Monday, August 11, 2014

San Francisco/Flashbacks to Childhood

Recap of my summer before Tuesday 7/29: Work work work work work hang out with people work work work work work. On the bright side, all of the main figures for our paper are done; just a few supplementary figures left to generate and a few scripts to clean up. Now for the actual blog post:

As some of you know, I've been in San Francisco for the past week, visiting my brother/the city/the surrounding area/enjoying the weather/not enjoying the fog/etc.

In the interest of not rambling on for twenty thousand words about my experiences in this city, this blog post will be mostly pictures of my various adventures:

I arrived Tuesday ~11:30 pm (PDT); not much exciting happened besides me climbing and descending a hill larger than all the hills in Boston combined. And that was an average-sized hill for SF.

Some observations that I made pretty quickly:
1) IT'S NOT HUMID, and the temperature is also much more pleasant that the Boston summer. I've had to walk around the city with a sweatshirt the middle of August!

2) Hills!

This looks intimidating
I made it!
3) A year ago, when my brother moved to San Francisco, my parents foisted about half their furniture onto him, so now that I'm here, I feel like I'm home!
My favorite sofa growing up. 
4) Palm trees
All the way down my brother's street
Thursday I walked to Twin Peaks, a park in the southern part of the city. It was a pleasant walk, until I got there.
Picture of Twin Peaks (from the internet)
Unfortunately, I had not yet figured out the patterns of fog in this city. Because San Francisco sits right next to the Pacific Ocean, it has no shield against the fog, so especially in the morning, the visibility is awful, especially from high up. After a 3.5 mile walk/hike, I found that my view of the city was something like this:
I couldn't see any farther than the camera here. 
As opposed to this:
View from Twin Peaks when not foggy

Of course, within a couple hours of climbing back down, the fog had dissipated. I tried again twice; only the third time was it clear - the view was gorgeous from the top. Unfortunately, it was so windy that i was legitimately scared to take a picture from the top of the peak for fear of losing my phone; I ended up taking pictures from a slightly more sheltered location.
Sunset from Twin Peaks

The first weekend of my vacation, Xiaoyue came down from Seattle; I spent time with her and later Kojo as well; I felt like I was being followed by a pair of paparazzis:
My token visit to Stanford

Cameo moment on Pier 39
As a side note, Rainforest Cafe was a restaurant that closed many years ago in the local shopping mall. It was one of my favorite places as a child; they had live parrots and everything! I hadn't even realized it was a chain until I saw brought back some memories.
Another attraction I spent some time in was Golden Gate Park, not to be confused with the Golden Gate Bridge which is more than a mile away. Golden Gate Park is this 3 x .5 mile forested area on the west side of the city with lots and lots of gardens and a few lakes and even bison (sorry, I didn't get a picture of those)
One of many flowerbeds scattered throughout the park
Some ducks floating on Stow Lake
Stow Lake was probably the highlight; in the middle of the lake there is a hill you can climb and from the top you get a spectacular view of the city. In the interest of not encroaching on a picnicking couple, I decided to forgo the view.
On my bucket list for this trip was a visit to the Pacific Ocean - I wanted to dip my feet in just for the sake of being able to say that I did. So I did! My brother and I biked through Golden Gate Park to a beach (which apparently stretches on for miles). To our great relief, we chose a day on which it was sunny and gorgeous:

#selfiez. That's the ocean behind me!
The apex of my trip however, was somewhat more ambitious. I undertook a grueling 23.1 mile bike ride (round trip), full of climbing and getting lost and getting confused. The results were breathtaking:

#moreselfiez. The bridge was definitely worth the trip

It looks majestic, despite the fog. If anything, the fog adds mystery

I legitimately had no idea what to do after crossing the bridge; then I noticed that with a short climb I could reach an overlook. It turned out to be some earthworks; until the 1940s batteries were stationed there to guard the entrance to the San Francisco Bay. For tourists like me, it allows us a stunning view of the bridge, and the city beyond, without expending too much effort.
I'm writing this post from my brother's apartment a few hours before my flight back to Boston; I think I'm going to miss this city. Coming here was a great experience, and I hope to be back someday soon.

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