It was an interesting day today. We started as per the plan (at 8.30AM PST) from Pleasanton to San Francisco. Our Itenary includes California academy of sciences and Golden gate bridge.
The reason to start early was to get free street side parking, I have paid 9 or 10 dollars per hour parking in the garage below the academy so I wanted to be safe and save few bucks. When I have the route on google maps, it said, it starts at 9.30AM, It never started that soon in any of my previous visits (and that was because all my previous visits were on Sunday :-) ). So was bit worried about getting parking, my plan of going bit early and grabbing the free parking seems going wrong. My wife some how sure that parking will be available. The reason for multiple visits is I got annual pass for the academy.
Realized gas is half and took gas break to fill the tank. I don't want to run into issues because of gas (had few minor experiences earlier), so now the time to academy is extended a bit and arrival time as per google is 9.50AM.
All, good through out the drive and as promised by google, we arrived at 9.50AM, traffic was usual. Tried to look for the parking slot and kind of full, little further, we got lucky (my wife now rules, says , "Told you" ). First success of the day. Not going to pay for parking.
Got into academy, first thing we wanted was to go to planetarium, took the tickets for 10.30 show but it is the same earthquake show so opted for next show Dark Universe. (11:15 show).
As we got little over 1 hr for the show, we went into the aquarium, kids started enjoying the fishes and touched few animals (starfish and sea urchin), went upto the living roof, took pictures and came down for the show. It was good, it is really revealing that the universe is filled with mostly dark matter that doesn't emit or respond to the light and though we could still make out the gravity effect because of it.
After the show, wandered around a bit and then saved money for food, We brought pulihora from home and I thought we are saving money and eating good, then looked around, almost all brought food in boxes and eating there. (flashback, in last visit we bought food there spending kind of 50 bucks but no one eat the food well, I landed up eating most as I paid money :-) ).
Went to penguins, and then made a plan to visit "Vista point", explored options of going by Uber or Lyft as I know getting parking at golden gate bridge is mostly next to impossible. Per online reviews, getting parking at vista point is also tough. But the commitment of showing family the golden gate bridge (its been 2 years and I never took them to see it), convinced me to drive through golden gate bridge to vista point. It was nice. After a little wait, we got parking too. we are double lucky.
We took few nice pictures there. It is really nice view there. There is another point on the left side of the freeway/golden gate bridge, but we decided to return back home and have hot chai.
Well, the main story begins now. I have set the route to home in car navigation, I made the first mistake to take the first exit instead of staying on the bridge, that landed me to get into the streets and there was interesting right turn that GPS asked me to take, but then it asked me to take right and right leading to the same road I was before (Not sure why it did that). After some time, it looked like we are kind of good and are getting into the I-80 for bay bridge, I was driving in 2 lane road and heavy traffic. Saw an interesting building that is built on the road, they might have left a 3 story building (height wise) and built the building spreading left and right of the road, it looked interesting, probably Indian cities too can get benefit out this kind of construction.
Well, I am still driving, I see one more lane added and that seems mostly empty, I am about to get into I-80 and its terrible slow traffic, I see occasionally one or two cars going in the right most lane, I thought a moment, may be this road helps me, changed lane to the right most one and then realized a "RIGHT TURN ONLY" sign board, following the rules, I took the turn, we went through some streets that looked like kind of Indian streets (big multi story buildings but people throwing trash on sidewalks(might be businesses or business users), the buildings are so tall and the roads are slim. Abhinav suggested that some 1000 buildings could be removed and roads get widened, but adith had a better idea, may be just rebuild same number of houses /apartments but smaller ones or may be with few more floors.
Traffic is heavy and we are in the flow of traffic. moving slowly. Interesting observation is we are already more than 1 hr into this and I see "55 minutes" to go home (it was from the beginning), it is not too common to get into this situation.
Finally we made it to bay bridge and now bit confident about the time to go home. After driving through bay bridge and then into I-580, things look pretty good. best part so far is me not getting upset for the mistakes.
I needed to stay right before Oakland downtown but I landed up on the left side lanes of the freeway (the 3rd wrong turn), it took another few minutes (though it was bit smoother this time) to get back into I-580 towards Stockton).
Finally, we made it to home and of course had the hot chai.
But it looks like we can add few more things and make this as a nice movie. Few incidents from previous outings.
1. 17 miles drive, we stopped at one of the scenic spot and there is a big car stopped next to us, I see Indians getting out of the car, the girls are pretty but they had smaller\revealing clothes than what Americans could possibly wear. It looked like "Some Indians are more american than regular Americans".
2. Money saving methods: We all try to take annual passes, or use the free goodies (like home depot first Saturday event for kids or the T-mobile Tuesdays, or the coupons that often we get or thanks giving deals \coupons etc)
3. kids asking important questions that are curious and you start thinking\answering them and realize that you missed the exit or took the wrong one. I always get surprised at how kids can ask such curious questions only during important turns/exits.
We could make a Hollywood movie and then convert it into a big review. The idea looks simple but everyone can relate to it. We need to have a nice SUV that look very rich as people love nice things always. Also some good looking couples (2 of them in the SUV so that we have 3 kids and 4 adults in the movie). We could release this movie in other languages too if needed.
To spice up, we can add a flash mob dance on the freeway. Also add a bit of academy planetarium movie clip to jazz up the sound and effects.
It could be lot better movie than the "To go or for here". Investment is less, but everyone loves it. We need to make it interesting with some jokes or curious questions. Abhinav badly wanted to go to Alcatraz and he wanted to figure out how the jail break has happened (he asked when we were looking at this island from vista point). While Adith wanted to go home ASAP while all those wrong turns are happening. He always asks how much time and then the time to home is always 55 minutes because of wrong turns, when we are less than 55 minutes, he slept already (kids sleep easily when on freeways with no traffic jams :-) ).