Archive for July, 2019

Louis Pasteur “420” statue

July 5th, 2019

Louis Pasteur "420" statue

When I got off the bus from the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, I discovered I was a short walk from the origin of a well known slang term: 420, the not-so-secret code for marijuana. I had to go see it for myself.

As Atlas Obscura explains this unusual statue of Louis Pasteur in front of San Rafael High School was a meeting point for a group of students in the early 1970’s. These students met at the statue at 4:20 PM after school to head out and smoke marijuana.

The term 420 was somehow picked up by the band The Grateful Dead and it spread from there.

This got me wondering about something: how many hippie types with “420” t-shirts and such are anti-vaxxers who drink unpasteurized milk?

Mission San Rafael Arcangel

July 5th, 2019

Mission San Rafael Arcangel

For the Forth of July weekend, I decided to split the difference between a real vacation and a “staycation,” opting to explore several parts of the North Bay I’ve never or rarely been to in the past.

My first stop is in San Rafael, named after the second to last of the Spanish missions in California: Mission San Rafael Arcangel.

The above photo is the current incarnation of this mission. Nothing stands of the original structures. I’m not entirely clear why they built something that’s clearly an architectural mashup between a modern church and the style of an early 19th century mission, especially since it just comes across looking ridiculous. But that’s what you’ll find if you walk a couple blocks up from downtown San Rafael trying to find the mission the city was named after.

To be fair the history of the mission is clearly posted in the front plaza, you can read the official story if you zoom in on this photo:

Mission San Rafael Arcangel

Gondola ride to Salesforce Park

July 3rd, 2019


The term “gondola” can mean many different things. The first that comes to my mind are the boats in Venice, but here I’m talking about a different form of transportation: a gondola lift.

This gondola in particular takes visitors up from ground level to Salesforce Park on the top of the freshly re-opened Salesforce Transit Center. See it in action for yourself in my video above.

So far I’ve tried the gondola twice now to get up to the park since it re-opened on Monday. I was particularly interested in riding it since it wasn’t operational the first time Salesforce Transit Center opened.

While it’s interesting to try it out, it’s pretty silly. Here’s why:

  • You can only go up in the gondola: passengers are not allowed to ride back down in it. I assume this is due to space concerns at the top and bottom.
  • Unlike the elevators and escalators inside the building you can take to the park, the gondola takes at least three people to operate: one person at the bottom for crowd control, an on board operator, and a security guard at the top.
  • It reminded me of the time I took an inclinator (a diagonal elevator) when I was visiting Stockholm, which is to say it’s not that different from an elevator.

Both times I went on it there was a short line. I imagine it’ll be busier on the weekends, and should draw more of a crowd once buses are heading to Salesforce Transit Center again. It doesn’t seem like it would be worth waiting in a long line for since it’s hardly the only way up to the park.

On the other hand it’s a free attraction to a free park. Can’t complain about the price of admission.