Day 3, March 13, 2023
8:12 a.m. – I’m definitely nearing 50. On our wild child-free vacation, Shannon and I finished the previous night by staying up until midnight
clubbing downtown…watching procedural murder mysteries on television that ranged from Magnum PI 2023 (unwatchable) to Monk (highly watchable). And yet, having done nothing the night before, we are still completely worn out and sleep in until after 8. I’m in no mood to hang around and watch lousy TV for another hour while Shannon prepares for the day so I head out of our hotel and down to…yes, I walked three quarters of a mile again for another Dr. Pepper Zero. I know, I know. It’s pathetic. But it’s not like I headed to the opium dens buried in the underbelly of the city, so…why don’t we all relax and let a man wallow in his addictions.
8:46 a.m. – I’m staring at an empty shelf where the Dr. Pepper Zero once stood. I am bereft. I am lost. I am…
Just order enough to last for more than a day! It’s not a hard request. Just add a zero to that number on your order sheet and we’d all be happy. SHEESH! Instead, I have to settle for a (*cough*) Regular Diet Dr. Pepper (*cough*). Despite what the miniature man says in the commercials, it is NOT the Sweet! That would be Dr. Pepper Zero. Alright, I’ll stop, but my day is practically ruined and it hasn’t even started yet. Well done, CVS! I know you were there for me yesterday, but this is a what have you done for me lately world, and today you failed! Let’s move on.
9:31 a.m. – Today, we begin our adventures by heading out to visit the Japanese Tea Garden, located in Golden Gate Park. Unfortunately, with all we hope to accomplish today, we do not have time to search another stellar breakfast like the day before, so we settle for Pop Tarts from the CVS. And why Pop Tarts? Because CVS does not carry any delectable cherry and cheese pastry options like they should. I’m really starting to doubt the long-term viability of CVS as a publicly traded corporation. So it’s a cold Pop Tart and a quick dash out to “our” bus stop to once again catch the 28.
10:08 a.m. – After another thrilling bus ride complete with transferring buses in a part of the city where we have no idea where we are, we arrive at Golden Gate Park. Unfortunately, I panicked and had us get off a couple of stops early so we get to walk another three quarters of a mile uphill to get to where we are going. Oh well, the wind that was promised has not really materialized, Golden Gate Park is astonishingly gorgeous and for the first since we’ve arrived, the sun is peaking through the clouds. For a day that had previously promised gale force winds and a non-stop deluge, a walk like this ain’t bad at all.
10:25 p.m. – The Japanese Tea Garden is located directly across from the Botanical Gardens which are also apparently amazing and much larger. To be clear, we didn’t go there. We went to the smaller version across the road.
And were perfectly content with our decision.
The Japanese Tea Garden was created in 1894 as part of The California Midwinter International Exposition which was part of a sprawling event that would eventually consolidate into the World’s Fair. It really is amazing how many iconic landmarks in our country were created specifically for a World’s Fair. Kind of makes me sad we don’t have them anymore. Anyway, once the exhibition was done, the gardens were turned over to the Hagiwara to manage and maintain. Makoto Hagiwara took the initial one-acre property and built it into the five-acre attraction that it is today. After his death, his family continued to maintain and improve the gardens until 1942 when sadly, the Hagiwaras became victims of the movement to relocate a vast majority of Japanese Americans to internment camps. The Hagiwara family would never again return to oversee the gardens. There are many truly sad and devastating stories that are born out of WWII. This is one. But I am truly grateful to Hagiwaras for what they created and left for all of us to see and experience.
10:42 a.m. – While taking in the serenity of the gardens, we get a message from Logan that he has made All-State choir. We are thrilled. I take a picture and say, this is exactly where I was when I learned you had made All-State Choir. It’s not exactly where were you when JFK was shot or when you heard about 9/11, but it was a momentous event, so I took the following picture to document exactly where I was when I heard it. And congrats to my son, Logan.
10:58 a.m. – I know I’m going on and on about the sacrifices of the Japanese people who built these gardens and the structures in them, but part of it is realizing just how committed people were to the common good of humanity in a way that it feels people just aren’t anymore. I am not suggesting that these traits are unique to those of Japanese descent, because I am aware of what many of our American Founding Fathers gave, and those of my faith who built the Salt Lake temple. But when you are in the presence of something truly astonishing and learn what it took to create it, it’s hard not to reflect on the day and age in which we live and wonder if we are capable of doing the same. As an example, I provide this plaque next to the bridge pictured above. I mean seriously…dude sold his family’s sole source of income to build this bridge all so it could be donated to a place honoring Japanese heritage. Then left his son in the United States for decades so that he could earn the money to buy back their farm. Holy Crap! Pretty dang impressive.
11:17 a.m. – Run into a couple near the bathrooms who comment on our Arizona attire. Turns out, they have family in Safford. We’re in San Francisco and they have family in Safford. Just like the time we went on a cruise and I made a fool of myself trying to get selected as part of the Dating Game show in the Starboard Lounge (we did get selected by the way thanks to me dancing in circles spanking my own rear) knowing that it was fine because no one there could possibly know us or The Gila Valley, only to find out that a couple from Safford was on board. You can go anywhere and you will find ties to the Gila Valley. Don’t try to fight it, it just is!
11:32 a.m. – With limited time, we decide to leave and get lunch on our way across town to the Coit Tower. Another good size walk to get out of Golden Gate Park and we are on our way.
12:13 p.m. – A co-worker of Shannon’s who grew up in San Francisco, suggested we simply had to try this specific Deli. It happened to be along our bus route so we hop off and hope we got the directions right.
12:29 p.m. – Thank heavens, we did. And that led to a fantastic lunch at Lucca’s. I got the Shrimp Salad and…my sandwich was so good, I can’t for the life of me remember what Shannon got. All I know is, it wasn’t as good as mine. We also had their “World Famous” potato salad. I don’t know what qualifies it as World Famous, but I suppose I’m talking about it Arizona so…
Also, this was my first real deli experience. I don’t count Shlotzky’s because, well…they’re not a real deli. I have to say, to be standing there in a place that had no room to stand in was pretty exhilarating. Don’t know why, but it was.
1:22 p.m. – Through a series of possibly unwise bus selections, we have to make a switch in the middle of China Town. Not the touristy part of China Town. The frankly very dirty part of China Town where I didn’t feel my safety was 100% guaranteed. China Town was on our list of things to see. Well, we saw it (not really) and crossed it off the list of things we needed to do.
1:48 p.m. – Arrive at Coit Tower and take ride to the top. Because I had been there previously with the boys, I apparently felt in the moment that it was not impressive enough to take a picture. I mean, what? The Golden Gate Bridge shrouded in mist in the distance? eh. Alcatraz standing like a gleaming fortress across the bay? No biggie. All of San Francisco at our feet? Whatever.
Of course I’m kidding. I really do regret not getting a picture. Also, we see how close Pier 39 is and decide to walk since the day has turned out so nicely.
2:03 p.m. – We are hit with the realization that while Pier 39 was clearly visible from not far away, it is kind of like the bottom of the Grand Canyon is visible from the top. Some of the streets we are walking down have a slope much closer to 90 degrees than to 45. I would honestly say that if I were to walk my dog on these streets, I would live in constant fear of one day waking up in the trauma ward with no less than 23 broken bones having made one wrong step that sent me careening to my doom.
2:23 p.m. – We arrive at Pier 39 and shop for a while. The sun has disappeared and the temperature has dropped dramatically. We noticed from up at Coit Tower that there are Sea Lions in town so we stop in to see them. Most of them are content to lay comatose and do jack crap. But two of them are quite animated as they engage in a spirited game of King of the dock corner. Now, understand there are a large number of completely empty docks to lay on, but these two feel this one corner is where it’s at. It is quite fun to watch right up until the sea lion next to them either felt ill or had had enough of those two and promptly let loose with a poop stream unlike anything I had ever seen, and I’ve seen elephants poop in real life. Not to be crude (which I’m gonna be) but it was like the fecal matter equivalent of Niagra Falls opened up and let loose right there on those two wrestling sea lions. It was both fascinating and horrifyingly disgusting all at the same time. It also instantly qualified as a top 5 vacation moment because, I mean c’mon. A sea lion crapping by the gallon? That’s priceless!
3:04 p.m. – We arrive back at our hotel to freshen up and prepare for the evening.
4:08 p.m. – For the first time, we get on a train headed in the opposite direction of everything we have done in San Francisco. It’s a little unnerving because I am going to have to remember this route and how to get back so we can navigate this same route in reverse at about 11 p.m. in a city we aren’t from. The thought of it is a little unnerving. But I’m also getting excited because more and more people are getting on the train wearing the colors as I am. EEK! This is gonna be AWESOME!!!
5:12 p.m. – And just like that (minus a lot of transportation transfers that were confusing and time consuming) we were there. The mecca of professional basketball on the West Coast. Ladies and Gentlemen, The Chase Center.
5:30 p.m. – I have been to America West/Footprint/Talking Stick Arena in Phoenix. It is impressive. But this place is next level. It was awesome! It didn’t hurt that there was this:
Oh wait, that’s just Felix. But still we love Felix. He’s the Chase Center attendant who let us down to almost floor level to get that close to Steph and Klay. Bless Felix! In fact, I nominate him for Sainthood!
7:08 p.m. – The lights go down and they announce the starting lineup for the Warriors. I can feel my 16-year-old self literally melting into a puddle. Everything would be absolutely perfect if it weren’t the very inebriated man one row in front of us whose birthday it is. He is rooting for the Suns and trying to pick a fight with every single person within ten feet.
7:12 p.m. – The game starts and Klay Thompson drains a three. It was glorious. So glorious in fact that the inebriated guy gets up to leave saying something about needing a drink. His girlfriend, who is seated next to me, is frustrated because this is what he wanted to do for his birthday and he is already going to miss most of the beginning of the game.
7:17 p.m. – Klay makes another three.
7:19 p.m. – Klay strikes from downtown again.
7:41 p.m. – Klay hits from three for the fourth time. I could drag this out and make you live all eight of Klay’s FIRST HALF three pointers, but…
7:43 p.m. – Klay hits another three. Sorry.
8:03 p.m. – Halftime comes and the Warriors are cruising. The drunk guy finally comes back and he is now so drunk that he has entered the “I’m sorry” stage of inebriation. He’s apologizing to everyone, most of whom don’t care and would just prefer to see what is happening on the court, but he saves his deepest apologies for his girlfriend and whoever it is he is seated next to, whom he then spends (and I’m not exaggerating) the entire second half of the game with forehead to forehead as they discuss…whatever. I do know that it probably wasn’t basketball as I’m 99% certain he never once looked up at the game again. I would just mention that tickets to Warriors games in San Francisco are not cheap. If I were going to have a heart to heart with a friend on my birthday, I think there are significantly less expensive ways to do so.
9:21 p.m. – WARRIORS WIN!!! It was glorious! I saw Steph, Klay and Jordan Poole all go nuts on the offensive end and the whole thing couldn’t have been more perfect. Have I mentioned that my wife is amazing? Best Christmas present ever!
9:45 p.m. – We plan to let the initial rush of crowd clear out and be part of the second level crowd so that we aren’t in the worst of it, but also aren’t alone leaving the Chase Center late in the evening. The picture below shows how well we guaged the crowd. It was a little eerie, but that place cleared out amazingly fast. And we boarded a train that was basically almost empty. Not a great feeling in my stomach at this point.
10:40 p.m. – We get off the subway and head above ground for our last transportation transition. The topside streets were basically deserted. We walk to where we are pretty sure we need to be to catch the final train and then stand there as the wind whistles down the empty thoroughfare. Good gosh I hope we’re right! A bus appears from nowhere and pulls up alongside us on the other side of the train stop. The driver leans out his window and asks if we went to the game and where we are headed. We tell him the name of our hotel and ask where we should be. He points to right where we are standing and says we are definitely in the right place. He then stays there and talks with us until our train appears. He was awesome and super friendly, and I’m fairly certain he waited with us to make sure we were safe. He is one my new heroes. The train shows up, our new friend calls out to the train driver and directs him to get us home safe. Which the train drive does.
11:05 p.m. – We walk into our hotel and are greeted by the very kind staff who welcome us back with kind greetings. I just have to say that on this night, I am feeling pretty good about the people of San Francisco!