Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bay Area

We reluctantly left magnificent Monterey and headed for the San Francisco Bay area.  We had a heck of a time finding a reasonably priced campground near San Francisco.  Camping anywhere near downtown San Francisco was stupid expensive!  We luckily found a place in Vallejo, CA.  It is roughly 30 minutes south of Napa and around one hour northeast of San Francisco.  Vallejo proved to be a great location,  as we pretty much split the difference from San Fran and Napa.  We spent a week here in the Bay area and loved our time.  We would have spent a couple of more days exploring San Francisco but, our wallets AND our bank account could not handle it!  This particular week encompassed Memorial Day.  It is impossible to say thank you enough and even the words 'thank you' are so minuscule and feeble for those that sacrificed their lives...and the families of those fallen...sons, daughters, husbands, wives, friends, comrades... Team Breitmann honors you all and we are grateful for the ability and freedom to travel about this magnificent country...bought and paid for by your sacrifices.  God Bless you all!  The freedom depicted in this blog is NOT FREE!  THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
Team Breitmann visits the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, CA, which was a short 20 minutes from Vallejo.  The Jelly Belly jelly bean is considered to be the "gourmet" of jelly beans and first started producing them in 1976.  It was a favorite of former President Reagan when he was kicking his tobacco habit.
The girls wanted me to give them the "stern military look" as I sported the mandatory head gear for the factory tour.  As you can see, I just could not pull it off without suppressing a smile. 

We were surprised at the "all flavor" section.  There were many more flavors than these! Yep, we tried some!  Stacey tried Grass & Earthworm, Heidi tried Vomit & Soap, Hailey tried Soap and I had Booger.  Uggh...
We worshiped in nearby Benicia at Northgate Church.  A great teaching on being "real" as Christians.
After Church, we had a picnic in Benicia.  What  a "postcard" small town!
We took a drive up Napa Valley and stopped for a tour of the Robert Mondavi winery.  Here the girls are in the courtyard where the winery hosts concerts in the summer.

Heidi and I in front of the Oakville vineyards on the Mondavi property.
Team Breitmann roses in front of the Oakville vineyards.
Hailey and I get ready to set sail from Vallejo to San Francisco.
This is the high speed ferry we took from Vallejo to San Francisco.  We had considered driving to San Francisco, however to do so was VERY expensive....two toll bridges, ($25) gas,($4.24/gal) parking($72).  So the $75 ferry did not seem so expensive!
Hailey gets a kick out of how fast this ferry cruises!  We were cruising along at 35kts.  Pretty impressive for such a large vessel.
An hour after departing Vallejo, we arrive at the Port of San Francisco!
Heidi and Hailey take in the "must do" Fisherman's Wharf - San Francisco.  They got a taste of the "big city" when we ran across a guy singing on the street corner; "Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, help me get drunk."  He didn't seem like he needed any help with that as he was obviously inebriated.  So much question from the girls from that encounter.  
Of course, what trip to San Francisco would be complete with out a ride on the cable trolley cars?!
We learned that much of the cable car system was destroyed in the great San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fires and that there are only a couple of these lines running nowadays.  The city went to electric street cars and then to buses.  Most of the public transportation is electric.
Heidi wanted this picture put in the blog because she is a big fan of sushi and her friends love Ninjas.  We pictured something out of Saturday Night live with Samurai sushi Chef John Belushi.

The next picture will do all the explaining of the "why" of this sign!
Good grief!  We got a good workout walking these hills!
We had a picnic lunch in Alamo park, which is home to one of the most photographed neighborhood houses in the country..Postcard Row.  There are a ton of beautiful Victorian style house in this area and on into the Pacific Heights neighborhood.  
Ghiradelli chocolates hail from San Francisco....sooo...naturally we have to stop here to the delight of Hailey as we all split "The Cable Car!"
Here she it again!  She spots all the hearts and steals them too!
Crashed on the ferry back to Vallejo!  What a day!

Coit Tower, a San Francisco tribute to the people of San Francisco and it's firefighters.  It was built in the early 1930's.
Atop Coit Tower.  It affords impressive views of San Francisco. Here you can see Alcatraz Island in the upper middle of the picture with it's white lighthouse on the northwest corner.
Hailey poses at the top of Coit Tower.
Here the girls are at the Chinatown gate.  Hailey hams it up with the "dragon".
Heidi our tea lover, tastes one of the thousands of variety of teas available in one of the tea shops in Chinatown.
A view down a street in Chinatown.  This place did not feel like we were even in the United States!  All the newspapers were in Chinese and some shops did not even have any English on their signs.
Monkey around in Chinatown, eh?!
Here is a food market with no English!  We went in and saw some stuff that we had no idea what it was!  
Hailey points to a butcher shop window..."uh, Dad are those chicken feet?"  Me: "Yes, yes they are.  And over there is a flat, dried duck with his head still on!"
We ate lunch at this place.  Everyone in there was speaking Chinese and 99 percent of the patrons were Chinese.  We had a heck of a time ordering as we could hardly understand our waitress!  It was very good and unlike any Chinese we have had!  Awesomely good.
A view of Alcatraz as we approach it for a tour.
The girls in front of the sign before we get prepared to do "time on the rock!"
This sign is the first thing you see as you get off the boat.  Notice the "Indians welcome" inscription.  We learned that the island was "occupied" by Indian activists in 1970, who wanted to call attention to the history of US mistreatment of American Indians.  The Indians held the island for 19 months before they were removed by the US Government.
We learned that Alcatraz started off as a Fort Alcatraz in the 1850s, following the "gold rush of 1849".  It was the first military fort on the West Coast and secured California and the United States as a power in the Pacific.  It continued to be a Fort until the 1920's when the US Army turned it into a military prison.  Then it was turned over to the newly created Federal Bureau of Prisons in 1933 and updated with state of the art technology.
Hailey poses in front of one of the 250 lbs remotely operated electrical prison doors.
A view of the three story cell block.
This is a picture of the floor in the cell block "cross over".  The scarring on the floor is as a result of hand grenades tossed in during the "battle of Alcatraz".  The "battle" occurred when the prisoners managed to take over this portion of the cell block, holding 9 guards hostage and executing 5 of them.  The warden requested the assistance of US Marines, who landed on Alcatraz to augment the prison officers in taking the prison back.  
Hailey earns yet another Jr. Ranger badge on Alcatraz National Park.  This is number five for her.

That's one big commemorative coin you got there, Hailey!  As it turns out, we were here for the 75th Anniversary of the completion of the Golden Gate Bridge!  How cool is that?!

The girls pose with a cutaway example of one of the massive suspension cables of the Golden Gate Bridge.  27,572 strands of wire per cable. Wow!
Here we are preparing to walk onto the bridge.

Me and Hailey on the pedestrian walk way.

Hailey looks, with mouth gaping, up one of the towers that the suspension cables hang from. 
Here the girls take a moment to watch a massive container ship slip under the bridge and out into the Pacific Ocean.
This is a great view of the downtown financial district.  Interesting fact about San Francisco banks was that during the 1929 Stock Market Crash and the subsequent Great Depression, not a single San Francisco bank failed.    This fact lured many from the "Dust Bowl" to the allegedly "prosperous" California coastline. San Francisco is still a leading banking and financial center of the world.
From our ferry, I noticed a USN aircraft carrier in San Francisco bay.  It was great to see her and again reminded me of Memorial Day!  
As we "fly away" from San Francisco we will continue to........