Sunday, April 7, 2013

Portland Zoo, Part 5 of WA/OR trip, Oct. 2012

So far, I have taken you to the Ape Caves and Mount St. Helens in Washington. Then we went back across the river and visited OMSI and Seaside. Now let's go to the Zoo!

Karen got us directions to meeting in Portland and that was nice. After a nice Sunday morning meeting, we headed back to Karen and Scott's to pack a lunch to eat on the way to the Zoo.
Here we are all dressed up...

It was a chilly day and threatening rain, so we hoped the rain would hold off so we could enjoy our walk without becoming soggy! We drove across the Marquam Bridge (I believe) on our way and could see 4 other bridges across the Willamette River! We like the bridges...Portland really is a cool town.

We visited the elephants...I don't know which one this is, but the story of Packy is a fun one, and Tusko is the father of the baby, Lily, born about a month after we were there. The kids tried to ride a tricycle an elephant rode in a circus. They thought it was funny to think of an elephant riding a tricycle. I did too.
 But Annisia thought it was cool to ride an elephant...
 And a lion...
 Jonathan liked the Big Horn sheep. class pouter in action. Not sure why, but I must have thought it was cute...

Lions are so awesome. We got to see these lionesses run and pounce on the male!
This is a caracal...or desert lynx.
And these are wild African dogs...they look pretty relaxed to me.
The cheetah exhibit featured a Jeep whose windshield was part of the glass wall. The kids thought it was cool to pretend to drive across the savannah.
These cheetahs were so lithe...they are just fluid when they walk.
Then the kids became part of the mongoose exhibit!
I really like the giraffes. I think they are so cool. Annisia and Jonathan enjoyed an elephant ear...

We saw zebras too. And polar bears...they just laid there and did nothing. C'mon, don't they know people come to the zoo to see them DO things?! The otters were pretty boring too, but here's an update on the new baby otter...

We left the zoo and went to Newport Bay Riverplace restaurant, floating on the Willamette River, for dinner. While we were waiting for our dinner, guess what we saw in the river?! Yes! An otter! Swimming, diving, floating! All of it...for our dining pleasure. Ahhh...

Thanks for joining us on our trip to the Pacific Northwest...come back again!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Seaside, Part 4 of WA/OR trip, Oct. 2012

Well, our trip to WA/OR has been full of fun, new things to do. We hiked through the Ape Caves, visited Mount St. Helens, explored OMSI and enjoyed a potluck dinner with friends so far. Now onto more exciting adventure...the children's first time to the ocean!

Karen and Scott had the day off, so we packed up, stopped at Starbucks, then headed west. It was a wet day, but the drive was beautiful. After about an hour, we arrived at Camp 18, our breakfast stop before getting to see the ocean. Camp 18 is a logging museum. There were huge 2 man saws, enormous chain saws, boots with spikes for climbing trees, and all sorts of other logging equipment. A fascinating place. Check out the website. And their food was great too! Michael, Karen and I all enjoyed the Kielbalsa Skillet. tummy just growled thinking about it! And they have a cinnamon roll that is the size of a dinner plate...just mentioning it in case you want to try it sometime. We resisted...

From there, we traveled on to Seaside, OR, for the kids' first view of and play in the Pacific Ocean. They thought it was really cool...literally! They had to strip off their shoes and socks; luckily they had SmartWools so it was ok getting them back on when they were done. They truly had a blast. They didn't want to get soaked, so they'd watch the waves then run!

Then there's this last photo from Michael's iPhone. After I loaded it to my computer, I noticed this whole double/ghost image on everyone. Sort of cool, yet sort of spooky!

The kids' feet were frozen, so we washed them in the fountain and put their socks and shoes back on so we could go do more things. But first, we watched some people fly their kites, and went into an informational building to see a life-sized shark.
 Here's Jonathan, nonchalantly standing by the poster of the shark. Of course, Mommy thinks he ought to be a little more animated, like this...
 Aaak! A shark!
 Our little family standing by the statue of Lewis and Clark at the end of their exploratory trip west.

Then, on to the aquarium. We bought a little tub of fish pieces and fed the seals. Those seals have definite personalities. One would lay and slap his side, another would bark, another would wave his head back and forth, another would swim then jump up onto a rock to splash, another would slap the water to splash. What a hoot! We ventured further inside the aquarium where you can actually touch sea anemones, sandpaper-textured starfish and a prickly sea urchins in the "Touch Tank". 

Outside of the aquarium, you can view the 35-foot skeleton of a Gray Whale. I'd post a pic, but we didn't take one and do you think I can find one on any of Seaside's sites? argh

After the aquarium, we walked a little through the town looking for souvenirs. Annisia remembered from our planning that there was a carousel in town, so we found it and the kids got a ride. Can you see her peeking at you?!
After some Tillamook ice cream and a latte, that wasn't worth the price I paid for it...(wahh, spoiled by Starbucks!), oh, and the inevitable meltdown by one of the kids (I'll let you guess which one) we started for home. What a good time in Seaside!
 Scott, our faithful and fearless driver...oh, and Karen's boyfriend!
 Karen, Annisia, Jonathan, and I...enjoying the ride in our rented Acadia.
And the little girl who had the meltdown got a nap...yay!

After dinner at The Original Taco House in Portland, we crashed at Karen and Scott's. Check back later for details on our next fun day on our trip...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

OMSI etc, Part 3 of WA/OR trip, Oct. 2012

On Thursday, we visited the Ape caves and Mount St. Helens. This post is about what we did Friday during our fun trip to Washington and Oregon in October 2012.

Karen and Scott had taken the next couple of days off so we could play with them! Yay! So we found the nearest Starbucks to get our fix then headed into downtown Portland to OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. We enjoyed a couple special features. One was the OMNIMAX theatre. We chose to see "To the Arctic". (This link may not bring up details on this show after March 31, 2013.) It was a great movie "witnessing
one mother polar bear’s determination to keep her cubs alive in the face of natural predators and a rapidly changing climate." Annisia liked the baby polar bears...of course!

We visited the Science Lab and the Turbine Hall where the kids learned how to make gas, then light it, how to change air flow from tube to tube to shoot little balls across the room. We visited the Paleontology Lab in the Earth Hall.

The special feature was something called on "Click here for Grossology", then "Show Me" then "5,000 sq ft plan" and that's what OMSI had when we were there. This from OMSI's site..."What makes a nose run? Why does drinking soda make us burp? Where does food travel during digestion? The Oregon Museum of Science (OMSI) invites visitors to find the answers to probing questions like these and more as they explore all the slimy, mushy, oozy, scaly and stinky gross (yet scientific) things that occur every day inside us. Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body opens at the museum September 29." If you're interested, click on "Download Image Sheet (JPG)" to see photos and descriptions of all the exhibits.
Jonathan became a dust particle inside a giant nose at the Grossology exhibition to learn about air filtering and heating, olfaction and mucus production.
Annisia scales a skin wall where scabs, pimples and blisters are the foot-holds.

We took a tour of the USS Blueback, the U.S. Navy's last non-nuclear, fast-attack submarine. Michael and I have taken the tour before, but it was fun to show the kids.
We went out into the windy drizzle to go down to the submarine. It is docked in the Willamette River close to the Marquam Bridge, a double deck bridge. North/east bound traffic uses the top and south/west bound traffic uses the bottom. I used to drive the Marquam to and from work in Portland when I lived in Vancouver.
Jonathan and Annisia were fascinated with all the interesting details; how they layer the #10 cans of food on the floor and fill some of the bunks with food so they have enough food to last before surfacing, how small their bunks are, how they rotate bunks...if you're on shift, someone else is sleeping in the bunk you just vacated, and more. As we descended into the submarine, the tour guide pointed out the step on which a blue line was painted...that's where we went below the water line. Annisia thought that was cool. Jonathan was interested in the torpedoes. I was glad to be done with the tour as the fuel smell was getting to me and I was feeling claustrophobic.
The propeller from the submarine. The USS Blueback was used in the movie The Hunt for Red October.

We left OMSI by 3pm so as to get across the bridge to Vancouver before traffic hit. We planned to meet up with friends, Joyce and Richard, before the potluck that was planned. The kids got to see big ships on our way across the Columbia River on the I-5 bridge. We found ourselves another Starbucks to keep fortified. By now, Annisia had fallen asleep, which was good. We got our drinks, then met Joyce and Richard at a park by Fort Vancouver. The kids played while we visited. Then off to Paul and Glenna's home for a small visit before heading to Bill and Debbie's home for the potluck. What a good time! It was nice to meet up with some of the people I used to go to meeting with. John and Rebecca, Edie, Bob and Alida, Rex and Donna, Daryl and Tara and their kids, H and K...(their names are unusual enough that I won't post them because of my confidentiality rule.) The kids enjoyed meeting H and K...they thought they were COOL and didn't want to part at the end of the evening!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mount St. Helens, Part 2 of WA/OR trip, Oct. 2012

Earlier this day, we visited the Ape Caves...Part 1 of our trip. The kids napped on the way back to Woodland where we dropped off our guests then continued on our way up I-5.

We took our exit off I-5 at Castle Rock onto Hwy 504, destination Forest Learning Center.  As we were driving, I looked up the hours it was open and, to our dismay, noticed it was only open through Labor Day. So we pushed on to the Johnston Ridge Observatory. This monument is named after David Johnston, the volcanologist who was camped out on this ridge observing the volcano when it blew. His final words were "Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it." He was never found. Here is a link to the history of Mount St. Helens. It's a fascinating read.

As we drove down another beautiful winding forest road, we saw remnants of the blast like a Weyerhauser logging truck with a log smashed into it from the mud slides following the May 1980 eruption.
We began to see the effects of the blast as we got closer to the mountain. The lateral blast stripped the trees for miles. The entire scenery changes when you get closer to the mountain.
This from The History of Mount St. Helens: "At Mount St. Helens, the "uncorking" unleashed a tremendous, northward-directed lateral blast of rock, ash, and hot gases that devastated an area of about 230 square miles in a fan-shaped sector north of the volcano."
The fall colors were beautiful. Although much of the forest is conifers, we saw an occasional splash of color from the deciduous trees.
The Toutle River became a mud flow. The remnants of that are still visible through the center of the above photo.
Here is the view of Mount St. Helens from the door of the Johnston Observatory, shown below. It's built as a bunker with huge windows facing south to allow an impressive  view of the mountain. Would it stand the effects of another blast? I don't know...This from The History of Mount St. Helens: "Calculations have shown that the blast's initial velocity of about 220 miles an hour quickly increased to about 670 miles an hour."
I made a panoramic photo of the pictures Michael took around the area. And the photo below is a peek at Mount Adams to the southeast.
These photos describe some of the details about the blast and history of Mount St. Helens. It's fun to see the kids read the placards...they were very interested. But Annisia kept asking if the mountain was going to blow while we were there. Poor thing...we assured her we'd have SOME warning, like usually small earthquakes would occur...
Then came the challenge of getting the kids to pose for a photo...
Goofy son...
Pretty normal...
Aaak! Goofy daughter!
Now with Mommy...
Then with Daddy.
This sundial thing shows other mountain peaks, other observatories, trails, etc. and distances from there. There was also a line of stones dedicated to the 57 people killed as a result of the blast.
On the way down, I needed to use the restroom. It was intimidating to walk into this concrete bunker...toilet/fallout shelter!

We left the area as the sun was beginning to go down. And we had at least an hours drive...we got back to Karen and Scott's around 8pm. Annisia read them her school books, they played with the plethora of toys they have for Scott's granddaughter...ah! The kids were in heaven! Then we crashed so we could be ready for the next day's adventure... OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, followed by a potluck in Vancouver, WA. 
Part 3 coming up...