Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Great America, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Amusement park bonanza, August 2013

We had a bonanza of roller coasters by going to Great America on Friday and the Santa Cruz Boardwalk on Monday after.  
Great America just opened the 'tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in Northern California'.  And since we got in bright and early there was no line and we rushed on.  Definitely a good coaster-faster for sure and smooth.  I read that they had to shut it for a few days while they put up extra sound barriers-the nearby office workers complained about the screaming :0

The Flying Eagles are not for the faint of stomach.  This is one of TT's favorite rides and he got to ride it 3 times, but the adults had to take turns.

The Pumpkin Patch ride might be the most boring ever but the mural (Snoopy in the moonlit pumpkin field) is really awesome.  

The people mover gives a nice overview of the park (and the new 49ers stadium on the other side).  We didn't make it on the Firefall that is in the picture, though someone did lose a flip-flop in the water and we saw the maintenance people staring at the water....

The Tiki Whirl was totally new to me.  It is like you are standing on the edge of a merry-go-round, facing outward and then the whole disk goes on a roller coaster track.  And let's not forget about the fantastic Taxi Jam and the double decker carousel where you can ride an ostrich, cat or pig!

Somehow this is the first time I have made it to the Santa Cruz boardwalk even though it is just over the hill.  Turns out to be fantastic-who knew ;)

Maybe because it is not owned by a chain they have picked an unusual theme-caveman by the beach.  You really have to visit the Cave Train Adventure to get the full flavor.

The big question is how many fried things can you eat?  I managed 4; corn dog, sweet potato fries, twinkie and oreo.  The deep fried desserts were new to me-they are okay, but not something I need more than once a decade. 

What is the best ride in the park?  The Sea Dragon.  It packs quite a punch for its size, so hang on!

The great thing here was the rides are longer than usual and I saw rides I've seen no where else.  The Wipe Out is a classic scrambler, but in the dark with disco lights.  There is a funky bumper cars where you drive with two sticks to steer-it was rougher but more fun than the classic.

While on the carousel you reach out to grab a brass ring and toss it in the clowns mouth, which is something I've never seen before.  And if you don't like the rides there are arcade games, laser tag (we did this-big fun!), mini-golf and a laser maze (Mission Impossible style you avoid the lasers to get to the vault, also big fun!)

Thanks to The Neighbors (+1)!

Henry Cowell State Park

August 2013

Made it to a new park this weekend, Henry Cowell (not to be confused with Henry Coe, which is just south of San Jose-great for spring wildflowers).  Cowell is one of the Santa Cruz mountain parks and is full of Redwoods!

There are a couple of very large trees here-usually they are 1500-2000 yrs old.

We also walked along Eagle Creek-looks just like a postcard.

The spiders are working hard but there are not a lot of insects.

During a fire, a redwood will often burn at the base.  Because there it so much water in the trunk, it will extinguish the fire with only minimal damage.  The hole can be quite large but the tree just keeps growing.

Then the trunk will regrow around it-today you have to duck to get into the hollow of the tree but 200 years ago a 6 ft person could enter easily.

Thanks to the Walkers for getting us out there!

Garden harvest, the pepper edition, 2013

And the garden at Dancin Turtle's place continues, this time there were fewer tomatoes and more peppers.  There are Anahiems, Thai Dragons and Habaneros.

We had to try a couple different recipes, crushed red pepper flakes, hot pepper jelly, habanero infused vodka, and hot sauce.  The hot sauce is supposed to be thinner, but we didn't do the final dilution with vinegar because it is not actually very hot and is probably a better pasta sauce.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

LACMA Richard Turrell exhibit

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), July 2013
Long post-but mostly photos!

We heard that we shouldn't miss the Richard Turrell exhibit happening at LACMA and it was great.  The Turrell exhibit didn't allow photos and they would not have worked anyway.  He works with light, and most of his works are site specific installations.  His new project is on the edge of a crater out in Arizona!  The art is amazing, it makes you walk up and try to figure out what is going on-can you believe what you see?  The most mainstream are some holograms.  Think about a hologram, but imagine it much larger and out of the frame, just a cube of light sitting in a corner.  You have to go up to it and look at it from angles and check to see where the light is coming from.  So not only is is great to do this yourself, it is great to watch others.  We chatted with one of the guards and she confirmed that this has been one of the best exhibits for people watching.

We decided to spend the whole afternoon since there are so many things to see.  We also took a couple of the docent tours-German Expressionism (like Kandinsky) and Luba masterworks (the best artifacts that the Belgians 'acquired' from the Luba tribe in the Democratic Republic of Congo).  We usually skip the tours but were glad we took these-we didn't really know anything about either topic and now we do!

The Luba don't have a written language so everything is passed on by memory.  Certain members are given the task of remembering and use aids like chanting to recall all the stories.  They have a specialized object which only the memorizers can use.  We don't know all the details, but the acacia thorns are patterned with meaning and the different colors and arrangement of beads help in recalling the memories.

The water buffalo is known as being crafty and well camouflaged, so this mask of a hero has water buffalo horns.

They also included a work by a contemporary artist of the region which has seen a lot of foreign occupation and war.  This is a human figure made of match sticks and lit to throw a shadow on the wall-fragility and impermanence.  There were so many people that you really couldn't sit and contemplate which is too bad and I think this is a very effective piece.

There are quite a few buildings in a sort of 'campus' which gives it a very SoCal feel to me.  It made it confusing to figure out where to go to see what, but the outside space is so well used that I love it!  They put much of the art outside so that folks don't even need a ticket to see it.  There is the famous giant rock-the artist conceived the idea in 1969 but it only got installed in 2012 and like the airplane at Universal Studios it cost 5X the purchase price to ship it.

There are some Calders above a pool.  I really like them outside, I would like to see one out in the Mojave.

And I don't even know who made this-but it is brilliant to entertain kids and adults alike.  I love that it is accessible art-something that you are supposed to touch!  At one point there must have been 15 kids in it-cause it is fun to walk through!

This is inside one of the buildings that doubles as a walk way and you can pass by it on your way to the cafe-nice!

And I love this which is on one of the side entrances (near the food trucks :) ).  It makes everyone try to frame an interesting photograph-again, love the interaction it causes!

The same guy, Chris Burden did Metropolis II, a kinetic sculpture, but boy does it seem more like taking all of your favorite toys and building one big chaotic city!  It only runs a few hours on weekends and we happened to catch.  It is mesmerizing-there were at least 3 little boys who watched it for 15 minutes solid.  If you look closely you can see that there is a museum employee in the middle, to turn it on and off and adjust any stuck cars.

The was a nice Matisse exhibit.  This was commissioned to be made into tile that I really liked.  And then a piece in the modern section that reminded me of the Matisse

And some great stuff in the Islamic section-such neat intricate patterns

And in the Tibetan section they have some traditional decorative furniture

and a traditional buddha statue, but surrounded by an modern installation-very interesting to be in the room.

We were in the Japanese pavilion only a short time, but I found much to love.  First the architecture on the outside and the guiding you past the art on the inside.  It is a gently curved spiral (think Guggenhiem) but broken up by the art on the inside of the spiral in small does of three small and one large item.  All with soft lighting and a rock river to lead you along.

This is looking down three levels

Very beautiful scrolls
A frog in an algae filled pond.

Cheeky monkey trying to catch the moon.

Nice pottery
such a well balanced view of the sea

map of Japan

Gotta love the samurai suits with hexs on the greaves.

For DancinTurtle, this is a rat on a daikon :)

And finally a great selection of netsuke.  Back in the day you would be wearing a kimono, so you had to carry around your stuff in a small bag with a cord and a decorative netsuke to attach it to the kimono belt.   Here is an example

The SF Asian Art museum also had a great collection, but I forgot to photograph those so I photographed too many this time!  They are super cute-sometimes only the size of a quarter.
Angry octopus!

edible things, a chestnut on a sea cucumber

Cicada on a pinecone

Buhddist disciple in a begging bowl

Snail on a water bucket

Everything ocean related

Dutchman holding puppy (?!)

We also had great snacks-they use Strauss family mike to make ice cream which goes into a bunch of great desserts-yum.  A very great day!