Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sausalito and the Bay Model

I finally took the thirty-minute ferry ride to Sausalito. Mine left from the Ferry Building in SF but others depart near Pier 39. The ferry has two decks with indoor and outdoor seating as well as room for bicycles if you call for a reservation.

Bay Bridge and Treasure Island from the Sausalito ferry

Many tourists rent bicycles to ride through the Presidio, over the Golden Gate, down the hill to Sausalito and then take the ferry back to San Francisco rather than make the trip uphill. It was too overcast for me this day.

View of Building 64, Warden's house, Lighthouse and Main Cellhouse on Alcatraz
Alcatraz from Sausalito ferry

The ferry had good views of the Bay Bridge, Treasure and Angel Islands, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.
View of Golden Gate Bridge under overcast skies
Golden Gate Bridge from Sausalito ferry

These two fountains were our first sight on disembarkation. Constructed by local residents in 1985 to provide water for pets and their owners, they honor Sally Stanford, a popular Sausalito mayor and former SF madam.

Water Fountain for pets and their owners
Water fountain inscribed, "Have a drink on Sally," honors former Sausalito mayor and well-connected San Francisco madam Sally Stanford.
"Have a drink on Leland" pet water fountain
Pet fountain inscribed, "Have a drink on Leland."
A few steps away, Vina del Mar Park is barely large enough to hold its three treasures. The fountain and two elephant statues (named PeeWee and Jumbo) were created from paper mache for the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco and transferred here afterwards by architect William Faville. In the 1930's they were recast in concrete from molds of the originals.

Concrete fountain and elephant statue stand between palms
Fountain and elephant statues from the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition now reside in Vina del Mar Park, Sausalito.
There were originally twelve of these elephants at the Exposition holding flagpoles rather than lights.
Concrete statue topped with a crown of street lights
One of the elephant statues in Vina del Mar Park, Sausalito. PeeWee or Jumbo?

A mile down Bridgeway is the US Corps of Engineers Bay Model Visitor Center which occupies 1.5 acres of a WWII shipyard. Built in 1957 to test a pair of proposed dams, the model was used to study environmental changes on the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta system from human interventions such as infilling or channel deepening or straightening. It was retired in 2000 when advances in computing power made it obsolete but remains the world's largest three-dimensional hydraulic model. Bay Area residents worked to turn it into an educational center and tourist attraction.

Curving roofline recalls the quonset hut building style of the WWII shipyard
Bay Model Visitor Center, Sausalito CA

I took the fabulous audio tour for $3 but there are Ranger guided tours, evening lectures and daytime student programs. Check the calendar here.

The shallow marshes and winding channels of South Bay are recreated in the Bay Model.
View of the South Bay, Bay Model. Palo Alto is marked with a sign.

The model's horizontal scale is 1:1000 but the vertical scale is 1:100 so small copper tabs were added in the water to correct the water currents. Water is pumped from the Pacific Ocean portion of the model to raise sea level and it is allowed to drain by gravity for low tide. The tidal cycle is 14.9 minutes rather than one day so studies could be completed more efficiently. Measurements include water level, velocity, salinity and temperature.

The open waters of San Francisco Bay are recreated in the Bay Model.
View of San Francisco bay, Bay Model. Notice the copper tabs to correct the water currents in the model.

I spent three hours here and could have spent the entire day... but hey, I'm a retired geologist. Here's a four-minute YouTube video about the Bay Model if you'd like more background.

Enjoy the day,

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