San Francisco 2018 Day 8 – Golden Gate bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39

We woke up at 8, got dressed and by 10, we were checked out. The reception was pretty closed to the lake and so we decided to go check it out. It was a great decision to take that walk as we were presented a scenic serene view of the area. While K was not able to appreciate the view, he found some pine cones to kick them about. There was a pier that went out into the water. Walking along the wooden walkway, with clear waters reveal the ground meters deep beneath the water (but no fishes). Ducks were seen at the sides of the walkway basking in the morning sun and ignoring us until K got too close and some got in the water. Then a school of geese glided down and landed on water, a majestic sight that I wasn’t able to catch with a camera as I watched in awe. I could just sit there all day to enjoy the peacefulness around but we had to go to San Francisco and it was a tad too chilly. After K had some fun playing with the sand, we walked back to the car, and was surprised to see a wild rabbit and fluffy tail squirrel along the way! (K tried chasing the rabbit as it dashed out of sight)

Our accommodation
Strolling towards the lake
Ducks on very clear water
Basking in the sun
The school of geese after landing on the water
Swimming pool not in use

The road trip to San Francisco was a 4hrs drive, beginning with a nice scenic downhill drive at the start coming out from Lake Tahoe. The tall trees with autumn colors lined the road as the car took the often curvy road but not too uncomfortable to drive. My family were soon off to dreamland while I kept my eyes on the road. I had initially planned a midpoint rest stop at Sacramento Southside Park that had a Farmer’s market nearby but since K was still asleep, I decided to continue the drive straight to San Francisco.

Picturesque drive downhill

The Google maps initial road to our destination were showing intimidating red colours leading into the peninsula, so I decided to take a detour and go through Lafayette instead of Vallejo as there’s were less reds. We crossed the Bay Bridge and paid at the toll counters the bridge toll of USD4. There was a slight jam while in San Francisco but we slowly made our way to the Airbnb.

Overhead signs indicating cash or Fastrak only
Driving on the Bay Bridge

After going through a few streets of the residential area, we turned into a street with a dead end, our Airbnb. We had to carry out the check in ourselves using instructions through the app and it didn’t take long before we unlocked the few doors before finding ourselves at the door to our accommodation inside the garage. It was a small place that came with kitchen place with a portable stove, a small living room and a bedroom and toilet. K settled down to have his lunch while I ventured out onto the streets and found a Burger King a 6mins walk away. Purchased 2 small meals to takeaway for $17. This location had a very Puerto Rican vibe, people were speaking Portuguese, and I heard orders for the meals being conversed in Portuguese.

Colourful buildings reminding me of San Juan
Our ride parked on the street

Finished our lunch at about 315pm and we were out again. I had planned to visit the viewpoint of the Golden Gate bridge, the Battery Spencer fort at the opposite end of the bridge itself. Drove there which was not too difficult with directions along the way. Upon climbing up the hill, we couldn’t see place to park the car and thus proceeded further up where there was another viewpoint (see Google map). I managed to park at that viewpoint and we got out for quick photos before getting back into the car and returned to Battery Spencer. Luckily upon arriving, a car just left and I quickly grab the opportunity slot my car in.

Driving on the Golden Gate bridge

Battery Spencer fort was a fort that was no longer in use, and there weren’t anything much left of the fort. To view the bridge, we walked on the rocky road just next to the fort route all the way till the edge of the knoll. When we arrived, we were greeted by the magnificent view of the Golden Gate Bridge from an elevated view, a location for the best selfies!

Rocky path to the edge
View from the edge
Battery Spencer
Toll for the Golden Gate Bridge, but no counters to pay

Our next location to visit was to go Fisherman’s Wharf. This meant driving back on the Golden Gate Bridge. While there was a need to pay toll, unlike the Bay Bridge, there weren’t any toll stations available. Nevertheless, I had 48 hours to make payment and it wouldn’t be too much of a problem. Googled Northpoint center carpark as the place to go to for a visit to the Fisherman’s Wharf but I was on the opposite side of the road that did not allow for me to turn into the car park. Eventually, we ended up parking at Pier 39 carpark.

Parking at Pier 39

We went to Fisherman’s Wharf to walk around, there were shops and restaurants abound, like a typical tourist area. We walked into a random shop that had souvenirs and bought a musical box in the shape of a cable car and small model of the Golden Gate bridge. We went into CVS to shop too, buying a lip balm and mommy bought her stuff.

Restaurants at Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf
There must be boats in a Wharf
A modern cable car
One of the chocolate store at Fisherman’s Wharf

For dinner, we left Fisherman’s Wharf and walked to Pier 39 where there were plenty of restaurants to choose from. We thought of getting some seafood and Fog Harbour fish house seemed to tell us that but there were too many people queuing to get in so we went further down and entered the Crab House. Ordered Cioppino seafood tomato soup and fish and chips for K. It was pretty tasty but the quantity was surprisingly small. Decided to add another half a crab in their special sauce. In total, we paid slightly less than USD100 for dinner. Since we ate at a restaurant in Pier 39, we had our carpark ticket validated too, to save some costs. Spent the night walking around Pier 39, enjoying the sights of lights and a carousel that was closed for the night. However, many shops remained opened while we were there.

Sealion statues at Pier 39
Restaurants galore
Fog Harbor is full
Crab House
Fish and Chips
Half a crab
Inside Crab House
Carousel closed for the day
Many stores still in operation
Hard Rock Cafe just next to Pier 39

Carpark fees were still a hefty USD30 by the time we were leaving. It was a 30mins back to the apartment where we passed by the Bay Bridge that was lighted up with running lights. I thought that parking at the Airbnb would be easy since I could just parked on the road as the schedule for road cleaning wasn’t during our stay. When I arrived, I saw a street full of cars, it was like everyone had thought that it was a good idea to park there. I managed to just park in front of the building, with the risk of blocking the car that was in the garage, but figured that the owner could just call me to move if it was a problem.

Bay Bridge lighted up

I started TV that came with Amazon Firestick for K to catch some familiar cartoons before bath time. Tried to fix K’s sports car luggage with superglue bought from CVS too before finally going to bed.

Grand Canyon 2018 Day 6 – From Grand Canyon to Reno

Woke up at 8 plus to a very cold morning, in the desert where the temperature is known to be very harsh. Thankfully the bed was very warm and all of us had a really good sleep. I struggled to get out of bed, worried that I would freeze to death the moment my feet touch the floor. I wanted to generate heat and thus tried to get ready by moving quickly but the limbs froze much faster than being heated up. To prevent K from catching a cold, I dressed him under the thick quilt and kept him warm. When we were finally done, including brushing the teeth with cold water, we proceeded to the reception for breakfast.

Bed… after sleeping in it.
Chill corner…literally
Space within the tent. oven on the left
Shower and sink
Our tents…and luggage
Our neighbours

The warmth of the reception was welcoming and we got ourselves a simple breakfast of oat bar, muffins and banana with drinks choices of hot choco and coffee. We checked out at the same location after the breakfast and before leaving, we caught sight of a corgi wearing a vest, cuteness overload!

Breakfast at reception tent
Fireplace where we had mush mellows

The helpful staff had brought the luggage from outside our tents where we placed them to our vehicle while we were having breakfast. They continued to extend their help by loading them up into our vehicle and bade us goodbye. Then we were off to Grand Canyon once again. This was an impromptu trip and estimating the time to get back to Las Vegas for our flight, we needed to leave by 11. I wanted to save more time so I drove a little over the speed. Then from the corner of my eye, I spotted a police car parked by the side of the road. I knew that was it as I tried to slow down immediately but hope turned to despair as the stationary vehicle got onto the road and followed behind. Once it was a close, the lights on the car turned on and I obediently turned to the side and stopped. As I have heard of ugly stories of encounters with the cops, I just stayed in the car, wind down the window and follow instructions. He asked for documents and my license and told me that I had travelled over the speed limit. Went back to his car for a pretty long time before returning to give me a warning letter only. I was thrilled for his magnanimity and apologised before driving to Grand Canyon within the speed limit.

Speeding ticket

Grand Canyon was huge and had many places that can be visited on foot or by vehicle. We didn’t have the luxury of time to do the whole circuit and so could only choose one place to drive to, Yavapai viewpoint. It was a good choice as it wasn’t too far from the main road. Parked at the parking and walked into the observatory post, an enclosed area that was isolated from the cold. We spend a good 10mins there, reading some of the geological data and admiring the view. As the time ran out, we then took some photos outside, use the toilet before hitting the road for the trip back to Las Vegas.

3D model of the place
The station had come a long way
Exhibits on display
View from Yavapai point

The drive back was just a drive, to say the least. K and mommy slept while I just drove. We arrived at Williams and I pumped $40 gas before continuing the journey. Then we arrived at Kingman and I paid another $15 for gas just so that I could return the car with the same level of gas.

View along the way
Getting close to Las Vegas

We finally arrived at the airport at around 230pm, there was a time difference between Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, and going towards Las Vegas earned us an extra hour. I drove following the road signs that pointed to rental car return and there was a area for Enterprise cars. The staff came over almost immediately and the check was done very quickly, no issues. We had to do a little repacking of the luggage before proceeding to take the shuttle bus to the airport, which was around 10mins drive. I loaded all our luggage onto the storage onboard the bus but as it was relatively empty, the luggage moved a bit while the bus moved. Thankfully one kind passenger helped to hold onto K’s sports car luggage before it slipped off the shelf. Another also gave up his seat for me just so that I could sit together with K, we were thankful for all these kind gestures.

Rental car return entrance
Shuttle bus entrance

Once we disembarked the shuttle, we rushed to Allegiant counter to check in, which was located all the way at the end of the building. Unfortunately our luggage’s combined weight was over the limit by 17lbs which we had to pay $50 additionally. After dropping off the luggage, we completed the check in with our downloaded tix on the Allegiant app.

Allegiant counters

Before boarding, we wanted to get something to eat for lunch. We visited the Starbucks (where else right) at the main public areas but no sandwiches were available and the staff advised us to proceed through the gate to visit the branch inside. Then we went through the security checks which was quite strict as both of our carry-ons were requested to be opened for checks. After a quick toilet visit, we went to a Flatbreadz restaurant and we got ourselves ham and cheese and turkey bacon sandwiches to go, for about 21ish.


Walked to gate 18 and sat at the waiting area to have our sandwiches and as much as we tried to keep it tidy, it turned out quite messy as the sandwiches items fell out and everywhere. There were a bunch of slots machines nearby just out in the open catered for the last min gamblers and anyone could actually wandered into the area (K did and was asked keep out of the area by one of the staff). As we munched away, boarding was also started, it was all in a rush.

Slot machines in the public open spaces

Once onboard, it was a quick 1 hr flight to Reno and the plane had lots of empty seats. Once it was confirmed that there weren’t anybody taking those long legroom seats, people then took advantage of the situation by moving forward and occupying them for free. We kept to our seats, it was only an hour, and we spent our time finishing the sandwiches that we had started, while K ate his favorite biscuits.

We landed into Reno and proceeded to wait for our luggage at the luggage carousel and for some reason, it took quite a while before the luggage came out. While waiting, I managed to settle the car rental paperwork at Enterprise first, which was conveniently located near where the luggage carousel was. We retrieved the luggage when it finally came, used the restroom, then get across the street to rental car parking lots to retrieve the car. The staff from Enterprise was there to carry out the joint inspection before handing over a Ford Flex to me, something similar to the previous Ford Explorer in terms of size, but probably less advanced and lower in height. I enquired about how I was going to pay toll, hoping for something that was already inbuilt so that I just need to pay when I returned but was advised to pay by cash. The exact how was something that I needed to google for in the coming days for toll roads in San Francisco for example.

Rows of car rental companies next to luggage belt
Exit to rental car car park
Enterprise pick up point

We drove to Staybridge, our accommodation for the night, just some 11 mins away. After parking at the open air car park, we braved the cold with our luggage and checked in. This was a little apartment with a small kitchen under the IHG hotel brands and was both pretty homely and yet felt like a hotel. It wasn’t too expensive too! I would prefer these over Airbnb ones since the element of luxury and certain level of quality standards were still guaranteed by big hotel brands while Airbnb were more hit or miss.

Staybridge Suites Reno
Living Room

After our baths, we drove out for dinner to a place about 3mins where there was Smiths supermarket and a couple of restaurants. Decided to have Japanese food and thus walked over to Pisces Sushi, a small Japanese designed restaurant with not many diners. Ordered California roll, caterpillar, teriyaki salmon, tamago and Mickey Mouse, which didn’t looked like it but was delicious and paid $51 for the meal.

Inside Pieces Sushi
Salmon Teriyaki
Mickey Mouse?

We then proceeded for late night shopping at Smiths. There was a trolley with sports car cover and it was enough for K to be interested in going into the supermarket. Zooming down the walkways, we bought all the groceries and water that was needed for meals preparation for the next day.

Smith’s for shopping
Fresh fruits inside Smith’s

Drove back to hotel to find that there were no closer carpark slot to the entrance and had mommy and K alight first to avoid the cold while I parked further down. I had to get some hot water for milk and there was supposedly hot water available at the ground floor near the reception. But when I collected it from the flasks there, the water was only lukewarm, not hot enough to make milk. Ended up having to boil water using the pots since there no electric flask available.

The day finally ended after watching a few episodes of iPad video while using data due to location restriction, in order to satisfy the little K. Although there weren’t much activities, all that driving and transiting was physically draining. While Reno was known as the Biggest Little City in the World, or also known as small Las Vegas, we weren’t able to give it any attention regretfully, sleep was more important.