I got pretty excited back in August when I first heard that the Leonardo DaVinci exhibit Leonardo: 500 Years Into The Future would be making its only U.S. stop at the Tech Museum in downtown San Jose. Yet, for some reason I just kept not making it up there to see it and time was running short (the exhibit has been extended until January 25, 2009). But when Zaira told me that there was a carnival set up right next to the exhibit (in conjunction with Christmas In The Park) I knew the time had come.
Unfortunately, I didn’t exactly wake up on the right side of the bed yesterday morning and it was the last chance I was going to have spare time with Zaira before the end of the year. So off we went. Before we even got to The Tech (while walking along San Carlos St.) we were suddenly accosted by a couple of giant characters from The Nutcracker Suite! Zaira made friends with Mouse King, but was frightened of the Nutcracker’s vicious sword. Not that I blame her, this guy’s definitely an intimidating enforcer of the state’s power.
We made our way across the street, into The Tech, and (with my wallet $40 lighter) into the Leonardo exhibit itself. The gist of the exhibit (as I understood it going in) was that modern craftsmen and artisans had created many of the machines and devices detailed in Leornardo’s notebooks using only methods and materials available in DaVinci’s time. Upon entering the exhibit area we surely did discover a number of highly impressive archaic machines. Unfortunately, documentation was scant and I had difficulty trying to understand (much less explain to Z) what we were seeing or what significance it had. Even the famed flying machine itself (the very cornerstone of the exhibit) had only a few paragraphs discussing what it was.
Should you plan on attending the exhibit I highly recommend going at a time when you can join in on one of the free tours. We didn’t take one, but did manage to catch the tail end and the tour guide seemed both informative and friendly.
Our day was not yet done, however. Heading for the carnival, Zaira was quick to locate one of her personal heroines, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, painted into a window of the Carnival’s fun house. Unlike previous years Butler Amusements brought a full crew to Christmas in the Park this time with roughly a dozen different rides, a handful of carnival games, and even a souvenir photo booth!
We took a quick tour of the carnival (split between Park, Fairmont Plaza, and the Rep’s courtyard), stopped by the ticket booth, and Z headed straight to their Tilt-A-Whirl which was called Hot Wheels (though no miniature cars were in evidence). Our ‘tour’ required us to cut through Christmas In The Park (which Z had visited with her mother and brothers the night before) where we did pause momentarily for me to don some appropriate Christmas attire (pictured left 😉 ). We also stopped by one of the game booths and I managed to “Ring A Duck” and win a new Christmas puppy friend for Z. Her name is Joy and she’s now integrated herself into the horde that lives ‘upstairs’ on Zaira’s bed with a couple dozen other critters from various midways we’ve visited. But while we were waiting for our Sleigh Ride Portraits to be finished she did get a little frisky with the photo booth’s reindeer mascot 🙂
Although I never really shook my lethargy it was surely a satisfying day with many pleasant discoveries, a few educational lessons, and I even got a couple of those wonderful (and rare) laughs that truly warm a father’s heart.