtown San Francisco.  The panorama turned out surprisingly well considering I wasn't stationary, as would normally be required to stitch the photos together.  I did have to do a little Photoshop tweaking to improve the seams, but I think it portrays the northern coast of the city quite well.

The last tourist destination I'll show is the Golden Gate Bridge.  The bridge was finished in 1937 for a total of $35 million dollars.  I used our fellow tour group members as a framing guide for the tourist-centric picture below.

Each cable strand on the bridge is actually made up of more than 27 thousand strands of steel, but you can read specifications on the cable below.  Imagine how heavy just a one foot section of cable is!  Each tower is held together with 600,000 rivets in order to take the load.  A few years ago the city had a bridge anniversary event where people could walk on the bridge in the traffic lanes and the bridge actually buckled from the weight! 

Another interesting factoid is that the navy initially wanted to paint the bridge black with yellow stripes.  Thank goodness people in the right minds put a stop to that.  Today the bridge is painted the reddish-brown color it is in order to blend into the natural landscape, at least that was the designer's intent.

One surprising thing I found on the bridge were these locks.  It reminded me of the Lover's Walk from Riomaggiore to Manrola along the Cinque Terra, where this public show of affection is common.  The first picture was obviously a German couple with their inscribed "Fur immer verbunden" - Forever joined.  Yes, I know I left off the umlaut, but I'm typing on an American keyboard.

My favorite photo of the whole trip, which I wouldn't have gotten if I was on the correct ferry.

What's left are two random photos that I think just look cool.  The first architecture photo is typical of what you would see in a hotel room or restaurant downtown.  The second photo is a panorama from Crissy Field facing northward to Marin county, which looks surprisingly tropical.  It isn't. 

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