For the first day in Oakland, Jaime and I had separate agendas. For me, it was an opportunity to check out San Francisco ’s vast rail transit system by riding BART, Muni, and Caltrain all day. My roommate, on the other hand, was going to check out some stores close to the hotel. The first thing you notice about California is the terrain. There are huge swaths of perfectly level land (all developed) interrupted at random by ginormous hills and mountains. You can thank plate tectonics for that. This kind of landscape just doesn’t exist on the East Coast. After a quick stop at Fremont, where construction of the BART extension to Warm Springs is well underway, I turned around for downtown San Francisco.
There I checked out the legendary Ferry Building, took some photos, and then went about exploring the Muni light rail system including a stop at the beach next to the San Francisco Zoo. Next I traveled to Castro station to hop on one of the vintage F Line trolleys when my cell phone rang. Bad news! Jaime’s I-Phone decided to die on her and she had to get a new one right away. Fortunately it was under warranty but it was still necessary to take an expensive cab ride to the nearest Apple Store for a replacement. After making sure my roommate would be OK, I continued my itinerary with a round trip to San Jose on Caltrain. Both ways I got a good view of the soon to be demolished Candlestick Park. By the time I got back, it was starting to get dark and my last side trip was to a BART/Muni station called Balboa Park. There were more lines and stations I wanted to see, but I was able to cover all the ones I felt I had to see.
Things went more smoothly on Saturday. The first half of the day was dedicated to touring Alcatraz while the second half was set aside for hanging out with some friends from the forums. Trips on BART and the F Line got us to the boat terminal with time to spare. On the water itself, the view in every direction was breathtaking. Alcatraz was fascinating and you can see right from the outset why it’s called the Rock. This craggy island in the middle of the bay began as a military installation before it was decided to make it the nation’s highest security prison. Ultimately it ended up being a boondoggle by costing much more money than it was worth due to it being surrounded by water. It’s hard to believe the Rock’s career as a lockup lasted only three decades.
With the help of a pedicab, we made our way over to Pier 39. After a bit of texting tag, we all met up. Troblems arrived on the scene first with her husband and Thrash showed up a few minutes later with his sister. I was so glad everybody who promised to show up made it! It was an honor to have them too. And aside from a Derpy wristband and a couple of smart phone covers, you’d never know this was a Brony gathering. I was originally hoping for a reprise of my 2006 San Francisco visit with dinner at Rainforest Cafe. But once Jaime saw there was also a Hard Rock Cafe in the vicinity, she asked if we’d be willing to eat there instead and everybody agreed. Hard Rock’s hurricane glasses and pins are great collectibles and each location has unique designs. The music inside was rather loud but not bad enough to stifle conversation. The loudest Hard Rock I have ever been to was the one in Baltimore. There it’s like being at a concert and everyone has to shout to be heard over the music.
Afterward it was time to shop and I think everybody got some souvenirs along with a few jackets as an almost cold sea breeze kicked in. The sea lions were also out today, barking up a storm. Jaime and I also took a spin on Pier 39’s famed carousel. As night descended on the Bay Area, it was time for us to be going. We were originally hoping to take a cable car back to the Powell Street BART station for the return trip to our hotel. But it turned out that the cable cars weren’t running today. Thankfully Troblems’ husband was kind enough to give us a lift to BART in their car instead.
Sunday was a day for baseball! Jamie and I went to the nearby Oakland Coliseum, currently named O.co Coliseum due to Overstock.com's naming rights ownership. If you're a fan of exposed reinforced concrete, this is the place for you. It is VERY gray. This is the last stadium in the US that is still home to both a baseball team and a football team. Long story short, the A's beat the Yankess but before the game the A's honored future hall of famer Derek Jeter who had a LOT of fans wearing blue pinstripes in a show of support today. He's retiring at the end of the season and this was his last regular season game in Oakland. And despite the shortcomings of cookie cutter stadiums for baseball, the Coliseum is still a fun place to watch a game and will continue to be until the A's finally get permission to relocate to San Jose. Oh, and dinner was at In-N-Out Burger, a chain that doesn't exist in my part of the country. I thought the cheeseburger and fries were good but not great. But at least now I can say I've been to one.
More to come soon...