A Place to Learn, Hike, Ride and Row
This one’s not about fitness, frenetic or organized or otherwise. San Francisco Part Trois: Golden Gate Park.
On a day of my conference when the morning was filled with work events and things to do but the afternoon was less hectic, we made our way over to Golden Gate Park hoping to get a short visit to both the California Academy of Sciences and the Japanese Tea Garden before they closed. We made it to the Museum in time to at least have a cursory go at most of the exhibits. While they were all educational and pretty cool as science museums go, the one that remains at the forefront of my memory is the Galapagos exhibit in the Islands of Evolution area. There is a major focus there on Lonesome George, the only Giant Tortoise of his kind left after whaling and hunting decimated his kind on Galapagos. And then, a few days after our return home, the news broke that Lonesome George had passed away. Now the education area is a bit of an alter I suppose. A tribute to what happens when we do not understand, when we underestimate our impact on the environment.
There is a lot of research being conducted all the time behind the scenes at the academy but one of the most interesting areas as far as visible innovative technology goes is the living roof, a “living tapestry” of native plants that also serves as an aide to climate control inside the museum walls.
While we didn’t have a lot of time to linger in the museum, the planetarium and the aquarium exhibits were among the better ones I’ve had the chance to visit.
We practically ran to the Japanese Tea Garden to make it before closing time, dodging and sometimes laughing at the folks who rented 4 person surrey bikes to ride around the park. Newsflash, they don’t handle hills well. It was the coldest day of our trip so we had to keep our coats on while wandering the gardens which seemed odd to me, I don’t wander gardens in the winter time in Arkansas.
The tea house has formal tea ceremonies on certain days of the week, I would have liked to have done that. We settled for just enjoying a hot cup and some sweets to take the chill off.
In 1949, this Buddha which was originally cast in 1790 in Japan, was gifted to the Japanese Tea Garden. We stopped to appreciate him in the early evening glow at the end of our visit.
We still had some daylight left after the gardens closed so we walked to Stow Lake for a trip around the lake trail and up Strawberry Hill to see the views of the city. There are two bridges connecting the lake trail to the island in the center: the Rustic Bridge and the Roman Bridge. We crossed over both bridges but the Rustic was by far my favorite.
There’s a boat house at Stow Lake where you can rent boats to row out on the lake. We didn’t have time to do that but enjoyed watching a few glide across the water.
The flowers blooming around the park were beautiful, like this calla lily. As we wandered out of the park toward the street to catch a bus back to our hotel, we saw people at play in the open spaces, a couple of folks even taking naps under the canopy of trees, and lots of people riding bikes. With the museums, the open spaces, the bike infrastructure, the botanical loveliness and the lakes, this is a perfect place to feed mind body and soul.
I estimate we were able to enjoy about 20% of this beautiful park. If the other 80% is as lovely as what we saw, it would be well worth a trip back to a city we enjoyed so much for another visit, maybe we could check off another big chunk of Golden Gate Park.