West Coast Wander – Part Two

[Check out Part One here!]

I love getting to be part of any project my wife puts her mind to. She’s creative, passionate, and positive and that combination yields a great deal of interesting results. For her friend Kelechi’s wedding, she was in charge of putting together the reception. Over the course of our week in California, we had crafting days and walk-throughs and the actual ceremony itself – but we still had a little time to explore the Bay Area.

Wedding Prep with Kelechi and her family

This was my first time in this part of California – although Sam had been here with her Mom when she was selecting her grad school (eventually going with the University of Tulsa) that had been 15 years ago or so. I had to see the Golden Gate Bridge, of course, so we headed down to the Presidio when we had a free afternoon.

Home of Lucasfilm

The Presidio is a large park (1500 acres!) on the site of an old army post. It has amazing views of the bay and some cool historic buildings among some stunning art and many walking and biking trails. It is also the home of Lucasfilm, which is why there is a Yoda Statue! I had to see it for myself, of course. There are actually a number of statues around this part of the park that pay tribute to the early days of cinema and television.

What a marvel of engineering!

Although I’d seen the Golden Gate all of my life in movies and photographs, it’s a sight that is still beautiful to behold with your own eyes. We walked down to Torpedo Wharf for a good, water-level view and it didn’t disappoint. All the while, we were surrounded by people speaking different languages. That always gives me a good feeling, knowing that we are a part of something with worldwide appeal. And it was a little cooler right down by the water.

Alcatraz in the distance

Now is as good a time as any to talk about the weather, actually. I had checked the forecast before we left Oklahoma and it predicted 50s in the morning and 80s in the afternoon. The Bay Area is well-known for having cool temperatures, so I optimistically packed some jeans and even a hoodie. Well, wouldn’t you know it…our time there was in the middle of the worst heat wave the area had ever seen. Records were being shattered all over and nobody had air conditioning. It was hotter there than it was back home in Tulsa!  Most unfortunate…but such is life in the era of climate change. It makes me wonder what quality-of-life changes will come to areas that have to adjust to higher temperatures and longer droughts.

The museum itself, a mechanical matchstick amusement park, a multiple-selection player piano, and automated typewriter

Before heading back to Oakland, we stopped at Fisherman’s Wharf and the Musée Mécanique. I hadn’t heard about it before, but it was recommended by a local when I mentioned my love of quirky roadside attractions…and this place didn’t disappoint! It’s a collection of HUNDREDS of old-timey coin-operated arcade amusements, from player pianos to orchestrions to mechanical dioramas and more. They also have a remarkable steam-powered motorcycle on display. Sam even got a horoscope that was typed out via automated typewriter right in front of us! It was FASCINATING and well worth a visit.

The set for Goddess in Berkeley

The day ended with time in Berkeley attending the musical play Goddess, courtesy of Kelechi’s family. Now, it’s well-known that I don’t like musicals but there IS something to be said about experiencing them live. It’s kind of like baseball – watching on TV is a different, disconnected experience for me. In person, there’s more of a rawness to the performances and it’s much easier for me to appreciate the work. The production was well done, and we all enjoyed it immensely!

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