Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Sixty-two today


Today (oct 27th) was my actual birthday, and Louise and I went for the day to San Francisco.... to the New Academy of Science building and to the de Young gallery.
We drove up the coast road.  I hadn't been that way for a very long time as that road had been closed after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.  Parts of the road were so badly damaged that it was decided to replace it with a tunnel under some of the mountainous trerrain.

This is part of the road that  will be replaced.


The work is progressing and a hole is being cut through this hill.  It is taking years, but I suppose that is what such works require.  The whole hill is being stabilised and the tunnel hollowed out beneath a huge amount of overburden.



Coming into the city... and there are so many familiar spots....  each "new" inersection and off-ramp is familiar,  despite the years...



....  and the first glimpse of the bridge along 19th Avenue.



Once at the Academy of Sciences, we went straight on into the rainforest exhibit... it was good to be in the warm humid air of  the rainforest...  we walked up through the forest, full of birds and other animals...

The main rainforest was called "Madagascar"



This tiny frog lives in a bromilliad....


Right down the bottom,   there is a "river" with fish... but underneath there are shadows of people walking through the underwater tunnel...

Then on to the canopy....


.... once at the top,  the only exit is through the "river" below....
and once down there,  you can see through the fishy water to the circular windows in the rainforest roof.

We wandered through the watery part, different from the aquarium at Monterey, with a different variety of kelp in the "forest" tank, but including jellyfish, leafy sea dragons and all kinds of fish.
Then on to the roof....

....once on the roof,  the windows (the ones that we'd seen, even through the water) become apparent and native plants cover the roof.



The bumps on the roof replicate the small hills that are natural in the area.  (You might need to look very carefully to see one here... but it's there.)


And here I am,  on top of the roof of the building where there is a living roof of native plants growing.  The building behind is the de Young,  with its tower showing itself above my head, and more of that later.

Back down in the building, we saw a number of the other exhibits.  Even the dioramas from the "old" academy museum are there (the more moth-eaten examples appear to have been refurbished) and the railing with the seahorses and the pendulum that knocks the metal pegs over as the earth turns is still there...  we saw two pegs fall!


One of the most important exhibits in the Academy building is this graph showing the exponential increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since industrialisation and the profligate burning of fossil fuels.

The widely recognised "safe" level of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere is generally thought to be 350 parts per million as this is thought to correlate with a 2degC rise in temperature.  In fact, the level is currently around 380 parts per million and heading for 460 by the year 2030.  If this does happen, it will be a disaster for all of us.
Unless this climate emergency is recognised and significant action taken, all life on earth is threatened.... and so far the emergency is not being recognised.

We had lunch at the "academy" (I had pozole) and then wandered across the "parisian" style park between there and the de Young museum.

... and here I am in the de Young tower (in the photograph from the academy roof above) with a view across Golden Gate park.



Louise,   looking out across the city....



... and more of the city....

... and another glimpse of the bridge....


 looking back towards the Academy of Sciences building, one can see the "bumps" on the roof where the rainforest dome and the planetarium are....


The new de Young is like a maze apparently designed to confuse and lose people in the strange corridors and dead ends...  even with the map it was not altogether straightforward.  I'm sure we'd have learned after a few laps, but it really is tricky.
We managed to find much of what we were looking for....
 ....three Diebenkorn paintings on one wall... I love the colours here.  These are the paintings that I get the "I could live with that" feeling.


Near to those was this Rothko that reminded me of some of Nick's recent paintings.  (Perhaps it is the soft edges and the feeling that that evokes.)


This trompe d'oeil example reminded me that  the Melbourne cup is due to be run in another week or so. It is actually quite flat, amazingly realistic in a beautiful green and quite witty.


There were a number of paintings that I enjoyed greatly and that I'd love to re-visit.  There is an amazing Georgia O'Keefe (Petunias) and this painting by Diego Rivera of two women and a baby just across the gallery....


A cup of coffee, and a stroll through the Japanese Garden (looking for the spot that I'd painted the "last cherry blossom" painting, and we headed home.  (I'm not sure that I found the spot,  but I'll look at the painting again and see if it has the same "feel"... I think it might.)

It had been amazing to see San Francisco on such a sunny day.  The city is known for its fog,  and I have often been there when one can't see far as far as a "view" goes.  I remember reading Herb Caen's comment in the Chronicle, years ago,  referring to living in the city as being inside the "grey pearl"  an apt metaphor for the damp velvety and dull light that is usual.

On the way home,  the wind began to blow harder and the fog blew in from the ocean.



3 comments:

John L said...

It looks like you had a good time. Nice jacket.

Barbara said...

Fascinating to see the pictures
of San Francisco (I grew up
on the S.F. Peninsula but have
lived in Adelaide since the
beginning of 1989 and only been
back once.). You're right about
the fog - but then this is the
time of year when there's a
remote chance you might not get
fog!

Jane said...

I'm glad that you enjoyed the pictures. I lived in Santa Cruz in the 80's and 90's and used to get to San Francisco quite a bit (my youngest son needed specialist medical care there, so I did the "hospital run" fairly often.)

As you can probably glean, I am back here, babysitting for my daughter and her family for a few weeks (in Santa Cruz) and enjoying catching up with friends and neighbours as well.

The fog has been "off and on" this year and we have had one big storm... with plenty of rain... and while I am here, I am wondering how my Kapunda garden is surviving. Apparently it is to be quite hot this weekend... and I'll guarantee that there'll be no rain!

I just looked and even Adelaide is expecting 36 on Sunday. It will be warmer in Kapunda!