We set off in drizzle. This is typical Oregon weather, from what I have been led to believe from literature, even if the locals argue differently. It clears up quickly as we travel west, stopping for the best chai I've had all journey, in a little coffee shop in a town whose name I cannot recall.
The Oregon countryside is beautiful - acres of golden crops, lush green fields and rolling hills. Somewhat like home, but not quite. Also, being spring it has set off my allergies a bit, but I'll cope - that's what antihisatmines are for, right?
The Oregon is definitely a stunner though!
First stop is the seabird aviary, which contains four different species, all related:
|Tufted Puffin - my personal favourite|
One thing I found interesting was comparing the way these alcid species swam to the way penguins swim. Alcids fill the same niche in the northern hemisphere that penguins fill in the south with one significant difference - they have not sacrificed their flight. Penguins swim using their whole body, rather like fish, steering with their wings. Whereas these fellows actually do just appear to be flying underwater. Their wings are not as sophisticated steering devices.
Then it was off to see the seals getting fed. One thing the aquarium do is train their animals a little bit - not like circus tricks or anything tacky, just little things that will make it easier to give them inspections, to move them from pen to pen and to enrich their life a wee bit. They have two species of seals here, the fur seal and the harbour seal:
But the most charasmatic of all the sea otter:
Here he is in a more typical pose:
There's a bunch of indoor aquariums too - including a walk-through shark tank, shrimps, jellyfish and other delightful underwater critters. I also bought myself the most awesome t-shirt ever. You'll see it later.
Next to the aquarium is the Aquarium Village. It is open, but so quiet that it appears closed. It is also the most Over-the-Top colourful and crazy shopping area I have ever seen. I run around with the camera, feeling rather self-conscious given that there are two guys sitting by the orca's tail, eating and smoking. There is noone else in sight, noone alive, that is.
In Florence, we dine at Mo's seafood restaurant, where a small bowl of chowder comes with every meal. I love those little crackers you get to dip in your soups and chowders - I wish I could find them for sale back home. After that, we stop at Dairy Queen. Thanks to Meran, I have discovered that it is delicious. However, this will prove to be the second, and last, time that I will ever eat Dairy Queen.
Then it is to our motel. The place we are staying has the best ranking of all the Florence motels, and is situated on the south side of town, called the Ocean Breeze. Although we are forced to wait a while, as there is noone in the house adjacent to the office (she had actually ducked across to the tiny store over the road), the room is rather delightful. Two beds and nicely appointed. Tim wants to blob, so I consider wandering out and exploring the Dunes National Park - but once I cross the road I realise that I really am quite a distance from main civilisation and do not feel entirely comfortable wandering random backstreets in American alone - even if this is only Florence, Oregon, and not a big city.