Steinheart Aquarium, California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences | San Francisco Golden Gate Park

Tucked away in San Francisco’s world-renowned Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Sciences has served as the backdrop of many of my fondest childhood memories—my family has been coming here for years—and it is certain to offer a unique California travel adventure for you, too.

The museum’s mission is to “regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration,” and I find my own interest in natural science is stoked with each revisit of it. Beyond the education in science, the Academy itself is a sight to behold. It underwent a multi-million-dollar remodel in 2008, which swapped around some of the layouts I was familiar with from childhood, but ultimately yielded the environmentally friendly architectural gem that stands today. Join me as I guide you through some of my favorite highlights the institution has to offer.

Note: I visited the museum pre-lockdown, so you’ll notice many folks are mask-less in my photos. Rest assured, the institution has a thoughtful reopening plan which you can dive into here.

Listen to a podcast of this travel article here: https://anchor.fm/theregoessararose/episodes/Ep-6-California-Academy-of-Sciences–San-Francisco-Golden-Gate-Park-e156u5c

Osher Rainforest

Saving the best for first! One of my all-time favorite spots at the Academy is the Osher Rainforest. The rainforest is housed inside the museum. You read that right­—a rainforest inside a building! And experiencing it is as amazing as it sounds.

The rainforest is four stories high and encapsulated in a giant glass sphere. Inside, you can get up close and personal with the flora and fauna of the Amazonian forest. You’ll want to plan ahead, as this permanent exhibition is available to partake in by reservation only (which you can make in the Academy’s lobby by scanning a QR code to select a time to visit), and trust me, it is not to be missed. Check out a video of the dome and inside view of the Rainforest, here!

Steinhart Aquarium & Claude the Alligator

Next up is the Steinhart Aquarium­­, where you can see 40,000 live animals and be immersed in their striking underwater habitats. I’ve always loved aquariums and have visited my fair share, and the Steinhart is one of the most spectacular.

No visit to the Academy is complete without a tip of the hat to my buddy Claude, the American alligator with albinism who appears snowy white. You can find Claude in the part of the aquarium that showcases the ecosystems of the Southeastern United States called “the Swamp.” Also available for your viewing pleasure are exhibits on tide pools, coral reefs, lagoons, and much more.

Kimball Natural History Museum

And don’t miss the Kimball Natural History Museum, which showcases one-of-a-kind specimens from the Academy’s expansive scientific collections. I was fascinated by Academy’s dazzling gem and mineral collection, and I also loved learning about the role of color in the natural world. From tiny insects to enormous dinosaur bones, the natural history museum has a little something for every adventurer to enjoy.

Living Roof

Capping off my visit to the Academy is a trip up to the 2.5-acre living roof. Up here, temperature, wind, and rain are monitored, and the entire structure is edged with solar panels. The roof contributes to the sustainability of the building by providing insulation and capturing excess rainwater. More than just functional, the roof is a beautiful escape from the hustle and bustle of the Academy’s interior and provides a unique chance to reflect on California’s environment while peering down at Golden Gate Park below.

Looking for a California adventure of your own? Get your tickets to the California Academy of Sciences here and be sure to subscribe to my blog and follow me on social media to join me on my travels.

Breceda's Eagle Anza Borrego Metal Sculpture

How to Plan Your Visit to Anza-Borrego Metal Sculptures

Listen to a podcast of this travel article here: https://anchor.fm/theregoessararose/episodes/Ep-5-Anza-Borrega-Metal-Sculptures-e152dma

In the desert of South California, a T-rex erupts from the sand. You thought you just had to worry about falling on one of the various cacti (check out my video on those here!), didn’t you? Don’t worry, the dino is not the human-eating kind, but a sculpture made of metal.

A little further down the road, the T-rex is joined by a prehistoric mammoth and a kneeling camel. The whimsical works come from the fantastical mind of sculptor Ricardo Breceda. Not originally an artist, Breceda created his first sculpture after his daughter watched one of the Jurassic Park films and he created a dinosaur for her. Fascinating!

Anyone can visit the sculptures, located along Borrego Springs Road, but the journey does take some preparation. There is no fee to view the sculptures and the average vehicle (not one low to the ground) can maneuver the dirt off-road parking areas around each art piece. I recently visited and chronicled my journey through video and my social media, check out some of my favorite photos though in this blog!

Before you go

Before you head out on any trip, it’s important to make sure you’re fully prepared, particularly when traveling in a pandemic.

Aside from packing your camera gear and your favorite snacks, make sure you’re prepared for the weather. Summer weather in San Diego County is temperate, with highs of 77°F/25°C and lows of 62°F/16°C However, the sculptures are located in the desert, with current high’s at over 100°F/38°C so it’s best to bring layers of clothing, a wide-brim hat and sunscreen to help protect you from those golden rays.

The sculptures are mostly visited by car travel, so it may be a little easier to stay socially distant. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends wearing a mask when in public, remaining six feet from anyone outside your part and washing your hands often. Be sure to check the CDC website for the must up-to-date travel tips. 

How the sculptures came to be

Breceda was first commissioned to make sculptures for Galleta Meadows Estate, a large desert property owned by Dennis Avery. Now more than 130 creatures are scattered around Anza Borrego Desert, with new ones occasionally popping up.

The rust-colored sculptures are scattered across 10 square miles. Because the surrounding landscape is barren, it is easy to spot them from far away. 

Some of the most popular sculptures are the sea dragon (or serpent, if you ask some locals!), the grasshopper and the scorpion, and the sloth.

The sea dragon is the largest of all the sculptures and even crosses the road. It stretches across 350 feet and rises to a height of 15 feet. The scorpion and the grasshopper face off in an epic battle, but they are sculpted with intricate detail. The sloths feature fur made of metal and are designed to look like the Harlan Ground Sloth that used to live in the area. Travel post-lockdown left us with lots of travelers, plan your photo sessions well or you might lose out on daylight like I did!

The sculptures are spaced out along Borrego Springs Road, so it’s best to drive to each one. Some portions of the drive require travel along dirt roads, so be sure your car is reliable and has a tank full of gas. Pocket maps can be purchased from the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association at the Visitor Center. Borrego Springs has a wonderful town center in between these sculptures, don’t forget to stop and hydrate or grab snacks to stay nourished (I recommend the Boba truck!).

What to do after

If the desert is still calling to you after your drive, you can head to the nearby Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

With the regional stay at home order lifted, California state Parks are reopening, though some precautions still remain in place.

Reservations are required at many Anza Borrego campsites and the visitor center is maintaining limited hours — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Monday — with limited capacity. Some restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with heavy cleaning schedules, so be sure to pack your own hand sanitizer to keep clean.

Park goers are asked to recreate responsibly, including wearing face coverings and maintaining a safe social distance from other hikers. This goes for the sculptures as well.  Be sure to check the most recent state park guidelines before you head out. 

After you’ve fed your wanderlust and creative spirit with a trip to see the sculptures, check out ThereGoesSaraRose.com for more travel tips.

How to Prep for a Day Hike in Yosemite in Spring of 2021

Are you longing to get out of the house? As COVID-19 restrictions start to wind down and more people get vaccinated, thoughts of travel are hitting all of our minds. At the same time, you’re probably looking for a safe option.

If you live near Yosemite or another mountainous region, now is the perfect time to take a day hike. You can get in some exercise, see some new stuff, and stay outside and away from others. Spring is a great time to explore the mountains before summer fire season.

Listen to a podcast of the travel article here: https://anchor.fm/theregoessararose/episodes/Ep-3-How-to-Prep-for-a-Day-Hike-in-Yosemite-in-Spring-of-2021-e155nve

What is Yosemite Like in April and May?

Weather in the late spring is usually pleasant, but not warm. Highs in the valley tend to be in the 60s and lows in the 30s. Rain and snow are still possible, and you should dress accordingly. Fire conditions are possible but less likely than later in the summer.

Some higher areas in the mountains may still be snowbound and Tioga Road is still closed. Mariposa Grove usually opens by mid-March. Glacier Point Road is also closed (and as a note, it will be closed for the entire of 2022 for rehabilitation). Generally, plan a route that won’t take you above 6,000 feet and check with the rangers to see what is or is not open.

The spring snow melt makes the waterfalls particularly pretty, especially in the Valley. While it’s generally not clear enough for backpacking without snow camping, there are plenty of day hike options.

Check out my video from our day trip to Lower Yosemite Falls!

What Should You Do To Prepare For Your Hike?

Preparing for a spring day hike requires some conditioning. You need to know your limits, especially if you’ve been exercising less and have put on any COVID 19-weight, as it were. Do some walks in your local area and increase the distance, and choose a route that you are comfortable with; don’t go from being sedentary to an 8 mile hike. As it’s still spring, you won’t be at altitude anyway, but you still need to be fit.

You will also need the right gear. Dress in layers; the wide temperature range in the spring may mean you will be taking stuff off, putting it on, taking it off again…so make sure you can do that comfortably. You will also need:

  1. The right footwear. This is the most important piece of gear for hiking. Given the risk of rain or snow in the spring, hiking boots are generally your best option. If you’re staying on easier trails, walking shoes or trail running shoes may work well. Think about what kind of ankle support you need.
  2. A fleece jacket or wool sweater makes a good middle layer for the temperature range you are dealing with.
  3. Rain gear including rain pants. You definitely need rain pants. Bear in mind that wet jeans are the worst thing to be stuck in.
  4. Proper socks, ideally ones designed for hiking.
  5. A backpack. If you plan on hiking all day, get a daypack. Otherwise, an ordinary backpack is fine, but do not carry it slung on one shoulder (you will walk one sided and put strain on yourself).
  6. Some kind of hat. If it’s colder, you will want a wool hat. If warmer, you might want something to keep the sun off.
  7. Insect repellent. Make sure that you have and use a DEET-based insect repellent that also repels ticks. Apply repellent to exposed skin, but also to the cuffs of your pants and your hat.
  8. Sunscreen. Even if it’s not that warm.
  9. A hikers’ first aid kit. For casual hikers, a pre-made kit is more than sufficient.
  10. Gloves. You may want them and if you don’t, they’re light.
  11. A camera & gear. Maybe you will find a good smartphone is enough, but a DSLR will still give you better pictures if you want to make the investment. I take a lot of photos on my hikes and encourage you to do the same.
  12. A flashlight, even if you plan on being back well before dark.
  13. Food and water. If you’re really high in the mountains you can get fresh water, but in the park you want to carry enough for your hike.

If you are older and/or the trail is steep, consider investing in trekking poles. Another thing to consider is downloading an app onto your phone that identifies plants, wildlife,  etc.

It’s time to get back out into the world, and a mountain day hike is a great way to do so without worrying about that pesky virus. Watch my video on how to pick hiking boots and please come back to ThereGoesSaraRose.com for more travel advice (and awesome pictures!)

Big Sur, CA

Dear Adventurers (Part 2)

Hello to the amazing reader who is here for adventure, art, and learning! Introduce yourself in the comment section below and where you are in the world! Setting out on a new path in life can feel very difficult, especially in the early stages. However, the excitement of discovery MUST outweigh the apprehension; we must break out of our shells to metamorphosis into what we can become! At current, I’ve only been on the West coast of North America, there is quite a bit that is going to shock me in my travels. In addition, I cannot stop painting if I tried, it will always be a part of how I tell my story. So here I am, sharing the travels and art created, inspired by what I research, learn and see. We each have a different outlet that needs to breathe when a fire is lit within us. I urged you to REACH for your fire and stir it with every bit of energy and passion you can muster. There is a drive within each of us that, when shared with others, seems to inspire them to make a positive change in their own lives. Share your story as well! The path I described as new, difficult, a change, and scary? This is my path. We must see the world as it is, how it was, and return good back into it. Are you ready? Let us escape, learn and create!

Listen to a podcast of this travel article here: https://anchor.fm/theregoessararose/episodes/Ep-1-Dear-Adventurers-e15247m

“This is a story of learning to navigate the rising tides of life, which cannot be done from the shore; We must become the captain of our own seas.”

-Sara Rose

One thing I must share, do not mistake me for a tumbleweed, blowing in the wind without direction. This is a story of learning to navigate the rising tides of life, which cannot be done from the shore; We must become the captain of our own seas. I quit my job in August 2019 to focus on switching careers after working 10-years in what felt to be a dead-end government job, I just walked out. I petitioned to take extra classes at school and graduated Manga Cum Laude, a baccalaureate in Multimedia Development and Design in April 2020. What is a degree in multimedia you ask? A program that teaches you just enough in the field of game, VR & web design & development, photography, and videography to make you understand how little you know about content creation. I began my Master’s Degree in May 2020 and started creating online content. I did not expect how much it would change me and the school-project-turned-business becomes my focus most of 2020 to early 2021, to the point that I forgot to have fun with my passions. I was just making the best of the situation, not the best for me. Life-altering events made me realize how short life can really be. The world is not going to find me, I must go see the world; I must make this happen for myself, now!

Why are YOU here?

Share your thoughts as we search for COLORFOODNATUREHISTORYARCHITECTURENEW TECHNOLOGY, and FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION! Let us shock our senses, bask in the beauty of an early sunrise, breathe in mountain-top air after miles of hiking and then create what our heart and mind have gleaned from the experience. Please feel free to share your adventures and creations as this site and community grows! On this exploration, we will meet friends, old and new. We will learn things that will forever change how we think and speak. We will laugh at my mistakes (I am a HOT MESS!) and learn to laugh at ourselves, all while traveling and painting. I am a helper, but I need to help myself first…truly learn before I can really help others. If you are ready for this, become a part of the journey by participating in any of my media outlets to get the most of each expedition, whether about travel, art, or the tools we are using to bring you the content!

Artists may express through their creation, however, YOU get to be a part of the very moments of idea-inception to finished product, from wonder to enlightenment! Get ready to join the voyage to expand our brains here at, There Goes Sara Rose

P.S. I connected with readers before ThereGoesSaraRose.com went live, here: “Dear Adventurers”, (Part 1).

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