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Wilson’s Blog

Today in San Francisco, California after our ferry ride we went to the great city. So much to do! We hopped on something called a cable car – like a small train that runs on a track on a city street. They told us to hang on, and we did!

We rode to Fishermen’s Wharf right on the water side. Do you like barking sea lions?

At Pier 39 we saw barking sea lions. We saw and heard them! Ditch barked with the sea lions over and over for too long. How did I get him to leave? I promised him chocolate.

Eat the chocolate at Fisherman’s Wharf, you will dance with joy!

Have you heard of Lombard Street? It is the twistiest street in all of America. Someone named Lombard made a street shaped like a very twisty letter S.

We rode down in it in our van and could not believe the twisty-twisty. Nothing like that in our tiny gopher village.

Ditch felt dizzy from the twisty street so we went to the Golden Gate Park and played at the playground. We like slides.

Me and Ditch visited Alcatraz! What a place! It’s an island just one and a half miles from San Francisco. It used to be called “Island of the Pelicans.” True fact! But, I didn’t see any pelicans there. Maybe they were hiding. I did find out that the USA Army started calling Alcatraz, “the Rock” a long time ago and then used it as a fort for the troops Ditch liked going on the tour of Alcatraz Island because it used to be a prison. They kept bad guys there and locked them up. Sometimes I’d like to lock up Ditch. But, anyway, the prison on Alcatraz closed in 1963. No more prison. The Mr. Tour Guide also told me that sometimes people even have a swimming race from ‘The Rock” to San Francisco. No gopher would ever swim in that water. You know why? That water is so cold!

Then we visited the zoo. We met penguins, dolphins, and a monkey who Ditch tried to teach to bark. Gophers are not good barking teachers. The monkey just smiled. He didn’t want to bark.

Apple Pie Picks

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge first opened in 1937 and was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1959. Rising over 200 feet above the water, the 4,200-foot bridge took more than four years to build. Visitors can ride bikes or walk over the 1.7-mile length of the bridge from San Francisco to the Marin Vista Point. Although many people think the bridge is red, it is painted the color International Orange. Underneath the Golden Gate Bridge is Crissy Field. Once an airfield with buildings that housed airplanes, there is a one-mile trail along the San Francisco Bay that leads you right under the Golden Gate Bridge.


Alcatraz Island

The home of one of the most famous prisons in history, Alcatraz Island is now a National Park. To get to the island, take the 15-minute, 1.5-mile ferryboat ride from San Francisco to Alcatraz. Your tour begins with a quick movie of the history of the prison. Touring the, “The Rock” you will see the canon and moat used to protect the island, the guards’ houses, the recreation yard and the cell house where prisoners lived. You can step inside a cell and pretend to be one of the roughest and toughest criminals of the time. The lighthouse located on the island was built in 1854 and was the first lighthouse on the West Coast. The prison closed in 1963 but remains a popular go-to spot for visitors. Don’t forget to earn a Junior Ranger Badge!

Angel Island

Angel Island is located in the bay between the Tiburon Peninsula in Marin County and downtown San Francisco. It is the largest island in the San Francisco Bay. The ferry ride from Tiburon ends on the docks at Ayala Cove where you can pick up a Junior Ranger booklet at the ranger’s station. Rent a bike, hike or take the open-air tram on a 5-mile tour around the island. The island was used mostly for military reasons from 1850-1946; from 1909-1940 the island was used as an immigration stop as people came to the United States from Asia. On the tour, you will see different military posts, officers’ quarters, and a military hospital.


Ride a Cable Car

Cable cars first appeared in San Francisco in 1873 as a safe way to get up and down the steep hills of San Francisco. Gripmen use a lever on the cable car to grab onto the two-inch cable that is continuously moving 27 inches underneath the center of the street. The conductor stays in the back of the car and operates the brakes. There are three cable car routes: Powell-Mason, Powell- Hyde and the California Street line. You can board a cable car at any of the stops on these lines as long as there is room in the car. If you really enjoy your experience, visit the Cable Car Museum to learn more about the history and machinery of cable cars.


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Local Chow

Sourdough Bread

San Francisco sourdough bread is the most famous sourdough bread made in the United States and has been a local bakery staple for more than 150 years. Isadore Boudin moved from France and opened a bakery in San Francisco in 1853, during the California Gold Rush, where he first began to sell the “sour” white bread. The gold miners came to his bakery every morning for this special tasting bread. The bread was eaten so much during the Gold Rush that "sourdough" became a nickname for the people mining for gold. Sourdough is traditionally served with seafood and soups such as clam chowder and chili and is sold all over San Francisco in bakeries, stores and restaurants—even at the airport! Just think when you take a bite of sourdough bread, you taste a piece of the Gold Rush.


"Wilson, why is it called SOUR dough?"


"Because the bread tastes sour."


"No it doesn't! Oh sweet sourdough. You are so misunderstood."


"Is not!"


"Quit talking to bread and eat."



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Digging History

1769

San Francisco Bay is founded by Don Gaspar de Portola.

Spanish settlers come to the area and establish San Francisco, known then as Yerba Buena

The Mission Dolores is founded.

The Presidio is founded.


1846

Captain John Montgomery claims Yerba Buena for the United States.

The city changes its name to San Francisco from Yerba Buena

Under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico gives up California to the United States.


1847

Gold is discovered at Sutter’s Mill and the Gold Rush begins.

The California Star becomes the first newspaper published in San Francisco.


1850

California is admitted to the Union.


1853

The California Academy of Sciences is founded.


1860

The first pony express ride from Missouri to San Francisco takes place.


1862

The first telegraph line connects New York and San Francisco.


1868

The Daily Chronicle, later to be named The San Francisco Chronicle, publishes its first newspaper.


1869

Transcontinental Railroad links San Francisco with the rest of the United States.


1873

Andrew Hallidie invents the cable car.


1887

The San Francisco Examiner publishes its first daily newspaper.


1892

Angel island opens.

Sierra Club is founded in San Francisco.


1902

Two windmills are built to pump underground water to supply the Golden Gate park.


1906

The great San Francisco Earthquake hits at 5:12 a.m.


1933

Construction begins on Golden Gate Bridge.


1934

Alcatraz opens as a prison.


1936

The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opens.


1937

The Golden Gate Bridge opens.


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