Just because we don’t own our own vehicle doesn’t mean that Car-Free Family doesn’t get around. As a matter of fact, we enjoy frequent excursions into San Francisco, one of the easiest places for us to get without a car.
This week, we went into the city along with some friends who had rented a minivan, so we didn’t take the ferry, BART or bus like we normally would. Our plan: A Ride the Ducks San Francisco tour.
Both we and our accompanying friend are originally from Wisconsin, so we are familiar with the World War II ambhibious vehicles used for a very popular tour in the Wisconsin Dells. Ride the Ducks San Francisco’s vehicles are actually newly built from the ground up, but they look like the DUKW vehicles used in World War II. The tour lasts 90 minutes and the guides are always really funny.
Our tour guide, driver and captain was Capt. Mike, who told us all about how his glorious education in graphic design led him to a brilliant career in Duck driving. The Duck itself was named Buttercup.
The tour lasted 90 minutes, taking us from the Wharf area through North Beach, Chinatown, Union Square, through South Beach, and then into the San Francisco Bay south of AT&T Park, where we could see into the stadium, and where the kids got a chance to steer the boat. The length of the trip is perfect for getting a good overview of the more popular parts of the city, while not being so long that anyone had to use the bathroom.
Here you can see Nutmeg, my 10-year-old daughter, enjoying the ride with her friend EJ, daughter of Kori of Koritelling.
Besides learning facts about a city that I lived in for seven years without knowing (for instance, that Bank of America was once called Bank of Italy and rose to prominence after the earthquake because the bank president brought depositors funds home with him and kept them safe from fire), I also had a plain old good time on the Ride the Ducks tour. Mike was so funny and committed — he got us to wave at passersby and to play along to his soundtrack with the “quacker” horns which are sold for $3.
Our group of five boarded last, which was perfect, because the very last seat on the vehicle is a long bench that we could all fit on. When it’s time to get out, the middle of the bench is lifted and leads down a ladder to the street.
Days later, Toth, my 5-year-old, heard the song “On the Road Again” on the radio, and immediately recognized it as one he had heard on the ducks — when we left the Bay to drive back up onto land.
Later we Facetimed my parents to tell them about the fun, and they laughed, because they had just returned from Philadelphia, where they had ridden the Philadelphia Duck Tours and had a quacking good time.
Car-Free Mom received a free tour for myself and three children from Ride the Ducks San Francisco with the understanding that I would share my experience online.