For the past week we have been in San Francisco, California, enjoying the first real travel event since our trip to the Galápagos back in August of 2019. Sure, we took some driving trips here and there, but this was the first trip that involved air travel and was dedicated to just exploring someplace new.

I'll have more to write about later, as we have thoroughly enjoyed our stay, but before we head out to catch one of the iconic cable cars and head to the Palace of Fine Arts, I wanted to get out a quick blog about an experience we had yesterday that reminded us of why we love to travel - especially when we are exploring on our own

We had spent the morning wandering around a portion of the 55-acre Golden Gate Park, enjoying the peaceful scenery and checking out the bison paddock. We also made it to the west end and got to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time since 2019.

We were at the Atlantic in June of this year, now here we are at the Pacific almost 4 months later.

As we started back into the park, we were a bit hungry. Also, we had walked almost five miles, so we were ready for a break. Since there are no food or beverage stands in the park itself, we used Google Maps to check and see what was nearby. Much like Central Park in New York, Golden Gate is surrounded by neighborhoods, so we found a couple of options: we were about one block from a deli and market, and about two and a half from what was listed as the Sunset Cantina.

When we got to the first option, we found it was more market than deli, with only a couple of benches on the sidewalk out in the full sun to eat our meals. We decided to try our luck at the second closest spot, the Cantina.

When we arrived, we found a fairly unimpressive-looking store front with chalkboard menus.

Oh well, any port in a storm.

Although it also had seating out in the sun, at least this time there were tables and chairs. As you can tell from the pictures, there was not a cloud in the sky, but the temperature was only in the upper 70's so we thought we would chance it. Besides, now we were really hungry and tired.

As we stood looking over the menu by the Order Here window, the waitress told us "If you like, you can come inside. There's seating on the back patio if you go through the Rainbow Tunnel."

We had no idea what a "Rainbow Tunnel" was (after all, this is San Francisco), but the thought of a back patio sounded nice, so we pulled up our masks and ventured inside.

We walked past the indoor seating and bar, and sure enough, there was a Rainbow Tunnel!

Through the Rainbow

We emerged into a sweet little shaded back porch, with a pleasant breeze blowing through the gaps in the fence posts. It was away from the street noises, with music playing softly from speakers overhead.

Our next nice surprise was a special on yummy watermelon margaritas, and some delicious food. Even better, most meals were served with yucca fries! Yucca fries are one of the things we miss about Ecuador. I try to make them at home, but we can't find fresh yucca in Knoxville, so I have rely on canned. Not the same.

My chicken torte with yucca fries ...

... Rita's chicken flautas (and a side of yucca fries)

One hour and four margaritas later (total, not each), we went back through the Rainbow Tunnel and out into the real world to catch an electric light rail to the far end of the Park to resume our visit.

This was a wonderful reminder of why we enjoy travel so much, and why we prefer self-exploration. Sure, we may miss some site of historic significance, but we absolutely love it when we randomly stumble across a hidden gem in a quiet neighborhood like the Sunset Cantina.

Well, sounds like Rita is just about ready, so it's time to lace up the hiking boots and head out for another day in San Francisco. What will we find today? For us, not knowing is half the fun!