Back in September, my (ex) mother-in-law/sisters-in-law went to San Francisco to celebrate the 30th birthday of one of the sisters. They invited me to tag along but unfortunately, timing wasn’t on my side for the event and I had to sadly decline. I love San Francisco. So much to see, to experience, to taste/smell/take in. And since I didn’t get a chance to explore with the girls, I knew I definitely had to make it a stop (albeit a quick one) along our 2010 Road Trip route.
San Francisco is about two hours outside of Carmel which isn’t too bad. Considering I lingered on a bit too long on the beach at Carmel (well, who wouldn’t?), I was finding myself more and more behind schedule and realized I must show Caden what I could of SFO in about four hours or less.
So where did we go? Pier 39, of course!
The first time I ever went to Pier 39 I was on a high school Concert Choir trip and I had a mad crush on the drummer of our school’s Jazz Band. I still remember buying Ghirardelli chocolate squares and sitting with my best friend, Stacey, on a few steps away from the band as they played near the pier. To me, Pier 39 has every essential element of coolness when it comes to an “attraction” to visit: it’s locale is central to a lot of interesting places (you can see Alcatraz Island out in the Bay), there is shopping galore (I swear, every five feet you can buy “an authentic” pearl necklace), and the food is seriously yum-my (mini doughnuts; ’nuff said).
The pier was all decked out for the holidays the day before Thanksgiving. Garland dressed the stage of a gigantic Christmas tree in the middle of the sidewalk.
We hit up the Boudin store for some of the best clam chowder and sourdough bread around. I even bought a sourdough turkey (wish I had a pic) for Thanksgiving dinner the following day. That place? The smell is just simply intoxicating.
Caden had one of “most awesome” experiences of his young life shortly after lunch. We strolled down onto Pier 39 and what is the first store he wants to go into? A sports store. Surprise, surprise. Like we need MORE balls, jerseys, sports paraphernalia around the house. But hey, we were on vacation and it was billed as “the LARGEST sports store in San Francisco!” (someone needs to verify that)
We walked in on the bottom level and quickly perused the racks, coughed at ridiculous prices (okay, I coughed, Caden begged), and moved upstairs to continue our browsing. As we got to the top, I saw a man sitting at table near the second level entrance and he had a small crowd around him. He was signing pictures and was in a sports shop so obviously an athlete he be. Er, was. Caden was very intrigued and started slowly making his way towards the table and once he saw who the athlete was (“Mom! He’s an NFL player! Holy cow!”), he begged to go say hi.
“Sure, go ahead! I’m sure he doesn’t charge to say hi,” I encouraged. At that moment, the few people in front of this gentleman dispersed so it was a perfect opportunity to go chat for a moment.
“Hi there! How are you doing, champ?” He stuck his hand out for Caden and I glanced over to a poster that read “Get an autograph from Oakland Raiders linebacker Jeff Barnes”. Caden was a bit star struck and immediately went into clamped lip mode.
“We thought we’d come over and say hi. My son here plays football and loves it.”
“You do? What position do you play, son?”
Caden looked at me like I should answer for him. “Go ahead, tell him what you play,” I coaxed.
Caden smiled shyly and replied, “I play outside linebacker and wide receiver.”
“All right, my man! Give me knuckles. Linebackers are the toughest dudes on the team, you know that?” He bumped Caden’s fist and then turned to me and said, “You know, Mom, you can get a signed photo and picture of your son wearing one of my Super Bowl rings for only a $20 donation to the March of Dimes.” Caden’s eyes lit up at the prospect of actually wearing a Super Bowl ring so how could I say no? I figured it was money well spent and that it went to a worthy cause. Caden got a signed photo, his picture taken, and a chance to wear one of this guy’s TWO Super Bowl rings. WOW. That sucker had diamonds on it bigger than Caden’s eyes.
After we left the store, Caden immediately wanted to call everyone and anyone he knew about his run in with a real NFL player and that he actually wore a Super Bowl ring. He had a smile on his face for days because of that event.
After exploring a bit more of the pier (and grabbing a bag of those luscious mini doughnuts), we drove through the city to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and head on our way to our stop for the night, Eureka. Caden was my photographer driving across the bridge and through wine country. I told him we need to capture our road trip moments and to feel free to snap away!