Most things we write come out of a moment of enthusiasm

The Academy – SF, Day 3

25 June 2012

On Monday I caught the Caltrain in to San Francisco city. I walked the ten minutes to the station down El Camino Real, the main street of the area. The train took about an hour, but it is quite nice. It has two levels, similar to the Amtrak longer distance type ones. Turned out I had bought the wrong kind of ticket going to the wrong zone and I paid about $4 less than I should have. I was told to upgrade my zones once I got the station. I tried, I really did, but the machine kept spitting my money back at me. So saved myself four dollars.

Heather met me at the Caltrain depot. She is my cousin on my maternal side. My great grandmother’s sister’s daughter or something like that! Anyway, she was in town for a wedding and I was in the area too, so we decided to catch up! I first got to meet her when she was travelling around Australia and New Zealand meeting various family members. She doesn’t live in San Francisco though, so she knew only a bit more than I did about the public transport system. Eventually we figured it out though, after getting a map from the info centre in downtown. I also got my CityPass and picked up a few brochures that had the word FREE on it.

We caught the 71 bus from Powell station down Ashbury-Haight st and got off about three quarters of the way there. We had a poke around the bookstores and clothing shops, as height st is fairly famous for its hippie/anarchist/alternative movement, and the books reflect that. Lunch was pizza on Haight, nom nom nom.

Lunch with Heather. I like how big these pizza slices are!

We got to Golden Gate Park and winded our way through it to the Academy of Science. The park is massive, similar to Central Park in NYC. It was very beautiful and across from the Academy was the de Young museum, another place I had been highly recommended to visit.

Inside was very large. They had a few different areas, and  it is like a living museum almost. They have a huge acrylic dome that simulates a rainforest, complete with birds and butterflies. They had an interactive earthquake exhibit that you go inside and the room shakes to simulate the 1906 earthquake San Francisco had. That earthquake destroyed about a fifth of the city, but the resulting fires were what decimated most of it, and not many buildings still standing are pre-1906.

The foyer of the Academy with the obligatory dinosaur skeleton.

A Blue Morpho butterfly. We saw lots in Costa Rica, but none that would sit still long enough to get a photo

The Academy also had a marine life exhibit, with quite an extensive aquarium. That was probably my favourite part of the Academy, as I had never been to an aquarium before. I got some good photos too! I was very careful not to use flash, one; because the reflection off the glass would be awful, but also two because I can’t imagine the fish like it much. In the darker areas of the exhibit where photography was still allowed I even covered up the focus light.


Sand dollars

Jelly fish in a tank with lights that changed colours!

There was an African exhibit that also had a penguin enclosure. We wanted to see the feeding, but I got the times mixed up and we arrived too late. Finally, we went up to the living rooftop where they grow flowers and other ground overings as natural insulation. It was pretty awesome.

This is actually a photo of a photo on an info board. It shows the roof design better than any of my photos could.

All in all we had a good time though, and I highly recommend it as a place to spend time with the family or friends. It is interactive enough to keep kids interested, and there are lots of talks going on over the day, especially during the holidays. You can see the full program, and get more general info from here.

Next Heather and I caught the bus down a way to see the herd of bison that live in a paddock in the Golden Gate Park. We couldn’t get very close to them, but it was great seeing them none the less. Some of them looked pretty young too.

We caught the bus back into town and then went our separate ways. I caught the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit, think underground subway system) to San Bruno where i was meeting up witha  guy called Kumar. He had contacted me about doing a shoot but unfortunately our schedules didn’t allow any time for that. We decided to still catch up though, and maybe he could show me more of the area. He picked me up and we went to Chipotle, a Mexican fast food franchise. We talked for a while; he is a recent film school graduate who currently works in the IT/engineering type field. We didn’t have much time, so I ate my burrito while he talked, then he dropped me back at the station to get home. We made plans to catch up the next evening as I didn’t really have anyone to show me around SF at all.

At home I did my e-mentoring with Bonnie back in Australia at 9:30pm (2pm Tuesday her time) which was great fun. She really liked seeing my photos and we talked a lot about LA, SF and the gay pride parades that happened over the weekend. It is really difficult getting to know someone you can’t see, so the conversations are still a bit awkward but I think we are making head way. I get feedback from the supervisor/organising people and apparently she really likes our sessions. Vanessa, the lady in charge of the program, was really happy and excited about being able to do the e-mentoring while I am away. To me that is partly the point of e-mentoring, you can do it from anywhere with an internet connection. She has offered to write me a reference/be a referee and commended me on taking the initiative to keep doing the mentoring, etc etc. I think there is a party type thing towards the end of the year and she wants to make a big deal about me doing this. I am constantly amazed at how easily people are impressed. It was funny, the woman, Katie, who overseas our sessions was more excited about me being in SF than Bonnie was, haha. She got on about 20 minutes early just to talk to me about my trip.

Early morning coming, so went to bed about 11pm after skyping Peter while he was at work. Shhhhh…

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