Friday, January 11, 2013

End great and interesting 2012

We spent our end of 2012 in the great city of San Francisco. The package was long purchased and dad said to "go and travel while you still are young and able".  Great words from a great man. We've been planning this trip since I won a race entry back in February via this great blog (he's an ultra runner and it's amazing to read what he does, and has overcome, as well as the photos he posts on his page). 

We flew in on Saturday, and boy, were our arms tired! (ha ha, groan).   We missed the heavy downpour of the evening and had a great drive to the hotel.  Sunday, after visiting Alcatraz in the rain, we ate at a place at Pier 39 found via the  "FIND ME GLUTEN FREE" app on the phone.  I love this app. If you don't have it, it's a great tool to find places, rate them, leave comments. You can even add new businesses you've reviewed!  WIPEOUT Bar & Grill  is the name of the place. Kind of a place we would have thought of for Hawaii and not the cold bay area of San Francisco.  The french fries are in a dedicated fryer and they use canola oil (in case you have a soy allergy).  We ordered the Garlic Fries (from the menu, "Crispy fries tossed with fresh garlic, herbs and tossed with parmesan cheese".  While it's not the best idea to dive into fries you're not sure you'll survive, it was well worth it in this case and I was fine! 

Monday we awoke and went for a small run together.  We ran from the hotel to the Pier 39, took some pics of the sea creatures hanging out, then ran on to Pier 7 where we had a fabulous view of the Bay Bridge (which is my favorite to view of the two bridges).  Mike headed back to 39, and I continued further south along the way, spying the only water fire station (formed after the horrible event) and then a Christmas tree farm. I acquired a small twig of a tree and we had the scent of an evergreen in our room for a bit.  On my way back to the Pier I stopped at the Ferry Building (below), a building still standing after the quake/fire of 1906 (link to Wikipedia article with the building at the front of the photo at bottom of the page). I love this building and am so very happy that the city man who wanted to tear down the building in 1906 was over-ruled!     

WHY did I need to stop at the Ferry Building while I was out for a run?  For the Mariopsa Bakery store front! Gluten free options overwhelmed my senses.  Their cinnamon rolls are fluffy, light and full of flavor with just the right amount of glaze, the fruit filled small pastries (like poptarts only better than those ever were!), oh, and the cheese danish! Come on, when was the last time you had a cheese danish full of flavor and gluten free?  Wow. We had some for breakfast this day, then I went back a few days later on a run and got more things for that day and for the next day's breakfast. We had a quiche bought on Thursday, warmed up by the hotel on Friday for breakfast.  YUM!  The Mike was loving all these fresh products too.  

Ferry Building from the F Streetcar

Christmas decorations near Financial District
We took in the sights of the city via foot, walking up some of the steep hills the city has to offer.  We enjoyed cable cars and streetcars as a way to see many parts of the city.   We toured a Liberty ship from WW2 that still is in working condition and is taken out in the bay a few times a year. The ship even returned to Omaha Beach/Normandy in 1994.  The sounds of the engines and some video of the engines can be seen in the Titanic  movie! We'd heard of Liberty ships before, but didn't really understand them. They were civilian ships loaded with food and other necessities with only a small crew of Navy personnel to arm a few guns.  
Middle section of a panoramic shot of the bay. . . the flag was flying in the wind.

The 26th we decided we wanted pizza for dinner, so we looked at the  "Find Me Gluten Free" app.  We went to Tony's Pizza Napoletana  in North Beach. Mike recognized the name from Food Network (and we haven't had cable in about six years!) It was about a half mile from the hotel, so we had a nice walk there and back as well.  When we arrived, there was a 90 minute wait, so we hiked up to Coit Tower while waiting. Beautiful panoramic views of the city and Bay Bridge at night.  We managed to take probably the worst route up to Coit Tower. . . it was about a 50º to 60º, if not more in some spots climb on the street, and I was glad corsets and pointy shoes were no longer required for women.  We came back down, just as gingerly as the trip up, walked around North Beach and received a phone call after only 45 minutes that a table was ready for us.  THIS Pizza place is THE place to go for GF Pizza in North Beach area.  We dined outside in our sweaters, coats and under a heat lamp, but the evening was great.  Mike had a New Yorker pizza, thinner crust and larger slices while I picked the topics for my GF pizza. They don't make the crusts there, but they are still fabulous.  Ricotta cheese on a pizza is now a must. It's fabulous and creamy and YUMMMM!  If you go, have "The Bitter Truth" adult drink as well. . . 

Union Square Christmas tree.
I ran up to Coit Tower the next day to get some daytime photos from the top and can say that the route I chose this day was a little less steep.  Afterwards, I headed to downtown/financial area and managed to see the flock of red headed birds that fly around  the City. They took off in flight just as I started recording them on the camera.  Boy, was that loud to listen to in the hotel room!

Saturday we headed to Muir Woods, leaving in the morning just like the Nat'l Park man at Fort Mason suggested.  Here we are below at one of the many batteries (former military lookouts) that dot the coastland of the Golden Gate entryway. Muir Woods is a beautiful place full of redwoods that the area is known for. . . interestingly, the area was owned by a family who then donated the land to the US Gov't for a park in order to prevent a logging corporation from taking over the land! We drove down to Stinson Beach which is the starting place for the famed Dipsea Trail Run. [The trail itself was closed at the Nat'l Park.] The sun was shining and the wind was NOT blowing when we were at the beach. It was a beautiful day there and so different from the city of San Francisco just an hour away!  

From the northside of the Golden Gate area at one of the many military batteries
We tried to get to Point Bonita light house in time to see it open, but we missed it by ten minutes or so.  It's a light house you have to travel through a tunnel and then across a suspension bridge to visit! 

Sunday we drove out of the city to head to Woodside and the trail run--my first ever.  Eeek. Okay, it really wouldn't be that much different than a regular run, right?  My first thought of running was, "Can this lady go any slower on a downhill?"  

Then,  "Wow,thankful we went to Muir Woods yesterday so I got the sightseeing of trees out of my system".  

Other thoughts included:

"Wow, the elevation guide was not kidding on this race. It is all uphill".  

"These are gorgeous woods. I am so glad I won this race earlier this year" 

"Hmm, this switching back and forth on the same hillside reminds me of that scene from Dances With Wolves except with more trees".  

"Yeah, my GPS is off (from the canopy of woods/trees) if this is the turnaround spot" 

"WOO HOO it's all downhill from here, GO!!!!"

"Catch that lady, catch her, reel her in, reel her in." (done!) 

and then, "WOW, this downhill stuff is fabulous!". 

Final moments of my race and the purpose for the trip--finishing the Woodside 17km trail run!
After completing Mike was letting me know I didn't need to talk so loudly. I had no idea what he was talking about, but tried to whisper.  We went to Buck's in nearby Woodside for brunch for this hungry runner.  Great food there and after we were done eating, my ears popped. Wow. How loud had I been talking?? Afterwards we enjoyed a drive through the area, taking 84 to Pacific Coast Highway 1 and then north to the City. We drove through areas that probably never see dryness, to areas that looked like eastern Colorado which rarely sees rain.  We stopped at several beaches along the way, getting our  legs, feet and shoes soaked by a small surge of water at one place.For New Years evening, we dined at a Brazilian steakhouse (most are gluten free or at least the majority of food is gluten free).  This one advertised fifteen types of meat which are brought out on skewers by servers who wait for you to give them the "green light" to offer more meat. There's a huge salad bar as well for your balanced diet. 

Great ending to an interesting year.  Fireworks over the Bay. 
Happy running and exploring in 2013!  

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