Yesterday I went with my daughter and granddaughter to the San Francisco Aquarium by the Bay, located in the heart of the Pier 39 tourist shopping complex…If you are familiar with San Francisco at all, I am sure you have visited Pier 39, it is right in the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf, an internationally famous hot spot of things to see, do, and explore…It is truly a wonder of the world, but if I did not have the excuse of showing it off to out of town visitors, I would rarely venture out and see it on my own….
Fisherman’s Wharf was once a thriving, bustling real live port of entry into San Francisco, and still maintains a healthy fleet of fishing boats of all sizes available for charter for groups or individuals to sail out onto the Pacific Ocean on fishing expeditions…In the beginning, the port received shipments of lumber, food and immigrants, and there were railroads built right up to the Wharf that serviced them upon arrival, speeding them on to their final destinations….
Chinese immigrants in junks fished daily for shrimp, oysters and salmon to feed the ever increasing numbers of the original 49er’s who came here during the Gold Rush….Italian fishermen soon followed and set up shops along the Wharf to sell the crabs, shrimp, oysters and other sea foods to the ravenous hordes of gold rushers…There are still many, many delicious restaurants scattered all over the Fisherman’s Wharf area catering to all kinds of taste…
Eventually all the other activities except for the thriving fishing industry, which sought out both fish and crab on a daily basis for sale and sustenance, were replaced or displaced at Fisherman’s Wharf…Most of the serious deep sea shipping and arrivals of freight from overseas now is re routed directly to the nearby city of Oakland, which several years ago had the foresight to dredge their own harbors to a depth sufficient to accommodate the deep drafted container ship vessels, which carry everything, especially cars, but also food, building materials, clothing etc. into the Bay Area….
My point is that, like most residents of San Francisco, I never ever go to see any of these famous landmarks anymore unless somebody from out of town is visiting me, usually always family members or very close friends, and I do it because THEY want to do it…That was not always the case….Although I was born and raised in Chicago my daughter is a native San Franciscan, and when she was young we used to explore all these wondrous fun places for weekend jaunts, expeditions and just plain fun…And we always had fun!
But my daughter has grown up and left me now, with all these warm and wonderful memories as she pursues her own life… So left to my own devices, now I just sniff and dismiss these places as tourist traps, because they are very expensive, and don’t even think about the parking, it is an arm and a leg to park there for any length of time….
Yet these familiar places still retain the same unique and distinctive charm they always did, when we were young and seeing them together for the first time…..It is just that when you live in a city, you often tend to become jaded at the natural wonders of your own city….I am sure there are lots of New Yorkers who feel the same way and never ride the Staten Island ferry, visit the Statue of Liberty, go to the top of the Empire State building anymore except when they are entertaining out of town visitors and relatives, although I am sure most of them went when they were children…
That is essentially my point , I guess, visiting these historical landmarks and natural wonders is really an excuse to party for me, because the truth is, that I enjoy them just as much now as when I first encountered them! It is just when you get caught up in the daily routine of work world, the 9-5 grind, the shopping and the laundry and the daily routines and patterns of livings, it just never occurs to you to revisit some of these places you may have loved as children….And I should, we all should….
I am truly blessed, because the San Francisco Bay Area has some of the most scenic wonders in the world….Right on booths at Fisherman’s Wharf they sell reasonably priced tickets to fabulous Bay Cruises, trips to the famous “rock,” Alcatraz island, or Angel Island, and you can also catch a cable car all the way downtown over some of the steepest hills in existence…
You can board the cable car right outside the famous Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory, right next to Aquatic Park, a tiny little cove with rows of seats and a long pier to walk on and a tiny beach to stretch out on….Aquatic Park is totally free, BTW….We are just a stones throw from the famous wine country in Napa, the giant aquarium in Monterrey and the world famous golf course in Pebble Beach….
I could go on and on, because I haven’t even adequately described Fisherman’s Wharf yet, but the point is that sometimes the best things in life are right outside your own door….You just have to have the will to look around you and the energy to make the best of your own natural wonders, whatever they may be, no matter where you live….
If your town is short on rich historical landmarks, c’mon out to San Francisco, we have plenty go around…We have a wealth of scenic and natural wonders to share with you, and a rich and diverse history as well…A tourist trap is no trap if you want to go there, and one person’s trash is another person’s treasure….
I take just as much pleasure proudly showing off these scenic wonders and seeing them again as my family and friends do seeing them for the first time…. It is a win-win proposition, and memories will outlast the money spent every time….
Life is, after all, just a collection of memories….