I woke up in Nora’s living room with the sunlight flooding in from the bay windows. I was sleeping on a couch that was about a foot too small for me but I kinda liked having my feet hanging off the edge while I slept. She lives down by Ocean Beach near Golden Gate park so the atmosphere around the apartment always feels mystical to me. It’s a strange mixture of fog, wind and beach smells swirling around in the air. I woke up slightly groggy and moving rather slowly but regardless, I rallied myself for the day and prepared for my second museum visit: The Academy of Sciences. With less than stable legs, I got on my board and began my ride through the mists of Golden Gate Park towards my next destination.
I love skating, biking or running through Golden Gate Park (‘the park’ from here on out) as it’s always an interesting experience. When I lived a block from the park, I found tons of hidden trails that took me either deeper into the belly of the park or out towards the ocean. I’d sprint through those trails feeling like Aragorn hunting a horde of Uruk Hai or sometimes I’d simply walk them on a foggy weekend morning, each decision offering a different experience. It was through these that I gained such an appreciation and respect for the park. It’s a force of nature in itself and it’s history envelopes you. As I skated through this morning, I stayed on the paved main roads. Huge trees line the sides of the road and the fog was pretty thick as it was still morning. The air was crisp and cool and it invigorated me as I started to wake up and go faster and faster. Before I knew it, I was back in the great courtyard between the Academy of Sciences and the DeYoung.
I rolled up to the Academy of Sciences (AoS from now on) and immediately noticed the differences in architecture compared to the DeYoung. It’s actually kinda funny how distinctly different the two buildings are while being so close in proximity. The DeYoung is a huge, dark, monolithic structure that seems almost ominous with it’s strange statues leading up to its entrance and dark colors. While the AoS is smaller in size but stranger in design. Huge glass windows fill your gaze upon walking up the steps and you can see the distinctive grass hills on the roof from ground level. As you get closer, you can start to make things out within the glass walls and that’s when you see it, a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Just chillin’ there in the middle of the lobby, large and in charge, like a great gatekeeper protecting the museum. (5 year old Sean was flipping his shit as I got closer and examined how large it actually was.) Once inside, there’s a varied amount of things you can do and see. I like walking down the Natural History aisle, the rainforest is always really cool and they have an aquarium as well but my favorite exhibit is the albino alligator.
It’s simultaneously intriguing and sad but I learned on this visit that because of his unique look, he likely would have been killed in the wild without the ability to camouflage. It still makes me sad to see such a powerful creature sitting there like a statue though. Besides the gator, the place is filled with even more dangerous animals which I made sure to capture.
After walking around a bit, I decided to go up to the “living roof” to snap a few pics and get some fresh air. I learned that the architect of the museum, Renzo Piano (real name as far as I know) wanted to “lift up a piece of the park and put a building under” which is exactly what it looks like. The roof runs the entire museum below it and there is enough science tech up there to launch of rocket from the middle of the park (pure speculation). It uses solar panels and also houses 1.7 million plants on it’s grassy hills (information stolen directly from the website I linked above).
Mostly, it was nice for me to get outside and breathe the San Francisco air. As I walked back into the museum, something caught my eye, an exhibit on flight. Since I consider myself to be large flightless bird, I thought it necessary to check this exhibit out. It ended up being the coolest exhibit there (in my opinion). It had all sorts of information on the types of bones needed for flight, how to properly use “lift” with the air around them and how different sized birds fly and glide through the air. The coolest aspect though was the section on prehistoric flight. I walked into a room with huge models of prehistoric dinosaurs recreated like Jurassic Park for my eyes only. Being a wanna be Dr. Alan Grant most of my life, I was geeking out.
After the museum I was left to my own devices until Nora got off work. I skated around the city, visited all my old haunts, walked a few of my old trails, lingered in front of some old apartments and even went to Gordo’s to get one of my favorite burrito’s. It was a nice, relaxing day in the city and was about to be a fun night as I was getting ready to meet one of my best friends for a night of old school San Francisco revelry…but that’s for the next post…