Sunday, July 7, 2013

"Hey! Someone gassed up my car when I was gassing up my car!"--Christina

Day Eight:  July 3, 2013

Today we piled into the car for the drive back down to the Bay Area.  Today's plan was the Exploratorium and a nature hike at Land's End.  The Exploratorium is a hands-on interactive Science museum.  This is one of those places where I know the teacher in me bleeds into my general vacationing trip with the kids.

I just can't help it.  The Exporatorium is just too cool to me.  One memorable activity from my previous trips to the Exploratorium includes a toilet seat with a faucet attached.  There is a plaque next to it explaining that it hold perfectly drinkable water but many people won't drink out of it due to its surroundings.  In these past visits I drank out of it, but most did not. 

The Exporatoriumin San Francisco moved a few months ago.  Now it's nearly three times larger and it's a location that is much easier to get to (right on Pier 15).  They moved the toilet fountain next to a regular fountain and placed them outside of the real bathrooms.  Alaina, as you see, had no hesitation.  Would you?

 It's hard to explain the Exporatorium to those who haven't been there but it's a TON of interactive stations where you can look, change, and play with scientific principals.  Above you'll see Alaina and Henrietta looking at the life cycle of a chicken embryo.  Some how this displays allows you to see live chickens in the egg state.  In the final stage (closest to the camera) you can actually see the blood vessels and a beating heart in the egg yoke.

Below you can see Yago and Justin working with spinning gears that can be arranged with elastic bands to start fans.  After they moved around the discs. Yago spun one gear that would start the five fans blowing on Justin.

 The challenging part of a museum like this is that there is so much to see and one, even a science-minded kid like Henry, can't possibly figure out what is happening with every single activity.  Once you interact with a half dozen stations, you're pretty much spent.  I was pleasantly surprised when Henry, a good two hours into our visit, he stopped and spend about 15 minutes on a ball launching activity.  As you can see here Alaina is about to drop a marble down the chute with a flat surface at the bottom that can be pivoted to shoot the marble into the air, and hopefully, through the hoops Henry is aligning.

 My parents usually sit out the Exporatorium.  But today they went in and played just as much as the students.  Well... until they didn't.  Then they sat down in the lobby and waited.  My mom admits she may have actually fallen asleep.  As it turns out they only rested about 15 minutes earlier than when everyone else was ready to take a break too.

After the Exporatorium we drove down Lombard St.  Lombard St is the crookedest road in the world (really look it up in Guiness's Book of World Records) and it's there in San Francisco.  

 We then drove through Chinatown.  We didn't stop because we had already walked through SF Market just the day before.  But we got to see the overcrowded streets and store fronts that go out into the street.  We drove by the roasted whole ducks and chickens.  But in the end the only real noted observation was that it's probably the dirtiest area we've been in.  San Francisco is know for being an impressively clean city.  Larger populations in dense cities leads naturally to pollution, but this area of Chinatown is really the first time we had seen this.

 Driving through the city, we ended up at Land's End.  There is a great nature walk here but also some ruins of an old Bathhouse.  We walked down a large hill to these ruins and the shoreline and hung around the beach for a while. 

Beach combing, Henrietta found a crab claw.

And they all found some legless (tentacle-less) jellyfish,
which we later researched to find are probably
 moon jellyfish or comb jellies.  Neither of these are harmful.  
A good thing as we were all holding them.

Everyone enjoyed walking on the smooth clear beach and Henrietta was even moved to draw in the sand.

Here's a closing shot of the bathhouse ruins:

After hiking back up the hill and then hiking over to a restaurant to use the restroom, we decided to skip the nature walk and just head back home.  As it was we pulled into the house shortly after midnight.

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