California Dreaming- Part 1
March 12, 2010
Welcome to San Francisco, Calif., and the East Carolina softball team's final few days of its spring break trip. It's hard to believe we've been on the road for over a week and that the trip is already drawing to an end.
After spending parts of six days in Hawai'i, we arrived in San Francisco Tuesday morning and drove to Fresno. The team went to practice late Tuesday afternoon before we ate dinner at Red Robin and went to sleep very early due to our red eye flight into California that morning.
Playing Fresno State
I talked to junior Toni Paisley about playing at Bulldog Diamond last night and she certainly enjoyed the experience.
"Going into the game, I realized a lot of the players were familiar to me. I recognized a lot of faces because so many of the players were from California. That made the game have kind of a summer, travel softball feel to it. It was cool.
"Because I'm from California, playing teams from California makes me want to prove myself that much more. You want to prove to your home state that you can hang with its teams and even beat them.
"The field at Fresno State was also awesome. It was the coolest field I have ever been on." (Click here for a photo gallery of last night's game.)
San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf
When I was talking to Paisley on the bus about the wharf she said, "I haven't been there in years because it's about 8-10 hours from my house. Every time I do get to go, I have to get a clam chowder bowl and see Alcatraz. It's always beautiful and lots of fun. I love it there."
The excitement started to mount when we got closer to the Bay Bridge and could start to see San Francisco. Everybody crowded closer to the windows and taking pictures as we went over the bridge. We went through part of the city and saw some of the very steep hills and dominate the landscape.
When we arrived at Fisherman's Wharf, I could immediately see why Paisley was a big fan of the place. I have been to a fair amount of places on family vacations and with my job at East Carolina, and there are only a select few I think I would really want to go back and visit again. After an afternoon in San Francisco, I would definitely add it to my list.
Fisherman's Wharf had a little bit of everything. There were all kinds of restaurants and shops. If you didn't find a store that you liked, you weren't looking very hard. We started our afternoon with a Golden Gate Cruise on the Blue & Gold Fleet. We began the ride going past the famous sea lions of Pier 39. They were simply soaking in the sun and enjoying getting their pictures taken. There are not as many of them as there used to be, but they still occupy a fair amount of space.
After the sea lions, we headed toward the Golden Gate Bridge. It was so beautiful to look back at San Francisco shrinking in the distance as we got closer and closer to the bridge. The sky was clear blue and the sun was shining. We had the perfect day to go on the cruise around the bay.
Everybody took so many pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, as you can see in the photo gallery above. We passed under the bridge, turned around and headed back the other direction. It was just a cool feeling to go underneath and around one of the country's most famous landmarks.
After we passed back under the bridge, we continued to Alcatraz. I understand how nobody ever actually escaped from the prison. The island literally looked haunted. The windows were broken out of the buildings and the rocks at the edges of the island looked so sharp. It was a feeling of awe as I went by another famous landmark.
We got back to the dock and unloaded the boat. We then walked around the wharf for the next two hours. I had an excellent grilled chicken burrito at Wipeout and finished off the good eating with a scoop of cookie dough ice cream in a handmade waffle cone dipped in chocolate from the Waffle Cone Shop. Yes, I think I've put on 10 pounds during this trip, but the food has been well worth it.
Other restaurant options included the Eagle Café, Fog Harbor Fish House, Hard Rock Café, Mad Fish Sushi Bar & Teppanyaki, North Beach Pizza and Sea Lion Café. I could have also stopped and gotten some sweet treats at Chocolate Heaven, Crepe Café, Maui Wowi Hawaiian, Mrs. Field's Cookies or the San Francisco Coffee Roasting Co.
After grabbing some lunch, everybody walked around and visited some of the shops the pier had to offer. We went into Field of Dreams, Magnetron, the San Francisco Bath Salt Co., Shell Cellar, Treasure Ireland, Krazy Kaps, San Francisco U.S.A. and NFL/College Shop, which was my favorite stop along the way.
We departed the pier at 5:30 and drove around a little bit more of San Francisco on our way across the bay to Oakland and our hotel. We saw some more of the steep hills that define the city and also drove past Union Square. Our players were all convinced they wanted to spend more time walking around the city, but it was time to head back and get some rest before tomorrow's 6:00 p.m. EST game against No. 13 Cal.
Tomorrow will also be the final day of blogging about our adventure. Paisley will join me for one more session as we recap the game and take a look back at our spring break trip as a whole.
If you would like to leave any comments, questions or suggestions about the blog, please send them to me here at email@example.com.