Day five, like day three, was full of nature and wildlife. The California Academy of Sciences took up most of the day, until we were kicked out at closing1 and hopped on a bus across town for some yummy Thai food. Then on to 13 Assassins at the historic one-screen Bridge Theater, a fun2 samurai flick by prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike.3
As someone who can easily spend two or three hours in even the tiniest reptile exhibit, I was delighted to discover that the museum had a special “Summer of Slither” exhibit going on. Among many things, I got to see large and small monitor lizards, boas, camera-shy geckos, an agitated rattlesnake, and an extremely bored Burmese python. It pretty much spent its day watching small children on the other side of the glass and pondering which it would devour first, if given the chance.4
We also had our carbon footprints measured using a dubious set of scales, and saw one of the best planetarium shows of my life. It’s amazing how far planetariums have come since those fourth grade field trips. Another highlight was the Academy’s living roof, an impressive and beautiful endeavor several years in the making. They sculpted hills on the roof of the building and planted them with hardy, native plant species, constructing natural irrigation systems using rainwater.5 I think I spied some solar panels up there, too.
More photos on Flickr.
- I was tempted to take the giant robot snake from the film Anaconda with me because, guys, how often do you get to see a robot snake B-movie superstar? Especially one that co-starred with Jennifer Lopez and Crooked Nose Wilson. [↩]
- I should clarify that by “fun” I mean a fairly predictable plot with well-choreographed fight scenes and an action-packed finale full of surprises. As a friend who hadn’t seen it [accurately] described it, “sort of like Seven Samurai and 300 had a baby”. [↩]
- The man who introduced the film asked if we needed anything prior to starting, and some wiseass in the audience said “Yeah, a new curtain!” You can’t really see in the photo how many rips there are in that curtain, but it was in sad shape. The theater was built in 1939, and if I were just a little bit richer I’d buy them a new curtain. If you find yourself in San Francisco, definitely visit this gem of a theater and support its continued existence! [↩]
- There was also a grinning albino alligator. And sharks. I always wonder which is more cruel: putting large predators behind glass or putting delicious children on the other side of the glass. I was tempted to tell the kids that the glass had a special sensor that could detect excessive noise or tapping, and would trigger a mechanical arm to scoop them up and deposit them inside the alligator/shark/python habitat. There are, perhaps, reasons I shouldn’t be a parent. [↩]
- Excess water filtered down into the park aquifer to be used for irrigation in other areas of the park, an especially nice touch. [↩]