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Friday, April 18, 2014

The Art of Vacationing

During the night I had a painful sore throat. It felt like I had a softball stuck in my gullet! I slept in until 9 and skipped my workout...the first time in months that I've missed one. We finally arrived at The Getty Museum around 11. It's an interesting setup. Parking is underground at the bottom of a huge hill. Trams take guests from the parking garage to the museum grounds on the top of the hill. Again, I was blown away that the admission was FREE. (Parking was $15,  though)

We explored the galleries in the West Pavillion first. We posed with C├ęzanne and Van Gogh paintings, admired sculptures, wondered what people see in the Jackson Pollock Mural, and learned all about hatching techniques.

After a refreshing lunch at the cafe we looked at the temporary exhibitions. One was Ansel Adams, which I enjoyed very much. I've always loved his black and white prints of natural landscapes. Another was called "A Royal Passion: Queen Victoria and Photography." Photography was invented two years after she inherited the throne of Great Britain and She was the first British monarch to have her life fully recorded in photographs. Evidently she had a passion for collecting photographs. There was also an early movie camera on display with a film of her Jubilee parade. The third was of Hiroshi Sugimoto's work in photographing waxworks, habitat dioramas and tintype negatives. It is said that Hiroshi Sugimoto has used photography to investigate how visual representation interprets and distills history, but I didn't get that out of the exhibit. The exhibits were interesting, but the camera nazis would not allow photos in those galleries. 

Treklet visited the Sketching Gallery, where she sketched a lion from a painting. I found the "Life of Art" exhibit interesting. It was an interactive exhibit utilizing ipads which taught about how pieces of art are preserved, studied, and catalogued.  Just outside that gallery was a ginormous painting of King Louis XIV by Rigaud. I couldn't stop looking at it. Kinda like art porn. We wandered through the rest of the galleries where we saw Rembrandt and his contemporaries (would it kill them to use a little color?), a lot of religious paintings from Europe (why does David look like a girl version of the boy with his finger in the dyke?), ugly French tapestries and European decorative arts, which we found to be gaudy and quite ugly. Hey, what do we know? We're not Art Majors. At least Eugene found a sexy cow to ogle at.

My favorite part of the Getty was the Central Garden, a living sculpture commissioned by the museum and designed by Robert Irwin. The 134,000 square foot garden contains 500 varieties of plants, meandering walkways, arbors, a stream, a maze and spectacular views. The clean lines of the modern architecture juxtaposed against the perfectly placed and groomed colorful flora was breathtaking. 
THIS is art!! 

A visit to the giftshop netted Treklet some new art supplies. She bought a pouch of fresh pastels and a new sketchbook and I got a set of three small books about the Getty Collections, Architecture and Gardens. 

Back to the hotel to relax so I can be well-rested and recovered from this almost-sickness for Wondercon tomorrow.

Life's a Beach!

Our first stop today was Venice Beach. We got there around 10 a.m. and it was overcast and quite chilly. Treklet got a small henna tattoo on her wrist, and then we walked along the boardwalk. I bought a long-sleeved dress because I was freezing. After about half an hour of looking at the vendor and artist booths, and inhaling lots of pot fumes, we headed out across the sand towards the shore. I sat on the sand with Eugene T. Spacecow and Treklet dipped her toes in the brisk Pacific.

My friend Mikki came out to visit with us for a while, and as soon as I saw her, I stood up to meet her...but then something caught my eye. Dolphins! A small pod of dolphins were frolicking in the surf! I snapped some horrible iPhone photos and took some videos as we watched them ride the waves. Wow, what a thrill!

After that excitement, we visited a while on the sand, then made our way back down the boardwalk where we watched a very entertaining, but slightly long break dancing show. I'll have to edit together my video clips from that and post later, as I'm writing this at midnight and need some sleep. I guess the highlight of that show was being called a sexy cougar after contributing a donation.

Next we bought some fresh fruit and a shave ice and wandered to Muscle Beach where Treklet tried out some of the gymnastics equipment. Unfortunately, there were no bodybuilders on the weight equipment.

We said our goodbyes to Mikki and headed up Pacific Coast Highway towards Malibu where we met our friends David and David. The kids boogie-boarded in the frigid water for a bit as the adults swatted sand flies and caught up.

Soon we were on our way to Pieology, an interesting pizza joint where you design your own pizza Subway style. I'm still regretting eating my entire veggie-laden pizza, but we didn't have lunch and I was ravenous!

We went to the movie theater and saw Rio 2, hugged the Davids goodbye and went back down the 101 to West Hollywood. It was a long day, but filled with wondrous dolphins, kind friends, colorful sights, and unique entertainment.

Keep your eye on my YouTube Channel, starfleetmom1, in the coming days for videos of street performers and dolphins!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Educational Endeavour

Today we visited the California Science Center. By the way, Siri was seriously smoking something illegal when he was giving me directions.

Once we finally arrived, I was amazed to find out it was free! It cost only $2 each to see the space shuttle Endeavour, and the rest was donation-only (yes, we donated). We opted not to buy IMAX tickets, since we can see Lemurs in San Diego.

The Ecosystems Exhibits are divided into several galleries by type. We first visited the Island Ecosystem gallery, which had several interactive exhibits and did a great job explaining such concepts at niche, microevolution, adaptation, and generalists vs specialists. This stuff is right up my alley!
Our next stop was the Endeavour exhibits. First there is a large gallery with displays about California's connections to the shuttle (her construction, mission control, etc), how astronauts eat and go to the bathroom in space, mission control, how Endeavour was transported to LA, and a motion simulator that Treklet enjoyed. I thought it was interesting that contest was held for schoolchildren to name the shuttle and that it was named after the explorer Captain Cook's ship, hence the British spelling of Endeavour.

Then it was time to see what I really went there for: Endeavour's Hangar! I was overwhelmed with emotion, and so was Eugene T Spacecow, the moment we entered the hangar. I wondered how big she would look up close, and I really felt that Endeavour didn't seem quite as big as I thought she would from the pictures and videos I had watched of her being driven through LA City streets on her was to Exposition Park.  All along the walls of the hangar are signs with information on every shuttle mission, in order. The are numbered STS-# for Space Transportation System. Each sign had a photo of the mission crew, or payload, and a short description of the mission objective, and the names of the crew members. I read every single one, and cried when I read the names of the Challenger and Columbia crew members that had perished in STS-51 & STS-107. I bought myself a clever evolution sweatshirt as a souvenir and a freeze-dried ice cream sandwich for the kid.

After a snack break on the patio, we explored some more exhibits on ecosystems, such as rivers, kelp forests, and rot, then looked at a few aerospace and transportation technology displays before fighting the LA traffic back to the hotel. 

All in all, it was a great mix of biology/ecology and outer space today. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Great Day In LA

We are on a mini-vacation, just 100 miles north of home. Treklet and I are in Los Angeles for a few days, doing the tourist thing.

Our first day was tons of fun...and educational, too! After a mom-daughter workout and soak in the jacuzzi, we ventured on up the 5 Freeway to the Page Museum and La Brea Tar Pits.

The museum is just right. Not too big and overwhelming, yet informative and interesting enough to hold our attention for a couple of hours. After perusing the exhibits, we walked across the street for lunch and then returned for a short docent-led tour of the park.

We learned that the tar is not actually tar, but asphalt. We also learned the difference: Asphalt is decomposed organic materials while tar is man-made. We learned that methane and hydrogen sulfide from the decomposition rise from underground to cause the bubbles in the lake. The lake is man-made by siphoning water away from the many excavation sites around the park.

We learned that the pits were predator traps. For every herbivore excavated from the asphalt, there are 9 predators. The goo would have been covered in leaves, sticks, and other debris, as well as water, so animals probably wandered into it unawares. At that point they would be hopelessly stuck. A depth of asphalt of only two inches would be enough to trap a mammoth (12 ft tall and 7 metric tons)! There is a story of 2 Asian elephants that got loose from a traveling zoo in the 1930s that were stuck in just a couple of inches of asphalt, but were pulled out by humans, and that is how they know this. Once the prey animals were stuck, they were seemingly easy pickings for the predators, who then also would become mired in the muck. In just this small area over 3500 Sabertooth cats have been found!

We found our hotel, the Elan, only a few miles away and settled in. We've got free WiFi (a primary factor in booking this room over our second choice), a comfy room, and a courteous staff. I packed a cooler full of healthy vegan food which I transferred to our in-room mini-frig, and unpacked before we set out again.

The Grove is only one mile from our hotel! I told Treklet that we wouldn't have time to go to the American Girl Store because we had our itinerary planned to explore places she has never been. She was pleasantly surprised to learn that we could pay a visit to her favorite store, and we also had time to see the latest Muppet movie there, too.

After our long day she turned in while I squeezed in my second workout and a shower and here I sit blogging. Tomorrow we will explore the Science Center. Eugene is along, and is excited to see the space shuttle Endeavor.