Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Orlando

December 3, 2017

Haven’t been to Disney World since I took my kids there about 25 years ago, but did remember enjoying Epcot Center and the Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios).  Today it’s Walt Disney World Resort, covering 27,258 acres, featuring four theme parks, two water parks, twenty-seven themed resort hotels, nine non–Disney hotels, several golf courses, a camping resort, and other entertainment venues, including the outdoor shopping centre Disney Springs… the most visited vacation resort in the world, with an average annual attendance of over 52 million.  (This info from Wikipedia, which keeps asking me for money.)

When I was a kid growing up in Detroit, we could afford to visit my maternal grandmother in Los Angeles each four years, during summer break, in the days before AC in cars – a hot drive.  We were there in 1956, the year after Disneyland opened.  There was a ride in conestoga wagons through the “painted desert” (much more colorful than the real thing, but Disney was into fantasy).  Imagine kids liking anything so slow (or hot under the canvas)!  Postcard above.  The ride was discontinued – not fast enough throughput.  Now they have rides like Splash Mountain, just quick fun.  But Tom Sawyer’s island is still there, which is a walk, not a ride.  I remember the suspension bridge and the pontoon bridge, and the rocks which were spray-painted in primary colors with what looked like the screen and toothbrush method.

We also would go to Marineland, best known for its performing killer whales (before we knew how bad that was), which was open from 1954 until 1987, when SeaWorld San Diego bought it and moved the orcas as well as dolphins, sea lions, harbor seals, sharks, and a variety of other related sea creatures to San Diego.

There is a SeaWorld Orlando, a theme park and marine zoological park, including Discovery Cove and Aquatica, and many neighboring hotels.  Also in Orlando is Universal Orlando, the second-largest resort here after Walt Disney World Resort.

Friday night got out of work late (meeting), so skipped dinner for a 45-minute drive on I-4 for Christmas with the Basilica Choir ($25) in the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe.  Three of my four applicants are PNPs (Public Non-Profits), Catholic schools, so I thought it would be nice to see the basilica.  The small orchestra was marvelous with or without the choir (as in the Sleigh Ride).  Especially liked the choir – seven men and eight women – when they sang a cappella.  During half-time they called out the raffle winners.  First prize was champagne and truffles. (Christ might be turning over in his grave.)  Fourth prize was a Santa pillow and some other like stuff.  The second half had a singalong, which I was looking forward to, but started (after the Sleigh Ride) with the choir singing Hark! the Herald Angles Sing.  I wanted to sing along!  So I envisioned myself singing awesomely at my seat.  The choir would hear me and peter out.  I would be ushered from my row to the front where I would be given a microphone to finish the first verse to much applause.  I would be, of course, a famous opera singer such as Kiri Te Kanawa, who I heard sing when I was in Taiwan.  (My brother should get a kick out of that, because he knows that I have been the only dreadful singer in the family.)

Altamonte Springs

The Residence Inn where I’m staying is in Altamonte Springs, one of the northern suburbs of Orlando.  Altamonte means high mountain.  We’re 85′ above sea level – go figure.

There’s a baseball tournament this weekend, ages 7-18, the Winter Bat Freeze, and the Residence Inn is full of families, many of them speaking Spanish.  The pool has been full of young boys, as the basketball half-court has been, and last night they were playing soccer in the parking lot.

There is a huge building under construction right next to I-4.   (My photo from down the street from my abode.)  I looked it up; according to the Orlando Sentinel:

Altamonte tower entering year 16 of construction may be completed this year

…the owners of the 18-story office tower… would like to finish the structure this year. The iconic structure stands as the tallest between Orlando and Jacksonville.

For years, SuperChannel 55 President Claud Bowers has said he plans to complete the self-funded, pay-as-you-go project within a year to 18 months.  On Friday, he said the city asked for a best-case timeline to complete the work and Bowers said he told them a year. He added that he needs to raise about $10 million to finish the project.

“The patience of the community and city officials is just amazing and appreciated,” said Bowers, who next year will be a 40-year veteran of Christian television programming.  In the past, he has raised funds on his Christian television station and also got a settlement from the state for some land in the path of the I-4 expansion.  altamonte-tower

$$$$$

I’m almost in tears.  How could our Arizona senators, Flake and McCain, vote for this tax bill?

JOHN MCCAIN CLAIMED HE CARES ABOUT “HONOR” IN THE SENATE. HIS TAX VOTE SHOWS HE LIED.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN of Arizona joined 50 fellow Republicans on Friday night in voting yes on a Senate bill that slashes taxes on corporations and billionaires, while enacting the largest tax increase in history on many poorer Americans.

…the tax bill… directly benefits McCain and his family in obvious ways. His wife Cindy McCain’s estimated $100 million fortune is largely based in her ownership of liquor distributor Hensley Beverage, which would gain from the bill’s cut to alcohol taxes. It also will allow the McCain children to inherit $22 million tax free, doubled from the $11 million exemption under current law.

Jon Schwarz, The Intercept

But maybe his children will take their $22 million and provide full college scholarships ($120K total for four years at a state university) for 183 students in need…  And that’s only their tax free inheritance.

In the $$$$$ category: I was almost out of gas after the Christmas concert, so I stopped at the nearest gas station.  $5.99 a gallon – took $77 to fill the bug.  I had to laugh, it was like I was in another dimension.  I figured out that prices are high there because it is next to the airport.

Miscellaneous

Garrison Keillor?!

August in San Diego continued

August 30, 2017

Los Angeles

A continuation of art at the Broad Museum:

(We missed Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, a mirror-lined chamber housing a dazzling and seemingly endless LED light display. This experiential artwork has extremely limited capacity, accommodating one visitor at a time for about a minute, and requires a separate free timed same-day reservation which ticket holders are able to reserve, pending availability, after arrival at the museum at a kiosk in the center of the lobby, as we hadn’t figured that out when we first got in.  L said it’s coming to the San Diego Art Museum in November, so she’ll try to get tickets for it.)

A room of Jeff Koons, well known for his balloon dogs and other balloon animals produced in stainless steel with mirror-finish surfaces, but years ago (1988) he did Buster Keaton of polychromed wood and others of its ilk.  This about Rabbit:

In 1979 Jeff Koons made Inflatable Flower and Bunny (Tall White, Pink Bunny), the seed for so much of his future work… Seven years later, Koons… created Rabbit. The switch from the word “bunny” to “rabbit” is intriguing. Bunny is cute and floppy; rabbit is quick and sharp. The carrot in the rabbit’s paw is wielded like a weapon, and the once soft, leaky, and cheap vinyl shell of the bunny has been replaced by armorlike, costly stainless steel, which reflects everything surrounding Rabbit and deflects any allusions to the sculpture’s interior.

(Dorothy Cargill, who just passed away, at 86, in April of this year, the millionairess who gave our art group a tour of her Palm Springs home back in 2014 – I never finished those blogs – donated a larger balloon dog to the Palm Springs Art Museum, so “Jeff” made her a small one with a radio in it.)

I liked Forward Retreat by Mark Tansey.

Forward Retreat, 1986, describes the slipperiness of perception and questions the validity of innovation in art. The central image of horseback riders is painted as a reflection on water. The riders, all outfitted in uniforms of Western powers (American, French, German, and British), represent the nationalities of artists who came to dominate twentieth-century art history. They are seated backward on their horses, focused on a distant receding horizon, and are oblivious to the fact that their steeds trample on the crushed ruins of myriad pottery and objets d’art. With typically dry humor, Tansey implies two conclusions: that art progresses on the ruins of its past and that art making is propelled in part by unconscious forces.

Robert Therrien‘s Under the Table:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland…  The table, at nearly ten feet tall, exudes an extraordinary presence.  One is compelled to walk underneath it…

 

 

Here a photo of another visitor.  Loved his diaphanous skirt, jacket with the skull, and fuchsia topknot, fitting nicely with Marakami’s work.

 

 

 

 

A few of Takashi Murakami‘s huge (pronounce that in Trump’s voice, without the “h”) paintings.  These were my two favorites, My arms and legs rot off and though my blood rushes forth, the tranquility of my heart shall be prized above all (Red blood, black blood, blood that is not blood), acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas mounted on board, although the ceiling reflection takes away from the blackness, and this one that I couldn’t get an entire photo of, as it wrapped around the room:

Takashi Murakami’s massive eighty-two-foot-long painting, In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, reflects on the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. Murakami discovered that roughly 150 years earlier, after the great Ansei Edo earthquake of 1855, artist Kano Kazunobu had created a large grouping of monumental scrolls conjuring the five hundred arhats, the traditional stewards of Buddha’s teaching. Murakami, through the post–World War II lens of Japan’s pervasive pop culture, again revived the arhats. In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow portrays a cartoonish, spiritual landscape, awash in an enormous tsunami of churning water. The work is a specific reference to a Japanese history of natural disasters and an attempt to place suffering into a visual language.


John Ahearn‘s Raymond and Toby.

John Ahearn has worked closely with his subjects, making life casts of people in the South Bronx neighborhood of New York City… often making molds of people directly in plaster and casting them [this one in fiberglass]… Many subjects enact the roles that fill most of our lives — grocery shopping, walking a dog, getting children ready for school — and, subsequently, the sculptures are not only recognizable but joyful in their celebration of life.

I’d seen another of Kara Walker‘s cutouts at the Venice Biennale.

In African’t, [her] cutouts are nearly life size, becoming a theater of remembrance and forgetting.  Here, blacks and whites, men, women, and children, all participate in pre-Civil War scenes of degradation, sex and violence…

There were two of Shirin Neshat‘s videos.  (She has been exiled from Iran.)  Here are some shots from one of them.  Not much sound other than the wind and the women’s ululations.

Shirin Neshat’s Rapture shows a divided world where architecture and landscape stand as metaphors for entrenched cultural beliefs about men and women. The men are trapped in a fortress while the women make a long journey through the desert to the sea. While the men wrestle and pray, the women eventually board small boats to leave the land entirely. As with Possessed, Rapture’s poetic potential taps into the collective dreams, fantasies, and horrors confronting the Iranian people.

Cy Twombly‘s Nini’s Painting (Rome).  Think my color’s off; don’t remember the green, but looked online and saw it in five different shades.

Nini’s Painting (Rome)… is part of a series of monumental works completed by Twombly in the early 1970s that, according to some critics, were inspired by both a trip to a Jackson Pollock retrospective and the themes of repetition emerging in minimalist art.

 

Edward Ruscha‘s Desire.  He came into prominence during the 1960s pop art movement.  I liked this one.

John, by Chuck Close.  (Put L in the photo so you could see the monumentality of the painting.)

John, one of Close’s earliest paintings, is described as photo-realist…  instead of using mechanical means to transfer his images onto canvas, Close works entirely from sight to achieve the intensely animate detail…

Back to Tucson

Returned home Saturday afternoon.  The high for the day had been 108° and the humidity was 57% (not a dry heat!) as it had just rained.  Blowover from Hurricane Harvey.  A newscaster was interviewing someone in Texas whose house had just flooded for the third time in two years.  (Photo from CNN.)  I had just ranted about that in my last blog!  The feds should buy the house, tear it down, and make the land into a park.  And get rid of flood insurance!  Then I was thinking that all of the news had been about the amount of water (50″!!!) and the rescue of people, nothing about all of the oil refineries down there.  But on NPR this morning it was said that one million pounds of pollutants would be released around Houston:

On Sunday, Houston-area resident Stephanie Thomas told Houston Press “something powerful” hit her nostrils, describing the smell “like burnt rubber with a hint of something metallic thrown in.”

The La Porte Office of Emergency Management identified the chemical as anhydrous hydrogen chloride, a colorless gas that turns into a white mist of hydrochloric acid when exposed to moisture in the air. A Dow Chemical safety sheet warns that eye or skin contact causes severe burns, and that inhaling the fumes can be fatal.

Air Alliance Houston estimates that the area’s petrochemical plants will release more than 1 million pounds of air pollution as a result of Harvey…

(In April of this year, a federal judge ordered Exxon Mobil to pay $20 million in fines because the Baytown complex illegally spewed 8 million pounds of hazardous chemicals over a five year period.)  houston-refinery-toxic-pollution

That fits nicely with Trump’s pushing for the Keystone pipeline, and at the end of March:

..the State Department granted the pipeline giant TransCanada a permit for Keystone construction…

…it would connect with existing pipelines to deliver the sludgy oil to refineries in Texas and Louisiana for processing. Most of the refined product would probably be exported…  keystone-oil-pipeline

On a positive note, my plants having been loving all of the rain.  A few months ago I started making a daily bouquet for the shelf above my desk.  The flowers on the bougainvillea, Mexican petunia, and red bird of paradise last only one day, but there are so many of them that I can have fresh flowers daily.  (The woman who does the flower arrangements for our art group’s monthly art-viewing-with-wine-and-hors d’oeuvres did one with bougainvillea, giving me the idea.)  This arrangement of chive blooms (white), Mexican petunia (lavender), and red bird.  Yes, the chive flowers are a bit odoriferous, so I added some mint flowers (lavender) which don’t really show up here, but somewhat ameliorate the scent.

But all of my second round of tomatoes are still green, and the eggplants aren’t ripe yet.  I had to buy tomatoes at the grocery store!  As my daughter often texts me: #firstworldproblems  Like when the irrigation guys took a week to show up to fix a spouter on my drip system, which had to be turned off, so I had to water the garden by hand!  #firstworldproblems  Or the handle on the 20-year-old microwave broke off, and I had to wait two weeks for a new microwave.  (This is a rental, and the microwave was so old you couldn’t get parts any more.)  #firstworldproblems

Yes, I’m one of the spoiled Americans.  You probably are too.

Are You in the Top One Percent of the World?  According to the Global Rich List… an income of $32,400 a year will allow you to make the cut.  one-percent-world

Denver 2017 Continued

July 28, 2017

I love the Denver Botanical Gardens.  Last time I was there there was an extensive Dale Chihuly glass exhibit.   (Scroll down to the bottom of this blog: denver-2014.)  This time it was Calder.  Photo of my cousins in front of one.   I liked the water lilies the best.

But I had to take some photos of bugs, as my father was wont to do.  (After he had been gone a few years my mother suggested that we look at some of his slides.  Hoping to actually see people, we chose a set entitled Jane and Hal’s.  It was, of course, bugs in Aunt Jane and Uncle Hal’s garden.)  

That was Tuesday.  In the evening they got a call from M’s nephew who had crashed his bicycle and broken a thumb, and, as neither he nor his girlfriend had a car, could they pick him up after surgery tomorrow?

So on Wednesday morning we walked some of the extensive trails through Lone Tree, from their condo, and in the afternoon went downtown Denver to the hospital.  Had a nice chat with the girlfriend who is getting her PhD in bug-ology (entomology)*.  There’s a lot of traffic in Denver, and google maps (or whatever they were using) would mention that there was a traffic jam ahead, and direct us off the freeway, only to say that there was a traffic jam ahead, and direct us back to the freeway.

Must mention that every morning (lovely, cool mornings) we had breakfast on one of their three decks (the condo is a tri-level), which overlooks the paved trail that winds through their town.  This section has numerous trees, deciduous and pines.  Many people passed, walking with friends, or more often their dogs, and M chatted with all of them.  And we watched the squirrels, rabbits, and birds.  There was a murder of crows (yes, that’s the collective noun for a group of crows) in the pines, and one morning a  Cooper’s hawk – it was the same size as the crows, with a striped tail – had an extended  tête-à-tête with one of those raucous birds.

Thursday we went to the Molly Brown House Museum.  She is known because of the musical film, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which we were told is quite fictionalized.  From Wikipedia:

Margaret “Maggie” Brown was an American socialite and philanthropist. She is best remembered for exhorting the crew in Lifeboat No. 6 to return to the debris field of the 1912 sinking of RMS Titanic to look for survivors.

The house was very dark, to save the furnishings from the Denver sun.  The volunteer who gave the hour-long tour was great.  (She said that Margaret Brown was never called Maggie.) The house was presumably upper-middle class at the turn of the  last century.  Quite large, but it accommodated the couple, their two children, and her parents.

 

 

 

Margaret was a pretty liberated woman, going to Japan, Egypt, and Europe with her maid.  On the trip back from France she took the Titanic, which, as you possibly know, went down.  Being one of the well-to-do passengers, she got into one of the lifeboats and went on to raise money from the more wealthy to help the poor who had survived.  (She posted two lists, one of the rich survivors who donated, and how much they gave, and another of those who did not give.  That helped.)

In her early years, after her husband had discovered gold and became a partner in the mining company, she helped miners and their families and worked to improve the town’s schools.  Later on she worked with women’s suffrage and workers’ rights, and also ran for a Colorado state senate seat three times.  (She did not win.)

 

Friday we went to the Lookout Mountain Nature Preserve and checked out the Boettcher Mansion, which was celebrating its 100th year, and which stays open by hosting weddings – the other couple touring the house were scheduling their nuptials.  I enjoyed the Craftsman architecture and furnishings (from the Arts and Crafts movement), including the wallpaper in the William Morris style.

And the Nature Center (which only had a large diorama, but the taxidermy was done well).  We exited as it started raining.

 

Then left at dawn Saturday morning to return to Tucson.  (Didn’t have a lot of choice with tickets using my frequent flyer miles.)

*Sorry – I have to tell a Tucson insect story.  Yesterday I sat for my grandkids.  The middle one is in the Phoenix area with paternal grandparents (clever enough to take one at a time), the youngest had his tonsils out three days ago and is spending his time eating ice cream and watching movies, and the oldest was to go to a friend’s house for a swim.  On the way over she mentioned that they have a collection of scorpions, knowing that her brother has an interest in scorpions ever since, at age one in Chandler, he poked at one on the staircase and got stung.  (It’s family legend.)

Turns out the mother has a few scorpions in terrariums, and a collection of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, but has at least a dozen cages and terrariums with tarantulas from all over the world.  Had to show us all of them, one of her favorites being the one which has pink toes.  Avicularia avicularia… are arboreal tarantulas and are found in South America.1

1http://awesomearachnids.tumblr.com/post/109170783825/pink-toe-tarantula

Denver 2017

July 26, 2017

Yes, I will get back to my Berlin blogs, but first check out this commercial: herding-cats.

First half of last week

Last week I visited cousins in Lone Tree, Colorado.  It was my cousin’s birthday, but he doesn’t like to say which one.  (A few more than mine.)  Photo of him, me, his equestrian daughter, and son-in-law, at the birthday picnic.  (His wife took all of the family photos, so she’s not in any.)

Meant to get away from Tucson heat, but the monsoons had taken over back home, and it was 10° cooler in Tucson than in Denver!  So we spent our days in the mountains. Sunday Mount Evans (14,300 feet high1 – first of my fourteeners2 – but it was raining at the top, so we luckily didn’t have to walk the few steps to the top, as breathing was difficult).

The road was the scariest I’ve ever been on – two narrow lanes, no guard rail, and a precipitous drop.  Photo on the way down of Echo Lake, a tarn (a lake that develops in the basin of a cirque, generally after the melting of the glacier).  There were a few mountain goats molting – they looked dreadful!  When we stopped, one came to the car to beg.  Didn’t embarrass them with a photo, but there are many copyrighted ones online.

Monday the Rocky Mountain National Park along Trail Ridge Road3. The mountains are gorgeous, although there is not much left of the glaciers but patches of snow, rock slides with talus, a pile of rocks, at the bottom, the cirques, and other terminology that I can’t remember because I wrote nothing down. Think this photo was taken at the Gore Range Overlook4.  At the Forest Canyon Overlook I took this photo of a cirque, a bowl-shaped, amphitheater-like depression eroded into the head or the side of a glacier valley. Typically, a cirque has a lip at its lower end. The term is French and is derived from the Latin word circus.)

We did the stairway at the Alpine Visitor Center.  (This photo one of my cousin’s from earlier in the year – there were lots of wildflowers when we were there.  I overexposed my set of photos – darn!)  Top of stairs at 12,003 feet above sea level.  Cousin H bounded up, but his wife had had knee surgery a few weeks before, so was going slowly (or was just being nice to me, as I was having a hard time breathing.  Twenty-five years ago I had no problem hiking near Cuzco, Peru, with elevation 11,152′, but I had spent eight years trekking on Mt. Lemmon when I had a cabin in Summerhaven, elevation 7,700′.)

Don’t remember what stop this was.  Photos of me, a ground squirrel  posing with wildflowers, and a moving chipmunk, which has more stripes on its back than the ground squirrel, the only critters that we saw other than the sheep and some birds.  I know I took a photo of the Continental Divide, but have no idea which one it is.

Tuesday morning M and I still had sore calves, but my cousin did his daily run!  Running in the mile-high city has acclimated him.

1Atop 14,259-foot Longs Peak, the highest mountain in the park, oxygen levels are 50% less [than at sea level] so I guess that’s the same on Evans.  altitude-sickness
2Colorado_fourteeners
3Elevations on park roads range between 7,800 feet and 12,183 feet – the highest point on Trail Ridge Road.   Trail Ridge Road provides spectacular view of the majestic scenery of Rocky Mountain National Park. It is the highest continuous motorway in the United States, with more than eight miles lying above 11,000′ and a maximum elevation of 12,183‘.  At this lofty spot there’s 35% less oxygen in the air than at sea level.
4http://www.rmnp.com/RMNP-Areas-TrailRidge.HTML

 

SF Day Two

June 29, 2017

After a very active day yesterday, A. (six) slept in until nine!  Don’t think he’s ever done that before. Had a great breakfast at the Church Street Cafe, where the espresso drinks are labeled Fancy Drinks on the menu.  Then my brother’s son, Ian, joined us (taking the day off from work) to go to the Exploratorium.  According to Wikipedia:

The Exploratorium is a public learning laboratory in San Francisco exploring the world through science, art, and human perception. Its mission is to create inquiry-based experiences that transform learning worldwide.

It used to be housed in the cavernous—and very empty—Palace of Fine Arts, which was once part of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in Golden Gate Park.  Took my kids there many years ago.  Now it’s on Pier 15 along San Francisco’s Embarcadero.  We took a trolley to get there.  They run up and down Market Street, the Embarcadero, and Fisherman’s Wharf, and are restored vintage trolleys from all over the world.  (See these pictures: streetcars.)

A. had another pal now, and the two of them dashed around from exhibit to exhibit while my brother and I lagged behind, reading some of the text.  (The purpose of the interactive exhibits, of course, if to learn why something happens.)

Here are A. and Ian in a parabolic mirror, and (right) watching their slow motion video.  Then my strobe light photo, and Ian taking a photo of his.

 

Next, my brother viewing his stop-action photo, the water drop image of him upside down.

We ate lunch at the SeaGlass Restaurant there, the sushi chef (at left in this photo from their website) making a dish for me and A.  Ian got a nice vegetarian dish (which could have been Mexican, as he and his girlfriend had spent six months in Mexico City last year).  Forgot what my brother got, but it included french fries.

We continued dashing about, until the dissection of a cow’s eye, where we sat, upstairs, and which was very interesting.  Can’t even start to relate all of the exhibits we saw, but we were there for over five hours.

Then we had to catch a trolley back to The Castro to meet Ian’s girlfriend, J., for dinner.  First trolley too full for the four of us to squeeze on.  The next one, just as crowded, didn’t bother to stop.  So we thought to hail a cab.  Only two went by us, and they were full.  Finally Ian called an Uber driver.   Then we were caught in rush hour traffic (which is why a trolley would have been better, but the next one was in half-an-hour).  Were twenty minutes late for our six o’clock reservation.  Luckily they held the table at Pauline’s Pizza.  (Homegrown ingredients go into the pies & salads at this family-friendly pizzeria with a wine room.)  Ian and J. are vegetarians, so we all split two pizzas, one with a Salted Meyer Lemon Puree, blueberries, mint, and goat cheese (yummy!), the other asparagus, kale, and something else that was green (the Green of the Day?).  Plus nice wines.  We walked back to our motel and A. got to bed a bit late.

Had to get up early for the drive to the Oakland airport.  A. and I had our breakfast there.  Had our lunch (not much, as we were still full!) in Los Angeles, then the final flight home.  (No delays!)  What a nice week.

https://www.exploratorium.edu/

San Francisco with a Six-Year-Old

June 27, 2017

On Thursday my brother, my grandson, A., and I drove into San Francisco.  We went immediately to the The California Academy of Sciences.  (For you other architects, LEED Platinum status.)  These quotes from their website.

…a renowned scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring, explaining, and sustaining life on Earth.  Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum—all under one living roof.

Keeping a six-year-old on track was a bit difficult, but we zipped about, and saw most of the museum except for the living roof.

We walked under the four-story living rainforest, which is a section of the aquarium.

The Steinhart Aquarium is one of the most advanced and biologically diverse aquariums in the world, home to the world’s deepest indoor living coral reef, an albino alligator, …a shark lagoon and more than 38,000 live animals representing over 900 species.

The aquarium was a big hit, especially where they allowed the kids to touch (just with two fingers) the sea stars.  I liked the jellyfish.  A. took lots of photos with the phone his mom had lent him.  And he learned how to focus and enlarge.

Even the lunch there was great. A. wanted sushi, and, it being California, I figured it was very fresh. We split a pack.

We watched the feeding of the African penguins, but A. wasn’t interested in the dioramas of African landscapes and animals in the Kimball Natural History Museum, because the animals were stuffed.

We walked up to the top of the four-story Osher Rainforest, housed in a 90-foot glass dome and teeming with life from some of the most biodiverse places on Earth—from… free-flying birds and butterflies to enormous Amazonian fish.
(Photo of dome from zoochat.com, which has a lot of information.)

Snakes such as the Madagascar leaf-nosed snake were fun because they hid in plain sight (photo Wikipedia).  Also geckos, chameleons, and the tiny poison dart frogs.  (These were all in separate terrariums.)

The whale and dinosaur bones were no big deal, nor the minerals.  But we went into the Earthquake Shake House to experience San Francisco’s two biggest quakes—the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake [1989, which my brother was in] and the 7.9-magnitude Great San Francisco quake of 1906.  That was fun, and informative.

And when we started to lag, we sat for half an hour learning about asteroids and comets in the newest planetarium show.  The Morrison Planetarium

…is home to one of the largest and most advanced all-digital domes in the world. The Academy’s Visualization Studio produces award-winning original planetarium shows that tell stories about faraway galaxies—and our home planet Earth—using scientific data to depict the most current discoveries.

Note: A. said this was the best day, possibly because we went to the gift shop and he spent his $20 on a Plasma Ball, which shall be a great nightlight for someone who doesn’t like the dark, in addition to being fun to play with.

A. requested clams for dinner, so we went to an excellent but tiny fish restaurant, the Anchor Oyster Bar.  My brother doesn’t even like fish, but he’s cool, and had a shrimp dinner.  It’s walking distance from Becks Motor Lodge in The Castro district, where we were staying, because it is reasonable, right on a trolley line, and has free parking.

Kinda sorry that we missed the 47th annual Pride Parade, as it was on Sunday, and we left on Saturday. (These photo two of many from sfgate.com.)  Would have been an eye-opener for a six-year-old.

Water

June 27, 2017

Other than my daughter’s pool, not much water around here.  So my brother and I (his wife has just had knee surgery) took A. to the creek one day, to play with a small sailboat.

The next day we went to One of the Most Deadly Beaches in California, Jenner Beach.  The Russian River runs into the Pacific there, where harbor seals raise their young.  Obviously we did not go into the water at the beach, but made an intricate sand castle.

On the way back we stopped to watch a paraglider on Goat Rock, but he wasn’t airborne, so no photo. Here are two from my last time at that beach:

 

When we made a stop at Whole Foods to buy a few items for the evening’s hot pot, A. chose clams!  Not sure he had ever had them before, and my sister-in-law had never cooked them before, but for dinner he ate six of the eight!

Cazadero 2017

June 27, 2017

Visited my brother and his wife in California with my six-year-old grandson, A.  Had a fun time flying a week ago Sunday.  The family dropped us up at the airport; an hour-and-a-half later, when we were supposed to be boarding, we were told that the plane was broken (crack in windshield), and we’d have to wait four hours for another plane.  (This being summer in Tucson, there were only two other planes at the airport, both full of people escaping the heat.)

So… called my daughter, 45 minutes away.  They had to get their daughter, B., to the airport in the afternoon to catch a plane to visit her grandfather, so they drove back and we had a Mexican lunch in South Tucson.  Then back to the airport, where the whole family got to go to the gate, as my granddaughter is under 13, flying unaccompanied.  What a great Father’s Day at the airport my son-in-law had!  (The loud family – as in SNL – was next to us – four kids, the two-year-old screaming.  A. stared, unbelieving.)  After B. left, A. and I still had two hours until our flight to Salt Lake City, where we were to change planes.  The SLC airport was fun – moving walkways!  For dinner,during our two-hour layover, we ate the PB&J sandwiches my daughter had packed for our lunch.  (A young woman in a lightweight backless white top – a very lacy pink bra showing totally in back, and jeggings.  With her a young man with one full sleeve of tattoos, curly hair past his shoulders, and a camouflage baseball cap on backwards.)

At the last minute, a flight delay to CA of half-an-hour was announced. We didn’t leave until 10:30 pm.  Did I mention that my grandson is six?  He watched two movies on his Kindle, a power cord connected to a power pole between seats.  I had called my brother twice to keep him apprised of the situation.  He greeted us at 11:15 in Oakland, and we still had a two-and-a-half hour drive to northern Sonoma.

This was Delta airlines, whose entire computer system had gone out two weeks ago.  Flying is so much fun.  (Or why can’t someone invent a transporter?)

Monday we went geocaching.  (See this blog from Idaho re geocaching: geocaching.)

We couldn’t open the first box we found, so, “thinking it was not the cache”, we crossed the bridge, skidded down a hillside, waded across the shallow river and climbed back up the “cliff” under the bridge.  Tried the box again and got it opened.  Did two more locations on the interactive map.  A. got a Smoky the Bear pin for his brother and a “diamond” ring for his mom.  He traded them for Prized Items he had found in Uncle Grandpa Dick’s workroom.

BTW – it was 89° there and 113° in Tucson that day.

Berlin Day One

June 2, 2017

Sunday May 28, 2017

Took a sleeping pill just before dinner last night, and don’t even remember eating the dessert. While the lights dimmed and I was changing into my pj’s, the stews made up my bed, not only the seat fully flat, but a lovely comforter (down?) in a duvet cover to snuggle into, and the partitions raised to five feet for privacy.  Great breakfast, each ordered individually, with hot washcloths served before the meal, as last night.

Gained nine hours.

Horrible jetlag when I got to the hotel, due perhaps to too much wine at a high altitude.  Instead of dinner, went right to bed and slept through until morning. Missed “one of the best meals” and a fabulous guest speaker, but everyone said that the room was stifling hot. Guess not many buildings here are air conditioned, and global warming is sneaking up on them.

Oh – must tell you why I’m here.  It’s an art tour with CAS (the Contemporary Art Society) from TMA (the Tucson Museum of Art). You may remember that I went to Cuba1 with them, as well as the Venice Art Biennale2.

1https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/cuba-day-1/
2https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/verona-wednesday-june-12/

Pre-Berlin

June 2, 2017

Saturday, May 27, 2017

I am  chortling as I write this.  Got a call from American Airlines this morning. Supposed to be flying AA, then British Airways to Berlin, but BA’s entire computer system has gone kablooy.  So got rescheduled earlier on Lufthansa. My daughter was at work, and my son-in-law at the gym, but he left and picked me up 15 minutes later.  (Laundry just out of the dryer!)  Got to the airport by 11am for a 12:12 flight.  TSA, so I got through expedited baggage check without having to take off my shoes.  But here’s the punch line: they had to put me in first class!  On the flight to Chicago, while those in steerage got crackers and soda, I had an appetizer of sliced artichoke heats with cherry tomatoes stuffed with a lovely cheese, a tabbouleh salad, a pretzel roll, vegetable lasagne (not very good, but then my son makes the best with homemade noodles!), and a chocolate mousse with raspberries for dessert. I decided against wine for lunch and had club soda with a slice of lime, in a real glass. In Chicago sat in Lufthansa’s Club drinking wine and eating nuts with three other women in our group, who had also been rerouted, rather than the buffet.

So now I’m in a first class section with only ten huge seats.  The seat has nine different adjustments (including flat, which I plan to use).  We were offered champagne (2003 Cuvee Louise, Champagne Pomery, Frankreich) and macadamia nuts.  (I had orange juice.)  We were given pajamas (!) with an apology that they’re women’s but one size fits all.  Plus night socks and slippers, and a makeup case with miscellaneous toiletries.  There is a fresh long-stemmed red rose in a vase next to my TV screen.  The flight atttendants are obsequious, but the pilot speaks first in German (which always makes me think of Dr. Strangelove), then English.

For dinner I shall have a 2011 Barolo Cerequio, Michele Chiarlo, Italien, cavier “with the traditional garnishes”, seared beef filet and lump crab with bernaise sauce, asparagus, baby carrots and whipped potatoes, a hazelnut pot de creme for dessert, and possibly a Niepoort Portwein LBV.