After five days of illness (two of them spent in bed), I'm ready to start the last stretch of our three-week, six-state, migratory-bird-story road trip. We have reached San Francisco, our latest Pacific Flyway stopover, and will stay here until Tuesday morning. Then we will migrate on to the San Jose area and the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
We're staying in the city's self-proclaimed greenest hotel, the Orchard Garden, which is only the fourth hotel in the world to be given LEED (Leadership in Energy and Design) certification for its building design. The concrete used in the hotel's construction was made from a byproduct of coal. The insulation and electrical systems reduce energy use. All the fabrics are recycled materials. The toilets and faucets are low-flow. And so on. Another green plus: The cost of our three nights here will be less than the cost of one night at a similarly de luxe hotel in New York at this time of year.
While in San Francisco, we're hoping to visit the California Academy of Sciences, which in recent years has been expanded and updated. It has a 2.5-acre living roof, made up of plants. As always, we'll be looking for good ideas for The Naturalist's Notebook, though I think we're happy with our old-fashioned roof for now.
Among our other animal adventures, we met a pair of zebra finches kept as pets by an innkeeper (they were bred, not captured in the wild). They were the sweetest, cutest pet birds I've ever seen, with songs that sounded like laser-gun sound effects from a Star Wars movie. Look them up to see how cool-looking they are.
A shopkeeper we met told us about her fat cat, whom she had named Bengie Molina after the stocky catcher who played for the woman's beloved Giants. Unfortunately, Bengie the player was traded to the Texas Rangers this season. During the Giants-Rangers World Series, the shopkeeper and her husband kept yelling, "Sit down, Bengie!" when the now-enemy player made an out. Confused the cat.