On our second day in San Francisco we took our first cable car ride to Golden Gate Park. Actually, we took the cable car part of the way and then had to transfer to a bus.
It was so neat actually being on a cable car! Alex and I rode on the front seats which face out towards the street. In each section there is a sign that only two people can stand up and hang on to ride. We were sitting down, but two ladies stood in front of us for part of the trip. Of course that was fine, I just had never thought of that before - and, it made it a little hard to see! Besides our open area, the back half of the cable car is enclosed so you can stay out of the elements. (We were kind of cold, but enjoyed it!)
My mom rode on the very back and talked with one of the conductor. It takes two people to drive the cable car. The gripman is up front (where Alex and I were). He operates the grip lever that grips and releases the underground cable. The conductor is in the back and he controls the rear wheel brakes when descending steep hills. He also collects fares and manages the boarding and exiting of passengers. My mom enjoyed a lengthy talk with the conductor.
Here's a photo from our cable car showing the hill we had just come down. It is hard to believe how steep the hills are in San Francisco. It's almost scary!
Our destination for the day was Golden Gate Park. The park includes lots of sports areas (for basketball, soccer, tennis, etc) and quite a few museums and other things to do. We first walked to the Conservatory of Flowers. They were watering the lawns and it was a challenge to get through them, but we made it without getting wet.
For the most part, the conservatory houses several rooms of beautiful flowers. Unfortunately, I didn't really take any flower photos worth posting. But, I enjoyed this display with a "field notebook." It's a lot like a nature journal.
This is an example of the art of Penjing, which means "tray scenery." It has been around for about 2,000 years and is a prerunner of the bonsai tradition. They had several displays of penjing and I thought they were really fascinating and something I'd never seen before. A sign in the conservatory explains, "It is said that the emperor of China didn't travel a lot. His emissaries would go out and collect stones from the landscapes of various regions to make these creations to illustrate what his realm looked like."
Here's another example of penjing. You can see the tray better, and this one is floating!
The conservatory has several rooms of permanent displays and one room that changes quarterly. Our Toad's Tour guide told us that recently they had a "butterflies of the world" exhibit and a "carnivorous plants" exhibit. Both of those sounded wonderful, so I was disappointed when he told us the current exhibit was about railways. But, when we walked into the room, I was thrilled! The scene was of San Francisco with a train running around it.
Each part of the exhibit was made of "recycled and repurposed" (great word!) materials. These Painted Ladies are made out of old cereal boxes like Wheaties and Cheerios.
And, here is one of my favorite places in SF - Lombard Street! I love the miniature flowers.
After visiting the conservatory, we ate lunch outside at a hot dog stand. The food was all "health food"! No hormones in the meat. No high fructose corn syrup in the soda. We also had some "real" fruit rollups that were all natural. We don't usually eat like this (though we should) and I was surprised that everything was delicious!