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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Middlerun Does America, Days 6-8

I don't really have time to write full blog posts about the other stuff I got up to in San Francisco so here are the Cliffs notes:

Wednesday
Went to Fisherman's Wharf. There's some pretty cool stuff there, most notably a place with tons of antique arcade machines, which still work. I also got some distant photos of Alcatraz. Sadly I couldn't go to Alcatraz because it was booked out for the next four days. Went out for another drink with Simon and Chris at a pretty cool bar called the Ambassador, which is packed some nights but was a ghost town when we were there.

Thursday
Went to the Exploratorium. This was really awesome. The Exploratorium has hundreds of interactive doohickeys which demonstrate scientific principles, and pretty much all of them are really fun and interesting. A few examples:

  • A device for taking a photo of a drop of water as it falls
  • A machine that calculates square roots using a projectile steel ball
  • A square wheel with a specially shaped track that lets it roll smoothly
  • A machine for making smoke rings
  • An infinite slinky track using an upwards conveyor belt
  • Lots of cool electricity demonstrations
I really, really wish I'd had the chance to go there when I was a kid. If you're in San Francisco with kids and you don't take them to the Exploratorium, you are a bad parent.

After they closed, I got the bus down to Haight-Ashbury, where I saw so many bong shops, I think half the glass that is produced in the world must end up on a shelf on Haight St. in the form of a bong, a pipe, or some other smoking apparatus I've never even heard of. There were also some cool clothes shops, I guess.

Friday
I checked out of the hostel at about 8 am, and legged it across town to the Greyhound station to catch a bus down to LA. I was aiming to catch the 10 am bus, but I got there so early that I was just in time for the one before that (8:30 or something), so I got on that one instead. The trip was fairly enjoyable, especially since there was nobody in the seat next to me. There wasn't much to look out the window at, except for miles and miles of farms, though I did see some pumpjacks, which was kind of cool.

It was cloudy and a bit foggy when we arrived in LA. As the bus made its way along a freeway to the terminal, I caught a far-off glimpse of the Hollywood sign but it was hard to see due to the fog. Finally we arrived at the terminal, and I grabbed my bags and set about trying to figure out how to get to my hostel in Santa Monica. The directions on the website had said to catch the #60 bus to downtown LA and then get the #33 to Santa Monica, but it was only about 1 1/2 km from the terminal to downtown, so I decided it would be a bit more interesting to walk there. This turned out to take me through a pretty rundown area full of homeless people, which really I'd gotten enough of in San Francisco, so if I was to do it again I'd probably just catch the #60.

After reaching downtown with most of my spare change left, I proceeded to wait for the #33 bus, which upon arrival turned out to not be quite the right bus anyway - I needed the #733. Eventually this came, after probably a 45 minute total wait. Unfortunately it did not stop at the stop I was waiting at, so I had to sprint a block down the street to the next stop, carrying all my luggage. I made it just in time.

The world's slowest bus then proceeded to take me to Santa Monica. By the time I got there it was about 9 pm. I found my hostel and checked in. It's a lot nicer than the one I was at in San Francisco, and costs only slightly more. I went out and grabbed a couple of huge slices of pizza, then walked to the beach, which is a stone's throw away from the hostel.

Also close to the hostel is Santa Monica Pier, which I wasn't particularly aware of but is apparently kind of a big deal. The pier has its own little amusement park with a bunch of rides, so after walking the length of the pier and taking a few photos, I got a ticket for the rollercoaster. It turned out to be a little tame, but I haven't been on a rollercoaster in years so it was still fun.

After seeing the sights offered by the pier, I went back up to the Santa Monica downtown area and looked at some of the shops, making a mental note of a few places to check out when they were open. Santa Monica looks like a pretty nice place, though my impression was somewhat sullied by a group of people spreading anti-Islamic and anti-atheist propaganda in the street, and the crowd of people paying attention to these arseholes.

After looking around for a bit it was getting late, so I went back to the hostel and went to bed.

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