Wednesday, January 9, 2008

San Francisco Warning

Beware of parking signs in San Francisco.

The AAA guidebook for Northern California and Nevada does clearly warn, and gives accurate estimates of the costs. One thing it doesn't emphasize is that they really mean it.

San Francisco has a serious parking problem. There are more automobiles than there are parking spots. With typical California ingenuity, they have turned this problem into an opportunity.

Big money.

In parking meters, a quarter will buy only 5 minutes (in some, less desirable places, as much as 10). So, come equipped with three dollars in quarters if you want to park downtown for an hour. And one hour is the most you can get. Not enough time for lunch in a fancy restaurant, like the one we visited, Aqua.

Organized parking is very rare and comes at a cost of $2.50 per twenty minutes, or more. Doesn't look all that trust-worthy either.

So, we hunted around and found a spot that looked all right, several blocks away. After lunch, we walked to the spot which was empty. Looking up, we saw a sign that said no parking from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. To make a long story short, we called the number on the sign and took a taxi there.

We found the location doing a booming business, with long lines. A steady stream of tow trucks was arriving, unloading, and going out again. We expected to pay maybe a hundred bucks, but the bill came to $238.75 and when we finally did get the car, there was a ticket on the windshield for an additional $60! Wow.

Big money.

Three hundred dollars--the penalty for not seeing a sign 15 feet above the ground. Or, for being unwilling to hand over $15 for parking even further from the restaurant. During the evening the restaurant offers valet parking (price unknown), but nothing at lunch time.

Since that experience, we noted other parking dangers. Further out, there is two hour parking where there are no parking meters. There is an exception for local residents, whose cars carry a neighborhood sticker. Overnight parking is allowed. If you can find a spot. Park in an illegal location (several per block) and you will be towed. Exceed the time limit and you will be ticketed. More than four tickets and you will be towed.

Further, each side of each block has a sign warning of tow away for a two or three hour period each week. We befriended a local merchant, who asked us each time we passed, "Where did you park?" Upon hearing our reply, he told us the details of the difficulty of that side of whichever street.

Wow, what an expensive ordeal! Our conclusion is that San Francisco is not a friendly city for automobiles. Leave yours across the bay in your hotel parking lot and take the ferry into the city. Or, take your chances, but you have been warned.

We won't be returning unless we absolutely have to--we didn't leave our heart there.

"If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair" may have been good advice in the 60's. Today, better advice is to leave your car behind, or bring lots of quarters.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Holiday Travels

Really, one should write one blog entry for each day of holiday travels. Oh well, we didn't.

Day 0, Thursday, December 20, 2007

Board the Amtrak "California Zephyr" just before midnight, and get some sleep in the bunk beds of our private roomette.

Day 1, Friday, December 21, 2007

Enjoy the train ride and the pre-paid meals in the dining car. Arrive in Emeryville late and take the bus into San Fancisco. Check luggage at the Amtrak station just at closing time. Walk to Ben's restaurant and then to his van, mostly uphill. Wait an hour for him to finish work. Cold. Drive to his apartment and stay up late listening to his room mate talking until early in the morning. Sleep on Ben's bed. Cold.

Day 2, Saturday, December 22, 2007

Go pick up a rental car and drive into Marin County. Visit with Tony and Anne. Lucas drops in. Cold. Drive to Emeryville and find the train station. Sleep in the Hilton Garden Inn. Comfortable.

Day 3, Sunday, December 23, 2007

Church in Cupertino. Drive to Monterey and enjoy eating near the beach. Sara gets her feet wet in the Pacific. Sleep in a Ramada Inn room. Comfortable.

Day 4, Monday, December 24, 2007

Drive along Highway 1 and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Windy and cold. Stop at Hearst Castle, where tours are sold out, but watch the video. On to Morro Bay and enjoy seeing Morro Rock, but not much of an ocean view. Sleep in our chosen motel. Burn one fire log in the fireplace. Comfortable.

Day 5, December 25, 2007

Burn two more fire logs. Drive to Cambria. Check in to chosen motel very near to the beach on Moonstone Road. Cold. Return to Morro Bay to eat crab.

Day 6, December 26, 2007

Drive to Hearst Castle and take the tour. Cold. Walk on the beach. Cold. Another night in the Moonstone Inn.

Day 7, Thursday, December 27, 2007

Drive to San Francisco. Hotels there do not honor their coupons, so we check into Marin Suites in Corte Madera. Very nice room.

Day 8, Friday, December 28, 2007

Eat Breakfast with Tony at Max's, and he gives us the key to Lucas' apartment. Drive to San Francisco and late lunch with Ben at his restaurant, "Aqua." While there, our rental car is towed! So, we go redeem it for $240. Move into the apartment on California in the 3200 block. Comfortable, but very cold.

Day 9, Saturday, December 29, 2007

We fly Helaman out to Oakland and go pick him up at the airport, after treating Ben to lunch at Max's in Corte Madera. Dinner at "Conduit" where a friend of Ben's is our waiter.

Day 10, Sunday, December 30, 2007

We try to go to church on Pacific Avenue, but get there too late. Helaman and Ben go to a Raider's game in Oakland.

Day 11, Monday, December 31, 2007

Drop our luggage off at the Amtrak station in Emeryville. Check into the hotel. Drive back into San Francisco to return the rental car. Help Helaman get ready to drive Ben's van back to Utah and say goodbye to Ben. Helaman drops us off in Emveryville, where we spend our last night in the area at the Hilton Garden Inn. Comfortable but not quite warm enough.

Day 12, Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The hotel has a shuttle, but no shuttle service! So we walk to the train station, and board the train, which leaves at 8:05 a.m. Enjoy the day on the train. Sleep in the bunk beds of our private roomette.

Day 13, Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Arrive about 5:15 a.m. and Helaman picks us up. End of holiday travels, and I actually work that day.


A few weeks ago, I decided to stop ingesting caffeine.

After the withdrawal headaches, things settled back to normal.

However, I notice that my head feels "fuzzy" and I'm not sure how clearly I am thinking.

No worries, though. Even though I can't remember why I decided to go off of caffeine, I trust that my mind was sharp back then, and I must have had a good reason.