Bikes, Brews, and the Bay

After two months of planning, many late nights of researching, and countless hours spent daydreaming of our first true vacation since we traveled to Italy, pre-kiddos, back in 2009…I’m pretty sure this is one of the worst possible text messages I could have possibly received on the morning we were to depart:

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Talk about instant heart attack.

After 15 minutes of sheer terror and one frantic phone call to United, we were re-booked on the replacement flight and back on track. And despite a subsequent delay with our said replacement flight out of Des Moines, it was finally San Francisco or bust!

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Missy on Flight

We arrived just as the sun was setting, took a BART train into the city center, checked into our hotel, and headed back out for drinks and dinner.

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Delicious craft brews and tasty brats at Mikkeller Bar SF!

With over 40 craft beers on tap, dozens more in bottles, and a menu that boasts: “Our beer is served at its optimal drinking temperature via several variable storage and delivery systems. Our custom “on the fly” gas blending system is one of only a handful in the world and allows us precise control over every beer.” I knew we had to try it.

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Obviously, I was giddy…this trip was finally happening!

Happy Tommy

We soon walked back to our hotel and after a long day of travel, immediately zonked out for the night.

 ♦ ♦ ♦

Our first full day in the city started bright and early…4:30 AM to be exact, and not by choice. So while we tossed and turned for the next few hours, our internal work/parenthood alarms still set in Central Standard Time had us heading out into the foggy streets by 7:30 towards our first stop: Tartine Bakery.

Good thing we showed up so early, the line was almost to the door as we arrived and got even longer as we waited.

Missy snagged two seats while I ordered, and soon we were in pastry heaven!


After breakfast, rather than hopping right back on the metro for Market Street, we decided to work off some of those buttery calories with a stroll up Dolores Street.

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As if on cue, the fog lifted and the sun came out to reveal the beautiful scenery around us; It was evident we made the right choice.

Our big “activity” planned for day one was a site-seeing tour…by bike. Right up our alley!

We caught a streetcar and made our way down to Fisherman’s Wharf, and after a quick detour to check out the sparsely populated sea lion colony on Pier 39…

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…rented our bikes from Blazing Saddles (with a 2-for-1 Groupon Missy scored!) and began our ride…

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…made our way through the Marina district

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…and towards our first glorious views of the beautiful, the historic, the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge.

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Yes, while the infamous San Francisco Bay fog had cleared over most of the city, it was still quite thick over the bay. Unable to hide my disappointment, we continued our ride towards…

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…and and eventually over…

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…the bridge.

Wait. What’s that?

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Blue sky?

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Could it be?

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The fog was clearing as we got closer towards the northern shore!

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Sunny Views 1

Scenic vistas!

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Even if it was short-lived.

After a few more picture breaks, we made our way down towards Sausalito (it was all downhill from the bridge!)…

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…for an ice cream break…

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…before catching a ferry back into the city for more riding.

As we were about to return our bikes, we made the last minute decision to check out Lombard Street, aka “Crookedest Street in America.” Only, we failed to realize what that would entail before even getting to the crooked part…

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…but the views from the top were worth it!

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Lombard Street 2

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Our legs were wobbly as we finally ended our day, returned our bikes, and slowly made our way back to the hotel.

After an extended evening rest, we convinced ourselves to go back out for a late-night supper. I had heard rumors that some of the best burritos in the country were being made on Mission Street, so we hopped back on the metro to find out for ourselves.

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El Farolito did not disappoint. Literally, the best burrito…ever. The chewy tortilla, rice, black beans, fresh avocado, and a perfect char on their Carne Asada combined for a taste explosion bite after bite.

Bloated and tired, we finally found our beds again as the clock neared midnight.

Even though it felt like we packed an entire trip’s worth of sights and sounds into just one day, that was only just the beginning.

This entry was posted in Travel by Tom Hardinge. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tom Hardinge

Loving husband to my wife Missy, loving father to my four daughters Sienna, Rowan, Jovie, and Lola. I'm a chronic over-packer who loves good coffee, good music, running, waffle tee's, fleece pants, and Jesus Christ!

2 thoughts on “Bikes, Brews, and the Bay

  1. That’s the way to do it kids…while you’re young… and you CAN. The bike tour sounds awesome. I hope you can tour Alcatraz. It’s very interesting, really. And the Ghiardelli factory. Get a big bag of milk chocolate chips. Less expensive than their candy bars and Ghiardelli’s told me it’s the same chocolate from which they make the bars. Just a thought. Coit tower is cool. Smash your own penny in the machine to imprint “coit tower” in it. Glad you did Lombard. It’s so beautiful. Yeah! Did all this 20 years ago but I imagine Ghiardelli’s is still there.

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