Ok so this is what happened:

My sister Charity lives in San Francisco and she loves it.

And when I say “loves,” I don’t mean she just thinks it’s pretty cool to be in an awesome city like that. I talking about serious “adoration-with-every-ounce-of-her-soul” kind of love.

I’m pretty sure that’s the type of person you want showing you around their city because man alive, they make it fun.

I realized if we visited her not only would we have the best and most fun tour guide on the planet, but I’d get to hang with that cool girl, and our children would be exposed to things that our little section of the desert lacks: big trees, serious traffic, public transportation, culture, crowds, the Golden Gate Bridge (I have a serious infatuation with that thing), and general diversity. Yeah, we pretty much miss out on that stuff here in our little section of suburbia. I love where we live, but the stipulation is that if we can’t live in China, we have to at least figure out a way to expose our children to other stuff every once in a while.

I figured Thanksgiving would be the best time to visit because I had been looking for a time when the kids were out of school. Charity thought all her roommates would be gone so we’d be able to stay in her house with her and it would be great.

I almost had Dave talked into it…

…until we found out the roommates weren’t really leaving.

That put a hanger in the works. But Dave kindly offered to hang home with Lucy so I could take the other kids the day after Thanksgiving.

I jumped at the chance.

Dave wasn’t too shocked I took him up on the offer. Have I mentioned lately how good he is to put up with me? Just wondering.

So the big kids and I took off and arrived here on a foggy, blustery morning to all the light and sunshine of my baby sister.

She started out our day one with a grand walking tour. And when I say walking I mean walking

…and walking

…and walking

…with a little posing thrown in here and there:
I mean, how could we not with steep streets like these to photograph?
Isn’t that a crazy garage?

We were on a “great adventure” (see that sign behind them below?).
We window-shopped a little bit in Haight Ashbury…the thing the kids were most excited about looking at were longboards.
I was most excited that we were seeing diversity.

And lots of it. You can always trust San Francisco to give you that gift 🙂

Plus there were some pretty cool houses to photograph.

I also liked the leaves in the gutter.
Isn’t that view incredible?

Along with all our walking we did our fair share of waiting.

We waited forever for this thing to climb us up and down a steep street:

It did not disappoint:
We stopped for lunch to eat the best sandwiches I’ve ever had at “Ike’s Place.”

The kids weren’t as impressed with the sandwiches as they were with the fact that those sandwiches came with suckers:

We walked through China Town:

And loved every detail of the intricacies that make it so unique.
We even got to go check out a fortune cookie factory:
Let’s get a closer look:
I’m not a huge fan of fortune cookies but I must say they’re pretty good when they are hot off the press.

(They don’t have fortune cookies in China BTW.)

I loved the lamp posts.

Max loved the graffiti.

Claire obviously loved this statue because when my kids ask for pictures, you know they must really like something 🙂
(I liked her pose.)

This is where Charity works part time: We were wishing it was open so we could partake of the baking goodness that is usually ensconced in that little cubicle.

We took a bus and a trolly car from Russia to the next few stops.
Did you know that San Francisco recycles cable/trolly cars from all over the world? I thought that was pretty cool.

We jumped off in the Tenderloin District for a quick picture of this masterpiece.
Seriously, graffiti is kind of cool.

Next Charity took us to her “secret lookout point” on this random parking garage with awesome views:

That’s Alcatraz on the left out in the water below:

There’s the Bay Bridge behind us:

This is Grace “holding up” Alcatraz because that’s the thing she did her report on before the trip:
(Yeah, I know you can’t really see it, but you get the basic, blurry idea, right? 🙂

Next was a serious hike up to Lombard Street:

This is what Claire did her report on so she’s “holding it up” too:
It is pretty cool, I must say.

From the top…with a random friend:

We went to the Italian section of town for pizza for dinner.

By this time all of us felt like Grace did here: We just knew if we walked another step our feet would surely fall right off.

But something about sitting in a freezing park in the glow of this beautiful church on a bench with delicious pizza rejuvenated us.
…until we got on a bus along with the rest of the world to go watch the lighting of the Christmas tree in Union Square:
(Those are totally fake smiles.)

We got stuck in traffic…serious traffic.

And by the time we got there it was so packed with people wanting to watch we could hardly move in some parts.

Needless to say we couldn’t see a thing.

So we shoved our way through some crowds with cool people like this:
…to watch from the glass elevator Charity knew about in the hotel on the corner.
Yeah, that was a much better view.

We checked out Union Square for a little bit with some hot cocoa to warm us up.
And then headed home for BED.
Claire was ready.

That was just the first day!

Man alive we had fun.

To be continued when I have another daughter willing to upload all the pictures for me 🙂

** post edit notes:

Part 2 is HERE.

Part 3 is HERE.


  1. Loved the pics! My hubby and I went on a trip to San Francisco years ago, and I loved it… and we walked more in one day than I think I've ever walked in my life, so I totally get that part. 😉

  2. I can't believe that's only part 1! You guys look like you seriously had a blast 🙂 I'm super jealous, my best friend is serving a mission in the San Francisio/Oakland mission and I'd love to go to see all of San Francisco and see her! It looks like it was a way fun and cultural experience 🙂

  3. Oh I love San Fran too! I could NEVER live there, but it is one of my fav spots to vacation…so that is nice you have a sister who lives there, because parking, transportation and the like (not easy) but worth it! I hope you ate at ghirardelli too!

  4. Oh my goodness! Now I totally want to go to San Francisco. I hope that Charity's other part time job is walking tours because that sounds like a wonderful day. I love all the colour in the pictures, you guys were prefectly dressed to match all that beautiful street art. Thanks for taking us on the tour!

  5. I LOVE San Francisco too. We lived across the Bay in Berkeley for over six years. What a beautiful city to photograph. Made me sigh–happy sighs, though. 🙂

  6. Wow what a great adventure and amazing city- I can't wait to see Part 2! I visited when I was a toddler, so I unfortunately have no memories- but I want go back now! 🙂

  7. Amazing pictures!!!! You guys look like you had a blast. Can't wait for day 2!

    Question, how are your pictures so clear??? I have a pretty nice camera (Canon 50D) and a pretty nice lens (17-40L) and the majority of mine are not nearly this crisp. Especially on trips like this where you are walking all over and people (your subjects, or wiggly kids in my case) are moving around too. Do you shoot in aperture priority? Manual? Does it takes years of practice? Help!
    In the mean time, I will live vicariously through your crystal clear family memories 🙂

  8. Have you ever tried blogging with windows live writer? It has a HUGE advantage when it comes to uploading pictures–you can drag and drop them into the program wherever you want them, it resizes, rotates, crops, etc right there in the program. And then you hit publish and walk away…instead of having to manually select every picture and wait for it to upload to blogger. Just a thought.

    PS–your pictures are beautiful–almost enough to make me want to do all of that walking!

  9. What a wonderful trip and beautiful pictures! Your girls looked so bright and colorful in their jackets and scarves. I have to ask, was that just a coincidence or do you plan their clothes so they'll look good in pictures? I wish I could get my family to wear bright colors!

  10. What a wonderful trip and beautiful pictures! Your girls looked so bright and colorful in their jackets and scarves. I have to ask, was that just a coincidence or do you plan their clothes so they'll look good in pictures? I wish I could get my family to wear bright colors!

  11. Fun times! I am glad you showed me some parts I have missed of that city. I just thought you'd like to know that when you and Dave go there together, you must be sure to jog/run thru Chinatown at the crack of dawn – it is incredible! I followed that advice from Runners World magazine years ago and it was an experience I will never forget!

  12. kind of out of order, and the trolley car was definitely not from Russia (???) but otherwise I LOVE LOVE this post. not a day goes by now that I don't wish I would have soaked a little more out of the goodness of having you here. I love you!

  13. That post brought back so many wonderful memories of our trip to the US 18 months ago. San Francisco was the first city we visited and it holds a special place in my heart. We also visited the fortune cookie factory!!!

  14. Such fantastic pictures! My parents were born and raised in the City, I went to school there and still live close, and I don't have any pictures like those to speak of…makes me want to go and snap away!

  15. Just wondering if you could share the address of the parking garage?? heading to the city next week to show some people around and would love to go there!!

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