Friday, July 6, 2007

First 24 Hour Trip Recap

I completed my first 24 Hour Trip and almost everything went as planned. There were a couple of minor snags but nothing that wrecked the trip.

My flight out left right on schedule at 8:56P EST and I lucked out when checking in I noticed that the last row had two empty seats so I changed my seat and had plenty of room.
My plan was to sleep on the way out so I would be well rested when I landed. Unfortunately I did not get any sleep because the flight ran into turbulence about every 20 minutes. The turbulence does not bother me (although some people did not care for it, I saw several people making a b line for the crapper to throw up) what drove me nuts was the jackass pilot ringing that damn bell and telling people to sit down every 20 minutes. I don't know why he did not just "say stay seated until further notice", then I could have gotten some rest.

I landed at 11:20P and was out of the air port and in my car @ 11:40, having no bags is just one of the many advantages of traveling this way. It was still early so I figured I would drive around a bit. I killed about an hour checking out the city it is easy to get around since the streets are in the standard grid format. There are a lot of one way streets but at no point did I think I was lost.

I hit the In N Out burger just before it closed and I have to say those are some good burgers. If you have never tried one I highly recommend it. When I was done eating I drove around a bit more then I found a parking spot without a meter on the street near Fisherman's Wharf which is not too far from where I had to catch the ferry to Alcatraz.

Perfect, I made it made it in plenty of time to catch the boat to the rock. By plenty of time I mean 5 hours early, this is the only part of the trip that kind of sucked. There is not much going on at 3A so I walked around the piers for a couple hours then found a nice bench and read for a couple hours. Luckily Starbucks opened at 6A and I was able to get some coffee to charge me up for the day.

When I finally got in line for the boat to Alcatraz it was around 8:30. I meet a group of people from UK and they were all cool except for one chick that kept whinging about how terrible American food is. She had a particular dislike for the coke (the pop not the drug) us yanks serve. Apparently in the UK they mix some kind of magic coke powder with carbonated water and it tastes much better. Perhaps a future trip will have to be to the UK to test out the pop quality.

Once you get to Alcatraz you have to listen to a speech from one of the park rangers about safety and areas that are off limits. You are then free to go off on your own. You have the option to watch a video about the island but all it is the Discovery channel special, which I already saw so I skipped it. Since I was on the first boat over I should have headed straight to the audio tour since the island was still fairly empty but I decided to go exploring on my own. I thought it was hilarious that they had one broken down buildings simple labeled as "Rubble"(see image below). From the pile of rubble I had a great view of the city. It is only 1.25 miles away and while I know they claim there are strong currents I could easily swim across and escape from Alcatraz.

Click image for larger view.

By the time I got over the audio tour the place was fairly packed. If you are planning to take the tour definitely take the first boat of the day and then once you get there head straight to the audio tour. The tour is very interesting but I would prefer a actual tour guide. With the tour guide you can ask questions and to can talk to the fellow tourist. With the headphones you are kind of in your own world. It takes about 45 minutes and is included with your tour price.

Once I finished exploring Alcatraz I hopped on the boat to Angel Island. Angel Island is a 740 acre state park east of Alcatraz. The island has been many things through out the years, military base, quarantine center and a Chinese immigrant detention center are just a few of them.

I took the tram tour of the island, it lasted about an hour and was nice because they point out everything on the island that you might miss if you just walked around your self. The tour is informative but I would have rather gone off on my own because after the tour I did not have enough time to hike up to the top of the island before the boat back to pier 33 left. The top is only 780 feet high but I would have liked to see the view. If I ever go back, Angel Island will be on my list again and if I am staying for more than 24 hours I'll camp on the island.

When I got back to main land I headed over to pier 39 for lunch. I was amazed at how crowded the entire area was, every restaurant had a line out the door and it was 3P. I eventually found a place, The Sea Lion Cafe, with a short wait so I put my name in for a table. While I was waiting I checked out the menu and was disappointed that they did not have Sea Lion on the menu. I settled for some clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl instead and it was delicious.

It was around 4P when I finished eating leaving me with about 5 hours to walk around Fisherman's Wharf, hike up to Lombard St. and get over to the Golden Gate bridge. I was able to get all of these done with time to spare. The one thing that was a bitch was getting to Lombard St. since it was a long up hill climb from the piers. I finished my list of things to do and see by 8P giving me plenty of time to head back to the airport and catch my flight home, which took off on time getting me out of town within the 24 hour time frame.

Looking back on this trip I don't really think I'll be able to travel any other way from now on. I had a total blast, it was great meeting people from all over the country/world and it was even more fun telling them I flew in just for the day. Plus I got to see and do everything I wanted to and did not spend much cash in the process. That being said this is not for everyone. I was dead tired by the end of the trip, I was awake for almost 43 hours by the end of it (damned turbulence) and I probably walked close to 30 miles. Also I think this is definitely something you have to do solo. If you are traveling with someone else obviously they will be interested in different things so you will spend more time at each location thus reducing the number of things you can see. Also if you are the kind of person that likes relaxing and well planed out trip this is certainly not for you.


Anonymous said...

Great write up Mark...I wonder where your next trip will take you.

My vote is for Vegas.

Mark said...

Yep one trip per month. Until i run out of ideas, cash or life.

Next trip is already booked for NYC.

Vegas is for fucking amateurs. It is 99% hype 1% fun. If you have to go somewhere "cool" party you fail. The party should be wherever you are.

If I roll into Hanna, Wyoming, I will have just as much fun if not more than I would have in Vegas.

Anonymous said...

10-4 to the party being wherever you are. great write up, loved the whinging reference. the soda fact finding mission to the UK would be prime. your only luggage, a case of U.S. coke to give impromptu taste tests to the unsuspecting british public. man, great stuff, i'm going to go read it again.

Anonymous said...

sorry link got cut off . . .