TR - 9 weeks round trip San Fran to Canada to MT, SD, WY, UT
Warning…this will be long (but honestly this is the shorter version)
We’ve recently returned from a 9 week roadtrip, driving a 6687-mile round trip from San Francisco up into Canada and back through USA, including a 1 week Inside Passage cruise from Vancouver.
We used $944 in fuel (USD$748, CAN$295) paying from $2.12 to $4.80gal ($1.16 litre in Canada) driving a full size SUV, Ford Expedition (I think just a tad smaller than a Chev Suburban) costing USD$5,188 hire which included full insurance – we parked it up for the cruise at a cost of CAN$212.
We pre-booked 28 nights’ accommodation in ‘big hitter’ areas and winged it the rest of the time for an average USD$143 in USA and CAN$146 in Canada.
USA lowest St Helens, OR – America’s Best Value Inn $77
USA highest Las Vegas, NV – Bellagio $311
CAN lowest Airbnb Canmore – $116
CAN highest Glacier View Inn - Athabasca Glacier - $320
Airfares cost AU$1200 return each Perth (Western Australia) to San Francisco flying Qantas
I’ve tried to add a couple of pics in Flickr, so hopefully the link works for those interested.
Friday 12th May, 2017 - Australia time (11,751 steps)
Left home at 1am to arrive early for our Qantas flight. Flew business class (first time) to Sydney (got to love points). Magnificent, so much hostess service and meal choices and BIG chairs. Real cutlery and glasses. Had champagne for breakfast.
Back to reality when we changed planes in Sydney to cattle class. Had extra leg room seats tho. Dozed and watched movies all night. Arrived at 9.30am Friday 12th in San Francisco. Caught BART (Bay Area Rapid Transport) to Union Square for our hotel at the Hilton. Left luggage and went to grab a drink.
Soon found out that everything in SF is SO expensive. $70 for 1 drink each at a small bar but it did include 2 x very small bags popcorn and about 10 peanuts. Sorted phones by buying USA sim card. Regretfully we went with AT&T. Should have stuck with Verizon as coverage not near as good in the outback with AT&T.
Friday night for nostalgia sake we went down to Fisherman’s Wharf for the other 3 to grab some Clam Chowder at the same place as last time. We caught a street car there and back. Apparently wasn’t as good as last time but my salmon was great.
Early night as had been a long time out of bed, down by 9.30.
Saturday 13th May - USA time (31,646 steps)
Today we had previously decided to go our own way to explore San Francisco. We started by catching a street car down towards Alamo Square and the Painted Ladies. Was disappointing to see the square was totally fenced off for renovation, but we walked the block to see the Ladies, who also, btw had been painted and weren’t all bright colours anymore. The architecture around this area was spectacular, absolutely magnificent houses. And the way many had been renovated and painted in such an intricate manner was fantastic.
We hopped back on a bus and got off at Golden Gate park. This is a huge park not far from the centre of SF. Absolutely beautiful. We walked the length of the park down to the Dutch Windmills. We stopped off at the de Young Museum and went up to the observation floor which gave 360 degree views of the park, science centre and over to the ocean and in the distance the tips of the Golden Gate bridge.
Oh, and looks like the Griswolds were in the park today. Saw their car, anyway - beautiful old station wagon.
Was a really nice walk on a beautiful sunny day. Heeding advice from all, I’d taken a jacket and managed to carry it all day without putting it on. As we left the park and walked down to the ocean, the wind was a bit chilly, but walking kept us warm. We walked up to the Sutro bath ruins and had a look around. The visitor centre advised us which bus to catch to head back towards Union Square, but Lindsay saw the route and decided another bus was better and was only 3 blocks away. Well, he got that wrong. It ended up being 13 blocks away, but was really nice walking through the suburbs and getting a feel for the different styles of housing.
As we got down to our bus stop we were starting to get hungry. We hadn’t had breakfast and it was about 2.30 so we stopped at a little Japanese/Vietnamese lunch bar and had a chicken teriyaki roll and water. Was pretty good. Caught the bus downtown to Van Ness Street at the top of California Street then did the ‘must do’ and rode the cable car. What an experience that was. A cable car runs from near our hotel on Powell St but we’d seen the queue every time we walked past and didn’t fancy a 1 hour or more wait for a ride, so this turned out perfect.
Was just enough people to fill the cable car and that was with some not even getting off. We were really lucky (or we loitered back to be one of the last on) and got a standing spot on the back (no EH&S here). So holding on for dear life, we were on our way. Definitely the way to go as it was pretty much all downhill, and boy, are those hills steep in SF! When we got to one particularly steep section both the driver and the conductor (both big boys) put all their weight behind the brake to ensure we didn’t go too fast.
Looking down the side streets you also get an inclination of just how steep those streets really are. We had to stop for a fire engine to cross over in front of us, with 4 cops running out to stop traffic in all directions for them, then Lindsay nearly lost his butt when, whilst stopped at a red light, a car decided to pass around another car to get in front. The driver of the car called out for everyone to breathe in as he passed. Was about 2 inches from us all! What a fun experience. At the other end I googled where Coit Tower was. Found the bus we needed but then realised it didn’t run very regularly on the weekend so walked.
We decided to walk the stair route – always in for a challenge. I counted 360 but my friend google tells me 400 steep steps up through spectacular gardens and laneways, past tiny little cottages - was awesome. At the top the queue to get into tower lift to go to the top was huge, all around the inside and then back outside, and for $8 each just to see what we were already looking at just from a higher vantage point, we decided to commence the walk down. Across Levi Square and down to near Pier 23, we caught a street car back to Union Square.
We had initially planned for a meet up at 5pm but this turned into 7 as we were all having so much fun we were running late. S & V spent the whole day in the Golden Gate park seeing the Academy of sciences and all the other bits.
After a shower and quick beautification process, we wandered down around Union Square to find somewhere to eat. We had thought there would be a bit more excitement happening, but the place was pretty dead. We did know this was the financial district…
We went into Morton’s Steakhouse and bar but after ordering a drink, and seeing their prices and the meals others were eating, we decided to move on to somewhere else to eat. The security man recommended a bar a couple of blocks away for the ambience, so we headed down that way. It was a tiny bar and obviously we had differing ideas on ambience. There were only half a dozen people in there and one barman who was hoping to shut early...it was only 9pm. He enthusiastically told us about a place where we would still be able to grab a bite to eat, being Louie’s a couple of streets away. Grabbed a bite to eat there then walked back towards our hotel, making a detour into a chocolate shop for a mixed bag of chocs.