2014 EPIC Summer Road Trip Part 4

Where does the time go? I blinked my eyes and was in Vegas for a week, home a day then in Puerto Rico for a week! Now I have four giveaways to post to the blog (stay tuned) and Part 4 of our 2014 EPIC Summer Road Trip to share!

In this segment: 
Santa Cruz Mystery Spot
San Francisco

If you’d like to start from the beginning, click here.
Part 2
Part 3

Note: for those newer to the blog, I do not show my bonus daughter’s faces out of respect for their privacy. 

After leaving the Big Sur area, we headed to San Francisco making a pit stop in Santa Cruz for some tacos and to visit The Mystery Spot. Gravitational vortex or tourist trap? I’ll let each person decide for him/herself, but I can tell you walking up the hill to the lodge was hard. The hubs said it was the power of suggestion. I say I felt like I was walking against an invisible wall.

The tour itself is kind of silly and I am sure there are hundreds of websites around scientifically debunking the whole “gravity” thing, but it was a fun stop to stretch our legs. Active duty military is free. Total cost: $18 for the girls and me + $5 parking.

Looks like they were leaning backwards to me! Optical illusion or gravitational vortex? You be the judge. 😉

We made our way to the Bay Area and I had the bright idea to stay across the bridge in Alameda at the marina. Here’s why: San Francisco had a city-wide event and most hotels were sold out. Hotels that weren’t sold out were over $700 a night. And we’re talking regular rooms at the Marriott. Since we were only sleeping and showering I figured we’d do an Extended Stay Suite and called the property twice to make sure there were two separate sleeping quarters in one room. Ah best laid plans. What happened was me wishing we had splurged on the Marriott.

We arrived to Extended Stay America and were put in a dated room with two beds. I called down to the front desk and was told they had no suites. When I explained I had called twice to confirm I was told, “No one here would have told you that.” Of course, I was not pleased. I explained I have the time stamps on my phone. I asked if we could book two adjoining rooms instead and was told they were sold out. On top of this, their laundry facilities were not functioning (it was time to do laundry).

None too pleased, I vented for a few minutes, built a bridge and got over it and we headed out to dinner. We drove around a bit, made the best of our snug quarters and watched a movie before hitting the hay. Under no circumstances would I recommend this hotel to anyone. The breakfast was also substandard – we did not partake either day we were there (total cost was about $350).

The next morning we headed over the bridge to San Francisco. First, it was time for M’s surprise (14 year old bonus daughter). Somehow she is also a Heat fan! Remember, she plays basketball, too. We took her to the Memorabilia shop in Fisherman’s Wharf and here is what she chose. She was happy:

We also stopped by the socks store and I got some fantastic socks that make it look like sharks are eating my legs. Yes, I am 12. K got some socks, too then we hopped on the double decker and went around town. Military rate was $105 for all four of us.

The one thing I really wanted to do was awesome. I had been to San Francisco probably twenty times and had never been to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.

It was beautiful and the Jasmine tea was divine. I was proud of the hubs and M for trying it, too! Even if he said it tasted like a floral room deodorizer. Yes, he is 12, too.  K (8 year old) wasn’t as into it haha. The food was also lovely. There were so many beautiful photos I had a hard time narrowing them down. All said and done, between food, tea and entrance fees we spent about $70.00.

We got back on the double decker and headed over the Golden Gate Bridge. It was freezing. That is me on the left with my scarf over my head.

Next stop was Lombard Street. The company we went with – Big Bus Tours– didn’t really go to any of the good things – you always had to get out and walk a bit. We had to walk up a pretty big hill – but it wasn’t as difficult as the small Mystery Spot Hill! Well, a couple of us may have decided to run.
I didn’t know the hubs took this and I love it. The girls weren’t entirely impressed, but we’ll always have this memory:
We walked around a bit then headed back to Fisherman’s Wharf. The girls really wanted to eat at Bubba Gump’s. They do offer a military discount, but we forgot to ask until we got to the gift shop to buy souvenirs for M’s friend. Oops. Since it was the hubs’ birthday week, we decided to embarrass him a bit. Our server was Irish and had quite the accent during Happy Birthday. It was a hoot!
Then K decided to get some of her energy out playing the piano stairs. These are really cool! And of course, no trip to Fisherman’s Wharf is complete without a carousel ride. K’s up on top incognito:
We strolled some more and snapped a few more photos. It was cool and cloudy with layers of fog. Foggy city indeed. Quintessential San Francisco smiled upon us as we left:
The next day we stopped on the way out of town to pick up the laundry I had dropped off at a per-pound place. It was $55, but at least we had clean laundry.
Then we hit the road for a place every person should see just once, so stay tuned for part 5 of our trip…It was beautiful.

This entry has been added to the Sunday Traveler link-up. Click here for more great travel stories.