Sunday, May 15, 2011

The San Francisco Treat

Welcome to a special guest post by M's amazing husband! If you don't know me, you may think I'm a little arrogant for calling myself amazing, but, if you know me, you'll know why I'm amazing.

Just an amazing couple with
Alcatraz in the background.
A few months ago, I found out that my work would send me to a conference of my choice for training. The conference I really wanted to attend was the jQuery Conference in Mountain View, California. When I let M know, she asked, "Can I come with you?"

Of course I said yes! I love spending time with M, especially in cool places like the San Francisco area. What was even cooler was that I lived in Mountain View a long time ago. So we could check out a bit of my old stomping grounds and go see new and exciting things together.

Peacefully drifting sea jelly
When we walked into Salt Lake City International Airport to leave for our trip last month, we didn't have seats together. But we arrived very early and managed to get some exit row seats together for our flight to San Jose. While we waited for our flight, M picked up some magazines to read: Us Weekly, People, and Martha Stewart Living. Did I read them? You bet!

After we landed and picked up our rental car, we stopped in at an In-N-Out Burger for some lunch. In-N-Out is expanding into other states, so it's not just a California thing anymore, but I still wanted to eat there just once while in California. We were both really hungry, so our burgers and shakes tasted really good. The nice, warm, sunny weather outside also helped.

We checked into our hotel room, dropped off our stuff, and headed straight to Pier 39 in San Francisco. Our first stop on the Pier: Aquarium of the Bay. We snapped a ton of pictures of the marine life we saw at the aquarium, including the sea jelly to the right. Here are some more:

The most beautiful thing at the aquarium, looking at
some Moon Jellies.

Moon Jellies look like they are straight out of a
science-fiction movie.

Crabs don't look very happy. This crab was not
an exception.

M and I touched this Skate, but only with
one finger, like the lady supervising
the petting area said.
So much candy
The rest of Pier 39 was cool, too. They had lots of interesting shops, like the one pictured to the left, which was a candy shop with a ton of salt water taffy. The shop also had candy that I had only seen on my mission in British Columbia.

The Golden Gate Bridge
Pier 39 also had some great views of San Francisco Bay sights like Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. We never visited the bridge on this trip, but we also didn't do many of the things we had on our list of cool SF activities. That just means we need to go back again to see and do more.

Just chillin'
We also stopped to see the sea lions. Most of them were resting and soaking up some sun. Some were trying to get on a platform to rest, but they would always choose the platform that was already full of sea lions. Jumping on top of resting sea lions is not the best way to make friends.

Mmm, good food
The best food I had during our whole trip to California was the clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls. I'm not a huge clam chowder fan, but this stuff was really good, and the bread bowls were delicious.

The G from Ghirardelli
Before calling it a day, we walked over to Ghirardelli Square. Of course, the big shop there was the Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Manufactory, which had delicious Ghirardelli chocolate. We couldn't walk in there and not purchase any. It was all gone before we returned to Utah. Chocolate that good doesn't last long.

We also checked out Kara's Cupcakes at the Square. M and I both thought they would have some delectable cupcakes. We walked in, looked at the cupcakes, and walked out. No thank you. We like our Sweet Tooth Fairy cupcakes better.

Whew, are you tired yet? And that was only day one. Oh, I can't forget to mention that it cost a small fortune to park in a parking garage for the whole duration of our Pier 39 and Ghirardelli outing. I was expecting that, and it was totally worth it--every last penny.

Seriously good gelato
The next two days I attended my conference for the majority of the day. The first day M walked around downtown Mountain View for a while before stopping in at place to get a manicure. She shared her plans to attend the San Jose Flea Market with the lady doing her nails. M and I found out about the flea market in one of the pamphlets in our hotel room. M was warned to be careful at the flea market, but she didn't know why. When M arrived at the flea market, she knew why. She said the vast majority of people were hispanic, so she was in the minority. She walked around and found some interesting items, but for some reason, the people with whom she talked at the market were not interested in talking with her. Maybe it was a cultural thing. She told me all about this as we ate dinner and enjoyed some gelato (at one of the best gelato shops in the world) in downtown Mountain View.

Rockin' the sweet
aquarium hat
The second day was a Sunday, so M attended church at a ward in downtown SF. She had to hunt for a parking spot on the street, trying not to freak out on the famously steep hills. After finding a spot, she then had to climb those steep hills to get to church. The people in church were probably disappointed to learn that M was not new to the ward but was just visiting. I mean, who wouldn't want someone like her?

Monday morning, M and I ate breakfast at a table next to some of the big time people from the conference that I had just attended. They included John Resig, the creator of jQuery, and Paul Irish, a Google employee who is involved with many web development projects. I have to admit, I was star-struck. It didn't even phase M, though.

Touching a sea star and other
interesting sea life
Our flight back to Utah was later in the day on Monday, so we headed back to San Fran after checking out of our hotel. At the top of our agenda was China Town. We really wanted to get some cheap Ray-Ban knockoff sunglasses for us and some people back home. It was raining when we got there, so the first thing we did was buy an umbrella. Then, we hit the shops, looking for sunglasses. Even though it was raining, it was still a little crazy. The umbrellas made it even more crazy, and people had to dodge other people's umbrellas, or, as one guy did, just hit other people's umbrellas out of the way.

One shop owner, who looked and sounded Italian, tried to get us to purchase Ray-Bans from him for $99. Okay, maybe if I were in a department store or some place more legit than China Town, I would buy Ray-Bays for $99, but not there. After we said we weren't interested, he tried to interest in lenses for the Nikon we brought along. Um, still no, dude.

More of the Ghirardelli sign. It's
pretty cool.
At one shop, M asked the owner if she knew where we could get some Ray-Bans. She called up her friend, and directed us a few blocks down the road to a guy selling knockoffs on the sidewalk. $10 for Ray-Bans. Oh yeah, we'll take six. Of course it was cash-only, and we didn't have enough, so M hit up the ATM across the street, while I watched a person attempt to parallel park. Oh my, some people just cannot parallel park, no matter how hard they try. After our sunglass transaction was completed, we were happy to have our fake Ray-Bans (or "Fray-Bans," as I nicknamed them).

Unfortunately, we had to come back home. M really wants to go back, and so do I. In fact, she would be pretty happy if I landed a job with Google or some other Bay Area-based company so we could live there. It is a really nice place. It's also expensive. So, if I do get a job there, it would have to pay well.

M likes this
Oh, and speaking of Google, we drove by some of their buildings one night. They have some pretty cool stuff, including a gym, bowling alley, laundry room, basketball court, and electric car plug-in stations.

It was a great trip, and I got to take it with the most beautiful person and greatest friend in the world. I wish we could have done more, but there was only so much we could do in four days--two of which involved an all-day conference for me.

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