We had another early wake up alarm this morning in Concord - the fire alarm for the entire hotel went off a little after 6:00 a.m. due to someone who didn't know to remove toast from a toaster. The alarm stayed on for a good 15 minutes so any chance of going back to sleep went up in almost flames.
Speaking of almost, today was the day of almosts. We tried our best to persuade the ticket booth people to sell us two extra tickets, but there were none available - if anyone wants to try the Alcatraz tour in the future get tickets a few weeks early. But we did get a one hour cruise tour which went under the Golden Gate Bridge and then around Alcatraz Island along with commentary, so we almost got in Alcatraz (years ago they were trying to get out). Then in the late afternoon we drove to the Golden Gate Bridge, walked to the midway point, and then returned to the car to leave the area. But we didn't drive over the bridge because it would have taken us north and we're not going north anymore. So we almost drove over the Golden Gate Bridge.
In between those two almosts we had a great time at Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, and surrounding areas. It was a day of weirdos, photos, videos, outstanding street performers, winos, and more weirdos at the Port of San Francisco. We saw human statues painted in all gold and all silver, break dancers, drummers, and we watched Superman do superhuman acts (I think he was the real one). But the best act was the family of acrobats consisting of two brothers and their sister - all from England. They really put on a show - a lot of talent and humor mixed together. Go to You Tube and put in San Francisco acrobats and you'll see what I mean.
After a lunch eaten among thousands of others along the piers we drove to China Town. It's amazing how crowded those streets are with Chinese people and tourists - hundreds of shops selling anything from trinkets to produce to meat and I think vegetables I've never seen before and definitely never smelled before.
Going back to the almosts, Pee Wee was almost arrested for manslaughter a couple of times today. When we were nearing the dock at the finish of our Alcatraz cruise, the very unpredictable Pee Wee screamed to the men on the deck at the top of his voice from the bow of the ship: "AHOY - GRAB THE LINE!!" They didn't hear him, but the people standing right to next him certainly did - I was a little worried they would fall overboard but they didn't. Then when we were on the Golden Gate Bridge where you're allowed to walk, he again penetrated the air with his loud voice. His "HEY!!!" was screamed to simply see if those on the ground at the base of the bridge could hear him. They couldn't hear him but those nearby on the bridge kind of grabbed at each other for safety - I guess they thought Pee Wee was sending a warning that the bridge was about to collapse.
Also today we enjoyed driving on Lombard Street and the other super hilly San Francisco streets that have been the scenes for numerous movie chase scenes. We thought about trying to get some air time like in the movies but chickened out.
I almost forgot - the first thing we did this morning near Pier 39 was to take an audio tour of Pampanito - a WWII submarine which had a very successful and heroic record. We toured the entire length of the sub, both above and below. Whenever I visit anything from WWII I'm reminded of how those people back then really are the greatest generation.
Then there are times on this trip when I'm really saddened. Up in the mountains of NW California near Star's house we saw several homeless people who sleep in the forests by night and scour the towns by day. Then today we saw numerous homeless people who scavenge the city looking for handouts and for scraps of food or anything of value. I just imagine them as infants and know that their parents certainly had higher aspirations for them for when they would become adults. I don't know the answer, I just know it hurts to see them and causes some moments where conversation ceases. We've helped out a few of them, but I don't even classify most of those times as good deeds - is giving scraps or spare change to homeless people really a good deed?
But we did do one good deed today, which makes our total now 11 with 4 days left. When we were eating at Fisherman's Wharf, there were hundreds of people around the multitude of restaurants and shops, and seats were very hard to find. We did find a spot on a bench which we shared with a couple and their two children. There were several couples standing nearby eyeing our spot as we neared the completion of our meal. But rather than just getting up and letting the vultures compete for our vacated spot, we sought out a family with kids. When Pee Wee spotted a couple with two small children all with hands full of food and exasperated looks on their faces, he yelled out to them and motioned for them to take our seats. We held our ground until they got there - much to the dismay of the closer vultures who had been eyeing our spot. Those vultures wouldn't think our act was a good deed, but in our minds it was, so it is.
Now we're on The 580 (that's how they term the highways around here - The 5 or The 101, etc.) and we're heading toward Pleasanton, CA and another Best Western. This is the third Best Western of the trip and now we're supposed to get a free night. We just hope that will work out and not be another almost.