Monday, April 18, 2011

Fort Baker - Sausalito, California

As part of a new defense strategy for the one of the youngest states to the Union at the time, Fort Baker was established in 1850 on the North side of the San Francisco Bay as a sister battery to Fort Point on the Presidio of San Francisco.

Surrounded by the coastal hills of Sausalito, Fort Baker lies in the cove of Cavallo Point and overlooks the skyline of San Francisco. 

In the mid 1990's, numerous outposts were closed down due to troubled economic times and Fort Baker was one of those which met that fate.  Today this area functions as a Coast Guard post, Naval and Army History Museum, and a Conference Center.
Old Glory and the Golden Gate

Ghost Hunting - Golden Gate Bridge

About five years before this picture was takenI had seen a similar photograph and when I moved to Coastal California where fog is pretty prominent, I thought it would be an easy catch. Well, I was wrong! After more than a year and a half of waiting, weeks beforeI move I finally got the shot I had been waiting for: The Ghost Bridge.  My favorite is the center photo taken with the sepia tone and with immense luck, two well-located sail boats to complete this masterpiece.

The two main cables are anchored down at the concrete towers at each end of the bridge, which spans 1.7 miles over the line of what is the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.  Each cable consists of more than 27,000 strands of wire, totaling more than 80,000 miles of wire!

On the left is a shot of the bridge from the parade grounds of Fort Baker.

Emerging 745 feet from the surface of the Water,
the Bridge was a feat from it's Birth.

Old St. Hilary - Tiburon, California

Originally built by the Archdiocese of San Francisco after the there quarter acre plot had been purchased for two dollars to serve the railroad workers, Saint Hilary now stands as a landmark over Tiburon.  Built in 1888, this structure is one of the few remaining original carpenter gothic style churches in the world. 

Getting up to the church site is a bit of a task being the old, winding roads of the hilly peninsula make for a challenge!  I found the view from the church to be spectacular!  One can see the tops of the Golden Gate Bridge, the entire San Francisco skyline, Angel Island and the tiered streets of Tiburon. 

Out on the Town - San Francisco, CA

Panoramas from Treasure Island - San Francisco, California

Amazingly enough, we had a day in the Bay Area without any unwanted fog!  A group of us decided to take a weekend trip up to San Francisco just before we all left from the state and we couldn't have asked for a better weeked!  

I always loved the view from Treasure Island, plus it always justified driving across at least one bridge!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Under the Sea - Academy of Sciences - San Francisco, CA

Animals of the Academy of Sciences - San Francisco, CA

Does this Spider look big to you?

Well, it definitely was not small by any means!

This was the first creature I encountered as I made my entry into the Rain Forest of the World.


Academy of Sciences - San Francisco, CA

Nestled in the heart of the Golden Gate Park in western San Francisco, the California Academy of Sciences offers a once in a life-time experiences to it's visitors.  From the Butterflies fluttering around you in the Rain Forests of the World Exhibit to the fascinating show in the Planetarium, the trip here is a must-see!

Visitors are "Welcomed" by the full smile of the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Looking into the Rain Forests of the World.

The Living Roof:
Designed to maintain the temperature of the building by absorbing the heat of the Summer Sun and insulating the inside from the cooler San Francisco days in which the city becomes enveloped in the famous fog.  An alternative motive behind the Living Roof is to reduce the effect of "Urban Heat" which is produced by black tar roofs and asphalt in most larger cities.  Just one more way the California is making a lead in Alternative Energy is the surrounding "Glass Canopy" of more than 60,000 photo-voltaic cells which produce all the energy the building requires to function on. 

The Foucault Pendulum:

Proof that the World rotates!  French physicist Leon Foucault proved the fact the world rotates by this simple pendulum on free swing motion which also can accurately tell time, which is what this exhibit is showing here: 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Lesson on Wine - Monterey, California

Stretching down the Coast of California from Sonoma Valley to Santa Barbara is known as California's Wine Country.  Luckily for me, I have had the pleasure of living in the middle of this Wine Country for almost two years and on occasion I reap the benefits of having vineyards
on all sides of me!  Going wine tasting is a great way to spend time with friends but also to meet people from every kind of background and learn about things that one would not learn about on your average day!
You would not think of this every day item to be so unique, but in all reality, it is.  Most of the world's cork is grown on the Iberian Peninsula (Spain & Portugal) and is a fairly difficult staple to harvest.  Talking with a vineyard specialist, she told me that the cork comes from the bark of cork oak after about 25-30 years of growth and these trees can live up to 200 years of age producing tons upon tons of this remarkable product. Cork is considered a suberin material, which means it does not allow moisture to seep through which revolutionized food and liquid preservation.

While out on the town of Monterey. I have starting to get a grasp on wine and everything it entails, Slowly!  First and Foremost, "Don't believe everything you hear about Wine." said from a server at the Taste of Monterey which has been working in the Wine Industry for well over twenty years.

1. The higher the price does not mean better wine - The harvest of the grapes and the proper aging of the wine is what makes a good wine.
2. The Color of the bottle is important. - Green is traditionally used, not because it "preserves" the wine , it was to differentiate between the blue bottles for medicines and clear for everyday uses when glass bottles were commonly used, also green was a cheap dye to use at the time!
3. Older the better.- In some cases, yes, but only a select few. For the common Red dinner wine or the cheese and cracker white wine or the sweet Dessert wine, 3-5 years has a high chance of being a good choice for a good wine!

Stated above were a few myths about wine.  Although on the other hand, one part of the wine making process that is important is the oak barrel and it's role.  Oak is a porous wood which allows the wine to be exposed to a slight amount of evaporation, but not too much to lead to spoiling of the wine.  Also, the oak along with cork do not effect the taste of the wine like other woods or material can do.  In example of how materials can effect the taste or texture is beer that is either bottled, kegged, or in aluminum cans can all vary despite it being the same type of beer.

I had been told by each and every person on my adventures of wine tasting about finding a good wine is by tasting it!  Each person has a different reaction to different types of wine, the levels of tannin, the phenols in the wine, along with other factors, so try it! To maximize that opportunity, one can go taste a handful of wines for around five dollars, get good advice, meet new people, and of course get a little bit tipsy with friends!

Bach's Mass in B Minor - San Francisco, California

From the Heart of San Francisco at the Davies Symphony Hall, I had the opportunity to experience Bach's Mass in B Minor up close and personal! 

Showing up just in the nick of time at the beginning with a friend, her and I had a time of our lives!

Further fascinating me with it's unique and powerful role in music, the pipe organ in the Hall is most definitely one of a kind!

During the Intermission, Amos Yang, who is the Assistant Principal of the cello section for the San Francisco Symphony, warms up for the Second Half... I discovered why he was doing so shortly after!

A panoramic shot of the Davies Symphony Hall.