Earlier in 2014, I was given the opportunity to select from a few choices of out-of-state conference opportunities from my office. Among the choices was a conference in Huntsville, AL and a brief one in Utah – in August. But also offered was a week-long conference to be held in San Francisco in December. I readily admit that the possibility of having Kelly and the girls join me at whatever city I would be travelling to certainly colored the selection process. It wasn’t difficult to settle on San Francisco.
The conference was scheduled to conclude at noon on Friday, so we decided I would fly out early in the week – solo – and then Kel would join me later in the week. She was scheduled to fly out on a nonstop flight late in the day on Thursday. Just as I arrived there early in the week, forecasts were converging on a very significant storm approaching the Bay area on Thursday. Late Wednesday night, we got word that the girls’ Thursday afternoon flight had been canceled. They were rebooked on a much earlier flight — to depart KCI before sunrise Thursday. That left Kel with very little time to make last-minute packing arrangements, get a few hours of sleep, and then load the girls up for the drive to the airport around 4:30am. [When the girls get older, I’ll be reminding them of the thanks they owe their Mom…on many fronts].
I took the train (BART) down to the airport to meet up with them as they arrived on Thursday morning just as power was knocked out to a quarter of the city by the storm. We then returned via BART and a streetcar through windblown rain to a hotel without power. The hotel had a backup generator to power the elevators and a few emergency lights, but nothing more. They also lack any stairwells that open to the lobby on the first floor (all emergency stairwells only exit to the OUTSIDE via alarm-sensitive doorways). This meant we loaded up into the elevator, pushed “4”, crossed our fingers, and watched the lights in the elevator dim as it began the slow climb. I texted a coworker at the conference that taking that elevator felt like playing Russian roulette. But we made it…
Power was restored early that evening, the storm cleared, and we had an absolutely wonderful Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to explore the city before flying back home on Monday. The entire trip felt like it lasted about 15 minutes – we can’t believe it is already behind us. Here are a few snapshots of the week. I took 750 photographs along with several hundred video clips, so this is just a sampling. A video should follow within a couple of weeks.
For Mae and Lula alike, this trip comprised many firsts. Their first flights. First tram ride. First subway/train ride. First streetcar. First boat. First cable car. An extraordinary trip indeed.
My Monday flight departing KCI:
The streetcar from BART to the Fisherman’s Wharf district where the hotel/conference was located:
I took BART back to the airport to meet up with Kel and the girls when they arrived in town a few days later:
After BART, it was a rainy, windy streetcar trip back to the hotel after a long day traveling:
The next day, we ventured down to the bay and caught up with a few hungry birds:
Waiting for the ferry to Alcatraz:
Lombard Street. Lula fell asleep on our hike to get to this block, but Mae was a champ in the Kelty backpack. She was loving it:
A spectacular carousel at Pier 39:
Checking out the sea lions at Pier 39:
Our last day in San Francisco was packed with sights. First, a five-hour, 7-mile round trip hike to the Golden Gate Bridge:
After a very short nap back at the hotel midday, we boarded an old cable car to take the hilly ride to Chinatown:
The late-night ride back to the hotel: Our return flight (which was purchased as a non-stop ticket) was canceled and we were rebooked on a pair of flights (SF to Chicago to KC). The first flight took us over the Rockies:
Lula perched atop the BOB stroller in a gate check bag during the brief layover at O’Hare:I wish I could say this photo was representative of all of the time in the air… but it was probably smart to not have taken many photos by that afternoon…