Monday, May 13, 2002

San Francisco Municipal Railway 3-day pass

This was Cat's and my big day together in San Francisco, since we had tickets to the Giants game at 7:15 P.M., and before that, tickets to take the ferry to Alcatraz at 11:15 A.M.

We walked to the BART station together and took the train under the bay to downtown San Francisco, getting off at Powell Street to transfer to the cable cars. At the cable car ticket booth, we both bought unlimited 3-day transit passes, good on everything but BART within San Francisco, for a mere $10. The passes use a "you scratch off a month and 3 consecutive days" system to indicate which days they're good for. (It's a better deal for me, since I will be here for three days, than it is for Cat, who's leaving Tuesday evening, but it's still better than $6 for a one-day pass or having to worry about having change and/or dollar bills.)

We take the Powell and Hyde cable car to Fisherman's Wharf, where Cat stops at a gift shop to buy a hat, gloves, and a map, then stops at a drugstore to buy sunglasses and water. It's sunny, but a little bit cool and windy. We then trek in search of a coffeehouse that a mutual friend of ours recommended to Cat without giving her an actual name or address; of course, we never find it, but we do find a cafe where Cat has a little breakfast and I have a gigantic cup of hot chocolate.

Despite the presence of approximately 50 billion junior high school students, we make it onto the Alcatraz ferry (after being photographed on the dock standing behind a life preserver, in accordance with Coast Guard regulations) and cross the bay, this time on top of the water.

Alcatraz Island, seen from across the bay.
The sign posted at the Alcatraz dock. I can only assume it's a replica of the original sign, since it's on top of graffiti that dates back to when the island was taken over by native Americans after the prison was closed.
One of the cell blocks.
The exercise yard.
Adding insult to injury, or insult to incarceration, or something, this is the view from the exercise yard.
Since Alcatraz is a wildlife refuge, there are birds' nests on nearly every available surface outdoors.
Mom, Dad, I'm in jail. Memo to me: the next time I have a picture like this taken, tell the picture taker to zoom in so it's not so obvious that I could leave whenever I wanted.

Cat and I make it off Alcatraz without having to perform a daring escape, and we have a late lunch on Fisherman's Wharf, then walk over to Ghirardelli Square, where Cat buys some chocolate and then orders a gigantic hot fudge sundae. I'm stuffed from lunch, but I manage to choke down a couple bites of the sundae.

We then have a little time to kill, so we take the bus to the Palace of Fine Arts, where Cat relaxes on the grass while I try to walk off some of my lunch so I'll have room for a hot dog at the baseball game.

San Francisco is great for people who like public transportation, like me, because we get from the Palace of Fine Arts to Pac Bell Park by taking an electric bus, then transferring to the historic trolley line, and finally transferring to light rail, which stops right in front of the stadium. We're there early enough that we have plenty of time to walk around the outside, so we see the statue of Willie Mays and the area beyond the outfield where people can stand and watch part of the game for free ("This area will be cleared at the end of the 3rd, 6th, and 9th innings," say the signs). We have tickets, though, the most expensive ones I've got on this trip, so we go inside.

Giants vs. Braves ticket

(Note that this ticket wasn't torn. The bar code was scanned at the entrance, and that was it. This is the 21st century, after all.)

We're in the upper deck out in left field, although we can certainly see everything fine, and it's somewhat warmer than I thought it would be (it's still cool, but I've been much colder in past visits to Wrigley Field in April).

I had actually bought four tickets to this game, and Masako and her boyfriend Nat show up at some point, but they end up leaving early because Masako has to go to work early in the morning.

It's a pretty good game, and best of all, Barry Bonds hits a home run into the water. There only seems to be one boat out there for this non-historic home run; it's some guy in a kayak.

Second best of all, in the 9th inning, as the Braves are mounting a comeback, the stadium shakes a little bit, to the point that everyone in the upper deck turns to someone else and asks, "Was that an earthquake?" Then they play Jerry Lee Lewis's "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On" during the next inning break. As it turns out, it was an earthquake, centered down in Gilroy, first announced as a 5.2 on the Richter scale, but eventually downgraded to 4.9.

The Braves manage to tie the score, the game goes into extra innings, and just as it gets to be around 11:00 and we're worrying about making the last BART train home, the Braves' pitcher manages to walk a batter with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th, and the Giants win, 7-6.

We finally get confirmation that it was an earthquake when, while we're in the postgame crowd waiting for a BART train, they announce over the PA system that all the trains are off schedule because of the earthquake. We do make it back to Berkeley, and I say goodbye to Cat, because while we're both planning to spend another day in San Francisco tomorrow, we'll be off doing our own things.

Giants recover after blowing late lead

On the ferry back from Alcatraz, I take this picture of Sutro Tower, for no good reason. It's the home of the transmitters for most of the radio and TV stations in the Bay Area, with the major exception of the San Jose station that's now the NBC affiliate.
Sea lions hanging out at Fisherman's Wharf.
Another view of the sea lions. These pictures don't do them justice. For the full experience, you really need to hear the incessant barking, not to mention the confusion that ensues when a sea lion comes up out of the water and decides it wants to sleep in the middle of a floating platform that's already almost completely full of sea lions.
The Palace of Fine Arts, which isn't a museum or anything, just a building in a park next to a pond.
Main entrance to Pac Bell Park.
The view from my seat.
The view from my seat if I turned to the left. Note the ad at the lower left on the scoreboard. Apparently, they paid in advance for the entire season.
Close-up of the board where they're keeping track of Barry Bonds' home runs, although there's only enough space to list three of the five people who were ahead of him at the time (the "#4 ROBINSON 586" panel wasn't put in until right before the game started).
And then, later in the game, the board looked a little different. Yes, this is a manual board, and the "8" and "0" were slid in by the person wearing yellow sitting above it. (Elsewhere, there's a display showing how many home runs have been hit into the water, which went up from 18 to 19, but it's automatic.)
No matter how hard I try, even though at this point, it was two days until I would be onto the next part of the train trip, I just can't get away from Amtrak. Yes, they don't have enough money to have different dinner entrees on different trains, but they do have enough money to advertise on the rotating panels at Pac Bell Park. And they don't even have train service to San Francisco, just buses that connect with Oakland and Emeryville.
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Page Last Updated: June 2, 2002