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  • Robert Gidley

Living proof of the living roof

May 18, 2022

8:30 am

Seems our little mile-long therapy walk uphill in SF has led to pretty sound sleep! We stagger awake in the blazing sunshine (even with the blinds drawn, a lot of light gets into Harvey).


Taking a walk around the Candlestick RV park, we notice how many of the units are clearly here for the long term (stairs built in front of them, several of them have full-size refrigerators outside). It’s a little depressing to realize that for some people, this is affordable housing.


We’ve been living in Harvey for almost a week and it’s been a bit stressful. Everything we do needs to be coordinated—“I need to heat up my coffee,” “Well, you’ll have to wait until I’m done washing my hands!” Not to mention being cheek-by-jowl all the time. Imagine living like this—even in a larger unit, it’s still crowded. Add in children and—yeesh. Our hearts go out to these folks and we don’t mind the kids running around making noise so much.


It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood


We also chat with our next-door neighbors, who have a camper unit on the back of a pick-up truck about half the size of Harvey. They started in Arkansas two weeks ago and have visited Mt. Rushmore and the Seattle area and come down the coast. In two weeks! That’s some serious driving in a teeny space, which they say has got a queen size bed, refrigerator, shower, bathroom, and stove. Talk about being in each other’s pockets…


11:00 am

This RV park has free Wi-Fi, which works fine. What doesn’t work is the part where the Wi-Fi network connects to the internet. So once again, we spent the morning stopping by Starbucks and working on getting the trip log out. There’s an “elderly Chinese friends social meeting” going on, where from time-to-time an Uber will drop off somebody, and one of the organizers (also elderly and Chinese) will run out and help them in, and it’s all very neighborly and wholesome.


Either that or we’re in the middle of a Chinese Mafia meeting. But the Wi-Fi’s good!


1:00 pm

Robert got to choose what we’re doing today, so it’s: California Academy of Sciences! A science museum in the middle of a park, which also lets us get in our mile of walking to get there from the Starbucks. It’s a pleasant day, sunny and warm, and there’s lots of flowers to view along the way.


A tree house in San Francisco


1:30 pm

Planetarium! When we asked the helpful ticket taker what we shouldn’t miss, she said enthusiastically, “The Planetarium show!” so here we are. The show is about life on other planets and specifically how to detect it—using atmospheric spectra mostly. There’s some talk about detecting radio waves from technological civilizations (“We’re getting I Love Lucy reruns”). It’s interesting, but we kind of miss when Planetarium shows were more stars projected on the ceiling and less semi-IMAX screens.



Even the T-Rex knows to wear a mask!

2:35 pm

After a hydration break with some boxed water (saves plastic!), we stumble into an exhibit about redwood trees. Cool thing: near the tops of the trees, wind blown soil tends to accumulate. Then this catches falling detritus such as leaves, then salamanders and earthworms show up and pretty soon, you’ve got an entire eco-system running in the tops of the trees. One that weighs “as much as a small car.”


The coolest thing is that this was only discovered in 1990, which in science terms is pretty much yesterday. Apparently, nobody had climbed a redwood and looked around before? Seems hard to miss a car-shaped thing in a tree, but we did.



Gini with our plastic-saving cardboard box water

Gini learning about the Redwoods


3:00 pm

Earthquake simulation! San Francisco has had two big earthquakes, the 1906 one (the biggest!) and the 1989 one (the World Series-est!). This exhibit has you step into a room that then shakes at roughly the same intensity as the actual earthquakes. The 1989 simulation is for as long as the actual earthquake, and we are very glad that we have handholds to keep from toppling over. The 1906 one is for 30 seconds, where the actual earthquake lasted for 90 seconds and we are very glad we weren’t around for that one!


3:30 pm The Living Roof

On top of the Academy is a bunch of dirt and plants called a “living roof.” The idea is that the plants help keep rainwater from running away (into sewers) and also provides insulation and cooling. They have weather stations that monitor current conditions and then a series of computer controls that adjusts various windows and vents to let in sunshine and cool air.

Gini (the living end) on the living roof


Of course, this means that one of the household chores is “weeding the roof,” which is done by “dedicated volunteers,” because random volunteers like us would be pulling out all the native species and leaving the pretty weeds.

View from the living roof (DeYoung art museum and SkyStar Wheel)


Gini wanders around the aquarium and the coral reef exhibits for a while, and Robert rests his poor tired feet (he’s a chemistry major, so all the biology is a bit dull to him—“Where’s the explosions?”).



Gini visits with the fishes!


6:30 pm Home with Harvey

A quiet evening in with a home-cooked meal of chicken salad and clam chowder. Tomorrow: We’re gonna park our caboose in a caboose!


Gini & Robert

Harvey Staff

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