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San Francisco Fleet Week week end

20121008-fleetday


Introduction:

San Francisco sponsors a fleet week every year around the end of September and beginning of October.  I attend those events if I am in town and do not have any other plan.  In previous years I drive.  This year I thought it might be more relaxing to take the Cal Train.  As I investigate the schedule and locations of the train stations, I find that it is really convenient and easy to spend a day in San Francisco without the trouble of driving.  Here is how for me:

1) Drive from my home to the California Station is Palo Alto.

2) The parking lot is at the station.  The parking costs $4.00 per day.

3) The train ticket and the parking can be purchased from the the machine at the station.

4) The cost for both for a senior like I is $11.00.

5) The first thing I notice is that the schedule is not so accurate - a few minutes delay.

6) The seats are comfortable and there is a bicycle car if one wants to bring a bicycle.

7) In my first trip the ride to San Francisco takes over an hour and a half while  the schedule says one hour.  However, on my next trip it takes just a bit over an hour.  It is really busy on my first day because it is Saturday of the Fleet Week week end.  It is so busy that many people do not have a seat. I am lucky a young man offers me his seat.  I notice that not so many young people pay respect and offer the seat to older people.  I am really thankful to that young gentleman. On Sunday from Palo Alto to San Francisco, everybody have a seat but upon the return there are people who have no seat.

8) The Cal Train Station San Francisco is located at the corner of 4th St. and King St. couple of blocks from the Giant Stadium and Pier 40.  There are  bus and Mumis to the Fisherman’s Wharf and other parts of San Francisco.


Riding the Muni and the Bus:

The Muni stop to Fisherman’s Wharf is located next to the Caltrain Station.  It is kind of confusing because there are the N, T and not well publicized E lines.  I am told to take the E line by a lady who is directing the visitors, although the information I read from the web site is N.  I am not sure that line E has service all the time or just for the Fleet Week Weed End. On that day the traffic is so bad that after arriving pier 30 I get off the Muni and walk.  That turn out to be a mistake.  Although Muni is in heavy stop and move kind of traffic but still faster than walking.  The air show start when I am walking to Marina Green.  Marina Green is where the observation seats are located.  By the time I get there  the Blue Angels already finish half of their show.  As soon as the air show is completed I go to take the bus back to the Caltrain Station.  All the bus stations along the way to the terminal station of bus #47 are crowded with people so in order to get a seat I decide to walk all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf.  At the bus station at the end of Powell Street I wait for  the bus driver to come back to duty.  The staffs of the bus company are also wondering where the driver is.  After about 15 minutes finally the driver walk slowly to his bus and we all get in.  There is a long line and not everybody can get in.  Fortunately, the next bus already arrive.  The driver has a bad attitude and not friendly.  The bus move slowly.  At Vannes Avenue a passenger throw up and the driver tells us all to get out of the bus and is not polite at all when asked what the passengers were going to do.  I try to waive down a taxi but they are all with passengers.  Finally, one #47 arrive but it is full so the driver does not stop.  Then the next #47 arrive and I get on.  The ride to Caltrain Station takes me over two hours.


Seeing the Air show from a sail boat:

I book a space in a 90 foot sail boat, Bay Lady so that I can see the air show from the bay.  The boat belongs to Spinnaker Sailing located at Pier 40 which is the water front  next to the Giant Stadium about 10 minutes walk from the San Francisco Caltrain Station.  I decide to come early so that I can visit an aircraft carrier docked at Pier 30-32.  I want to do that the day before but the line is very very long.  Coming early should avoid this problem.

Watching the air show from the  Bay gives a different perspective of the air show.  The observer is not at the center stage as in Marina Green but at the edge of the show space.  This is not very good to see the small bi-plane show.  One is too far away.  On the other hand for the Blue Angles show one can see a bigger picture such how wonderfully  smooth and precise the 6 Angels get back together at the far distance to start the next manuever.  At times the Blue Angels are just right above and very close.  Even though it is summer time it was cold in the boat.  I have to put on a down vest and a light down jacket to keep warm.  The boat is crowded with not much room for seeing the air show.  A sandwich lunch is served just after we leave the dock.  The line is pretty long because of so many people on board.  We motor most of the time.  The coast guard boats block off the show area where the Blue Angels make low altitude flying over.