T's friend M has a small plane, and every so often they go out for aerial photography sessions over San Francisco. We've talked about my coming along for the ride before, but this Friday was the first time we were able to arrange it. And it was awesome, in both senses of the word. I've flown past SF many times, of course, on commercial jets, but you can see so much more from a small plane, because it's not as high up (we were mostly at 1500 to 3000 feet). Also, we weren't just flying past the city one; we made several passes over the bridges and downtown, mostly so T could work with different photography angles. I took several photos myself (including the one above), and my gallery is here.
I'd never been on a small plane before, and the entire experience was fascinating. Because the plane is really noisy, we all had headphones hooked up with a microphone system so we could talk to each other, and it was also connected to the radio so our pilot could talk to the control tower. Which meant that we got to listen in to all of the control tower chatter: M getting clearance to fly through various airspaces, warnings about other traffic in the sky, the chatter with other airplanes. The skies over San Francisco are a busy place.
It wasn't a perfectly clear day -- the entire western Peninsula was socked in with fog, including about two-thirds of SF -- but I actually thought that added to the experience, because there were some neat interactions between the fog and the city, as you can see with the picture of the bridge, above.
Some people come away from a flight in M's plane so enamored of the experience that they decide to learn to fly themselves, and although it didn't take me that way, I can certainly see why. The view is glorious, and it's so much less hassle than driving long distances through traffic. (It is, however, not a cheap way to travel; M estimated that we used about $90-$120 worth of fuel on our one-hour tour, not to mention the initial investment of buying a plane, and the maintenance and upkeep costs.) But I found learning to drive intimidating enough, way back when, and the stakes with a plane seem so much higher, so the thought doesn't really appeal to me personally. But would I go up again? Absolutely.
Something I have always wanted to do, ever since I moved to the city of San Francisco, is to ride the ferry to Sausalito. Not because Sausalito is a particularly exciting place -- it's a cute tourist town, with nice views of San Francisco, and that's about it -- but because I like boats, and it seems like an easy way to get out on the Bay. Since Saturday was beautiful and the water was calm, I was finally able to convince T to give this plan a try, and we caught the 12pm ferry. Once there, we had lunch at a tasty Danish diner, wandered around town for a bit, and then returned home a few hours later. It was an easy way to do a fun little getaway.
It sort of amazes me that, for some people, this is their daily commute.
(Apologies for the weird reflections, I took the picture through the windshield of T's car.) July Fourth is always a family holiday for me, because it's my grandmother's birthday. So every year, unless summer travel plans forbid it, I trek up to Santa Rosa for the day, for hamburgers and cake. Not only was this year no exception, it was a special occasion, because yesterday was Grandma's 90th birthday. Saturday night, we made a cake -- carrot cake, by request, with cream cheese frosting -- and then we drove up for the day on Sunday. Good family, good company, and the cake came out well. Then we came home, met R&S for dinner, caught part of a very foggy fireworks show, and then came home for more carrot cake. Another good day.
Unless you go a fair bit out of the way (sometimes in bad traffic it's actually faster to go the long way around, but we almost never do), a drive from San Francisco to Santa Rosa necessitates a trip across the Golden Gate Bridge, which means that I've been over it easily hundreds of times. And that's how an amazing national landmark becomes commonplace. So I sometimes like to take a step back and admire it, look at it the way a tourist might (or a photographer). It's such a beautiful and dramatic piece of architecture, even more so than its cousin across the way, and I try not to take it for granted.
So now the long weekend draws to a close with a day where I have not much at all planned, which given how busy the rest of the days have been is probably a good thing.
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