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Eric Moon, of Pleasant Hill, peeks in the front door at the Social Security office to see if anyone is there in Walnut Creek on Oct. 1, 2013.

Bay Area tourists headed to the Grand Canyon or Yosemite National Park felt the brunt of the partial government shutdown Tuesday that forced roughly 800,000 federal workers off their jobs and suspended most nonessential federal programs and services.

One of the real losers is California's already hobbled tourism industry.

"The current federal government shutdown has come with immediate impacts on our national parks, public lands and overall tourism economy. Visitors to and travelers throughout California spend $292 million each day, $12.1 million every hour, or $202,000 every minute,'' said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of the Sacramento-based nonprofit Visit California said in a statement.

"Our national parks, public lands and surrounding gateway areas are major contributors to these figures and the effects of this shutdown will be felt immediately in these communities."

Tuesday's shutdown is the first since the winter of 1995-96, and shuttered parks and attractions across the nation, including some of the most visited museums along the Washington Mall and the U.S. Capitol visitors center.

Pleasanton real estate agent Donna Garrison and a group of friends from around the nation spent the past year training to hike in the Grand Canyon and plan to fly in to Arizona on Wednesday to start their adventure but they will have to find other trails to trek.


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"It's about politics, not about problem-solving," Garrison said of the Capitol stalemate, which she called the "tantrum of all tantrums." "It's so much about politics and less about doing the right thing and serving the common good."

Locally, among the offices shuttered were the IRS, a U.S. Coast Guard exam center, and nonessential operations of the Social Security and Veterans Benefits Administration.

Social Security checks will keep going out, but many veteran services have been halted. Air traffic controllers, border patrol agents and most food inspectors are still on the job, but NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency offices were all but shuttered Tuesday.

Santa Clara University had a career fair with the CIA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and NASA scheduled for Wednesday afternoon but each agency has withdrawn following the shutdown, university spokeswoman Deborah Lohse said.

On Tuesday morning, about 100 people showed up at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco for a tour of Alcatraz Island, only to find the tourist destination closed.

"We bought these tickets six months ago," said Linda Scruggs, who disembarked a cruise ship Tuesday morning excited about seeing the old federal prison. The 62-year-old Arizona woman will get some of her money back, but that wasn't the point. "This was supposed to be the highlight of our trip,'' she said. "We are so disappointed."

Denise Rasmussen, director of sales and marketing for Alcatraz Cruises, said she plans to return early Wednesday to tell another set of customers they won't be boarding a boat to see the park.

Muir Woods, Marin's national monument, was also closed Tuesday, although officials had to chase down a few overzealous tourists who ventured too far into the park despite the closure signs.

"It's quite disappointing," said Jeff Craig, who came to see the majestic redwoods from his home in Toronto.

Tourists from as far away as Sweden and Cairo to as close as the Midwest also got the bad news.

"I am angry," said Philip Wieczorek, who traveled to the monument from Kansas City with his wife. "Is the federal government going to give me a refund for my hotel, for my airfare? This is ridiculous."

There was some good news, at least for travelers heading abroad in the coming months -- passports are still being processed.

"We'll keep taking (applications) until we're told not to," said Gina Alcomendras, the Santa Clara County clerk-recorder. "But the other half of that story is if the federal government will be processing these. I don't know about that, and my sense is that even federal workers are a little confused about how this is all going to play out."

Carl Guardino, president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, landed in Washington, D.C., Tuesday with a delegation of tech executives who have 60 meetings scheduled with Congressional leaders to continue to push for immigration reform, tax reform and a patent office for Silicon Valley.

While Guardino expects the topic of the federal government shut down to come up, he said Congress needs to find a solution on its own.

"I am certain that every meeting with the members of the House or Senate will probably start there," Guardino said. "But we will quickly pivot to the issues at hand."

But Guardino did not want to underplay the effects that a protracted shutdown will have on Silicon Valley businesses. "If it starts going over a week or two, certainly there could be major impacts," Guardino said.

Business around the federal building in downtown San Jose saw considerably lighter traffic Tuesday.

Caffe Frascati on First Street had an unexpected 20 percent drop in customers, including many federal employees, between the morning coffee crowd and the usual lunch crunch, owner Roger Springall said.

The entire downtown scene Tuesday "is definitely quieter," said Leyla Naderjah, owner of the Rosies & Posies floral shop that relies on walk-in customers at Paseo de San Antonio.

Naderjah wasn't certain what kind of sales to expect on the first day of the shutdown. But with sales slow on Tuesday, Naderjah said, "I'm upset. I was assuming our government should be able to come up with a solution" to prevent the shut down.

In Walnut Creek, almost two dozen people were lined up outside the Social Security office when it opened at 9 a.m. Tuesday, and many were turned away from the services they needed.

There was also bad news for taxpayers at the IRS Assistance Center in Walnut Creek, which was closed.

"I didn't know," said Martinez resident Enkhtur Badamsaikhan, who drove over to pick up financial aid forms. "Instead of going to class, I came here," he said.

Inside federal offices around the bay, some employees planned to enjoy a day or two of rest, others were on edge.

Francine Roby walked into her second-floor office at the Ronald Dellums Federal Building in Oakland to water the plants, shut everything down and put a note on the door announcing that the San Francisco Bay Area Federal Executive Board was closed.

If an emergency, such as an earthquake, happens during the shutdown, Roby said she won't be authorized to help with the federal response. She is executive director of the board, which is charged with coordinating all the federal agencies in the region.

"I'm going to turn my Blackberry off and if there's an emergency, I don't know, I have to make an ethical decision on whether I use my home computer to send out a message to people or not," Roby said.

Roby said she planned to spend her day off writing letters to Congress. Lawmakers have left many federal workers demoralized, she said.

"How can I serve these people and these laws when I'm not even considered by Congress important enough to go to work?" Roby said. "It's kind of layer on layer of messages to federal employees that the work you're doing is not valued at these levels, the highest levels of government."

Staff writers Gary Peterson, Matt O'Brien and Mark Emmons contributed to this report.