Monday, February 22, 2010

The Hornet

Last weekend Ash and I accepted an invitation to go up to Alameda (across the bay from San Francisco) and take a group tour of the USS Hornet. The Hornet is an aircraft carrier, now used as a museum, with a long history including the retrieval of Apollo 11 and 12 capsules from the ocean. It was fascinating! It's amazing how aircraft can take off and land on a ship.

The Bay Bridge (uniting Oakland with San Francisco) and the San Francisco skyline:Our wonderful story-telling tour guide, explaining how the planes take off!
The flight deck:They can get 90 airplanes on this one deck! The planes' wings fold back, making more room.
In the control tower area where they steer the vessel is the captain's chair:
And the view from the area where they steer the ship:
In the hangar, below the flight deck we saw lots of helicopters and airplanes from previous missions, as well as the signal flags on display. The first helicopter with the white flower on it's nose is from Vietnam missions:
The "Tiger":
The Hornet was used to retrieve the Apollo 11 and 12 space capsules from the ocean. This is a test capsule they retrieved:
We also saw the "de-contamination trailer" that the Apollo 11 astronauts had to stay in for the first 21 days after returning to earth from the moon, in case they had "moon germs" on them!

We climbed up and down a lot of very steep steps and semi-ladders with chains as rails throughout the day:
Uniform dispensary:
How would you like to be operated on in this operating room:Bunks and metal lockers -- the mattresses look awfully thin, but I bet after a hard day they were a most welcome sight! They were three bunks high, hanging from chains, and rows of them filled a large room.
Very interesting day!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Japanese Tea Garden

Our last stop at Golden Gate Park that beautiful Sunday was for a walk through the Japanese Tea Gardens.

We all love the steep arched bridges, but how did the people get up there?

By climbing very carefully ~

The tea house where you can sip and enjoy the view ~
We met a friendly critter along the path ~
It does my soul good to be out among nature. Somehow taking pictures as I explore new places or revisit old haunts seems to give me a new appreciation for what is there, forces me to stop and smell the roses (or fill my sense of sight with eye candy), and consider what is esthetically and meaningfully important to my world. My camera has joined my journal as one of my favorite tools in life!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Living Roof

One of the fascinating features of San Francisco's Museum of Natural Science is the living roof! It's easy to imagine these photos were taken across a hilly field of grass, but this entire area rests on top of the museum roof.
San Francisco's steep hills:View across part of the Golden Gate Park from the rooftop:
And now for a little history...
What a beautiful day in the park we had!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Rainforest

Last weekend we took a drive up to San Francisco's Museum of Natural Science in Golden Gate Park. We half expected a lot of rain, but the skies opened and the sun broke through. This brought out park visitors in droves. After 30 minutes of driving around and around and around, we slipped into a parking spot about a mile away from the museum and set off for a sunny walk to the museum.

One of the main attractions to us was a walk through the rainforest. We entered the huge rainforest sphere, walked up the ramp that ascends to the top of the fourth story, and discovered the mysteries of rainforests from around the world. Read more about this museum within a museum here: Rainforest

There are over 1600 animals in the rainforest exhibit, some are free and some are in terrariums such as these poisonous frogs!

Butterflies abounded, requiring us to check our hair and clothes for hitchhikers before leaving the dome.

They were even still enough that we could capture some close-ups:

Far below we caught glimpses of the aquarium -- and the people walking through the acrylic tunnel going right through the fish tank!
There were snakes, bats, chameleons, and these squabbling parrots:

From the top floor we desended via an elevator ride through the forest to the basement to the "flooded forest" where the aquarium awaits. The rainforest had been hot and humid, so the cool air in the basement was welcomed. Now it was our turn to walk through the tunnel with the fish swimming all around us.

I especially enjoyed watching this huge turtle swimming by:

From there we returned to the main floor where we visited the "swamp". This is the home of Clyde, one of only 50 living albino alligators that we know of. He looks fake, and we began to second guess if he was, but a museum guide assured us he was real -- and about that time he decided to move around a bit!

Here is a youtube of Clyde's arrival at the museum, as well as information about the museum in general: Clyde.

People in the aquarium section peering into the swamp:

There were several other displays in the museum:
Can you imagine a flower this big?
Entering the arched ceiling hall of natural history -- this was an older section and I remembered visiting this years ago:

In this hall there are diaramas of many animals, such as these lions:

Feeding the penguins was a popular show:

Stay tuned as I'll be posting photos from the Living Roof and Japanese Tea Garden next!