Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Butterflies ARE real!

Yesterday we visited the new CA Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. I had heard glowing and not so glowing reviews, so I wasn't sure what to expect. My expectations were pretty low, especially since I thought the "old" Academy of Sciences was just fine when they closed it five years ago.

I have to say, it was pretty cool.

Rosie, MiniMe and I met up with St. NanNan and my neice Pearl, who is MiniMe's age. First off we went to the aquarium. Obviously someone from the Academy took a trip to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium and took notes. There was a giant (though not as giant as Monterrey) CA coral reef in which a miked diver submerges and talks to the audience. It really was beautiful and the girls were excited to see all the fish and "sea enemies". They had the obligatory "feel the star fish" station, which was enjoyed by everyone under 10.

But there was no more Roundabout. I used to love going round and round up into the circular tank, where the tuna swam dizzyingly around and around. It was all dark, and they had benches......but I digress.

I was pretty impressed by the cafe. It was very San Francisco. Or at least very California. Everything from fish and chips (fried right in front of you) to lamb curry or sushi. The prices were $8-12 per entree. Not too bad if compared to lunch anywhere else in the City.

But the best part of the day was a visit to was a sort of aviary. There's probably a sciency name for it, but I can't remember. It was a huge enclosure with a ramp spiraling around the outer edge, three levels high. In it were a fair number of pretty yellow birds, and an abundance of butterflies. It was especially meaningful for me and MiniMe, because a few weeks ago she asked me, "Mama, are butterflies real?" Oops. Guess we haven't been getting outside enough....

She so wanted to see "real" butterflies. And boy did she. Black ones with yellow spots on the wings, blue wings on top with brown underneath, all different kinds of flying beauties. But the pinnacle of excitement occurred when a butterfly landed on MiniMe's hand! The look on her face was magic. Wondrous. (why didn't I bring my camera?) Then, I was lucky enough to have one land on my arm. Then it camped out there for a few minutes (my shirt was green). People were taking pictures of my arm. Finally, I raised my arm to shoo it off, but lowered it quickly when I beheld my flab swinging. "Blowing it off will do just fine - thank you very much!" And off it went. The other girls were a little disappointed that they didn't butterflies on them.

After the butterfly extravaganza (which also included cute little orange frogs, geckos...etc.) we visited the African Hall. It was very similar to the old hall, sans the benches. What's up with that? Why don't they have benches for us tired old folks? Anyways, the stuffed animals were almost exactly as they were before. The one difference was the penguins. They were in Africa Hall, instead of the aquarium. Are there penguins in Africa? I didn't think so......but now I'm not sure.

The end of the visit saw us sitting outside in the park between the Academy and the de Young museum. The girls built forts out of branches that had been cut off the trees in the park, which we enjoyed the benches.

So, overall I give the place a moderately enthusiastic thumbs up. We didn't go to the planetarium, and missed the climate change section. More things to check out next time!


Mike said...

Yeah, that rainforest sphere thing was unlike anything else I had seen. I didn't even know frogs came in those colors.