San Francisco, here we come!

I love to travel.  If money were no concern, and obligations were minimal, I would travel somewhere every month!  I love our little house, and the small-town community where we reside, so I wouldn’t think of moving anywhere else permanently, but I do desire to explore so much more of the beauty that surrounds us.

Our kids are growing up fast as this is Emily’s senior year, and Sid is a junior.  I feel like we are quickly running out of time before they move out on their own. There is so much I still want to experience with them.

Our family of four talked over ideas for a summer vacation, and we all concluded that visiting our friends in Oregon, Fred and Renee, should be part of it. Many of you may remember, our daughter Emily loves to fly, and when I say “fly,” I’m referring to her actually flying an aircraft.  Since the age of 12, Em has unofficially logged around 30 hours of flight time. Much of this has been in a helicopter with our friend, Fred. She also has some fixed-wing experience with our friends Rodney and Vernon.

Fred visits Nebraska every year for business, and it was during one of these trips that Emily and I “followed” his helicopter to the local airport.  It wasn’t long before we all became friends, he took Emily under his wing, teaching her a wealth of information about aviation. We had not yet had the pleasure of meeting his wife, Renee, or seeing the beautiful state of Oregon, so it all just felt right!

We found that airline tickets to Oregon were quite pricey, so I began my search to find a more affordable way.  Driving was never an option we entertained for more than a few minutes, as it would eat up the majority of our vacation days, just getting there and back.  When Chris mentioned it would be fun to drive up the California and Oregon coasts, I was more than a little ecstatic to find airline tickets through Allegiant Air from Omaha to Oakland, CA for just $91/person each way. That was an incredible deal!!! So I began booking flights, a rental car, and a hotel for the first night.IMG_1990

We left on a Wednesday, arriving in Oakland International Airport around 3:30 pm. We do not travel by air all that much, and fortunately, things went rather smooth with our flight, as well as getting a shuttle to the airport car rental center. New to this car rental business, I did not anticipate additional charges of $120 on my (already paid) $540 reservation. Apparently, booking through the airline was not the cost-saver it appeared to be!  And of course we did not realize when you pick up your car, you are offered additional services, such as insurance, prepaid fuel upon return, etc.  My head was swimming by this point, and I looked to Chris for help. I questioned the lady, “Really, for $660 this car isn’t insured???” She explained to me that while the vehicle is already insured, if we should damage it in any way, we would be responsible for the deductible, especially if our personal auto insurance did not cover it. We decided to take the risk, and forgo the extras, all of them!

Our hotel, The Marina Inn on San Francisco Bay in San Leandro, was about a ten-minute drive from the car rental. We unpacked, then ventured back out to cross the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.  This bridge is especially beautiful when it is all lit up in the evening. Doing a little research, I found that the light poles all along the bridge were fabricated by a Nebraska-based company; Valmont Industries.  Once across the bridge, we found tomorrow’s destination, Fisherman’s Wharf. Traffic was light, there was a lot of parking available, so we weren’t terribly concerned that we’d have issues in the morning. We moved on just a bit, and stopped at the Golden Gate Bridge (GGB).DSC01063DSC01066DSC01067


The GGB is magnificent! We took a few pictures from the south side, and then ventured across on foot. The bridge is 8,981′ (1.4 miles) long and 746′ tall. We walked most of the way across, often getting sidetracked watching large carrier ships, sailboats, and a few windsurfers passing through.  Dark fell upon us sooner than we anticipated, and it was time to move along.

We were famished after walking across the bridge, and fortunately, soon happened upon Pier 23 Cafe, and indulged in some mouth-watering seafood. Chris, however, being my meat and potatoes guy, chose the burger instead, and spent the rest of the evening talking about how awesome it was!

Upon returning to our hotel, we tried to work out the best strategy for arriving at tomorrow’s destination; Alcatraz Island.  When doing my research, I found several websites, including where we purchased the tickets, advising against traveling by personal car. We had no trouble driving that route this evening, but knew tomorrow would probably be a different story, especially during tour hours. I pondered on this so long that I barely slept. Good sleep or not, morning would be here all too soon.

Stay tuned for Day 2…