Monday, July 12, 2010
Each summer, I pack up the family and take them with me to my annual sports information directors' national workshop (CoSIDA). The workshop moves around to different big cities and it's always a nice way for us to combine both work with a little bit of vacation. (I'll write more on the workshop aspect of my trip in another blog.)
This year's workshop was held in San Francisco and my wife and I were both really excited to return to a city that we first discovered and enjoyed 10 years ago before the kids started to arrive on the scene. With some familiarity for the city, it really helped us to zero in on what we wanted to see again or have our kids experience for the first time, and it also helped us with our packing since the average temperatures were going to be about 64 degrees while it was 95 degrees back in Ohio.
After two smooth Southwest Air flights to get us there, we immediately began to get settled into our hotel and the nearby surroundings. The next morning we picked up our CityPass (which I HIGHLY recommend for anyone who will be in town for a stay of a week or more). This allowed us unlimited access to the cable cars, the street cars, and the buses. It also included an hour-long boat ride under the Golden Gate Bridge and right up to Alcatraz. In addition, there were tickets to the aquarium and several other museums and art galleries. It was a great deal and allowed us to just spend money one time.
Over the course of the week, the four of us were able to see all the sights that we wanted to see. Carla and the girls took in a free circus in one of the parks one day while I was in meetings. They also enjoyed playing in another park near the hotel and riding on a carousel. We made several trips to Fisherman's Wharf that included visiting the sea lions on Pier 39 and also exploring the aquarium. We watched the fireworks on the 4th of July where our view included the Golden Gate Bridge to the left of us, the Bay Bridge to the right of us, and Alcatraz right in front of us. It's funny to look back at our pictures and see us all bundled up with coats due to the windy, cold temperatures on the bay. (The only other time I can remember being cold on the 4th of July was in 1997 when Carla and I went to Detroit to watch the Tigers play a doubleheader against Cal Ripken and the Orioles.)
Our week also included a trip to Oakland on the BART (subway) to watch the A's play the Yankees. I have to send a big thank you shoutout to Debbie Gallas in the A's PR department because she hooked us up with great seats. We got to see four web gem defensive plays that night as the Yankees won 3-1.
We finished our week with a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a great trip with so many great memories, especially for my girls. They were real troopers and probably walked 20 miles each over the course of the week and never complained. They are growing up.
One other fun part of the trip for me was being able to get in three different runs around the city. Along with my SID friends, Kelcey, Cindy, Jay, and Eric, we headed out at 6:00 a.m. one morning and took the bus to the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge is 1.7 miles across and it was really foggy the morning that we ran it - you couldn't see more than about 25 feet in front of you. It was really cool to run all the way across and back.
Eric and I also did another 4.5-mile run through Chinatown and UP Lombard Street on a different morning. It really was a great way to see the city. Then, I finished up the week with a run to AT&T Park (home of the Giants) and back by myself and then did it again with Kelcey and Cindy. It's one of my favorite baseball stadiums and I was disappointed that the Giants weren't in town the whole time we were there. Fortunately, Carla and I had seen a couple of games there on our previous trip.
I have to say that the Marriott Marquis, where we stayed, was probably the perfect hotel for us on this trip. The location was great with easy access to all the different modes of public transportation and also for the runs that I was able to do. However, even better than the location was the great staff that they had. It was really one big family working together to make sure that their guests had the best possible stay that they could have. I enjoyed watching Dan at the concierge desk energetically and professionally give the best directions and recommendations to visitors to help them have a great visit. Loren, the doorman, gave us great running directions and then I came to find out that he grew up across town in Gambier, Ohio. The food service staff was also outstanding and we had great conversations with Lisa and Richard as they served our meals and talked about how much they love their jobs. When you can find businesses with employees that like coming to work, you know they are doing things right. I made sure to share my compliments with Greg Nickelson, one of the night managers, before I left, but if you are in San Francisco for a stay I would recommend this hotel.
Well, it's really hard to condense one amazing week into one blog entry, but I've tried my best to do so. I didn't even get into all the amazing food we had, which I know is a shocker to those of you who know my passion for eating. I will say, though, that if you visit Pier 39 on Fisherman's Wharf you have to get a bag (or in my case a bucket) of Trish's fresh donuts. Wow! They were a perfect companion to watching the 4th of July fireworks. Just ask the 12 people who helped me devour them.