An American caching adventure (Part 2) – San Francisco

It was a long trip from Tonopah to San Francisco, about 9 hours of driving. We left windy Tonopah very early, passed through glorious sunshine, and then through deep, thick snow as we drove through the top of Yosemite on the way towards Reno. We couldn’t believe it. We stopped for a single cache on our way through, DIZFIZ all mountain terrain park. It was a real effort to get as we weren’t prepared for such weather and we all ended up very cold and with freezing fingers!

Sheltering from the snow!

There's a cache up there!!!

It's not so deep!

After passing through Yosemite the car was absolutely filthy again, after the boys did such a good job cleaning it too!!! It wasn’t long before the glorious sunshine returned and we were in San Francisco.

The following day we hit the city. There aren’t many caches in San Francisco, however most of the ones that we did find were in lovely places. A definite case of quality over quantity. We started off at Pier 39. Along San Francisco bay there are many piers, however 39 is the busiest with the most shops. We could hear the noise of sea lions in the distance so rushed to the end of the Pier expecting to perhaps see one or two, however we couldn’t believe what we saw!!!

Sea lions!!!

There is also a web cam cache at the end of the pier for the sea lions, At the Pier. I took a chance on being able to connect to the web cam page on my iPhone and it actually worked so I was able to grab a screenshot of us standing with the sea lions so that we could claim the cache. Shortly after I got a text from O2 reminding me that data abroad was £6 per 1mb… oops! Worth it though! 😀

Our web cam photo

A clearer picture of us all

Apparently the sea lions on the pier flocked there after the 1989 San Francisco Loma Prieta earthquake. They completely took over K-Dock in January 1990, starting out with just 10-50 and then rocketing to 300 in a few months what with the plentiful herring supply and protective environment. In November 2009 there were 1701 sea lions living there, although they quickly disappeared the following month before slowly coming back. There were certainly plenty there when we visited.

There were a few nice caches dotted around Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. WarNinjas Pier 39 Cache! was a small hidden in a hedge in a little park area overlooking the port. It was a bit tricky to find as there were rodent traps under the hedges too (One of which I opened thinking it was the cache!!!) We got it in the end!

The cache in the hedge

Piering Around was placed along waterfront harbor at a lovely location overlooking the boats.

View of the docks

We found a couple of caches hidden at the free newspaper boxes on the side of the road too. One hidden inside and the other underneath.

Newspaper boxes concealing a cache

To get a better look at the city we thought we’d take a ride in a cable car. Whilst waiting in line to buy tickets we spotted a US benchmark on the ground, just like the ones that we found on the ET Highway.

A benchmark at the tram ticket office

A packed cable car

Next stop was Chinatown! After a hair raising ride down the hill in the cable car we ended up somewhere that looked very different to Fisherman’s Wharf.

The bank at Chinatown

The view up the street

The area was very busy, but we were still able to grab a couple of quick caches. Raw Sally was a nano down an alley way and the other was in Portsmouth Square. The park was packed with Chinese people socialising. Many had pulled apart cardboard boxes which they rested on benches to make tables. On the tables they were all gambling with cards. It was quite fun to watch. A lady said there used to be tables there but they got taken away.

The alley to Raw Sally

Portsmouth Square


On the ride back from Chinatown we stopped off at the bottom of Lombard Street. This is the most crooked street in the world! We watched from the bottom as cars struggled to slowly go down it!

Lombard Street

There was a pavement along Lombard street so we were able to walk up it. There was also the Lombard Street cache hidden along it. The cache had lots of favourite points on it, obviously due to the location and what with it being a popular area it obviously went missing quite a lot. The CO had therefore hidden about 7 of them all up the street and given waypoints for all of them saying as long as you found one you could log the find. Very unusual. It took us a little while, but eventually we got one!

The cache at Lombard Street

Views from the top of Lombard Street

On our second morning in the city we took a “scenic drive” into the centre. This was a specially marked 49 mile drive (although we just did a short stretch of it) that took you along the coast into the centre instead of driving around the blocks. There were some lovely beaches along the coastal line and a few caches at them too. There was a particularly nice cache at “China Beach” disguised to look like part of the wall. A favourite because we thought it was very inventive.

A very inventive wall cache

China Beach

We also stopped off at the Sounds of the bay cache along the shore which had many favourite points. It was about a quarter mile walk to GZ which took us right out into the sea to a little jetty. The views were fantastic and it was such a lovely area for quiet reflection.

The lighthouse at the start of the trail

View of the bay

The Sounds of the Bay cache

Views from the bay

At the bay are “Wave organs” which make a noise when the waves move in and out. If you put your ear to them you can hear them. Apparently it sounds best when there is a full moon.

One of the wave organs

After taking the scenic route we ended up back at Fisherman’s wharf ready for another exciting adventure: A sightseeing tour on a boat. The 90 minute trip took us under the Golden Gate bridge and around Alcatraz. It was absolutely brilliant! There’s a virtual and an earthcache on Alcatraz island. I’m hoping that if we come back again we can take a trip out to it and find them.

Our boat

Alcatraz island

Golden Gate bridge

There was one final cache that we grabbed in the city, Laughing Sal. This was in one of the world’s largest privately owned collections of mechanically operated musical instruments and antique arcade machines. Laughing Sal’s was one of the devices which was a scary clown thing. We didn’t put the 50 cents in it that you need to make it play because it was simply too terrifying!!! There were many other interesting machines in there too.

Musee Mecanique

Walls and walls of coin operated machines

Golden Gate Park

We spent 2 afternoons in Golden Gate Park. We could see on the map that there were lots of caches in there, but we had underestimated the true size of the park itself. It was absolutely huge! We managed to explore about half of it. The majority of the caches inside it were “small” size which was lovely after finding so many micros on the ET series. The sad result of this however was that many of them were missing/disabled, probably about 30% of them! So there were many that we didn’t even bother to attempt. The caches that we did go for, however took us to some lovely sights. There were also some very beautiful flowers growing all over the park.

Some lovely lillies growing around the park

Orange trumpet flowers

These flowers were growing everywhere around the park

Blossom outside the Japanese Tea Gardens

A scary cactus! (I thought so anyway!)

Dotted all around the park were statues, and water features. There were lakes, and meadows, waterfalls, a botanical garden, Japanese tea garden, a fashion exhibition… the park had everything! There were a lot of tramps there too however, what with it being a big open park with many areas to sleep the night. We came across quite a few discarded clothes and sleeping bags when we rummaged through the bushes for caches.

A building inside the Japanese Tea Gardens

Huntingdon Falls

At the top of Huntingdon Falls

One of the caches in the park

My favourite things about Golden gate park were the squirrels. They were jumping about an peeking at us from everywhere. They were very friendly too and we found some bird seed scattered on one of the pavements and made good friends with one particular squirrel…

Halt! Who goes there?

On the lookout

Hmm... Whatcha' got?

Not sure I trust these humans...

Nom nom nom! Guess they're not so bad after all!

Golden Gate Park is a real gem in amongst the dense city. Such a lovely place to escape to and explore. We even met another local Geocacher in there who was caching with his son. We spent some time with them as they were hunting out the same caches as us. The park was a definite highlight of our trip away.


3 Responses to “An American caching adventure (Part 2) – San Francisco”

  1. dalasa Says:

    Lovely reading this and bringing back so many memoriesof when we were there. We have just got back fron down under. Great time and 1 cache.

  2. Ben Brown Says:

    San Fran – probably the best city in the world……….

  3. wingclipped Says:

    I remember looking for those Lombard Street caches without success. Gratz on finding one!

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