Tuesday, July 19, 2022

LA and San Francisco CA, Victoria, BC

When we left Cabo there was a very dramatic change. We were now in the colder waters of the Pacific Ocean and the daily temperatures reflected that. During the first two weeks out of Miami highs had been in the 80's making the pool the go to place. After Cabo it was in the low 60's the first day, then in the 50's the rest of the trip with one day in San Francisco only getting to 48. The pool was nearly always empty except for one or two brave souls. 
A tugboat coming out to guide the Encore to the dock in Los Angeles. As you can see this was a huge harbor with many cranes emptying and loading container ships.
We were docked by this WWII liberty ship. Nearly 3000 of these cargo ships were built during the war.
Did you ever wonder how heavy the lines used to tie a huge cruise ship to the dock were? I don't know what they weigh but they used a truck to drag them into place. 
While one side was the container ship harbor, the other was a huge marina for pleasure boats. LA was the final port for most of the 2700 passengers who boarded in Miami. We've been here a couple times and had seen most of the sights the excursions went to so LA is on our been there done that list. There wasn't even anything of interest within walking distance so we stayed on board enjoying the much less crowded ship.
Leaving LA at sunset. We had another relaxing day at sea before our two day stop in San Francisco. Frisco is a place we could visit a 100 times and still want to go back. I lived here for a while in the late 60's and we have visited a couple times and we still love every minute of it.
When we opened the curtain of our cabin this was our view looking over Fisherman's Wharf with the tip of the Golden Gate Bridge peeking out above the fog. That day the fog on the bridge never totally cleared.
Looking toward the city from our balcony was Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill. The 210 foot tower in Pioneer Park is dedicated to the volunteer firemen who died in the city's five major fires. Money for the tower was donated by Lillie Hitchcock Coit to beautify the city.
Looking at San Francisco Bay we could see Alcatraz Island. While I have been to the city and lived here, I had never been to the island so we decided to go on the Alcatraz - Sausalito excursion.
From the other side of the ship looking East we had a view of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge and a beautiful sunrise. 
From the front of the ship we had a view from the Transamerica Pyramid to Coit Tower. When it was completed in 1972 the 853 foot pyramid was the eighth tallest structure in the world and the tallest in the city. These sites we could see without leaving the ship shows why Frisco will always be a go to place for us. 
We boarded the bus for the trip across the Golden Gate Bridge with our guide promising we would have a better view of the bridge from the north side. It was a great view with the fog being much thinner here than in the city.
A typical view of the city from Sausalito with the top of the skyscrapers above the fog.
Sausalito is a very neat little village right on the water with many eclectic shops.
We came across this cool flag made with license plates from Illinois, California and Pennsylvania.
The bus took us back to the city where we boarded a boat to Alcatraz. Nice seeing the bridge and a sailboat on the bay. The last time we were here our friend Erin took us out on the water in his 24 foot sailboat. 
A good look at where the Encore was docked, the bridge, the buildings and Coit Tower.
The fog lifted a bit on our way to the island. It was a windy, chilly day to be on a boat. Before Alcatraz was a prison it was one of three forts built to protect the harbor after the 1849 gold rush.
The Alcatraz lighthouse in the fog. This was the first lighthouse on the Pacific Coast. In 1970 a fire destroyed the keeper's house.
In the 1960's after the prison closed a group of Native Americans took over the island claiming it in the name of the "Indians of All Tribes". The protest lasted for 19 months and raised awareness of issues of American Indians.
After the protest, the General Services Administration started bulldozing the buildings. This stopped when Congress created the Golden Gate National Recreation Area saving what we see today and preventing developers from building on the island.
The shower room. Alcatraz was the only federal prison with warm water showers. They did not want prisoners getting acclimated to the surrounding cold water of the bay in case they thought about trying to escape..
The typical cell block was three stories. There were 336 cells, but the prison never housed more than 302, the average being 260. Alcatraz was the prison for prisoners who were problems at other facilities. Among the most famous inmates were Al Capone, "Doc" Barker, "Machine Gun" Kelly and Robert Stroud, the "Bird man of Alcatraz". Unlike in the movie, Stroud never had birds here, but he did do bird studies when he was in Leavenworth.
This is a cell in the solitary confinement block. All cells were basically the same with a bunk, a toilet, a small shelf and an open place for personal item.
Some prisoners had musical instruments. I'm not sure how popular this guy would have been.
There were 14 attempted escapes from the Rock. The most famous was in 1962 when Frank Morris and brothers John and Clarence Anglin dug holes in their cells, made fake heads for their beds to fool the guards and escaped using raincoats as floatation devices. Their bodies were never found and it is assumed they drowned. One myth of Alcatraz is it is surrounded by shark infested waters. While there are sharks, most are not man-eaters.
The city from the island. Prisoners said they often could hear music and smell food cooking from the city. The Alcatraz tour was interesting but it goes onto the been there done that list.
Our view on day two in San Francisco. Less fog, so a better look at the bridge. Here if you don't like the view, wait a while and it will change.
This was a walking day starting along the Embrarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf. This area is made for tourists with many shops and restaurants. 
A mural with a look back to the way it once was.
A celebration of marine life at the Aquarium of the Bay.
One of Pier 39's most popular attractions is the sea lions. They are very entertaining. These sea lions were on Seal Rock, just outside the Golden Gate for years. After the 1989 earthquake they move to the Farallon Islands about 30 mile out in the Pacific Ocean. When they returned, they went to Pier 39 and because they are endangered they got to stay and the boaters had to leave. Here is a short video of them carrying on. Make sure your sound is on.
More sea lion art.
Pier 39 even has a store for people like Nanc.
The trolleys that run along the Embarcadero are old ones from cities all over the country that have been restored. I remember riding these old trolleys in Pittsburgh.
Of course you can not go to San Francisco and not ride a cable car. At one time there were 23 lines. The three that are left make up the last manually operated cable car system in the world. Here is a short video of the operator turning the car around. 
Passing Lombard Street, the crookedest street, and Coit Tower in the distance.
Crossing the California Street cable car line with a view of the Transamerica Building and the Bay Bridge.  
The end of the line at Market Street. In the background you can see how steep the street is. It looks more like a wall rather that a street. We were going to ride back to the wharf but a cable car had jumped the tracks on a steep hill and they didn't know how long it would be before it opened. Since the ship was leaving in the afternoon we decided to walk back. 
A celebration of the laborers who built the city.
Yes this kiosk is an art gallery. Like I said you never know what you will see in this city.
Another look at how steep the streets are. This is the end of the California Street cable line.
The ferry building. While there are bridges over the bay and the Bart subway under it, many people commute via ferries. Walking in the city can take you on very steep hills, but if you stay on Market and the Embarcadero it is all flat.
Leaving the City by the Bay. Any stay in San Francisco is always too short.
Something else off the bucket list, looking out to sea sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge. We could have gotten up at 4AM to see this when we arrived but opted for the departure view. We are glad we did, as people we talked to said it was so foggy they could barely see the lights when we entered the bay. 
I never tire of seeing this iconic landmark.
Looking back to the city. The construction going on on the bridge is  to install nets to prevent people from jumping. More than 1800 have jumped to their deaths.
Another view that not that many people have seen, the entire span. It truly is a modern marvel.
Point Bonita Lighthouse marks the entrance to San Francisco Bay. It was the last manned lighthouse on the Pacific Coast.
Seal Rock and Golden Gate Park. I lived in that area over 50 years ago. Where the buildings are overlooking the ocean there was a small beachfront amusement park.
The Farallon Islands and the surrounding waters are a national wildlife refuge 30 miles from the Golden Gate. There is a small research center there, but the public is prohibited. The refuge is home to over 250,000 birds, five species of pinnipeds, migrating whales and great white sharks. Researchers have witnessed as many as eighty shark attacks on the seals in one season. The waters are known as the White Shark Cafe.
After another relaxing day at sea we awoke in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the snow covered Olympic Mountains.  
We got close, but no Victoria for us. When we were having breakfast we realized the Encore was moving in very strange ways as confirmed by this picture of the ships route. It turned out that the wind was so strong they could not get safely into the harbor. We ended up with another day at sea sailing back out of the strait before turning around and heading toward Seattle. We were disappointed but happy to not be part of a video of a huge ship crashing into a dock. 

We did have some concerns about being on a ship for 21 days. As it turned out, we had a fantastic time and we got to visit some new places and meet some great people.