Before I start on Day 4, allow me to back up to Day 3 after my last post. Once I was properly dressed and warm, I consulted my cruise directory for my activity options for the evening. These are usually slim, considering that their demographic is the 60+ crowd… but one option was “jackpot bingo.”
Funny enough, the last time I played bingo (years and years ago) I won – several rounds in a row, in fact. I decided to see if I still carried any of that luck with me. So, for fun, I lined up with all my fellow senior passengers and purchased four game tickets. And 20 minutes later, I walked out with $500.
Later that day, I visited the casino and sat down at a game they called “Fun 21.” It sounded close enough to blackjack that I thought I could follow along, and I won $185 in my first five hands. (Allow me to relieve you of any delusions of me blowing on your dice, though – spoiler alert, later in the cruise I sat down at the same table and lost $50 before the server even came back with my drink.)
Before my luck turned, though, I was up $685 and feeling great. You might recall I booked this trip on credit card points, so this went pretty far in the way of reimbursement for things like shore excursions, drinks, and other expenses. (For one blissful moment I thought I might even break even – HA!)
Back to Day 4: These back-to-back wins were so exhilarating that they almost (almost!) cancelled out the fact that I was going to be in San Francisco the next day.
Don’t get me wrong, San Francisco is a great town. Sure, it was there that I had my first brush with clinical depression… but that was just as much the fault of my job, my relationship, and just general emotional health as it was the fault of the city. I maintain that it is a less-than-awesome place to live, but a wonderful place to visit.
So wonderful, in fact, that I did visit it – almost exactly two years ago to the day, with two of my best friends. And it was lovely, because we got to do all the things I never did as a resident – like Alcatraz (which I lovingly nicknamed “Azkaban”), the Museum of Modern Art, and riding in the back of a pedicab. We also got to revisit some of my old haunts – like my favorite Vietnamese restaurant (it’s called the Slanted Door and it’s in the ferry building, and if you haven’t been you should), and I got to experience the city from the vantage point of a tourist. It changed my whole perspective – improved the taste left in my mouth.
But this meant that as enjoyable as San Francisco had the potential to be, I felt it already had been. So when I saw it on my revised itinerary, I couldn’t help but slump a little. What’s left? What could San Francisco offer me that Puerto Vallarta or Mazatlán couldn’t?
So when I stepped off the boat that morning, searching for delight and with $685 cash burning a hole in my pocket, my first stop was lobster.
I never eat lobster. Anyone who’s ever met me will tell you I’m a glutton for seafood – I’ll take shrimp cocktail over filet mignon any day of the week. If there is a ceviche on the menu, I’m ordering it. Sushi? You betcha. But I struggle to justify spending $40 on anything (read: all my clothes have holes in them because I’ve had the same wardrobe since 2010), let alone a single plate of food. So, lobster – while scrumptious – isn’t usually on my short list.
Maybe it was the combination of my gambling winnings, or the fact that I was less-than-stoked about this port of call, or just generally trying to maximize enjoyment every minute of this trip… but I didn’t flinch before ordering that $39 plate of two massive lobster tails. (In fact, in true vacation mode, I even bought a bottle of Pinot Gris to go with it.)
I spent the rest of the afternoon doing two activities that were newer to me – the aquarium and the Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum. So I went from being mesmerized by jellyfish, touching sea urchins, and having heart attacks over sharks… to marveling over curiosities of human anatomy and culture.
At the end of Ripley’s was a mirror maze, and here’s something new I learned about myself: Oh my goodness I am so bad at mirror mazes. They beg you not to touch the glass so it won’t smudge, but I defy you to show me someone who can walk through without their arms straight out. I got lost so entirely and so rapidly it made my head spin. I had just started to wonder if anyone had ever not made it out when I found the exit.
In any case, a somewhat unexpectedly enjoyable day in SF – all things considered. Here’s to old cities, new experiences, gambling paying off once in a while, and never going into another mirror maze again!