March was a spectacular month and started off with a bang! My Dad and Step-Mom arrived at the beginning of the month to celebrate my Dad's birthday. Although my Dad came last year at the same time, this was my Step-Mom's first time visiting us here. We had so much fun hanging out with them and showing them around the city and beyond. Their first full day we had to work, so they checked out Alcatraz. We met them that evening for dinner at Boudin Bistro, followed with some fresh Oysters and yummy chocolates.
Saturday was rainy, but we made the best of it. We started out the morning at Mission Dolores and we just so happened to walk into the church right as a tour was beginning. More properly called "Mission San Francisco de Asis", it is the oldest building in San Francisco and the seventh of the twenty-one churches that make up the California Missions. Although it is small, the history was steep and I'm so happy we happened upon the tour. We learned the history of the church, the city, the people, and the culture. It was a great tour. The church is small, but beautiful. Much of the church was built by Native Americans including the colorful painted ceiling. A museum, cemetery, and new(er) basilica all together make for a lot to see. We ended up spending a good portion of our morning there. I'd like to see all 21 missions eventually and this visit only piqued my interest in the others even more.
Afterwards, we got some lunch then headed to the Old Mint. Normally closed, it was opened to tour specially for history day and I knew Dad would enjoy seeing it. It wasn't exactly what I thought it would be like, but it was a pretty amazing building. The pipes below were used to pipe in gas for the original lights and the basement was full of vaults. I've heard the city is working to restore the building, I hope they do.
Sunday, we headed out for a trip along the coast. We could not have asked for a better day as we headed down Hwy 1. We stopped a few times along the way including at Pigeon Point Lighthouse to take a few pictures.
We made it to Carmel-by-the-Sea just in time for lunch. I had done a little researching and found a Mediterranean restaurant called Dametra Cafe with my Dad's favorite dish, lamb. My step-Mom and I ordered the Greek Chicken Skewers and Landon had a cheeseburger. It was all AMAZING! From the homemade bread to the perfected Baklava, I've already been back once and it's not close to home! They even had someone come out in the middle of the lunch and sing for everyone. I may have picked for my Dad, but we all enjoyed that lunch tremendously.
After lunch, we walked through town a bit. It wasn't long before we happened upon a candy store and Landon had to get something. He was super excited when he found candy legos. Too bad, they were the hardest pieces of sugar we've ever put in your mouth. That fudge though!
Carmel-by-the-Sea is the most darling of cities. We walked pasted city hall where Clint Eastwood was mayor. Every building has a different shape and style, but together they make up this cute eclectic place.
Of course the window shopping is premier from antiques, to fashion, jewelry, and baked goods. The little city is a feast for the eyes.
After a few hours in Carmel, we said goodbye and headed further South. I stopped at McWay Falls to show them the beautiful waterfall into the ocean. It's such a small pull-off along the road, but not to be missed. I'm so glad we got to share these special places with them.
Just before sunset we made it to our overnight stop, San Simeon. There is a place called the Seal Rookery where lots and lots of Elephant Seals congregate on the beaches. They thought it was really neat to get within a few feet of these massive seals and by the time we pulled into our hotel for the night, it was dark. Perfect timing.
We woke up the next morning, got some breakfast and headed off to see Hearst Castle. You can read more about it HERE. Quick version, we loved it! After some lunch, we headed back towards home taking the much faster highway route. We got home in the evening and let the birthday boy open his gifts. A little Croatian wine and liquor and a homemade painting from Landon. It may have been my Dad's birthday, but it was really a birthday weekend for us all. We had a wonderful visit. My only regret, we never got a group picture with all of us.
The following weekend, the sun was shinning so we took advantage and played outside. There's a playground just up the block from our house so we wasted away a morning there getting out some energy while Adam worked for a bit.
That afternoon, we headed downtown and met up for the Emperor Norton's Fantastic Time Machine Tour. You've probably never heard of Emperor Norton, but he was a real man and self proclaimed Emperor of the United States. Only San Francisco would allow such a person to lay this claim and that's exactly what happened as he "reigned" for 21 years. We took a three hour walking tour with Emperor Norton in full costume and character which added to the fun, but it was the history of the city that we really loved. There were so many places we had seen before, like the Lotta fountain, but learning the story behind it really made a huge difference. I just wish we had done it when we first moved here.
We made it down Gold street which is one of the oldest streets in the city with the buildings looking almost exactly like they did in the 1850's. This street was properly named as the centerpiece of the gold rush and where gold was brought to sell and trade. It was right down the street from an area we frequent often, yet never knew it existed.
Our most interesting stop was this amazing art store where the storefront was still very much original. The store itself was neat, but it was the secret underneath that we all really enjoyed! In the basement, we were lead into one of the underground tunnels that made up the infamous Barbary Coast. Ever heard the term, Shanghaied? It got its name here in San Francisco with men unsuspectingly going to a bar for a drink, being drugged, and then waking up on a ship headed for China. After being drugged in the bar, they were brought into these underground tunnels which led them to the ships. They wake up on the ship with the only way back to San Francisco to work on the ship to China and back. Most of the tunnels have been filled in, but we got to see a little bit of one. Needless to say, it piqued my interest and now I'm reading a book on the Barbary coast. The history here is so much more than I ever knew and very intriguing.
The next day Landon and I explored a new playground at Balboa Park. We had seen it the day before from the subway and decided to beat the rain Sunday and to check it out. San Francisco does such a great job of making public places, be it parks or playgrounds, enjoyable. Everyone is different and Landon loved exploring new ones with new equipment to test out and master.
Once the rain started we spent the rest of the day goofing off. We went to the mall where he got his first ever corn dog (it was a hit). Then we went shopping for Easter decor and home to decorate. It may have rained the rest of the day, but we had a blast decorating for Easter.
The next weekend, it was finally warm enough and not raining for a day so we jumped on the opportunity to get out on our kayak. We haven't been able to get out in a few months, so it was so nice to be back out on the water. At the harbor, we glided around the boats, watched the planes at the nearby airport do touch and goes over our head, and paddled around viewing the wildlife. I hope we can get out more often now. This entire family loves being out on the water.
On the way back home, we stopped at Pacifica Pier. We hadn't managed to make it over to the pier yet and thought we'd check it out because it was a lovely day to be near the water.
We just happened to stop by on the first day of open crab fishing. It was supposed to start months ago, but the warmer waters of El Nino created an algae that the crabs eat and become poisonous for consumption. The department of health has been monitoring the levels of the algae in the crabs for awhile and finally decided it was low enough to open crabbing for recreational consumption. People were everywhere fishing. They had lines and pods and all kinds of equipment I had never seen before. We watched a few seals swimming around probably drawn in by the chum. As one guy was bringing up a pod, the opportunistic seal decided to go after it. They had a large tug of war and it really looked like the seal might win. Eventually though, it let go and once the guy got the pod up you could see a huge rip in the basket. Turns out the seal won after all.
That day was the first of many beautiful days in March. We are so excited to see the sun shinning, the warmer weather, the trees and flowers starting to bloom. Spring in San Francisco is amazing! We all love it!!! During the week, I take a walk around the bay on my lunch hour. It's just a block from my office and getting out enjoying the sunshine makes the day so much better. These lupines have been in full bloom and I just love them!
Of course, much of the month revolved around Easter which I shared all about in my last post. We had a wonderful Easter this year and capped off the month in celebration. March, you sure were lovely!