Friday, August 14, 2009


A friend and I took our 6 kids on a ferry trip and an octopus wrapped its tentacles around the children's heads. Entirely true. Read on.

And it was not the only monster to snare us.
We started off at Jack London Square. The ferry to San Francisco takes you right past the Port of Oakland where huge cranes drag cocooned cargo off ships like praying mantises snatching caterpillars.

Our destination was the Maritime National Historic Park. Yes. I am still stuck on the history thing. Trying to turn over all the stones right here.

Greta tried out her muscle against Rosie's.
First stop, a submarine, the U.S.S. Pampanito.
You can actually spend a night on this sub...but I'll pass. P.U. it still smells like 75 guys are living there for 80 days at a time without seeing the light of day...or a shower. Even though there was a shower. The Underwood typewriter was the only thing that really called to me.

Next stop Hyde Street Pier which has several historic ships. Even the bathroom has maritime facts like: sailors' time honored dislike of inside toilets and preference for answering the call of nature by hanging off the bowsprit remains a major cause of drowning at sea.

The Balclutha is packed with the cargo it used to carry and other engaging exhibits. I was a sucker for the old canned fruit labels and the story of California's second gold rush (exporting wheat).

This is when a monster ensnared me. Everyone was tired, my friend suggested we go home. But I couldn't stop--we had to do it all.

We fortified ourselves with the obligatory bowls of clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls and swam through the crowds to the Aquarium of the Bay.

I love the Aquarium of the Bay. It used to be a Tourist Trap called Shark Attack! You can still see a chewed up surfboard in the first room. But it was bought by a non-profit and hey, admission is half off if you have a membership with a reciprocal zoo or aquarium.

My favorite thing is the top right photo below. They've put a window in a skate egg so you can see the developing skates inside. The little skates have yolk sacs attached to their bellies. Greta loved the pink anemone decorated crab at top left.

Everything was going swimmingly...well, the kids were obviously tired and trying to stop the moving walkway by gripping the railings and pressing their feet against it...but still, things were going pretty well octopus engulfed our children.

The octopus tank has a tunnel beneath it with a glass bubble. As the kids were looking the octopus came out of hiding and wrapped itself around the bubble. Greta was a little alarmed, then thrilled. Clementine saw the octopus's beak. A lady next to me oohed and aahed and said it was a once in a lifetime experience. Well, it was pretty great.

After that we had to go see the sea lions. Yes, even after the octopus released the kids I was still ensnared by a drive to do it all. Well, not really. I would have taken pirates up on the offer of a ride. But we had some time to kill before the ferry left anyway.

The ferry ride home was at least 10 times long as the one there, ok, maybe just 10 minutes longer. It had an extra stop. But it felt like forever.

To keep the kids from running all around the ship (because they'd already been reprimanded 3 times) we played 20 questions on things we had seen that day.
Greta did the skate in the egg sac, Ephraim, the torpedoes on the submarine, Evelyn, the bay, Yasha, a big paddle wheel, Clem the chowder.

Yep. We had seen a lot. Too much for one day.
Note to self: Know when to call it quits.
It'll still be there.


Anonymous said...

wow! what a fun excursion. I have yet to get my daughter's head encased by an octopus, but you can believe it's on our to-do list :D

J.G. Wilder said...

Oh, Effie is going to be mad with envy when I show her. We have watched the guy stick his head into the bubble below an octopus on YouTube (I think it's a National Geographic video) a million times.

I'm glad nobody got locked in the brig. (Next time you can tell them that's what happens to kids who run on the boat . . .) What a great outing.

The Stone Age Techie said...

Keep the history stuff coming, I love it!
And, my brother collects Underwood typewriters, so I totally get that it would call to you :-)

Kat said...

Cool octopus. We went to the very miniscule Aquarium we have in our neck of the woods and got to see the Ocotopus fed one time. We thought it was cool to see it turn red as it ate...too fun to have your head be 'dinner'.

I like the Rose the Rivetor sign. My husband's grandma was a real Rosie. She worked in the sheet metal shop at our airforce base during WWII. She wrangled metal and fixed planes and all with the rampant discrimination against women. It's funny how the 'propoganda' made it seem we were so proud of our women working, but the men that shared their jobs were much less thrilled.

Susan said...

Barbara, Maggie would look so fab in an octopus turban! If you succeed I hope you get better pics than I did and share.

Jennifer, I knew Effie really liked me when she took one look and shouted AAAAGH it's an octopus! You know, the brig is an excellent idea. I was thinking of taking the kids to Alcatraz, but if the ferry just had a brig that would be very convenient. Though I am not sure they would get the point. They would love the brig.

Karen, ooooh does your brother let you type on them or are they strictly for looking at?

Kat, I would love to see an octopus turn red as it was eating! Bravo to your husband's grandma and thanks for sharing your inside story--it is easy for the real experience to be lost while the propaganda endures. I sure wish my grandparents had talked more about their lives. My grandfather was a 17yo in the British Navy in WWI and my grandmother marched in the civil rights movement.

tara said...

A good friend of ours is the head engineer over at the aquarium. we get the royal treatment while we're there! (maybe i should organize a homeschooling blogger field trip!)
... that underwood typewriter would have called to me, too.

Kristin said...

Yeah Susan, do you ever rest? You've been going non-stop since you were gone and since you are back. Time to chill? Oh--why bother, might as well wait until it's cold and yucky out. It's too beautiful lately right? The photos of the octopus are splendid. You had another wonderful day. I wish I had your energy and enthusiasm to do more field trips.

The Stone Age Techie said...

My crazy brother actually uses his typewriters to... write letters on, isn't that novel? I think he might even be persuaded to let my boys type a bit on them when we see him next month, he is good like that. I will tell you all about it after we get home from visiting him!

Susan said...

Tara, oooh! Sign me up for the VIP blogger aquarium tour.

Kristin, you lacking energy! I don't believe it. :)

Karen, I look forward to hearing about your adventures with the Underwood.

patricia said...

Oh, I didn't know they had a skate sac like that there--I saw one just like that at an aquarium in Spain and it was my favorite sight too. Unforgettable!