Back From San Francisco

Yes, Diane and I went to San Francisco in mid-July.  Yes, I’ve haven’t posted a thing here since.

I had a four-day conference to attend in San Francisco.  I went out two days early to see the city.

We didn’t ride bikes or rent a car.  This was a public transport and walking kind of trip.  BART was helpful for the longer distances.  The city buses and trolleys (muni) got us around for the shorter distances.

BART was nearly empty coming from the airport

We never had a chance to ride the iconic cable cars, but that seems to be more of a tourist thing anyway.  I was really fond of the ferry from Sausalito to San Francisco – It had a bar on board.

San Francisco is a great city to live without a car.  Too bad it’s expensive and crowded.  Many people (most?) use public transportation.  Bikes are everywhere.  Most bicyclists seem to follow the laws.  Even the pedestrians are predictable and law-abiding.  It’s a much different environment than Louisville.

There seems to be a bunch of unwritten rules about riding in San Francisco.  I’m a bit glad that I didn’t have a bike with me – as I would have not known the rules initially.

Bikes and transit

We had Friday plans to meet up with Jenny and Shawn for dinner and drinks in Oakland.  Jenny and Shawn were the couple that visited back in February for the Silly Bike Race Cyclocross Worlds Championships

We took the BART through the Trans-bay Tube over to Oakland and walked a few blocks to Chop Bar.  After good drinks, food, and conversations, we walked around the Jack London District and stopped by a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop.

Diane and I on the Bay

We spent one day walking around Chinatown, checking out the area around the Ferry Building, taking a bus over to Presidio and walking the trails.  We walked a lot.  We took another bus across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito where we had dinner and made friends with a large bird.

Interesting cityscape

During our time there, we visited two breweries, one near our hotel in the Financial District, the other in Haight-Ashbury.  We ate at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Squat and Gobble.

Golden Gate

Sausalito was interesting.  We had dinner and did a wine tasting.  I can’t imagine living there.  The tourist traffic was incredibly thick.

Sorry, I don’t have an eyepatch

There are so many things I didn’t have time to see.  I wanted to visit Alcatraz.  I wanted to stick a toe in the cold water.  I wanted to visit more of the nearby cities.  I wanted to ride a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge.

View from the ferry

I was fairly busy with the conference.  Diane went out and did some shopping and sightseeing on her own while I was busy.

Funeral band in Chinatown

I want to visit again, with more time and money.  It was hard to leave.  Part of me wants to move there.  The cost of housing is sky-high, so even doubling my salary would mean a lower standard of living.  I did browse some real-estate ads, but to live in the city itself would relegate me to a third-floor apartment somewhere.  I like having my little yard and little house here in Louisville.

San Diego


I went to San Diego on Saturday the 11th for a work conference.  It didn’t start until the next day, but Robin went with, and we wanted some extra time to see things.

Our flight (through Atlanta) was long, but uneventful, which is about the best you can hope for.  I don’t enjoy air travel.  I had once decided I’d never do it again, but that could be bad for my career.

Our flight left Louisville at 6:00am.  A one-hour layover and three hours time difference, meant we still arrived in San Diego before 10:00am.  We took a cab to the hotel and got settled.

A view from in front of the hotel

We walked around the Gaslamp Quarter and stopped at The Bike Revolution to rent two hybrid bikes.  They were nothing special, but would get us around farther than we wanted to walk.

We brought our own helmets.  The bikes came with patch kits and locks.  I wore a backpack, which is good.  The bikes had no way to carry anything.

The Zoo was a bit over three miles away, but we were hungry and needed food first.  We found Nathan’s Smokehouse just around the corner from the bike shop

Robin at Nathan’s

We had talked to the guys at the bike shop and a pedicab driver about routes to the Zoo.  They had different things in mind.  We set off on the less-traffic route, stopping for pictures along the way.

Robin certainly looked like she was having fun

Yes, I was wearing a University of Kentucky Basketball t-shirt in San Diego.  Nobody ever mentioned it.

Hey! We’re in California!

The bikes were cheap 1×7 hybrids with chainguards.  My chainguard was rubbing the chain.  It didn’t affect the way it rode, but it made noise.

Many of the downtown parking meters have “bike loops” attached for locking your bike to.  This is much different from many other cities where locking your bike to a meter is illegal.

Cheap rental bike

This was my first time in San Diego.  I had heard it’s always sunny and 75F.  Well, not Saturday.  It hit 90F.  We were told later that it was a heat wave.

Finding our way to Balboa Park was pretty simple.  Getting to the Zoo entrance proved more difficult.

Riding through Balboa Park

We meandered around the park, but found we had to (briefly) get on a busy road to get to the Zoo.  We did, and the hardest part was the left turn into the Zoo.  Traffic was heavy and fast, but we had no issues.

There were three bike racks at the zoo.  All were pretty full.  Most were rental bikes like ours.  We did the best we could to lock up, and paid the $42 (each!) to get in the Zoo.

There was no way we had time or energy to see the entire Zoo.  We knew we wanted to see the pandas and koalas.  Anything else we saw was a bonus.  We hit the reptile area pretty early.

Isn’t he cute?

The exhibits we wanted to see were on the other side of the zoo.  There’s a cable car thing that gets you there.  That means a lot less walking, and give you a nice view of the area.  It was also free with the level of entry fee we paid.

The easy way to get across the zoo

We had some trouble finding the koala exhibit.  There was no way Robin would leave until we found it.  We eventually found somebody to tell us where it was.  We were only about 20 feet away when we found out.  I found the zoo layout to be confusing.

Yep, that’s a koala

Supposedly one of the koalas had a baby hanging on somewhere.  Even after reviewing all the pictures I took, I couldn’t find it.

Robin really wanted her picture with a koala.  Matilda was there to help.

Matilda the koala

I was really interested in the panda bears.  It took a while to figure out where they were at.  We got to see some interesting things along the way.

Don’t look behind you

The (real) polar bears were massive and scary.

I was glad for the thick glass between us

We eventually made our way to the panda exhibit.  The pandas were just laying around, but it was neat to see them.  We had our picture taken in front of a green screen so we could buy “panda photo” they provide.

Lazy panda

We made our way to the exit and headed out.  We had spent hours at the zoo, and spent quite a bit of money.  It was fun, and I couldn’t see going to San Diego without seeing the famous San Diego Zoo.

We tried to find a route to get back without getting back on the busy road.  We actually rode on the sidewalk for a bit (following advice from another guy with a bike).  We meandered a bit more, and found our way back.  We had a mostly downhill ride back to the hotel room where we parked the bikes, showered, and headed out for dinner.  Are total bike riding for Saturday was 8.1 miles.  Not a long ride, but with the walking involved, we were beat.

We were going to walk to dinner, but there was a gaggle of pedicabs vying for business.  What the hell, I’d never been on a pedicab before.  We paid a rather high price for a short ride, but it’s nice to have done it once.

Aboard the pedicab

We went to dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery.  They had a good selection of local microbrews.  We decided to walk back, rather than pay too much for another pedicab.  We spotted this in the window of Dick’s Last Resort, so I bought the panties for Robin.

Yes, she does

After getting back to the hotel room, we’d had a very long day.  I was asleep by 7:30pm local time.  I slept well, even in a strange hotel room.


On Sunday, I had errands to run.  We started with a bike ride to the nearby town of National City.  I needed to go to the drugstore.  There was one a bit closer, but the route was much hillier.  I also bought an iPhone charger while we were there, as I had left mine at home.

Our round-trip ride was 13.6 miles, including some sketchy neighborhoods.  Luckily, being Sunday morning, things were quiet.  We did have two idiots blow their horns at us, but whatever.

We got back to the Gaslamp Quarter and returned the rental bikes.  There wouldn’t be much more time for riding.

We went back to Dick’s Last Resort that we had bought the panties at.  The service there is interesting.  They are intentionally rude.  It’s quite fun.  I had a good burger and a beer.

I had to get to the conference for sign-in.  Robin wandered the Gaslamp Quarter looking at shops.  I got busy with conference stuff for a while.

Robin and I met back up for dinner.  I found a place called Funky Garcia’s.  Unlike the chain restaurants, this was a true San Diego thing.  The food was great.  The atmosphere was incredibly different.  The service wasn’t great though.

Robin described it as Chi Chi’s on ludes.  They were playing techno music (very loudly) when we arrived.  The TVs were playing the music videos, not sports as is common.  One particular video caught my attention, as it was the most sexually graphic music video I’ve ever seen.

We enjoyed the place.  The people watching was fun.  The beer was good.  They had switched to rap music as we were leaving, so the timing was good.  We walked back to the hotel.


The conference was in full swing on Monday.  I left in the morning and Robin went out on her own to shop at Seaport Village and other nearby areas.

She took a ferry to Coronado and put her feet in the Pacific ocean.  I was stuck in a session.

I never got the opportunity to get to the beach that she did.

After sessions were over, there was a conference event that Robin was allowed to attend. It was at the Embarcadero Marina Park South, which is where the San Diego Symphony plays during the summer.

It was basically 1200 people eating box dinners, drinking, and getting to know each other.  Robin was able to meet some of my co-workers.

Big event

It was after dark before we walked back to the hotel.


Robin was flying back Tuesday.  Once I left in the morning, I wouldn’t see her again until I returned.

I left for the conference breakfast, and Robin did a little more sightseeing before heading out.

Tuesday night was the free night, where nothing was planned by the conference.  My co-workers and I decided to go out to eat on Coronado.

We took the water taxi, but two of my co-workers literally missed the boat.  They went elsewhere, why the four of us that made it, went to Il Fornaio.  It was a bit pricey, but very good.

Coronado Water Taxi

It turns out we mis-read the water taxi schedule, and we missed the last one back.  There was a ferry, but we’d have to wait another 90 minutes with nothing to do.

I did take my shoes off and get my feet wet in the water while waiting.

Coronado Island is misnamed.  It’s really not an island, but a peninsula.  There’s a road on the southern “strand” that connects to the mainland.  There’s also a bridge connecting, and it’s a shorter route.  It was a quick, easy taxi ride back to the hotel.  Probably even safer than swimming.  🙂

There’s an outdoor bar near the pool and hot tub behind the hotel I was staying in.  It was beautiful weather (the heatwave was over by Monday).  I spent some time sitting by a gas fire drinking great local beer.


Wednesday was another full day at the conference.  Like all days, breakfast and lunch is provided.  This day, dinner was also, at the party in the evening.


The dinner party was on the flight deck of the USS Midway.  The USS Midway is now a museum.  They have aircraft on display on the deck, and below.  Also below are flight simulators (that we had free access to).

There was a beautiful sunset, that I missed due to being in a flight simulator at the time.

This event always has food (this year’s left a bit to be desired), free beer (poor selection), and a live music event.  To do this aboard an aircraft carrier was really bizarre.


Thursday was a short day for me, because my flight was leaving at about 1:20pm.  I went to breakfast, then checked out my hotel room.  I went back to the conference and attended one session.  Then I took a cab to the airport, and went through the standard airport stuff.

At 12:30am Friday morning (an hour late due to weather) I was back in Louisville, where Robin picked me up and drove me home.


My body’s clock is still off.  This is the first time I’ve ever flown to the west coast.  I’ve driven, but the time change is gradual enough that it’s not an issue.  Not so when flying.

Friday, my first day home, I did get out on the bike.  I didn’t have to work, but I ran errands and attended a Ski Club happy hour.

Today, I haven’t yet gone out of the house.  I haven’t even dressed yet.  I slept in, then spent most of the day organizing pictures from the trip and writing the long post.  How many of you read the whole thing?

Next Year

Assuming I go to this conference next year, it’ll be more interesting to me personally.  It’s being held in San Francisco, another California city that I’ve never been to.

I’d love to add several extra days to my time there, and explore much more by bicycle.  I guess I need to start saving money now.


Overeating in San Antonio

One thing about conferences: They usually feed you well.  I’m only two days into this conference and I’ve probably eaten two weeks worth of calories.

The picture below was taken from Chart House restaurant at the top of Tower of the Americas.  I ate dinner there last night.  It was one of my healthier meals until desert came around.

Today brought a wonderful selection of fruit and breakfast burritos in the morning, and a big spread for lunch.  I don’t know what dinner will bring, but I’m not yet ready for more food.