Road Trip to San Francisco – Mendocino

Day 4 finally saw our arrival in the famed San Francisco.  Would it live up to our expectations?  Was it worth getting drenched and feeling small along the way?  Would we try broccoli on pizza?  Would I achieve my lifelong dream of photographing the Golden Gate Bridge?

© Brianna Shade 2012

So much lay before us in this grand new city; the adventure had just begun!

But we had one more stop before we reached the city by the bay.


We departed Eureka bright and early and made our way south.  I was given another clue to this surprise road trip – something to do with Al Pacino’s head.  This clearly indicated Mendocino (Aaron’s brain works in very mysterious ways), and the main attraction was another coastal lighthouse.

The shore at this spot is particularly rocky.  But I found that only enhanced the scene, and I was quick to whip out the camera.  The Point Arena Lighthouse served as a lovely centerpiece, and I was so mesmerized I didn’t quite realize how close to the edge I had crept in my quest for a photo.

© Brianna Shade 2012

Aaron was freaking out at my being so precariously perched; one slip, and I’d be going for a swim some thirty feet down.  I brushed him off, assuring my stability, but the longer I sat on that tiny point of land, the more my mortality poked at me to back up.


I secured the shot, but I found it physically difficult to move, the newly found fear slowly gripping me.  I managed to push through it and return to safer ground, but I was left with a healthy sense of self-preservation.  Perhaps I’ll give the edge a bit more distance next time.

Toward Cisco

© Brianna Shade 2012

We pattered around the beach there for a while, taking in the rocky bluffs (that suddenly looked like they’d be quite painful), and seeing how the coastline had gradually changed from that with which we’re so familiar at home.

© Brianna Shade 2012

It was still another three hours before we reached the Golden Gate City, but we passed the time with good conversation, rocking tunes, and the occasional stop for more pictures.

© Brianna Shade 2012

Crossing the Bay

At long last, the golden towers rose up ahead of us, the city sentinels waiting to welcome us.  I was delighted to pass under their watchful gaze, and I was surprised to find the bridge much longer than I had pictured.

© Brianna Shade 2012

Tourists lined the walkways on either side, and I resisted the strong urge to leap out of the car so I could take some pictures of this magnificent span.  Inquiring as to whether we’d walk across the bridge for some photo ops, Aaron disappointingly replied, “not likely.”  I couldn’t come to San Francisco and not photograph this bridge!  One way or another, I’d make it happen…. but that would apparently need to come another day.

My sadness at this missed opportunity was quickly forgotten the moment I discovered our ultimate destination: Hotel Tomo in Japantown!

© Brianna Shade 2012

We obviously have a fascination with Japan and its culture, so to find myself in this little oriental oasis was wonderful.  The nearby mall was filled with bits of Japan – from crepe and ramen shops to a Japanese bookstore and sushi restaurants.  Our favorite place was a cafe perched at the top of the indoor bridge spanning the street below.  This restaurant had walls lined with manga and Miyazaki films playing on their screens.  The food was good enough to keep us coming back, too.

And the hotel itself was anime-themed. This quaint building delighted me to no end.  The walls were painted with colorful characters and mystical scenes, and Ranma played in the lobby.

We had fun exploring this little neighborhood, though with it being a Monday, there was hardly anyone around.  Many of the mall shops were closed, and the entire place was a ghost town.  This couldn’t put a damper on my excitement, though; I was thrilled to be there.

© Brianna Shade 2012

Settled in our little anime home away from home, we called it a night, ready to tackle the city the very next day.  What new surprises did Aaron have in store for me??

Next up – Road Trip: Escape from Alcatraz – Day 5

Have you ever been to San Francisco?  What were your first impressions?

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