Sunday, April 7, 2013

Road Trip to San Francisco.

Foggy morning over the Golden Gate

We took a quick road trip north, since it has been so long. We drove mostly the coast road to Carmel/Monterey and stayed in that region for two nights. Then we scooted up to San Francisco for a night of luxury and some adventures in the fog, before heading south again somewhat inland, stopping in King City for the last night, and then driving all the way home. This has been the first non-conference trip that we have taken since Jayn was a very little girl, and it's been a different experience.

One of the things Jayn specifically wanted to do was visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a place of fond memories. Last time we were there Jayn was about 4 or 5. She had a wonderful time playing in the spectacular kids section, and getting a bit wet. She didn't mind putting her fingers in the water to explore in the touching pools.

This time she was, of course, way too big for the little kids' interactive play area, and she has developed quite an aversion to creepy-crawlies or getting wet in her regular clothes. The museum was very crowded - oops Spring Break - and it was nearly impossible to get close to any of presentations. However we took some photos of jellies, and sea horses. The most interesting part was the new aviary, where shoreline birds ignore the gawking crowds even in the absence of any kind of wall. They are all rescued or fostered birds, and it was neat to see them close up, and hear their different calls.

Without the super fun of the Splashzone, and with the crowds, the aquarium did not hold our attention to the same degree at all, and we left fairly quickly.
Mission at Carmel. Note the out-of-whack star over the door - hand cut stone.

We drove the 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach, and again enjoyed the scenery and took plenty of photos. Plus we visited the  San Carlos Borromeo Mission at Carmel, which is a working parish church, beautifully restored, and currently undergoing earthquake retrofitting. There are two museum areas, but it is the interior of the church itself and the gorgeous statuary and Nativity diorama I most enjoyed. To me, by definition, if a figurative sculpture is dressed in textiles garments, then that makes it an Art Doll. The church was also full of Easter lilies.
Dressed Mary, about 24 inches tall.

The next day James and I drove out to Salinas to visit the John Steinbeck Center, which I really liked. Steinbeck's life story is told with images, words, audio snippets and artifacts in great detail. The exhibit is interactive and very cleanly attractive, with the Hollywood connection to his works integrated really well. I love text used visually, and text is the foundation of this whole shebang, with quotes screen printed in odd places within the full size dioramas. In addition there was an exhibit of local art, at this time landscapes in oil, and a photography exhibit - art photos of items and architectural detail from the California Missions. It's a very interesting space. However, I'm sure Jayn would have tired of it way too soon, so I'm glad she wanted to nap at the hotel instead.
Steinbeck book cover display at the Center Gift shop

In San Francisco we stayed at the historic Nob Hill hotel, the Mark Hopkins. Here again was a sweet little multimedia history exhibit featuring a time line, souvenir art and various rescued historical items like a key from 1939 and old menus along with a couple of short films about different people who were part of the hotel's story. One was an interview with a 100 year old lady who had been the artist's model for a permanent and famous mural in one of the hotel's ballrooms from the 1920's.
Main entrance at night of Mark Hopkins. Note the beautiful plasterwork decorating the arches.

Both of these exhibitions are fascinating to me as a scrapbooker - combining images, ephemera and journaling to record history but also to create a harmonious whole.

San Francisco was foggy and chilly overnight. We had watched the bizarre inversion layer off shore as we drove North, with a sharply delineated top line that looked like a second horizon. But the fog in San Francisco was deep and thick, swallowing the tops of tall buildings and the points on the bridges and making everything at ground level moist. We started walking in the late afternoon, took our first cable car ride, and went in search of a store that makes nothing but an assortment of bread puddings. The City Hall in SF is gorgeous, and so is the Symphony Hall.
Waiting for the bus in a light drizzle, outside of the Symphony Hall.

San Francisco is like Sydney in more ways than just having a spectacular harbor with a well known bridge. Both cities have many beautiful, historic buildings downtown, with carvings and detail in sandstone, juxtaposed with very modern architecture. It's important to look up as you walk or ride the trolley. Both have row houses and dense urban populations. Loved the three storey house made from stacked shipping containers, and the five storey former office building converted to artists' lofts with 10 foot tall (my estimate) slanted windows on the top floor. The city is magnificently clean, and all the public trash bins have an attached basket on top for glass and can recycling.

We all noticed the high level of fashion and style demonstrated by the population. Somehow leggings, boots and a trench just look orders of magnitude more chic on girls hiking up the hills in SF than the girls manage in my local mall. Everyone's clothing seemed to fit very well. I guess walking up and down those hills every day doesn't hurt anyone's fitness level either.
Foggy vista outside the hotel.

After a luxurious night with room service and a misty view, we drove down the twistiest street (Lombard St), then across the Golden Gate Bridge and back, then went to Yerba Buena Gardens to check it out. We didn't have a lot of time to spend now for museums or galleries (next time!) but I was very moved by the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial there. I have promised myself that next trip I am going to take one of those sight seeing buses - the kind you can get on and off - and see the whole city.
Martin Luther King Jr memorial at Yerba Buena. Behind the waterfall fountain is a path with the "Dream" speech engraved on the walls and images, in many languages. The glass walls reflect the waterfall and the noise adds to the whole experience. (Below)

In King City (more interesting history) we found an elegant superfluity of 4 star rated Mexican restaurants - all lined up one after the other along the main drag, Broadway. We ended up eating what was my favorite meal of the trip at El Sinaloense. Odd twist of fate - everywhere (EVERYWHERE!) we went to eat we beat the rush by about five minutes. By this I mean we would enter an empty or nearly so joint to be seated, only to watch the place fill up and lengthy line form shortly thereafter. This even happened at a roadside fruit stand where we got fabulous fresh strawberry shortcake direct from the growers. Don't know why, don't wanna know, just hope the magic continues.
We passed the Old Mission San Miguel steeple and old wall. There is also the working church and 
restored mission, but Sunday services were in progress so we didn't stop.

On the road again, and I learned what Jayn likes best about road trips now is the actual driving, especially through scenic forests. It was fascinating to watch the scenery change from lush green, cypress and oak woods slowly back to desert through the Salinas Valley. When she was tiny it was so easy to travel with her. Generally she slept a good deal, but when we stopped, even at roadside rest stops, she would find endless fascination in watching birds or lizards, or finding a ramp to run up and down. True she had little interest in art galleries, but she was satisfied with any playground, and if there were water....Now she is easy to travel with in a different way. She has her technology, and she is contented to look out of windows and take a few photos. Still little interest in art galleries or museums - but she likes people watching, buildings, vistas and trees.

Keep watch for some scrapbook layouts with more of my family photos from our trip.

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