Monday, April 23, 2012

Tales of the City ~ April 22, 2012

We went down to San Francisco this weekend to meet up with some out of town friends and do some exploring. It was 90 at home in Sonoma County and a pleasant 75 around the bay, one of those magical, windless spring days you don't often see.

We checked into our hotel on Lombard about 4pm and walked down to the Marina to meet with our friends for dinner at Pompei's Grotto on Jefferson St. The food was fabulous. I was looking at some vintage photos on the hallway wall and was thrilled to see one of California Street after the 1906 earthquake that had been taken by my great grand uncle, RJ Waters. Some places like this delightful little restaurant never change, but the world around it does.

The flip side was that there were about 10 low riders (fabulously creative beasts from the 50's and 60's in pristine shape) parked on the street out front. At least four of them had the bass on their space age stereo systems cranked up to 11 (ala Spinal Tap) and the windows were rattling. Several herds of Harley's came through in full dress with dragster volume pipes. All fun to watch, but a bit of a damper on ambiance and conversation for some. We just took it in as part of the free entertainment.

After dinner we walked back on a path that takes you around to the back of the small park at Ft. Mason and saw some stunning views of the Golden Gate and Marin Headlands at dusk.

Sepia tones of a great view of the Golden Gate

However, the next thing that came into view was the aftermath of Earth Day in the park at Ft. Mason. The place had been wall to wall people in the late afternoon when we first walked by. By dusk all that was left was the garbage, tons of it everywhere. San Francisco is at the top of the green cities list, but apparently some of the citizens haven't gotten the message. A sad commentary.

Earth Day Aftermath at Ft. Mason

After a fair night's sleep (we live on a dead end lane in the country so it is a stark and loud contrast being on main street USA) we walked down to Chestnut Street to meet up for breakfast at the Squat and Gobble, a spur of the moment choice that turned out to be an excellent decision. Walking back on Chestnut we noticed a fire truck parked in the middle of Pierce St. A cadre of firemen abandon ship and walk in our direction. We laughed and Carol facetiously said they must be on their way to Starbucks for coffee. Imagine our surprise when that's exactly where they were headed.

Next stop the Exploratorium ~ a place that makes you realize you're always a kid ~ all touch, visual, sound, mind, play, science and make it. I grew up in Mill Valley, just across the Golden Gate Bridge, I'm 67 years old and this was my first trip. Holy Hands On Fun Bat Girl! Put it on your bucket list. They will be closing down next January and moving to their new location on Pier 15 and re-open in April. I don't think it will be as convenient (free parking now at Crissy Field) and the amazing Palace of Fine Arts no longer be next door. So I'd go before the new year.

Favorite I: Icy Bodies ~ thin shavings of dry ice are injected onto the surface of a shallow pool of water where they careen around like comets. 

Tiny jets of gas shoot out from the individual ice fragments causing them to spin and tumble as they drift about. Side-lighting brings out the detailed structure of the out-gassing jets, much like our solar system.

Favorite II: The Living Bacteria Exhibit ~ colors to delight the artisan in all of us.

This was an amazing adventure to say the least ~ we took a stroll through the Palace of Fine Arts and then called it a day and headed back to the north country. Cereal and bananas for dinner and early to bed, brain dead from all the sensory input. Next adventure will be to the Legion of Honor for the Cult of Beauty: the Victorian Avant Garde 1860-1900 (through June 17th) and the San Francisco Zoo. 

Martha, Carol, Rod and Me