Monday, July 5, 2010

Engine rooms and fancy beers

Disclaimer: This blog post is totally about a sub and a boat. And mostly about the giant awesome machines in both. I only really talk about everything else by accident. You've been warned.

We started off San Francisco - The Returnening with a CalTrain ride.

After stopping at Starbucks to illegitimately use their washrooms, we walked to Union Square, caught the streetcar up along the shore, and went to Boudin Bakery for some breakfast. I of course got the chowder in a breadbowl, but Doug & Chelsea, and Gord & Lex went for the pile-o-crab.

We headed over to our tours: The boats.

First, we toured the USS Pampanito (SS-383), which some of us had done a few years before. It was as cool as ever. The forward torpedo room (which doubled as sleeping quarters), let to the power room. The power room had giant bus-bars with terrible amounts of power running through them. When it was active, those bars were exposed if you were in the crawl-space. One slip, and you're Mr Crispy.

Next was the two engine rooms. That's a picture of me on the top floor, with the top of the engine at about shoulder height. It goes down to the lower floor. And there's four of them. Muchos power (as long as you're on the surface and can feed air to the thirsty engines.)

Then there was the sleeping quarters, the galley, officer sleeping quarters, and finally the bridge.

The red in the bridge allows people's eyes to adjust to darkness, while still illuminating the room. This was probably important for seeing out the periscope, but I'm too lazy to look up details, and I was too cheap to buy the audio tour, so I can't be sure. After that, it was the aft torpedo room, and climbing a ladder up to the deck for the end of the tour.

After the scrubmarine, we checked out the SS Jeremiah O'Brien, a Liberty ship docked just behind the sub. It's still fully operational (but not a battle station), and you can stay on the ship while it tours around the west coast.

We had some fun playing with the deck guns, which were labelled as "Experemental Defense System". The one on the stern was seized, but the bow gun actually rotated around when playing with the cranks.

Gord really loved the cranks.

(Colleen is interrupting this obsession with ships and engine rooms to post some people photos from the ship)

The really neat thing about this ship tour is that it's actually a functioning ship that still travels around the bay. That means very few areas were blocked off and off limits. We got to climb around and go up on all the decks.

One of my favourite photos from the trip. Steve and I are on the Flying Deck of the ship. And in the background you can see San Francisco

This photo of Gord and Lex shows a little of how high up we are on the Flying Deck

Obligatory "King of the World" Titanic shot

And Alcatraz shot

(I now return you to Steve's obsessive narration of large ships and big engines)

And then, we found the engine room.

It was awesome. It literally inspired awe.

It's a 3-cylinder steam engine, powered by two giant boilers. From the top of the cylinder case down to the crankshaft was roughly two stories tall, maybe 2 1/2. This alone was daunting, but the crazy thing was that from the bottom of the cylinder case, the connecting rod and crankshaft were all exposed.

I can only imagine how loud it would be in there while it was running, and if the oil would go everywhere, but it would be worth it.

Anyway, enough geeking out about the ships.

The next step was the Rogue Ales Public House. It was like being at a beer convention. That place has a hell of alot of crazy strange beers on tap. I like beer, but I'll be the first to admit that I know nothing about beer. Gord was raving about the Dogfish Head on tap. From the way he raved about it, I'm guessing that's illustrative of the good beer.

Too bad they were out of Dogfish Head. They had some good beers though - like bacon and chocolate beers.

Then there was Chevvy's, where we all got some food, and Grande Margaritas. So Delicious.

Clearly I'm all blogged out from the engine room. THE ENGINE ROOM. So I'll just finish with: AMER'CA, FUCK YEA! (yes that is an inflatable automatic gun painted like an American Flag)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Monterey Bay and it's Aquarium

 Once again, the trusty Science! chariot driven by Randall and co-piloted by Elizabeth brought us to Monterey Bay. Monterey Bay is a state preserve that contains many species of marine mammals such as sea otters, harbor seals and bottle nose dolphins. It's also on a migratory path of grey, humpback, blue and killer whales. Many species of sharks, squids, sea turtles and fish live in the protected bay.

The bay contains a kelp forest where the kelp can grow as tall as trees.

But before we saw the aquarium to see a sample of some of these marine creatures, we were hungry, hungry hippos. The best cheese and ham croissant ever!

With our black light stamps for readmittance to the aquarium we were ready to rock the underwater world. Well tour it anyways.

Warning! This blog is very image heavy, and these photos are only a fraction of the ones in our collection.

The jelly fish were my favourite. Presenting: The Jelly Fish Parade!

These jelly fish have thin filements like angel hair pasta. They are stuck together and to get apart we suspect that they just tear them off.

Moving on, we entered a larger aquarium that housed an interesting variety of fish.

Tuna!  That's right, it's not much of an illusion. The Tuna was that large. Tasty, tasty Tuna.

Hammer Head shark

Another shark the size of a hammer head I don't remember the name of.

We left that viewing to move into the Sea Horse area. What bizarre creatures.

There was a video of a male sea horse (who carry the babies to term) giving birth. It was quite amusing.  Think of violently thrusting your shoulders violently to your waist. Now imagine you have a sea horse body and little sea horses spill out like vomit through your gut. That's about what it looked like.

A Sea Dragon. It just looks a lot like a plant. There are 4 different ones in this photo.

This Sea Horse is sucking something up from the gravel.

The special exhibit was the flamingos. They were my least favourite, because really - they are birds, not crazy sea creatures that look like they shouldn't co-exist with us. But there was a very interesting one

Not sure what was wrong with this one but it was the only one like it in the enclosure.

Sea Turtle! A young one anyways. It shows you how small it is when you look at the drain in the background.

When we saw the penguins it was feeding time.

Watching them swim was awesome. They would swim for awhile and the bubbles kept coming off of their backs.

Emperor Penguin statue!

Taking a break from the exhibits to look out at the natural bay, and to escape the crowds. It was after all July 4th in the states. 

We found an excellent spot to take couple photos with the bay in the back ground.
First up Gord and Lex

Elizabeth (renamed 'Lizbit that day when we learned she hated Liz) and Randall the owner of the trusty Science! transport.

Me and Steve.  I'm rocking Lex's hat (to prevent sunstroke for my delicate Canadian head)

Lex and I rocking our sundresses. This is the "sexy pose"

Interesting fact: This is the aquarium where Star Trek Whales (also known as Star Trek IV  the Journey Home) was filmed. I can almost see a vulcan in white swimming to mind meld with a humpback whale named Gracie in this photo. Can't see it? Maybe if you spin ten times and squint.

The ocean officially has some crazy things in it. Just so you know, it wasn't official before - now it is because I declare it.

Sea reef plant creature. Looks kinda like a Sarlacc Pit from Star Wars

Cottony plant creatures.

Spiky crab. "Walk like crab, don't talk like people"

More crazy poof plants.

Viewing window. It actually is concave and you can immerse your head into it.

Leopord shark - it's not that big.

Steve falling into the concave window - this isn't a photo effect.

Sea Otters. We got there in time for feeding time. As far as I can tell they spend their days sleeping, scratching (oh boy do they scratch) and eating.

Here is a video of a good butt scratch. They do love to scratch.