Welcome to the Chase Center

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:

And this:

And 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!


They Have Hercules Pots

San Francisco Trip Day 2 – March 12

9:22 a.m. – As near as I can tell, that harsh scraping sound grating on my ear drums appears to be my eyelids grinding over my corneas. It’s bright out, but not too bright. Sort of how light it is at early dawn. (With the exception of about one hour two days from now, this is as bright as it is going to get outside for the duration of our trip.) It seems early, but there is no denying that there is sunlight coming through the window of our hotel room. Shannon is clearly still asleep, but I can’t help but wonder what time it is. I do my best to focus on the hotel alarm clock next to the bed. 8:22…cool, it isn’t that late.

Except wait!

Is it really 8:22? Didn’t daylight savings time kick in even before we went to bed? I’m pretty sure it did and unless the tooth fairy has an unscrupulous business associate that messes with clocks, that means it is really 9:22…now 9:23 in the morning. Crap! I really should get up or we are going to waste an entire day of our vacation. I’ll just lift the blanket up and…

10:27 a.m. – Wow, that went quick. I really do need to get up now. I’ll hop in the shower and…and what? Put on a fresh set of clothes? Apply some deodorant? Brush my teeth? How hilarious I sound now that I recall we don’t have any luggage/personal care items thanks to my new best friend, the absent pilot from Southwest who teed up and set in motion the entire nightmare from the day! Clearly, my first agenda item is to find the nearest Walgreen’s/CVS and get what basic necessities we can’t live without until our bag shows up, hopefully later today.

However, before that, I need to plug my phone in as I forgot last night and it is getting dangerously low.

10:28 a.m. – #%*@!!! All that self-congratulatory back-slapping I did for myself the night before was a little premature as I realize the charger I had thrown in my carry-on didn’t match the cord I had thrown in my carry-on and is therefore useless to me. Add charger cable to my list of necessities I need to find basically immediately.

10:43 a.m. – Good News: There is a Walgreen’s literally across the intersection from our hotel and I am able to get all of the basic self-care items I need along with a charging cord for my phone. Bad News: They are sold out of Dr. Pepper Zero. What in the crap is the problem with either the Dr. Pepper corporation or else every solitary retailer in this freaking entire nation that we can’t stock the single greatest culinary invention from the previous two decades combined at decent levels so that I won’t have to stare at empty shelf after empty shelf where Dr. Pepper Zero should be, wondering where I’m going to get my next fix? It’s criminal and needs to be addressed. This has nothing to do specifically with my vacation, but I felt it needed to be addressed.

10:52 a.m. – Shannon has jumped in the shower, so I go in search of a CVS that apparently exists somewhere on Fisherman’s Wharf where I believe the possibility of finding a Dr. Pepper Zero exists. Yes, this was my entire motivation and yes, I understand how pathetic it sounds. Don’t care!

11:06 a.m. – I walk three-quarters of a mile, but I find that CVS and blessed day, they have Dr. Pepper Zero! I buy two.

I begin the walk back to the hotel. I haven’t mentioned this, but it is raining. Not a steady rain like we are used to in Arizona, but more like a swirling misty rain like I experienced during my mission in England. It gives you the illusion that it isn’t really raining that bad, but when you get where you are going, you find you are just as wet as you would have been walking through a regular rainstorm. This walk is making me nostalgic for my mission. It is also soaking me through quite effectively.

11:54 a.m. – We have put ourselves together as effectively as possible and it is time to find something to eat. We haven’t really eaten since the shrink-wrapped sandwiches from the night before and we are ready to try something unique here in this city which apparently is teaming with awesome culinary opportunities.

We decide to try a Korean restaurant called Surisan, which is located one block from our hotel. (A block in San Francisco meaning I could throw a rock from our hotel window and hit it…especially since I’d be throwing it downhill. Basically what I’m trying to convey is that city blocks aren’t very big and there isn’t one flat piece of ground in the entire bay area.) They apparently have an amazing blueberry French toast plate that they include as part of their brunch menu. Korean restaurant/French toast??? Whatever, it sounds great.

12:02 p.m. – We arrive and the place is hopping. It is not warm outside and yet all of their outdoor seating is full. At least the part not directly in the rain. However, because there are only two of us, we get in and as we walk to our table, we see a large number of patrons with this noodle dish in front of them. We are intrigued. We look on the menu and discover that this dish is called Pimped Up Ramyun. I kid you not, that is its name. Now, there are a number of things going on with this dish. First off, the pimped-up part has to be associated with the fact that you can buy these exact ramyun noodles at Walmart for about $1.75, but the dish is listed as $21 on the menu. So…not sure what they added to the noodles, but it must have included platinum dust. Additionally, this place has been featured on television for its Millionaire’s Bacon, which you get one slice of with the noodles, so there is that as well. They also put a fried egg on top. Oh, for heaven’s sake, here’s a picture of it:

Obviously we ordered it along with the blueberry French toast and then split them both between us.

12:16 p.m. – Why did we bother with that stupid French toast crap? The noodles are to die for. To be fair, the French toast isn’t bad either, but it is no Pimped Up Ramyun, I’ll tell you what! And the bacon? To call it Millionaire’s Bacon may be a bit of hyperbole…but not much. That was amazing bacon! This meal on it’s own has single-handedly saved the vacation that had started into a toilet spiral the night before.

12:39 p.m. – We get the bill. I’m still loving this meal and it is still the saving grace of our trip thus far, but I made one mistake. I ordered an orange juice. SEVEN BUCKS!!! I won’t be making that mistake again. Dr. Pepper Zero only from here on out. Shannon suggests that water is also good, and free. I patronizingly chuckle at her naivete.

12:47 p.m. – Walking back to our hotel, we decide we have everything we need to head out for whatever it is we want to do, especially since we have no luggage. After a bit of discussion, we decide to head to the Legion of Honor Art Museum. This means it is now time to discover how to navigate the city’s mass transit system. Handily enough, there is a bus stop on our way back towards the hotel (half a rock’s throw distance I guess) and I get on my phone and discover the bus we need can pick us up at that exact spot. Awesome!

12:52 p.m. – The bus arrives and we realize we are on the wrong side of the street to catch said bus. We wave frantically and run across the street and get on. Shannon starts to try to pay and the bus driver is literally like, “Whatever, just get on and don’t worry about it.” But since we are good God-fearing people, we are determined to be honest and so she keeps trying, much to the chagrin of the bus driver. Meanwhile, I have started a conversation with another city transit worker on the bus and he asks where we are going. I tell him and he informs me we are on the wrong bus. We were on the right side of the road to begin with. Fortunately, Shannon has not had any success getting the machine to accept her dollar bill and so we hop off the wrong bus and watch helplessly as the correct bus we needed to catch pulls away from the stop we had been at just three minutes before.

12:55 p.m. – Back at the correct bus stop, we meet a family from Tucson, of all places, who are visiting San Francisco as well. They inform us that if we are going to do the bus thing for three days, we need to download the app and that you can purchase a day pass on the app and then not have to worry about tickets. Awesome! They also inform us that we can pretty much ride for free if we want because not one bus driver gives a rat’s behind whether we pay or not, they only care about getting you on, getting you seated and taking off for the next stop. Schedule is everything to them. Good to know! I get the app and go ahead and buy the day pass for both of us. I half-heartedly try to scan it throughout the day, but it never works and no one seems to care anyway. Cest la Vie!

1:46 p.m. – After a couple of confusing bus transfers that were very harrowing in the moment, but ultimately successful, we arrived at the Legion of Honor. My first impression? I was impressed that they had a golf course right across the parking lot. Just kidding! Well, kind of. I did gawk at the golf course for a moment, but then moved on.

1:50 p.m. – Coming through the front door, I am greeted by Rodin’s The Thinker. The ORIGINAL Thinker! I haven’t even made it to the front desk and I am looking at a piece of art I have actually heard of in my life. Holy crap! I think this might be the first super legitimate art museum I have been to in my life.

2:01 p.m. – The person we purchase our tickets from is originally from Tucson. This comes up because Shannon is wearing an Eastern Arizona hoodie and I am wearing an Arizona State hoodie. As an aside, the number of people we met on this trip either from or with ties to Tucson was statistically astounding. Anyway, he was super friendly and asked if there were any teachers in our group. I thought he said teenagers and replied, “No.” Shannon nudged me and whispered, I’m a teacher, which…she now is. And when it comes to art, she has been for fifteen years having taught art masterpiece classes in the classroom of every single one of our children. But as it relates to this moment, the kind ticket dude gave us the student rate and we got in to this amazing museum for $6 each. As he handed us our tickets, he said, “We Arizonans have to take care of each other.” Dang! I have to admit that Tucson is growing on me. I don’t want to like go there or anything, but man, the people seem pretty cool. At least the ones in San Francisco.

2:05 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. – For Shannon? Two and a half hours of heaven. For me? An hour and a half of very enjoyable art observing, a half hour of, “I hope she gets tired of this soon,” and then a half hour of, “Hey, they have Hercules pots downstairs” coupled with, “Please don’t make me go to the Porcelain Room.” The Hercules pots were really cool. And yes, I realize how neophytish I sound calling them Hercules pots.

Here are some examples of the art we saw:

Rodin’s The Thinker


Russian Bride Painting That Is Bigger Than My Living Room

Van Gogh

Greek Pottery from 500 BC

One interesting thing about this one.

It’s a Danish artist’s interpretation of the Calling of Matthew. Yes, that Matthew! We chuckle at how much it doesn’t resemble the clothing or skin color we had seen recently when viewing the same moment in history depicted on an episode of The Chosen. But it is interesting to us that many of these artists painted things as they would have been in their own time period and made no effort to paint a scene in its proper historical context. No judgement, just an interesting observation.

5:22 p.m. – We arrive back at the hotel to find that our bag has made the grueling trip from Las Vegas to San Francisco. It was an incredibly joyous reunion. I went upstairs and immediately took a shower.

6:13 p.m. – For dinner, we decide to try another restaurant within spitting distance from our hotel called Brick and Beam. I assume it takes its name from the fact that the building is entirely made of red brick and inside you can see the beams holding up the roof. It’s only a guess, but I feel pretty confident I’m on to something. The burgers were pretty good, but they were no ramyun noodles that had been marked up 1000%.

7:03 p.m. – It is probably best if we walk off the dinner we just had and so we start down towards Fisherman’s Wharf. We step into some shops looking for a Golden State Warriors shirt for Shannon so that she won’t be out of place at the game the following night. But we are not successful. What’s interesting is that everything is pretty much shutting down and it isn’t even 8 p.m. I hadn’t realized San Francisco is the City that Yells Shut The #$!@ Up I’m Trying to Sleep, beginning at 9 p.m.

7:48 p.m. – Any walk along Fisherman’s Wharf worth its salt will end at Ghiradelli’s Square. Our walk was worth its salt. However, as we arrived Shannon saw that the main Ghiradelli’s store was closed for remodeling. She was not impressed.

7:52 p.m. – Never fear. Another location was open that allowed us to get a wee bit ice cream smothered in hot fudge and caramel. Our trip was saved!

8:41 p.m. – We arrive back at our hotel and settle in for the night. For the first time, I turn on the TV and try to find something to watch. I don’t know how it happened but I ended up stopping on Magnum PI. Not the old one, but the new one. I apologize up front to any fans of this show, but let me just say. THAT SHOW SUCKS! It is terrible. We kept watching only because it resembled a car wreck and everyone knows you can’t look away from a car wreck. It is a travesty what they have done to the memory of Tom Selleck and a truly great 80’s television show. The only thing worse is…

10 p.m. – …a horrific episode of Murder, She Wrote. Not a remake, the original. Good night that show has not aged well. Was everyone really that bad of an actor in the ’80s? Thankfully, we were saved by…

11 p.m. – …Monk! That show has aged fine. Hallelujah! My faith in crime procedurals was taking a beating.

12:00 a.m. – With our faith restored in television, we turn out the lights and call it a day.