Monday, February 22, 2010

Seagulls, Butterflies and Dinosaurs... Oh My!

We took a day trip into Seattle this last Saturday.  It started with a ferry ride from Bremerton, up the Sound into Seattle.  Although Bremerton is mostly pretty industrial looking, it is beautifully surrounded by the Olympic Mountain Range.  When you take in the panoramic view, they seem to go on and on and on.  Blue, and gray and white - sharp contrasts with misty bases.

The seagulls love to draft off the ferry.  I imagine it's not only the more economical use of their energy to cross the Sound, but the fact that eager passengers are generally fairly generous with bread crumbs and other goodies.

I'm a bit jaded, being a native Pacific Northwesterner... the Seattle skyline is still beautiful and awe-inspiring to me, but I rarely feel inspired (or am lucky enough) to catch a truly magnificent shot of the famous vista.  One of the things I do love about Seattle, and never really seem to tire of, is the interesting combination/contrast of the svelte metropolitan facade and the decidedly industrial feel of parts of the waterfront.  Art Deco buildings and stark, purposeful lines... all in shades of blue and green.

Our family tradition is to, without fail (or it's not considered to be a "successful" trip) stop at Ivar's for fish & chips.  The standard is to get fries with your fish, whether you want them or not.  In my case, I'd be perfectly happy with just the fish.  The outdoor dining area is the primo gull gluttony arena.  In fact, signs encourage diners to share generously with the "dainty eaters."  They're not only quite adept at performing (loud) acrobatics to earn their dinner, they're not at all shy about telling you that you're being stingy.  Although discouraged, pigeons and little birds provide quick clean up of the floor and won't tell on you if you ignore the sign and share a little love with them too.

I know it's a little weird, but I'd never ridden the Seattle Monorail until this weekend.  It's been there since 1962, pre-dating me be a couple a years, but I'd never been on it.  BDB (hubby), knowing this, planned it as part of our day.  The ride over was interesting, albeit, nothing scary.  The ride back - a little (okay, a lot) more intense.  We sat in the VERY front and could (clearly) see just how we could (in theory) fall from the side of this narrow concrete rail, several stories in the air - into a building or the hard asphalt below.  I should probably state here, that I was the one worrying about these (im)probabilities.  The guys just enjoyed the ride.

We arrived at the Seattle Center after a short 90 second trip.  This is the home of the Space Needle, the Experience Music Project (EMP), the Pacific Science Center, the Science Fiction Museum, etc.  Lots and lots of good stuff - not to mention a pretty cool carnival and outdoor sculpture garden.

Our primary goal of the day was to visit the Tropical Butterfly exhibit at the Pacific Science Center, but we had to get through a variety of distractions first.  Obviously, there are numerous angles in which to capture the Space Needle with your camera.  Most of which have probably been captured by someone else, who walked there before you in days past - but that's not going to stop any self-respecting amateur photographer from trying.  Like I was told in photography class (so many years ago, back in high school - when they still used REAL film... I don't miss the dark room at all), every day presents a new and unique perspective of the every day.

At the Seattle Center, they were having a (National?) Yo-Yo contest... we snagged our varied Orange Julius treats (both of the guys totally love strawberry... I'm a bit more "exotic" with my tropical leanings) and scurried back out into the glorious, February sunshine.  In addition to multiple, modern, metal sculptures, the Center is host to a beautiful, carved totem pole.  It's situated so that a viewer can see our native history and (implied) future (via the nearly 50 year old Space Needle) in one blink.  Artistically and culturally - it's a pretty interesting contrast.

We eventually tore ourselves away from that desperately needed Vitamin D.  Another new experience for me was visiting the Pacific Science Center.  We chose the back left corner first (questing for my butterflies).  The guys barely made it in the door before encountering a shuffle board (used to explain friction).  I then spent time prying them from the exhibit that demonstrated gravitational patterns and bubble racing.

We chose to skip the tidal pool (we're planning a trip to the Newport Aquarium, in Oregon, later this Spring... and quite honestly - there's no comparison).  I met Lydia the Leopard Gecko, marveled at naked mole rats, laughed at the funhouse mirrors and tracked my genes (not blue).

Finally, we made it to a (deceptively) cooler wing of the center, and were greeted by Zorak (come on, there's got to be at least one, fellow Space Ghost geek out there).  He was 2 1/2 stories tall and robotic.  Pretty cool.   

And finally.. the butterflies.  So many... so pretty... really not shy.  There was only one species of "local" butterfly... the Monarch.  The Owl Eye Butterflies seemed to be the most abundant of the species.  One of the butterflies hitched a ride on BDB's hat for almost an hour.  People were constantly coming up and asking if he knew someone was hitching a ride.  A very precious little girl (5 or 6) with a little, pink camera wanted (and was accommodated for) pictures.  I won't post the pictures of the "Butterfly Whisperer" or "Lord of the Butterflies" because he's not nearly an enamored as I am by them (but they are in my Flickr Photostream).

I think, perhaps, one of my favorites was this colorful butterfly on the "Crown of Thorns" flowers, but it appears the crowd favorite was this Golden Helicon.  Another of the Looks-Pretty-Tastes-Yucky-to-Birds variety.

The website said the butterflies were attracted to red and yellow.. but, truth be told... they like sweat.  It's hot in there (they are after all, "tropical" butterflies..).  They LOVED BDB's work hat and I guess I was tasty too - had one land on my blue-jean clad calf and ride around on my shoulder.  I had to be "de-butterflied" as we left.  Darn thing must have REALLY liked me - kept jumping off the attendant's de-butterflying baton back onto my shoulder.  I felt special.

We finally left as dusk was falling.  I love the architecture of the Science Center.  Very 60's Futuristic!  Arches, lines, space-age... then add in the eco-features of being in the Pacific Northwest - Orcas, Seagulls, Dinosaurs (?)!  The beauty of pictures of architecture at sunset - the awesome color!

We finished our day, wandering around the semi-deserted carnival.  I'm guessing it doesn't rev up fully until there are enough Summer tourists to pay for it.

Despite the dark skies, there were enough ground effects to adequately light the paths and sculpture gardens.  One particularly interesting combination (IMO) was the Space Needle and a bright, orange piece called the "Olympic Iliad."

We hiked around town for about 8 hours, over just a few block of Seattle - and then it came time to go "down hill" to the water front to catch the 7ish ferry.  Have you ever experience 60 degree angles before?  My knees still aren't talking to me... and we missed that ferry.  We finally caught the 9:05 ferry - which put us home after 11 at night.  Thankful dogs greeted us at the door (both for dinner and outdoor time), and I spent most of Sunday snoozing, resting and/or knocking back kidney killers (anti-inflammatory meds)... but it was TOTALLY worth it.

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