My visit to Advanced Bionics was everything I had hoped for - so exciting to actually experience carefully laid plans unfold so beautifully well. Since I had come such a distance, from Florida to California, I had plans for the rest of the week - to visit friends, take in some of the sights, and best of all - go to the LA Opera to hear Placido Domingo, and also see a taping of the TV show, Jeopardy!
The next stop was the Nethercutt Collection, just down the road from Advanced Bionics, in Sylmar, California. I had selected this museum because it is a "diamond" attraction in the AAA book, and those are always worth seeing. I've always reviewed in my mind what sort of listening challenges any attraction would present. If there are tour guides, videos - anything that would require hearing - I'd always review how I'm likely to do. This time, with my bilateral cochlear implants, I knew I could pretty much handle anything - maybe not 100%, but I had enough confidence that I wouldn't have to resort to any extraordinary measures. And I was right - as the accounts of my week's touring will show.
The Nethercutt Collection was actually two museum buildings - the vintage automobiles housed in one building, and additional vintage automobiles and an impressive music-making collection in a second building across the street. The automobile building had no tour guides - just meandering among row upon row of an impressive collection of dozens and dozens of fantastically restored vintage automobiles. I can't say that vintage automobiles are my primary interest, but it was definitely a worthwhile experience knowing these machines existed, and were now on display for all to view. Here are a few of the them:
And they even had a vast collection of hood ornaments, with a rare collection made by Lalique, the French glass maker:
The museum across the street required taking a tour to view, which meant that I would have to listen to a tour guide. I've been doing quite well with tour guides, but the reality was that I would still need to stand near her to understand her - and this time, I just didn't want to do that for the entire time. So I made the decision to just sit out her talk about the cars, and look at my surroundings. This was NOT like years past where I couldn't hear tour guides, or needed FM systems to understand the tour guide. I opted out of this by choice - I wanted to sit and relax. You'll understand why I didn't mind doing this when you see what I had to look at!
This display space was supposed to replicate what a luxury car showroom looked like in the 1920's. You could see why I would have had to get close to the tour guide to hear her - with the high ceilings and marble floors, the acoustics were very difficult. So I just opted out and sat on a couch, needing the time out anyway! (I wasn't the only one doing this, so I still felt "normal.")
The rest of the museum was upstairs, and included vintage music makers - music boxes, band organs, calliopes, a player grand piano and a genuine vintage Wurlitzer movie organ. This picture shows the various types of music makers.
First they played one of the huge music boxes, which had violins, drums, organ pipes, and was run like a player piano with a paper roll. These were used to provide music at dance halls in Europe, instead of hiring a band or orchestra. Here's the inside of one of the larger ones on display - this one was made in Belgium (I was listening to the tour guide now!)
This music experience was a big challenge for my bilateral cochlear implants - I wasn't sure what I would be hearing or what they would be playing, so it was a wonderful surprise to hear the big sound that these machines created!
They also demonstrated this concert grand piano, that had a player piano mechanism, and 97 keys - instead of the usual 88. Here I am listening to the music - and imagining what it would be like to play it. The keys were actually going up and down as I watched and listened! Note that the last few keys on the left are all black - those are the extra nine keys.
|Arlene sitting at the 97-key concert grand player piano|
And then for the grand finale, they played the Wurlitzer movie organ, which was an elaborate pipe organ with an enormous array of pipes built into the room - all hooked up electronically. Again, I had no idea what to expect - I really didn't know what they were going to play or what this should sound like in this room. My bilateral CIs were again being put to the test, for sure.
And, once again, it was simply an amazing experience - to know that I could appreciate the incredible sounds produced by these machines. And even more telling about how I've been adapting to my bilateral cochlear implants, I now had the confidence that I could handle and appreciate what I was going to experience - and that is really the point of what these bilateral CIs are all about. Being able to do what others are doing, and enjoy it.