Monday, December 14, 2009

San Francisco - Day Four

Sergio ran out to get breakfast bagel sandwiches in the morning before checking out of our room. yum.

Our flight wasn't until 5:55 PM so we had an entire day to fill before going home. And, blue skies! We decided to spend it at the California Academy of Sciences, located inside Golden Gate Park. This is the best science museum I have ever been to! There is an aquarium, planetarium, 3D-movie theater, and a giant
tropical rainforest terrarium dome in the middle of it all! We rode the bus there which took a little longer than we would have liked, so we ended up with only a couple hours to peruse the exhibits. We could easily have been there for an entire day!

We didn't have much time so we focused on three exhibits:
  1. Aquarium
  2. Rainforests of the World
  3. Living Roof
The Aquarium included sharks, all kinds of fish, jellyfish, electric eel, freshwater fish, sea horses that looked like kelp, much! A walkway allowed you to walk along a simulation of the rocky Northern California coast tidepools, complete with cycles of low and high tide.

The Rainforest rocked!! The walkway ramp ribbons along the inside edge of the sphere, circling up to the top. It was built to mimic a real rainforest, albeit in comparatively minuscule scale. Rainforest habitat changes at each "strata" or "level". There is the forest floor, the understory (right under the branches), the canopy (the branches) and emergent (tree tops). Each strata supports distinct types of wildlife. So, the exhibit had landings at each level that housed corresponding plant and animal life. Birds, butterflies and moths flew freely throughout the exhibit. In fact, there is a "de-butterfly" area at the exit, complete with mirrors and butterfly nets in case you picked up any winged hitchhikers along the way. A "Flooded Forest" aquarium tank sits at the bottom, filled with piranha! so. cool.

Our last stop, the Living Roof, was not really an exhibit but an architectural feature of the building. The grassy domed roof, dotted with round porthole windows is visible from afar. Seeing this innovation in person made my heart swell with hope.

Check out the solar panels and the interesting architecture of the de Young Museum beyond.

View approaching the CA Academy of Sciences.

We didn't want to take the risk of bus travel time so we decided to take a cab back to the hotel to get our bags. Got there just in time for one final mug of complimentary hot chocolate and it was off to the BART!

Calling and waiting for our cab.

It was a lovely, lovely vacation.

P.S. -

Aliens R Are Only Hope
There was a large, interactive Global Warming exhibit in the main hall. One of the displays welcomed visitors to contribute their ideas on how to save the environment. Some of the ideas were pretty funny. Click photo to see.

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