Kate and Zack were troopers and kept themselves occupied around the empty sections of the terminal and doing some activities I brought to occupy them on the 6-hour flight. By the time we took off, my bag of tricks was empty so I just let them spend the flight watching TV--a plus about flying on Jet Blue.
So, we lost a day to the weather in VA, but got into the hotel and to bed to start fresh the next day, which we began on Alcatraz. I was wiped that morning so skipped the view from the ferry to grab a few more minutes of sleep and let the advil work on my pounding head and aching back. It worked! I was able to enjoy the gorgeous weather and the tour. Alcatraz was Zack's favorite part of the trip. The audio tour is great.
That night, we learned the news about Steve and took much of the evening pulling ourselves together while Katie and Zack slept. We took it easy the following day, trying to have a good time but not do too much.
Other places/sites seen on the trip, in no particular order since I can't remember:
Fisherman's Wharf--good chowder, wacky stores and the Bay. Also, a nice walk to Ghiradelli Square where the kids split a banana split and Pete and I had treats too. Yum.
A day taking a walking tour of Chinatown, Pete and I had never spent so much time down there and discovered the Asian Pacific Heritage museum, which used to a a US mint and was the only building the in vicinity to survive the 1906 earthquake/fire. We also went to the Golden Gate fortune cookie factory to see close up how those fortunes get into cookies.
Grace Cathedral, where we walked the labyrinth and got to see the organ player practice. We learned to our great disappointment that you can no longer ride the outdoor elevator to the top of the Fairmont :-( but we did get to chat with their harpist, who played several Disney tunes for Katie and Zack. Katie would now like to learn the harp in addition to the piano.
My birthday was spent in Berkeley in very mild weather. We walked around the campus and with no expectation of being able to get in, went to the carillon. Pete and I have been to this tower at least three time and it has never been open, but this time--yes! It was windy at the top but a great view and a look at the bells and clockworks too. We took a bus ride up the hilly roads to visit the Lawrence Hall of Science--free with our current science museum membership-nice. The afternoon was spent window shopping, which surprisingly, the kids enjoyed. We also ate at Pete's and my favorite place with giant sandwiches and salads.
We spent some time at the Metreon, playing the virtual kicking game in the halls, checking out the gaming store and the PlayStation store, where you can play the games in ten minute sessions.
We took many cable car rides--one to the cable car museum, where you can see the actual cables turning under the street! We also got good use out of our Muni passes, which covered the cable cars, and the buses and trains (except the BART train to Berkeley).
We went to the Golden Gate bridge, but I thought it was way too windy that day to walk across, so we investigated the base of the bridge a bit.
We went to the Cliff House and put our feet in the Pacific Ocean-a first for Zack and Kate and her favorite activity. I found the trash-canless littered (with trash and dog poo-yuck) beach a downer, but we all enjoyed the Sutro baths which are only ruins. They look ancient but are really only from the remnants of a fire in the 60s. OK, kind of ancient but not in the way we originally thought ;-)
We went to the Levi's welcome center which was interesting and they had a fountain outside that you could walk through which we all enjoyed.
The Exploratorium is the best Science museum ever. You can touch everything and we practically did touch everything. It's right next to the Palace of Fine Arts in the Presidio and again, the weather was great and we took our time perusing the Palace and the museum. Again, we were able to use our scince membership for free tickets--wow, that has paid for itself ten times over.
A trip to Golden Gate Park was poorly planned. We stopped at a playground where a local kindergarten was having an outing and the kids got to play with everyone, which they needed. The goal of getting to the Japanese tea garden should have been dropped. Too much walking and we got there too late. We were starving and there wasn't anywhere around to eat. That may have been the day we ended up at a Chinese bakery for lunch, which was quite a find. Fresh, hot out of the oven sponge cake was worth the trip.
The last day was the coldest but still mild and we decided to splurge on the Aquarium of the Bay, where you move through the fish tank and they swim all around you. They took our FONZ membership but it was still pricey. Then we really splurged on Ripley Believe or Not, a wax museum. I am crazy about wax museums, a guilty pleasure, and Zack had wanted to go ever since seeing it on our first day. VERY pricey but a good time and we had skipped splurging for most of the trip.
Dinners were the constant challenge. We skipped the meal on several nights. The only night that really worked out was Friday night. We made plans to meet with our friend Marion and her suggestion worked out great and it was terrific to see her too. But all the other nights ran too late for the kids and were pretty underwhelming. No biggie.
All in all a great trip and all of us want to go back again soon (or, win the lottery and move there!)