Saturday, April 19, 2008

The laws of physics and unleashing a hitchhiker

Guess where we went today? Give up already? Yeah. I know. So many people in the world recognize this photo that it's almost ridiculous to ask, huh?

Last month, Daddy and I felt compelled to go to one of Smunch's school fundraisers...the school auction. We didn't "win" much. (Do you really win at auctions?), but we did come home with a pair of tickets to the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Despite the fact that it was cold and windy here, we decided to go today. 'Cause face it. Is it going to be nicer in The City? No.

I haven't been to the Exploratorium since I was a kid, but I kinda know the jist of the place. It's largely about the wonders of physics. See? Here's Smunch catching sparks with his bare hand.And this? This is Mam getting to understand the physics of acoustics, the science of musical composition and possibly the meaning of "cacophony".Oooh! And this. Here they are learning how to generate electricity with their grubby little hands. I wonder if I could just put together a giant hamster wheel. Who needs solar? And here, Mam discovers that there must be something that makes a rainbow. Maybe. Or maybe she thinks she's mysteriously turned into a rainbow herself. Not sure.I majored in genetics and then journalism. Tell you anything? The truth is, I took a year of physics in college. I appreciate the everyday practicality of physics...that there's friction to ensure I can walk, there's potential energy when I'm sitting like a couch potato, or standing, say, on the Golden Gate Bridge. I like that there are rainbows. I like that I can hear my kids when they're strangling each other. Yes. I like physics. But the sad fact is...I don't care how it all works. I just need it to work, O.K.?

So...let's see. We're going to a place where I'm going to be somewhat bored (although Daddy and the kids were very happy, particularly Mam, surprisingly). And, I've got this new hobby that I've claimed one can do ANYWHERE. I'm not even gonna say the word because I know what you're thinking. I'm at this great museum and I'm going to abandon my family to hunt for rubber stamps? And lady, are you crazy? You're in a friggin' museum! Do you really think there's a letterbox in there?? Hell, yeah! And there isn't just one of them either.

Unfortunately, the museum updates its exhibits with some regularity and the boxes were hidden almost three years ago. The clues were impossible to follow...they involved counting items in pictures that were no longer on the wall and things like that. But, you know what? I found them anyway...even the one that had had a wall constructed around it! That and the tiny little life sciences exhibit totally made my day. Well, this was kinda cool too. In this photo, Mam and I were sitting in a similar structure to the one pictured, talking to Daddy and Smunch from across the cavernous museum, in just a regular talking voice. Cool.This would come in handy if it worked in my house, I think.

And, here's a shocker for you...although it came as no surprise at all to me. Mam and Smunch can whip up a tornado all by themselves. It's abundantly obvious that this happens daily in the back of my house, but this is the first time its been caught on film.When we were finally done with the museum, Smunch really, really, really wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Well...what he really wanted to do was drive across it, but that seemed a little ridiculous since we had nowhere to go over there and there's a $5 toll. So, we went to a park by the beach. And it was WINDY! I've never seen so many windsurfers in one place in my life.The kids didn't really seem to care about the wind except that Mam was wearing a dress and kept complaining that something was hurting her legs. Judging by the sand flying around, it was hardly surprising. They still made a great show of running around on the beach. Although Mam finally conceded that she was too cold.Smunch still wanted to go across the bridge. So, in my addict-like manipulative way, I told him that we'd drive across the bridge if he'd let me find just one more letterbox. Because, of course, I'd brought clues to a few more. I was satisfied with just one though...especially when we were faced with just what this one was going to entail. Not a long hike, but...Well, it is San Francisco, after all. There were about 250 stairs like this, literally. Surprisingly, the kids did really, really well. I didn't hear a single whine. My own calves hadn't quite forgiven me for the Pacifica trip, so they'll doubtlessly punish me tomorrow. It was a clear day and the fog was out, so the views from the stairs were fantastic.Another place I never would have gone without my insane new hobby. We got to walk right through Dianne Feinstein's front yard too!

It turned out this box was a little more roomy...and more accessible than the ones at the Exploratorium. It also so happens that I recently carved a little hitchhiker stamp for myself. So today, I launched our first hitchhiker out into the world. Happy trails, little pinwheel stamp!And that should certainly be the closing line of this post. Goodness knows it's long enough, but I wanted to make sure you knew I made good on my promise. After descending all those stairs, we packed ourselves back in the mommymobile for a trip across the bridge...and you know what? It was worth every bit of that $5.


MamaB said...

G and A loved the Exploratorium when I took them there in February. They could have spent all day there. I always loved it as a kid too, though I never could get my head around physics is school.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Wow...the exploratorium boxes are still in place?

Y'all were quite near one of my letterboxes....Have you found "Sound Waves" yet?

MommaWriter said...

Yes! The two indoor boxes are still there. The two outdoor boxes are gone.

We haven't found Sound Waves yet. Maybe on our next big trip to "the City"!