Fleet Week, San Francisco Style…

In anticipation of our upcoming departure from Alamo, we spent the remainder of our afternoon tending to mundane necessities after we returned from our insanely luxurious date night in Healdsburg. Laundry and grocery shopping seemed far more ho hum in comparison. The next day’s plans, however, were far from humdrum. We were going back into The City to see the Blue Angels show, one of the highlights of San Francisco’s Fleet Week.

The last Blues show we caught (and Flight and I have seen them a plenty) was in Annapolis this past May where they performed as part of the Naval Academy’s most recent graduation week festivities. Unfortunately, there was then a low cloud layer over the Severn River making it impossible for them to execute all planned maneuvers safely, so we witnessed an abbreviated show. Bummer. Waking to a cloudless sky in Alamo meant we’d likely get to see the whole shebang. WOO HOO!

As we caravanned into The City, I was pleased to see how welcoming San Francisco was of all our service members.

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Although I also found this dated sign that was maybe less accepting of society’s previous outliers…

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A few days ago while we were on one of our cable car rides we sat next to a gaggle of sailors, one of whom was wearing the “Crackerjacks” uniform that has been newly approved and tailor made for women. Because I now only dabble in the Navy as a Reservist, she was the first female sailor I had seen so dressed, so I asked her how she liked wearing it. She gushed her enthusiasm for the new duds, but pointed a few seats down to her friend who was garbed in the traditional Dress Blues and said, “But she can’t stand it.” Interesting.

A perpetual armchair sociologist, I couldn’t help but further casually observe the sailors, both as they interacted with each other and the rest of the car’s occupants.  Extremely polite and respectful towards the gentleman operating the cable car (I expected no less), I next saw this same “Crackerjacks” sailor shoot a picture of one of the many rainbow flags hanging in the windows, quickly flip her phone over to show one of her male compatriots, and say with a big grin, “Hey, I took this for you.”  His appreciative and equally good natured response came, “Aww, thanks for the support.”  It would appear that the more things change in this woman’s Navy, the more they stay the same.  Good to see.

As we zigzagged through The City to Fort Mason, Flight pointed out the numerous prior naval bases strewn about The City. I had no idea San Francisco was so thick with military presence, but the current military establishments number at or around 39, which doesn’t include all the modern military ruins littering The Bay Area in various states of disarray. Curious as to how many bases have come and gone over the decades since The Big War, I Googled away and got distracted by this awesome stash of images. Although my cursory search didn’t yield the number of bases from back in the day, these pictures were certainly worth a peek.

Flight already alluded to the insider information on choosing this location and that was indeed the gouge (Navy term for collective corporate knowledge). We trundled our picnic fare to pitch camp at the perfect setting (yes, that’s Alcatraz the Snowbirds are about to overfly). It was helpful that we had two “best campsite” seekers among us now to find just the right spot – and, also as Flight mentioned, it was an added bonus to have the cockpit comms narrating the visual display.  Please note our overwhelmingly interested Firebolt (head buried in her book) and WoodSprite (not even facing the show).  Sigh…


While the Blues were amazing as always, I found the Snowbird team representing our neighbors to the north to be more impressive:


Maybe it was the novelty of watching them, but the Canadians seemed to be doing many of the same precision maneuvers with three additional aircraft. It would be unfair to call them the opening band for the Blues, but they were clearly not billed as the main event.


In between the two teams was a United 747 (um, what???!?!? – we were shown only low dirty passes, but, sadly, no barrel rolls…) and a single-seater acrobatics demonstration, the combination of which rendered me first a little baffled and then a little airsick. Momentary nausea aside, it was a brilliant way to spend a glorious fall afternoon in The City.


But wait, there’s more… WoodSprite moved to make creative centerpieces using whatever she collected at our vantage point.  After sitting still for the show, the monkeys were eager to move about and climbed all over one of the Fort’s wartime relics (or rather, two of them did so voluntarily).


After a photo shoot on the enormous cannon (it was an All Hands evolution convincing Firebolt to participate), we strolled a few minutes across Fort Mason’s expansive grounds to see a food truck armada gearing up to open. There were so many amazing dinner options, it was hard to settle on any one truck’s menu. I left Flight to his own devices (which we both generally prefer) and acquired some wood-fired pizza for the girls.  Keeper purchased his own enormous burrito, and, intrigued by the name, I selected some Naughty Naan and a couple freshly assembled cannoli (different trucks!). We enjoyed a relaxing meal and then returned to Davista to make ready for our departure in the morning.

This stop at Flight’s parents was a real luxury and not just because we had some solid visit time and access to unlimited water. Additionally, the girls were able to build this Trader Joe’s Halloween House that they’d been coveting on every grocery run:


We were also able to appraise our belongings and store those we found excessive (like the house above) with the hopes of reclaiming them (unlike the house above) after our travels. Prior to leaving Maryland we didn’t know what we didn’t know and, now with two months of this lifestyle under our belts, we can more pragmatically assess the usefulness of our gear. A quick rundown on what we’ve learned more specifically (posted at three months in…) can be found here. Although we are only moderately lighter departing the Bay Area (in all fairness, we didn’t dump the bilges before we left for fear of leaving this impression), I’m looking forward to finding some sand dollars at Pismo Beach (they don’t weigh a whole lot) and getting back to the coast for further exploration. Since we chose to keep the kayaks, here’s hoping we’ll find another opportunity to use them…

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