Tourist adventuring with P&K&D

Back in April, some very good friends of ours from Canada came to visit for a week. We had a busy week showing them around and taking them to do some of our most favorite things around here – beach, hikes, SF, and sports.

The day after they arrived and got all settled in, the first order of business was a surfing lesson in Santa Cruz….at 7am. Santa Cruz is about a 45 minute drive from us so that meant we left at 5:45am to be sure to be there on time. It was a pretty grueling morning with a bleary-eyed stop at McDonald’s, but we made it.

Santa Cruz, Sentinal Beach at 7am
Santa Cruz, Sentinal Beach at 7am
Santa Cruz, Sentinal Beach at 7am
Santa Cruz, Sentinal Beach at 7am

Not all of us were surfing – our visiting friends surfed, as well as Nick and two of our local friends. I had done a surfing lesson before and hadn’t really enjoyed it, our other friend was 6 months pregnant and wasn’t allowed to participate (she did want to if she had been allowed!), and another friend was simply not interested. So, us three non-participants sat on the beach wrapped in blankets and wearing mittens while the surf lesson went on.

The surfing lesson begins!
The surfing lesson begins!

They were on dry land for a while practicing, but then when they went off to get into the water we took a little walk to go watch from a better vantage point. Along the way, we passed the site of the original O’Neill’s Surf Shop!

Did you know O'Neills brand started right here?
Did you know O’Neills brand started right here?

From our high-up vantage point, we could see seals or sea lions (couldn’t tell from so far away) checking out our surfing friends. They would come quite close, pop their heads up, and then swim away.

We watched from afar, snug in our warm sweaters and sipping hot chocolate, as the lesson went on.
We watched from afar, snug in our warm sweaters and sipping hot chocolate, as the lesson went on.

After the surfing lesson, we went for a big brunch at an amazing little restaurant in Santa Cruz, and then it was home for naps and a low-key dinner.

The next day, we were off for a hike in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, one of Nick and I’s favorite places to hike. We did the Meteor Trail, which is about a 6 mile loop, where at the top you can see all the way to the ocean. Hiking is definitely (obviously) one of our favorite things to do around here, since there are so many hills and so many trails, and the weather is good enough to do it year-round, it’s become quite a hobby of ours.

Lost already...
Pam is lost already…
Along the Meteor Trail in Big Basin.
The boys along the Meteor Trail in Big Basin.
Banana Slug - there were a ton of these since it rained so much that week.
Banana Slug – there were a ton of these since it rained so much that week.
Made it! You can see the ocean far off in the background.
Made it! You can see the ocean way far off in the background.

The next day, we were off to an A’s game. Sports are such a huge part of American culture that we absolutely had to take our friends to see a game. We even had a small tailgate party beforehand with some beers and hot dogs (as far as I know, you are not allowed to tailgate in Ontario…it’s totally one of the best things about America). The A’s lost, but we still had a great time. And I remembered the mittens, so everyone was warm enough!!

Go A's!!
Go A’s!!
At the A's game.
At the A’s game. Mittens and sweaters went on as the sun went down.

Our next and final stop for the last two days of the grand tour was San Francisco. First stop was Alcatraz – Nick and I had been a couple times before and very much enjoyed the tour, which is described as “award-winning” although I couldn’t find which award(s) it had won in my brief attempt in researching (aka 30 seconds of Googling).

Panorama of the SF shoreline from the boat heading to Alcatraz.
Panorama of the SF shoreline from the boat heading to Alcatraz.
The Rock.
The Rock.

The most amazing part of this Alcatraz tour was that we mentioned to a staff member that it was Nick’s third time and Pam’s fourth time taking the tour, and she offered to give us a special behind-the-scenes tour! While our friends went on the regular tour we got to go deep into the prison into parts we hadn’t seen before.

From behind the "sniper fence".
From behind the “sniper fence”.
The keys to Alcatraz.
The keys to Alcatraz.
Hospital ward - so creepy.
Hospital ward – so creepy.
Hospital ward - so creepy.
Hospital ward – so creepy.

The next day was our final day, so we decided to take a bus tour of SF, and then pub crawl trying to find cask ales to sample. First stop was the top floor of a double-decker tour bus.

N&P on top of the bus.
N&P on top of the bus.
P&K on top of the bus.
P&K on top of the bus.

We drove through all the sites of the city, including Chinatown and of course to see the Golden Gate Bridge, which never ceases to take my breath away.

Chinatown!
Chinatown!
SF mural artist.
SF mural artist.
The Golden Gate, natch.
The Golden Gate, natch.

Surprisingly enough we couldn’t find many cask ales in SF. They don’t seem to have caught on yet the same way they have in Toronto, but one brewpub – the Thirsty Bear – did have them and we ended up closing out the night there (well, actually at a diner, but you know how it goes).

Toasting with tiny beers after a day out and about in SF.
Toasting with tiny beers after a day out and about in SF.

Cheers – until next time.

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