Hi there! Before I share another photo gallery later today, I wanted to share my stories of our stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and aboard the train. I’ve grouped them by date, so please enjoy.
After passing through towns like San Bernardino and Fullerton, our train (Southwest Chief) arrived in Los Angeles Union Station. There isn’t much to tell up until we arrived at the Dodgers stadium. I’m sure, in different circumstances, I would have enjoyed the game a lot more, had we not had seats out in the open in 100 degree weather (in California, no matter). Even as we moved into the shade, I managed to get pretty burned by the end of the day. We didn’t get to spend much time in L.A., but we were still able to spot different aspects of well-known L.A., like the hills that everyone recognizes in Hollywood films. We didn’t get to see the Hollywood sign, though. That night, we boarded a 9:00 PST flight from LA into Emeryville, where we just stayed in a hotel for the night.
This day was particularly exciting. We took a taxi out to San Francisco, where we met up with our tour group near San Francisco bay. I was absolutely fascinated by the city. We started out by visiting something most tourists don’t get to see: The Palace of Fine Arts. The giant dome and series of pillars were originally built for the Chicago World’s Fair, and are one of the few remnants of it (though they had to remake the pillars with new material, remember: everything for the World’s Fair was designed to be temporary). You’ll get to see some pictures of it later today, but the dome tells a story: the statues of women crying represent the Great Chicago Fire, etc. It adds to the city’s very unique style of architecture.
After the Palace of Fine Arts, we went on to see the Golden Gate Bridge, which was spectacular. To be able to appreciate everything that went into building the bridge, and see it right before your eyes… wow. It was quite something to see the beams, cables, bolts, stretch out into the horizon (at certain viewpoints). Plus, later in the day, we had a crystal clear sky, which only added to the beauty of the bridge.
Seeing the Redwoods of Muir Woods was something I had most looked forward to when planning our trip to California. The Redwoods really are as massive as people say (photo tip: take a panoramic going up), and in most you can’t even see the tops. Their trunks were humongous, some almost 5-7 feet across. To think that these trees have stood for (some) over a thousand years, I couldn’t believe it. Also, the Redwoods give off their own scent, which was oddly comforting. Like so many things, you can’t describe it. One other note- when feeling a fallen tree, parts of it felt like very smooth plastic. I think it must have to do with the age of the trees, but I was so mystified and beyond impressed with what nature blessed San Francisco with.
As the final part of our day, we took the boat over to Alcatraz. It makes you think, “This is where these criminals lived. This is how they lived. Wow.” You could just imagine exactly how seeing San Francisco across the bay evoked wishes for freedom. The audio tour was so comprehensive too- the details of life and escape were fascinating.
Apart from seeing the wealthiest neighborhood (and admiring the architecture throughout- oh, and seeing the Mrs. Doubtfire house AND Johnny Ive’s house [if you know me, I’m a HUGE Apple fan] were yet another highlight) in San Francisco and walking down the Crooked Street, the last thing we did in San Francisco was enjoy an ice cream sundae at the old Ghirardelli Factory. If you end up going, I recommend you get the “Ocean Beach”, but there’s nothing wrong with getting their World Famous Hot Fudge sundae either. 🍨
Final Note: Kudos to our tour guide, Rolando.
On June 27, we boarded the train again, but this time, we’d be starting a new route: the California Zephyr. We’d be going East this time, and traveling farther North than the Southwest Chief. This time, instead of traveling Coach, we had a sleeper car! I can’t tell you how much of a relief that was. I was actually able to sleep, and that was the best.
Like other parts of the trip, we saw a lot of farm and grasslands, and lots of cattle of course. But a few other aspects also stood out. First, WE SAW SNOW. I was so shocked, but near Norden, CA, both in the mountains and on the ground, there was actual snow. I can see why skiing is so popular.
Other than that, we were amazed by the force of the rapids from the river the train was following (pictures to come). All in all, I loved seeing San Francisco.
Like I’ve said, I’ll release the photo gallery for these highlights later today, so be sure to check it out. Thank you so much for reading!