Riding the rails with Julian in San Francisco

Yesterday was Indigenous People’s Day in Berkeley. Yes, that’s what we call Columbus Day. Seriously. That’s what it says on public school schedules and parking meters.

So anyway, no preschool is the main point. My mother-in-law was available, however, so she watched Scarlett (15 months) and I took Julian (3 years and 11 and a half months) on a very big adventure.

First we took BART, our local train system, to San Francisco. Julian wore a black hooded sweatshirt with spiders on it, his backpack and a huge clown-style bow-tie. Why? I don’t know, but why argue with that? Julian’s highlights were putting the ticket into the turnstile and taking it out by himself and standing up when I told him to sit down. As if some sense got into him all of a sudden, halfway through the train ride, he took off his bowtie and put it in his backpack.

We got off at Powell, right in front of the cable car stop. We joined the line of tourists and waited to board a cable car. Luckily we got an outside seat with a great view. I was thinking we’d just ride up the hill a few blocks beyond Union Square and then come back and head home on BART, but made a quick decision on the cable car to just go all the way across the city to Fisherman’s Wharf. Woohoo!

photo: ThomasHawk

I had no stroller and no real lunch for him, so I did have a small pocket of fear in the back of my mind of a worst-case scenario in which I would have to carry him a long ways, ride in a cab without a car seat, or endure incessant whining about hunger, but none of these things happened. Everything went smoothly.

When we got to Fisherman’s Wharf, we took our time walking past the tourist shops. I let him look at and touch everything, from life-sized Barack Obama standees to $2800 statues of cranes and cheetahs. Why these are so popular with tourists, I am not sure.

photo: nice tourist who put up with using my blackberry as a camera

We headed toward Pier 39 where I thought we could peek at the sea lions, but I ultimately decided it was just one block too far and didn’t want to push my luck with tiring him out for the aforementioned reasons.

As an F-Market train, our vintage light rail streetcars, went by and Julian admired it, I decided we should hop on. We crossed the street and the next one came immediately. We took it around the edge of the city to the Ferry Building, stopped to eat gourmet sandwiches (ok, mine was triple cream brie, jam, arugala and black pepper; Julian’s was just a hot dog bun, but one made by a fancy bakery), and watched some boats. Finally, after taking advantage of the clean, lovely bathrooms in the Ferry Building, we walked two blocks into Market Street to catch BART back to Berkeley.


Julian proudly told his grandma about our trip when we got home. He seemed exhausted, but happy. I was on a bit of a high, feeling like I had a spontaneous adventure with a friend, a la my collegiate travels to Latin America, and amazed that my little friend was my own son. He was so agreeable and easy to please. He found points of interest in every sight we saw. There’s no way I could have managed this trip with Scarlett in tow, so the next preschool holiday will probably be a lot less exciting.