June 21, 2018

Oakland: Oakland Aviation Museum


880 South

Oakland Aviation Museum

exterior of Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California
exterior of Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California

8252 Earhart Rd./Swan Way, (510) 638-7100.  W-Sun 10-4.  18 $12, 60+ $10, 13-19 $8, 5-12 $6.  Housed inside a 1939 airplane hangar that once was home to the Boeing School of Aeronautics, this aviation museum is located on the North Field at Oakland Airport--just two blocks from where the airport bus drops riders at the Rental Car Center, making it a candidate for something to do if you have a long wait for a flight.  The vintage aircraft collection includes a crowd-pleasing favorite--a rare giant 1943 Short Solent mk3 flying boat that once flew passengers from London, England to Johannesburg, South Africa and to Australia.  It is sort of a baby Spruce Goose, and the last of its kind in the world.  Those long journeys took even longer--four days--because the plane flew only in daylight hours, so everyone overnighted along the way.  The Solent was featured in the 1981 movie "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark," and is the star of this collection.  This treasure is opened at an additional fee for tours on weekends, when you can capture a selfie seated in one of the comfy seats inside, but can always be viewed from the outside.  And it can be rented for special events--think a birthday party, an anniversary.

1943 Short Solent mk3 flying boat at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California
1943 Short Solent mk3 flying boat at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California


1943 Short Solent mk3 flying boat at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California
1943 Short Solent mk3 flying boat at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California


1943 Short Solent mk3 flying boat at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California
1943 Short Solent mk3 flying boat at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California


interior seats on 1943 Short Solent mk3 flying boat at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California
interior seats on 1943 Short Solent mk3 flying boat at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California


1943 Short Solent mk3 flying boat in action at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California
1943 Short Solent mk3 flying boat in action at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California


None of the planes displayed here are flyable.  The collection also includes a T-3 tail glider that was built on the premises, a scale-model blimp hanging from the ceiling, a Hiller helicopter from a local aviation company, and a small plane like the one John Denver flew.  Young children will especially enjoy the playground in front featuring kid-sized planes to play on, as well as a play table inside and a few models to climb in for a photo op.

crashed plane at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California
crashed plane at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California


interior of hangar at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California
interior of hangar at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California


Kitfox Classic IV-1200 Taildragon plane at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California
Kitfox Classic IV-1200 Taildragon plane at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California


toy Flying Tiger plane for kids at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California
toy Flying Tiger plane for kids at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California


Small side rooms hold focused collections, including the Engine Room where engines from different eras and types of aircraft are displayed, Women in Aviation featuring photos of Amelia Earhart (who landed here in Oakland in 1935 at the conclusion of her record-setting flight from Honolulu, and who also famously began her ill-fated 1937 flight around the world right here), Black Americans in Aviation & Space that details the famous Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, and the General James Doolittle Room (this famous World War II aviator was born in Alameda).

Amelia and Carole prepare for takeoff at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California
Amelia and Carole prepare for takeoff at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, California

Open Cockpit Day is held periodically.  Visitors then can enter a variety of aircraft.  Additional special activities might include Canine Companions for Independence, live music, refreshments for purchase, and roller derby demonstrations.



More things to do in Oakland.

Way more things to do in Oakland.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

June 19, 2018

Mountain View: Computer History Museum


101 South

Computer History Museum  1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., just E of Hwy. 101, (650) 810-1010.  W-Sun 10am-5pm (tour times vary).  $17.50, under 11 free.  Formerly part of The Computer Museum in Boston, this comprehensive collection of computer-related artifacts moved to the Bay Area in 1996 and opened here in 2002.  Displaying more than 1,100 items (only 1% of the collection), it has the world’s largest collection of computing artifacts.  Hardware and software are exhibited, as well as photos and videos.  Take a tour if possible, and take time to view the orientation movie.  Among the gems you’ll see are the first Apple computer (which sells now for more than it did when it went on the market), a World War II ENIGMA encryption/decryption device, and the 1975 Illiac IV (an earlier Illiac computer is said to have inspired director Stanley Kubrick for his movie “2001”).  A 1980 Japanese Sharp calculator with abacus (for those who didn’t trust the calculator) and a 1969 Neiman Marcus "Kitchen Computer" that was priced at $10,000 (they didn’t sell any) are also displayed.  A new section devoted to software that opened in 2017 features many hands-on exhibits.  In a circular layout, it shows how, according to my guide, “software is to a computer as sheet music is to a piano.”  Exhibits describe how software functions in Photoshop, MRIs, and car-crash tests.

Monroe LAS-160 calculator from 1940s at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California
Monroe LAS-160 calculator from 1940s at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California


early analog computer patch panel at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California
early analog computer patch panel at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California


phonograph doll from 1940s at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California
phonograph doll from 1940s at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California


Waymo self-driving vehicle from 2014 at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California
Waymo self-driving vehicle from 2014 at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California





The Cloud Bistro operates in the lobby and serves light fare such as soups, sandwiches, salads, and pastries.  Seating is available both inside, and outside on an expansive lawn with shade and plenty of colorful, comfortable Adirondack chairs.

outside lounge area at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California
outside lounge area at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California


Also noteworthy is a planting of dramatic coast redwoods that lines the sidewalk in back by the parking lot, where you'll also have access to re-charging your Tesla while you browse the museum.

coast redwoods line sidewalk behind Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California
coast redwoods line sidewalk behind Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California


Tesla charging station behind Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California
Tesla charging station behind Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California




June 15, 2018

Palo Alto: Palo Alto Duck Pond + Baylands Nature Preserve


101 South

Palo Alto Duck Pond  2775 Embarcadero Rd., a E end, (650) 617-3156.  Daily sunrise-sunset.  Free.  Located in a quiet, unpopulated area away from town, this pond is one of the Bay Area’s best spots to see ducks, birds, and the occasional swan.  In winter, unusual migrating birds are also seen.  Visitors are asked not to feed the birds.  A paved path leads around the pond, and an adjacent small airport provides plane-watching fun.

sign at Palo Alto Duck Pond in Palo Alto, California
sign at Palo Alto Duck Pond in Palo Alto, California


bird description sign at Palo Alto Duck Pond in Palo Alto, California
bird description sign at Palo Alto Duck Pond in Palo Alto, California


overview of Palo Alto Duck Pond in Palo Alto, California
overview of Palo Alto Duck Pond in Palo Alto, California


small plane coming in for landing near Palo Alto Duck Pond in Palo Alto, California
small plane coming in for landing near Palo Alto Duck Pond in Palo Alto, California


Across the street, the Baylands Nature Preserve has 15 miles of trails.  Bird watching is excellent, but wind surfing and kayaking are also popular.  The free-admission Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center has exhibits that orient visitors to the area.  During daylight hours, visitors can walk out over the 120-acre salt marsh on an 800-foot-long raised wooden walkway.  Naturalist-led walks are scheduled on weekends.

duck crossing sign at Baylands Nature Preserve and Palo Alto Duck Pond in Palo Alto, California
duck crossing sign at Baylands Nature Preserve and Palo Alto Duck Pond in Palo Alto, California


More things to do in Palo Alto.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

June 13, 2018

Oakland: Oakland Museum of California


880 South

NEW SHOW AT OAKLAND MUSEUM

“Respect: Hip-Hop Style & Wisdom” tells the story of Oakland-specific Hip-Hop, beginning with pre-rap, through breakdancing, and into mainstream culture.  In a darkened room, I viewed a film loop that covered influential performers ranging from local resident MC Hammer performing “Can’t Touch Me” in his trademark baggy pants to current wonder Kendrick Lamar in his award-winning hair’s-on-fire “Humble” video.  Pre-teens from a school group screamed atmospherically at appropriate times.  Among the artifacts displayed are a freaky pair of Adidas sneakers with soles lined with real teeth.  Runs through August 12.

Adidas sneakers with real teeth as soles in "Respect: Hip-Hop Style & Wisdom" show at Oakland Museum
Adidas sneakers with real teeth as soles in "Respect: Hip-Hop Style & Wisdom" show at Oakland Museum


exhibit room at "Respect: Hip-Hop Style & Wisdom" show at Oakland Museum
exhibit room at "Respect: Hip-Hop Style & Wisdom" show at Oakland Museum


gift shop goods for "Respect: Hip-Hop Style & Wisdom" show at Oakland Museum
gift shop goods for "Respect: Hip-Hop Style & Wisdom" show at Oakland Museum



More information about the Oakland Museum.

More things to do in Oakland.

Way more things to do in Oakland. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California.  

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers