“If everything we buy from Ikea fits in the back of the truck, we go to San Francisco,” I said 45 minutes into the two-hour drive to the Sacramento Ikea.
This came after admitting that I packed for the girls as if we were going to spend the night in San Francisco as opposed to the day trip to Ikea we had planned.
Three hours later we rotated car seats so we could lay the large boxes of furniture inside the truck and it became apparent that everything was going to fit. We had two choices: Turn back and go home (sad trombone) or drive the same amount of time in the opposite direction to find ourselves in a bustling metropolis (trumpets rejoice).
We headed West.
“Best Western at the Fisherman’s Wharf?” Jake asked over a plate of steak at Applebee’s. Turns out neither of us like the Fisherman’s Wharf. Does anybody really? Parc 55 Wyndham in Union Square was next on the list, if not only for its affordability but its distance from the Wharf too. With a credit card number and address right there on my iPhone at an Applebee’s in Davis, we had a hotel room.
Turns out I didn’t exactly pack enough diapers for an overnight stay. Or pants for the girls, or underwear for Gwyneth for that matter. But I did pack socks! And pajamas. For Norah. I may not have planned as well as I thought. Nothing a quick stop at Walmart off the highway couldn’t fix.
“Hey, Gwyneth, we’re on a bridge” I said to her to get her to lookup from watching Mickey on the iPad as we crossed the Bay Bridge in the darkness. “Oh, cool,” she responded looking up briefly into the darkness unable to see the adventure that lay ahead of her.
The parking garage was right where the concierge said it would be and the prime parking spot sweetened the deal. What little bags we had were gathered and with a sleepy Norah in the umbrella stroller the Sunderlands hit the streets of the city to find our hotel.
Here’s the thing, we didn’t know what to expect. It was overwhelming to pick from so many options when you google cheap hotel in San Francisco so the choice was made entirely by random. As we walked the streets at 10 pm on a Saturday night our expectations were simply that of a bed. Nonetheless we found our hotel as we came to the corner of Mission and Powell St and looked across to see the name of our hotel on one of the tallest buildings.
“And where did you book the room through, Mr. Sunderland?” asked Bronwyn, the concierge with the prettiest name I’ve ever heard. “Bookit.com? Two hours ago,” I said half panicked due to how easy the entire process was. “Oh, we haven’t gotten a lot of those reservations today,” she said as she took my phone to jot down the confirmation number in my email.
“And since we didn’t have your reservation I upgraded you to a room with a view for your troubles” she said as she slid us our room keys no more than five minutes later. And off we went, to the 22nd floor where we walked into easily the nicest hotel room we’ve stayed in and pulled back the curtains to reveal a view on the top of the city. We were above nightclubs on top of hotels, above rooftop pools, right smack in the middle of it all standing with our three-year old and chubby legged baby pressed against the glass.
The next day we took trains, historic streetcars and cable cars. We rode the carousel and played on the concrete slides at Golden Gate Park. We walked the Embarcadero, ate clam chowder from a bread bowl and wrapped it all up with a cable car down the steep hills from Ghirardelli to Union Square.
On our way back to our truck we popped in a souvenir shop for something to remember our trip by. “You buy snow globe for child?” the pushy woman behind the counter asked. “That dangerous. It break,” she said.
But when given the choice between a plastic snow globe or a toy cable car Gwyneth chose the snow globe. “You take the smaller one then,” was her compromise, as we thought nothing of it.
Four hours later we pulled into our driveway with two sleeping girls in the backseat. I opened the rear door to unload our bags only to have something roll out from the top and crack as it hit the concrete.