Bay to Breakers

Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
Trip End Oct 14, 2011

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Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, May 15, 2011

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I learned yesterday that the reason all the hotels in San Francisco were booked is that this is the weekend they hold the annual Bay to Breakers race. This race is a huge event. It went into the Guinness Book as the largest footrace in 1986 when they had 110,000 participants. It hasn't been that big since but they do regularly get 50,000+ participants and 100,000+ spectators. This year was the 100th running of the race.  I decided I should go see it.

Bay to Breakers is a race for a few serious runners and a fun day out for everyone else. The participants dress up in strange costumes or no costumes at all in the case of the Bare to Breakers group. The salmon swim upstream and run the race from the Breakers to the Bay. The centipedes are teams of at least 13 people tied together. It's a pretty strange event.

The race starts in eastern San Francisco and runs westerly through town for a few miles, then enters Golden Gate Park and eventually ends on the western side of the park near the beach. I was a little worried about the parking situation but it turned out it wasn't too bad.  I parked south of a point somewhere near the middle and then started walking toward the race course. After I found the course I walked along it toward the finish line. It was tough to get pictures since they were running with their backs to the sun and it was very difficult to get a clear shot of the people in the middle of the road but I did the best I could.

I eventually reached the de Young Museum and decided to go in. It has a large collection of American art, including Mesoamerican, Andean and Native American art, and contemporary crafts and textiles, an extensive collection of art from New Guinea and Oceania and collections of African art. Many of these collections were left to the museum. As a result, they have great depth in some areas and nothing in other areas.

When I bought my ticket they had a sign listing four temporary exhibits. I thought I bought a ticket that would allow me to get into the temporary exhibits. It turns out that, after reading the fine print, I wasn't buying what I thought I was. One of the four temporary exhibits listed on their sign had already closed. Another was yet to open. A third was at another museum. That left one temporary exhibit I could see: Balenciaga and Spain. I can't say I've heard of Balenciaga. It turns out he was a Spanish fashion designer who was very influential during his long career lasting from 1918 until 1968. I'm not really into fashion but I found the exhibit interesting.

I was told that the other temporary exhibit was at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, another museum that is affiliated with the de Young, and that my ticket was also good there today. I decided I'd go. I asked about how to get there and was told that it's three miles away and the best way to get there is by bus. Well, that might normally be true but on Bay to Breakers day that didn't seem to be the case. I eventually got the first bus and took it to a point where I was supposed to transfer to a second bus, at which point it seemed I was no closer to the museum than I had been where I started. I eventually gave up on the second bus and walked to the museum.  I could have walked it faster.

The Legion of Honor is in a wooded area overlooking the Pacific. Like many of the public buildings in San Francisco, it's a Beaux Arts building put up shortly after the 1906 fire. The building and the setting are very nice. The collection has works ranging from ancient Egypt to the 20th Century. The have an Ancient Art collection, which is Egyptian, Greek and Roman works, and an extensive European art, decorative arts and porcelin collection including what they say is the best collection of Rodin sculpture in the country (a claim also made by the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia). They currently have on display a copy of the Magna Carta that is on loan and a large Roman mosaic from Lod, Israel that is also on loan.

They also have two temporary exhibits. One is titled Reading the Floating World: Japanese Ukiyo-e Books from the Collection of Arthur Tress. That exhibit is free, which is probably why they didn't include it on their sign. The other is Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave. I thought I had paid for it. I was even told that my ticket was good for it if I went today. The folks at the ticket counter told me I needed to pay another $5.

Isabelle de Borchgrave re-creates clothing out of paper. I certainly can't explain why she does it; it seems rather strange to me. But I can say that the pieces do look amazingly like clothing.

I took a bus and a trolly back to my car and then drove to Taqueria Cancun. My guidebook says they have a particularly fine vegetarian burrito. I found the aqua fresca (water flavored with fruit juice) more interesting. I wish I could have found someone who could translate what was in it to English for me.

I drove back to my hotel in Redwood City. I have to check out tomorrow morning.
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