"One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple by the relief office I saw my people. As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if this land was made for you and me."
-- Woody Guthrie
Two weekends ago, one of my best friends, Allison, who I met while we were both studying in Scotland four years ago, visited me in California. She flew down from Portland, Oregon and we had a marvelous four days of exploration and fun. In visuals and substance, it was beautiful. There were a few too many words and images to include it all in just one post, I'll split the adventure into two posts.
We began at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a favorite of many visitors. With my membership and the ability to grab a guest pass through my work, I'm always eager to experience it again with friends! These jellyfish, appropriately called "egg yolk jellyfish" were incredibly tangled.
This Indian Ocean octopus was also on a definite exercise break when we stopped by. It was extraordinary to see all of his or her tentacles moving at different speeds and how it seemed to float through the water. The photobomb by a shrimp in this image makes me laugh.
Big Sur is a destination I could travel to everyday. The full experience of the gorgeous views and landscape includes driving only an hour and a half or so round trip along the coast and it typically feels like ten minutes.
Even the smallest amount of rain and sea mist made the region look a bit more like Ireland than drought-stricken California!
The next day, we explored San Francisco. I've only been to the city two or three times and it was great to accomplish a few more tourist-y things in that fun city. We began at the Flower Conservatory, a beautiful building dating to the 1890s that survived the devastating 1906 earthquake. It looks like an enormous Victorian greenhouse, a blend of glass panes and wood painted white. There were so many orchids and tropical plants and a giant lily pond, but unfortunately the lighting on the images I captured just weren't great. Here's one close-up of an orchid in the conservatory that isn't too dark.
Afterwards, we explored the Ferry building near the piers and the long Bay Bridge which stretches to the East Bay where Oakland and Berkeley lie (along with the rest of the state and country if you continue traveling east). The outdoor Saturday farmers market was extremely busy and the specialty food and home goods shops indoors were just as bustling. It was wonderful to see the mixture of every type of cuisine possible, local food and farms represented and tourists and locals shopping. Lines for every type of food were long, but in splitting up and weighing the differences in line length, we both found something tasty. I loved the steamed pork bun and Italian nutella doughnut I tried.
Free museums are always welcome. If engineering or transportation interests you, I'd recommend the free cable car museum!
I can't say On the Road grabbed me like other literature has, and I can't say I know a ton about the Beatniks, but I do love Lawrence Ferlinghetti's poetry. I knew so little about him that I was quite surprised when I learned he was a beatnik a little while ago. Around that same time, I was thrilled to learn that at 97, he still owns San Francisco's City Lights Bookstore, an independent book store that has an excellent selection of poetry, novels, and everything you'd find in a book store. It was so exciting to be there and I particularly liked this door in the basement.
My favorite Ferlinghetti poem is below. This trip to be continued in the next post!
Wild Dreams of a New Beginning
There's a breathless hush on the freeway tonight
Beyond the ledges of concrete
restaurants fall into dreams
with candlelight couples
Lost Alexandria still burns
in a billion lightbulbs
Lives cross lives
idling at stoplights
Beyond the cloverleaf turnoffs
'Souls eat souls in the general emptiness'
A piano concerto comes out a kitchen window
A yogi speaks at Ojai
'It's all taking pace in one mind'
On the lawn among the trees
lovers are listening
for the master to tell them they are one
with the universe
Eyes smell flowers and become them
There's a deathless hush
on the freeway tonight
as a Pacific tidal wave a mile high
Los Angeles breathes its last gas
and sinks into the sea like the Titanic all lights lit
Nine minutes later Willa Cather's Nebraska
sinks with it
The sea comes over in Utah
Mormon tabernacles washed away like barnacles
Coyotes are confounded & swim nowhere
An orchestra onstage in Omaha
keeps on playing Handel's Water Music
Horns fill with water
ans bass players float away on their instruments
clutching them like lovers horizontal
Chicago's Loop becomes a rollercoaster
Skyscrapers filled like water glasses
Great Lakes mixed with Buddhist brine
Great Books watered down in Evanston
Milwaukee beer topped with sea foam
Beau Fleuve of Buffalo suddenly become salt
Manhatten Island swept clean in sixteen seconds
buried masts of Amsterdam arise
as the great wave sweeps on Eastward
to wash away over-age Camembert Europe
manhatta steaming in sea-vines
the washed land awakes again to wilderness
the only sound a vast thrumming of crickets
a cry of seabirds high over
in empty eternity
as the Hudson retakes its thickets
and Indians reclaim their canoes