Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day Eighteen: Woodland Park Zoo

It was nice to be able to lie-in, and also kind of weird to think that we were here for another TWO nights, making it three nights in total - the longest we have stayed in any one place so far. We hung around the hotel until after the early morning commuter rush had cleared a bit. In the lobby, a coffee machine and hot water had been set out, so that I could make myself an orange tea and Tim could have a Starbucks styled coffee, thus saving us money on that luxury. Seattle is the home of Starbucks, and the original coffee shop is just off the Pike Place Market. It is pretty small, and when we went past it later in the afternoon, the queue had spewed out onto the street. So, popular indeed! I suppose everyone wants to visit the original.

Today we were going to the zoo. Why? So that I could see wolves. We had missed seeing them in Denver Zoo, and only had vague sightings in Yellowstone, and thus we thought we'd check them out here. Having had last night's lessons on bus hopping, and with Tim's ipad app showing not just the driving routes, but bus routes as well, it was with no difficulty at all that we made our way across to the Woodland Park Zoo.

As far as zoos go, it's pretty neat. Set into a patch of woodland, the layout looks rather natural, and follows a twisting route that takes you through most of the exhibits. Outside of the enclosures there are crows and gulls, and the occasional squirrel.The weather was drizzly, which is what I had expected of Seattle - they even provide an umbrella in our hotel room (although we left it behind). This made some of the animals more active, but others less so.
We have heated rocks, why would we want to DO anything?
The red pandas and ruffed lemurs were just red blobs in the trees, but the orangutans and gibbons were watching the humans with as much interest as the humans were watching them. The large orangutan was not amused by people pulling faces at it. Watching instead with an exasperated expression. One of the chimpanzees was delighting the children by picking its nose in slow pleasure, before licking off the extractions.

There were lots of birds, particularly of the South American variety. Screamers are HUGE, Currasow are large and lots of smaller, more colourful ilk. This was rather refreshing, because I have not seem many South American species, prior to the US, this was quite exciting for me. Also exciting was the Victorian Crowned Pigeon - he was far larger than I had expected, probably the size of a big chicken. The two keas had a better enclosure than their Denver counterpart. We saw widgeons and buffleheads, mergansers but not smew. Man, some duck species have amusing names.

This is a red-brested goose from Eurasia. I had a postcard of one with me for my Chimera tutorial, but it mysteriously vanished in Portland.

Alas, the raptor display ran every day except tuesdays, thus continuing in the "pick the exact wrong day to do something" trend that we experienced in several other places along the route (and will later experience in LA too). The constant drizzle made me reluctant to bring out the camera, and thus whilst we did see the wolves - they were lying on a hillock, their pen overlooking the elks, they were in the exact wrong position to get a good shot of them. The warty pigs were bizarre, with their delicate little limbs and oddly proportioned heads. The ocelot had the most beautiful markings, and the snow leopard would not stand still. The bears paced, one of them walking back and forth, forth and back, until he decided to jump into the pond and swim for us. Impressive beast! The stellars eagle were huge - with great hooked beaks. The mountain goat, however, looked a bit scruffy, trailing long bits of wool like he was unravelling. Must be moulting his winter coat in preparation for spring.

Back by one of the rubbish bins, a crow industriously dragged out bits of garbage, tossing them to the ground as he hunted for tasty food-scraps. We bought seafood chowder and sat nearby on the rather damp metal seats.

Overall, I was quite impressed with the Woodland Park Zoo. In lieu of photos, here's some postcards I bought:

After the animal zoo we made our way to the Human Zoo that is the Pike Marketplace. It is an interesting jumble of sights, sounds and smells. Fresh fish, fresh fruit abound, intermingling with styores selling postcards and figurines, books and gimmicky junk. The young man working the bookstore was possibly one of the most personable sales assistants I have ever seen - greeting every customer as though they were a long lost friend and engaging in literary discussions with the customers showing that he clearly knew his stuff. There were a few artists selling their wares too - mostly paintings of Seattle. It was a fun, rowdy jumble.

Returning to our quaters, I fell almost immediately into an exhausted doze. I guess I was suffering from sensory overload. I then re-worked one of the later nights, giving us the opportunity to stay in Florence, Oregon and thus visit the aquarium, before heading out to dine at Ivar's Seafood, where we were meeting Jeffrey and his partner for dinner. 

Ivar's take their seagulls very seriously. The gulls here are the same size and general shape as our black-backed gulls, but are a rather more pleasant shade of silver-grey. They are boistrous and greedy in temperament. Despite what Ivar Haglund, Flounder of the Seafull Society of Seattle says, they are NOT dainty eaters.

We were not dainty eaters either, consuming around $60 of seafood - served to us on small platters - oysters, clams, mussels, calamarai, salmon and my personal favourite - a salad with vanilla bean dressing, strawberries and blueberries. It was absolutely delicious. Sherelle, Jeffrey's partner of seven years, is lovely.

As you can see from this photo - I have a sunburnt nose. Blame Yellowstone. It was actually rather sore.

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