I’m back from my week in San Francisco for training on a Microsoft tool called Project Server.  To fill you in, my company is looking at tools for managing projects and the visibility of projects.  We already have licenses for MS Project Server (link), have it set up on a development box, and have been looking at it as a possible solution.  I was slated with heading up the initiative and my boss wanted me to go to a training to evaluate the tool as a possible solution.

A company called EPM Solutions (link) was offering a boot camp on Project Server and it seemed like it would be a good way to get an idea how project managers, end users, and administrators would have to interact with the server.  This lined up pretty well with what we were trying to get out of a course, so I decided to go with it.

The hotel EPM suggested was about $129 / night, but it offered a shuttle to the airport and the Seaport Conference Center (class location).  I figured if I had free transportation, my boss would think it was unnecessary to get a rental car.  I didn’t want to be stuck at the hotel during the nights, so I decided to look for a cheaper hotel to make up for the difference.  I found an Extended Stay America one exit further north that was about $50 / night cheaper – so I figured I could get that and a rental car and be set.

I ended up getting a good price on a fare at about $240 roundtrip. I left Sunday morning and arrived late morning.  I picked up my rental car and set out to check out the city.  Without having any real idea of where I was going, I knew San Francisco was north of me, so I took the highway 101 in that direction. 

I saw a sign for Monster park, so I decided to stop off and see what that was all about.  I drove through a somewhat ghetto part of the city and worked my way to the stadium.  It’s sponsored by Monster – the company that does cables and power products.  At the time, they were having some sort of rally racing. It was a bunch of rice cars (Civics, RSX, etc) and a few nicer cars (BMW M3, Corvette, etc.) running around the parking lot on some coned off course.  Those guys have to be crazy. I wouldn’t want to be driving crazy on a concrete/gravel top road having rocks fly up and scratch the hell out of my paint. But oh, well – to each their own. The area just outside Monster park was really nice. There was a really pretty dock, the bay, a fence, and some mountains.

You can see those items in the photo gallery.  I was getting bored, so I decided to head to the heart of San Francisco.  I drove around the downtown area for about an hour looking for something to eat for lunch. The city was pretty packed and there was nowhere to park.  I saw a film crew shooting something at some point, but I don’t know what it was. After driving around for while and not finding anywhere to park I finally caved in and decided to just get some fast food. I spotted a Burger King attached to a gas station and decided it would do.  After looping around to get to it, I pulled into the parking lot only to find that it was take-out only.  I wasn’t about to enjoy my first meal sitting in my car.  

That being the case, I headed back to find my hotel.  After getting all checked in at the Extended Stay, I was REALLY getting hungry and decided to stick with the fast food idea.  I found a Wendy’s nearby and enjoyed a hearty triple-meat cheeseburger, a Caesar salad, French fries, and a coke. Mmmm.  With my appetite appeased, I went back to the hotel to connect to the internet and research the tourist attractions.  Did I mention I had to pay $5 just to get on the hotel’s wireless?  What kind of sham is that?  The front-desk person probably pocketed and got their own Wendy’s cheeseburger. ;) Oh well.  I found some good info and decided to go hit up the cable cars and fisherman’s wharf.

I found a Wells Fargo (my bank) ATM and pulled out $20 for the cable car ride.  The website said it was only $5, but twenty is a good number for a little cushion. After searching for some off-the-beaten-path-around-the-corner-and-down-the-hill parking I found a spot.  I walked to the cable car platform, waited around for a few minutes, and got my first real taste of the city: the old cable cars. It turns out that $5 will only get you a one way ticket.  But who the hell only wants to go one way.  When you get there, how do you expect to get back?  So I opted for the $11 all day pass, which turns out will come in handy later.

I rode down to the Embarcadero / Pier 1-2 area and decided to hoof it (read: walk) to Pier 39.  I didn’t realize of freaking cold it was out there, so by about Pier 9 I decided I would hitch a ride on the old electric rail car.  I got to the Pier and my first task was apparent: find a sweatshirt. Did I mention it was cold there? I found a University sport-wear place and walked in.  They were watching the Golden State vs. Dallas game and I let them know how cool I thought Dallas was.  Those California Golden State boys didn’t think it was funny… but I did.  I found a cool brown sweatshirt with San Francisco written across the front of it in scripted print. It was only like $22 and I was cold, so it was well worth it.

I headed back out on my touring adventure and checked out Alcatraz (from the pier), then the Sea Lions, and finally had some dinner at a little surf place on the pier.  I hopped on the old electric rail car on my way back home.  We stopped a little down the road outside a CVS and I had to get off and switch to the next train.  We waited for about 5 minutes when our driver came back and said we had to wait – that there was a fire truck and ambulance on the tracks ahead.  Well, we waited. And we waited.  And 40-45 minutes later the emergency vehicles cleared out of the way and we headed on our way back.

I hopped back on the first cable-car I was on and got some good pictures on the way back to where my car was.  Again, you can see these pictures in the photo gallery. This day was probably the most eventful part of my trip… and I’m a little tired of writing.  So maybe I’ll fill you in on my visit to Half Moon Bay, dinner with Uncle Scott and Cindy,  and my other little side-trips while I was there later.


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Name: Joshua Lyon
Birthday: August 8, 1985
Location: Valley Ranch (Irving), TX
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