(See parts one and two)
The conference was done, and this was our guided tour day. We started the morning with breakfast at a nearby cafe, followed by a bus ride to Muir Woods where Jess and I were consistenly overwhelmed by the beauty of nature. These trees are amazing -- the entire atmosphere is great. Super tall trees reaching up into the fog, etc. It's awe-inspiring. One thing that I didn't remember from my previous visit was the rich healthy smell of the place. One thing I could have done without was the crowd of people ... but what can you do? It's not your planet, it's everyone's. Heh. It was humbling and beautiful, and the 75 minutes we spent there was not quite enough time. Still, compromises must be made.
Our tour returned to San Fran via Sausalito, where we had lunch at a famous hamburger place whose name escapes me. I don't even think the sign for the place had a name, it just said "Hamburgers." Excellent food, eaten outdoors by the Sausalito marina. Jess fed pigeons, I took pictures of boats, and we hopped back in the van for the ride back to the city.
That was back across the bridge to Pier 41 (and 39), where we poked around a bit (Jess bought some cool earrings) before catching the ferry to Alcatraz. Alcatraz itself was also cool, especially with the audio tour. The audio tour is narrated by actual convicts and correctional officiers from the prison, and has various subtle non-cheesy sound-effects scattered throughout. I can see why it's won awards. The island was also covered in cool plants and birds, including a healthy amount of baby sea gulls. On the other hand, it was cold and windy, and we were ready to leave soon after the audio tour concluded. We took the boat back and tried to decide how to conclude our day. We were tired, we had walked around quite a bit, and we weren't sure how much fuel we had left. I certainly wasn't up for going back to the hotel, dressing up, and hitting anywhere fancy.
We decided to just walk until something caught our eyes, and after poking at a couple little stores we ended up at (you're going to laugh) Hooters. I have never been in a Hooters, so it was fun in that way. I was amused by how many couples and families there were there; only a couple tables had all-guy groups. Anyway, pretty girls, hair metal on the radio, cold beer, decent chicken, basically fuel up and head on out.
We waited in a HUGE line for the cable car home, suffering through a very poor performance by a street entertainer. The real joke here is that the people behind us seemed to think they were in a comedy club, constantly critiquing the performer's "act." "Is this his whole schtick?" Yes, dude, that's his whole schtick. You didn't pay a cover charge, you aren't in a nightclub, and be happy he doesn't turn outright hostile when you don't put money in his hat, ok?