Explore[atorium]

The big expedition for today was to make our way to the Exploratorium here in San Francisco. Essentially the mothership for the interactive science museum genre (“push buttons to make magents move water” trumps “look at musty dioramas of beavers”), I was last there 25 years ago with my father, now it was time for Oliver to dive in.

For such a cool place, the Exploratorium is surprisingly difficult to get to. In fact when I called this morning for directions the woman who answered the phone seemed to doubt her own ability to guide me there by public transit (she succeeded: her directions — take the #30 bus to the end of the line and walk 2 blocks — were on the button). We arrived just before opening at 10:00 a.m., which turned out to be an excellent time to arrive as we had the place essentially to ourselves for the first hour or so.

While the strict “learning” part of the balance of the exhibits was beyond Oliver’s comprehension, he was happy just to pull, push, prod and run around and we were happy to follow him and try to insert so “well, Oliver, you see they are inert gasses and that’s why” at appropriate moments. Oddly enough, Oliver’s favourite part of the entire visit seemed to be a documentary film about the Cold Spring Harbor Lab and James Watson; he’d just fallen off the spinning bicycle tire aparatus, though, and bumped his head, so he might have been delusional.

The Exploratorium being literally “at the end of the line,” we had a fair hike back to civilization, and Oliver decided to use the opportunity to have a complete meltdown. When we arrived at Fort Mason for lunch at Greens, he immediately fell asleep on Catherine’s lap, and remained so throughout our meal. Which was a very good meal indeed: Catherine had a melange of Mexican-inspired things, and I had organic potato pancake with a salad.

Oliver woke up, right on cue, at the end of the meal, and we hiked off over the edge of Fort Mason into the chaos of Fisherman’s Wharf (think “Peakes Quay” times 1000 if you’re from Charlottetown). Our main reason for this wade was to find a rumoured merry-go-round on Pier 39. Which we found. And it was delightful (and, I think, priced exactly the same as the merry-go-rounds in France) and Oliver was back in the game as a result.

We packed ourselves onto a F-line bus to head back downtown (packed being the operative word as there were literally people hanging out the doors, it being 5:00 p.m. and all) and were back in our room for 6. After a little time for re-composure, we found the excellent Thai Stick a few blocks away and had a tasty Thai supper.

As I type, it is 9:30 p.m. Pacific, 1:30 a.m. Atlantic, and who knows what time in Copenhagen. Catherine and Oliver are prematurely asleep; I’m trying to stay awake to avoid waking up at 4:00 a.m. tomorrow as I did today.

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