Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A San Francisco Evening

This past Sunday evening, we had a true San Francisco experience. First we attended the members' opening night of the California Academy of Sciences' new earthquake exhibit. We watched the planetarium show, which featured amazing images and animations of the earth, plate tectonics, and earthquake action. I loved the overhead view of Tomales Bay, Point Reyes, and the entire Bay Area. The show was narrated by San Francisco local Benjamin Bratt.

After that, we lined up for the shake table, which replicates the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake as well as the infamous 1906 quake. Apparently the 1906 quake lasted 90 seconds; the table only replicates 30 seconds, and even that seems like forever. If only my house contained hand rails and had everything bolted to the wall the way the "dining room" on the shake table does. We waited about 30-40 minutes for the shake table, during which we enjoyed complimentary cocktails. After that, we had to head out for our next adventure, so we have to return to check out the actual exhibits, including live ostrich chicks, as well as the 3D show on other planetary geology. If you are in San Francisco, you should definitely go check this out!

The next adventure was a celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge's 75th anniversary - a fireworks show. I was not sure if this would be worth the adventure in getting there, but we figured since we were in town, we should go check it out. After being passed by several chock full buses, we managed to flag down a taxi, and flew up to the Bay with remarkably little traffic. As soon as we started walking toward the Fort Mason hill, however, we realized we were joining forces with untold numbers of other pedestrians. They were streaming in from the Fisherman's Wharf area, lining the hills and the path. We managed to get a pretty good vantage of the bridge, behind only a couple of other people. Soon, the lights on the bridge turned off. The crowed oohed. And suddenly, a cascade of fireworks falling from the entire span of the bridge - an amazing sight. The rest of the show was also spectacular; the best fireworks I have seen in ages. I do wish they had the bridge towers lit up the entire time, as you could not always see it. The fireworks that lit up the towers and the span were the best. I shudder to think about all the chemicals falling into the Bay. The fireworks were the talk of the office today, two days later. It seems at least half the populace must have seen them.

Well, happy 75th GGB. Thanks for serving the community well and looking so good in the process. As for you earthquakes, I hope the 4.0 near us on the Hawyard last fall is the worst I have to experience when not in the comfort of a shock table. The magnitude of such an event is truly terrifying, but it is all the good things about the Bay Area that keep us here.