You’re in San Francisco, studying English at EC. Outside of class, you need something less urban to do. The idea of a park beckons. When you visit the lush woodlands and meadows that comprise San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is hard to believe that at one time this was a wasteland of sand. In fact, the whole park is artificial. This is not to say that this is Disneyland, with fake trees. The trees are real enough. It’s just that they, along with the lawns and all the other plants in the park, were carefully planted, and lovingly cared for, in order to create the third largest urban park in the United States.
Perhaps the clearest indication of the fantasy-like artificiality of GG Park is Stowe Lake. What makes it so obviously man-made? It sits at the top of a hill behind the Japanese Tea Garden. A lake on top of a hill? In addition, the lake is nearly donut shaped, with a “mountainous” island in the middle of it. And on weekends, a huge waterfall drops from the top of the peak, down a number of cascades to the lake. (On weekdays, the pumps are turned off, and there is no waterfall.) While the park itself is real, this part of the park would have warmed the heart of Walt Disney – it’s 100% fake! And, for me, the obvious fakeness makes it more wonderful. (Note: I wouldn’t try swimming in this water – it’s green! – but you can rent a paddleboat, a canoe, or an electric power boat to go around the lake. Of course, you can walk faster, but what’s the fun in that?)