Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Seattle trip

For the two days that Eric had to work in the middle of the second week of Spring Break, the kids and I   headed to Seattle. Because...well, why not?

We took our time driving down, stopping at Trader Joe's in Bellingham for snacks, then again in Burlington to check out the outlet mall. We were in no rush, so it was nice to poke about.

We made it into Seattle by 2 p.m. We parked the car at the waterfront and slowly made our way up the hill to Pike Place Market. 

The kids with a creepy crab fisherman
I have been to Seattle and Pike Place many times, but I have never walked up to the main market via Post Alley. Therefore, I have never had the "pleasure" of witnessing the infamous Gum Wall of Seattle. It's disgusting. I was making Finny's face behind the camera. Look how hard Molly is trying to smile. Her mouth is smiling...but that's it. Lukey, being a six year old boy, is immune to gross. 

Post Alley Gum Wall. Yuck.
We departed the nasty Gum Wall (voted one of the Top 5 "germiest" landmarks in the world...no kidding) and made our way up to the flying fish mongers in the main market. We even managed to see a few fish thrown.

I was hoping they still had the trick wire attached to the creepy Monk fish in the picture below. When I was in high school, I got the scare of my life when the fish guy told me to peek my head in the fish's mouth to see his weird tongue. When I got right up close, they yanked the wire and made the fish jump. I almost peed my pants. I think it took half a day to get my heart rate back down. Not that I would want my kids to have to go through that...no, who am I kidding. I totally wanted them to go through that.

No matter how long I made them pose in front of the Monk fish for this picture, no one pulled the damn wire.

Wasted opportunity for a good-old fashioned scare
 At the other fish place in the market...we are pretty sure we found an illegally caught mermaid's tail. We don't even want to think about what happened to the rest of her...

Poor Ariel
We walked around a bit more. Then stopped into Le Panier for some pain au chocolat and warm drinks. I have been to Le Panier a couple of times. Best pain au chocolat ever.

The promise of good pastries creates sisterly love
 Look at these guys getting right into Seattle coffee (steamed milk) culture.

 Thirty seconds later...

I had pretty much exhausted their patience with market fare by this point. No more looking at flowers or dried fruit. Take a picture with the biggest piggy bank ever and move on...

The view from the market...nice pose, Lukey
We headed back to our hotel to settle in before hitting the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. I admit it. I love the Cheesecake Factory. It's great with kids, too. We popped into the mall while we waited for our table and had a lot of fun with perfume samples (the kids are certainly their grandfather's grandkids...my dad loves a fragrance sample...). Mmmm, I love me some Cheesecake Factory. 

We got up the next morning to have breakfast in the hotel before heading to Woodland Park Zoo. I had heard it was good, but my expectations were fairly low. We have been to the San Diego Zoo and Disney's Animal Kingdom, both incredible experiences. I figured that's pretty hard to beat. 

Turns out, I was wrong. Woodland Park may not actually beat those incredible places, but it sure holds its own.

The zoo was bigger than I expected, especially since it is in a park right in the middle of Seattle. Also, it really wasn't expensive, so I thought it would be fairly limited.

See the eggs right above Finny's head?
There were tons of little touches that made the zoo experience really unique and fun. One of the first was the zoo coins they hand out.

The kids could choose where they wanted there "money" donation to go.

Here they are pointing out their choices...

They do a good job mimicking the monkeys...

Molly elephant love

Hard to see from this picture, but the orang-utan on the other side of the glass is RIGHT THERE. We stood and watched him for a long while and I was left with the impression that he was watching us, not the other way around.

All three crammed in a fox den:

The bear habitat was spectacular.

There was a beautiful restored carousel. On our way in, the woman who sold us our tickets was so touched by the kids over-the-top enthusiasm for the zoo experience that she gave them free tickets to ride the carousel. Which was nice, because as lovely as it was, I probably wouldn't have shelled out for it.

Another cool feature? It was completely solar powered. No small feat in rainy Seattle.

We spent a long time at the stinking penguins, with a very nice guy who worked for the zoo. His name was Sam (that's him at the far left in the picture below). We ran into him a few times in the course of our day and he even showed us a short cut path at one point. Lukey liked him a lot.

A lot bigger than a Lukey hand...
I was already loving the zoo, but the clincher was the Nature Exchange. The zoo offers an incredible service. You can perform certain tasks, bring in nature items and show school projects about biology in exchange for Exchange points. When you have enough points, you can shop in the store.

My three did a quick lion project that required observation of the cubs in exchange for enough points to "purchase" two items each.

Here's Finny browsing the shelves for treasures.

We left the zoo on an absolute high. I had allotted about two and half hours at the zoo. We spent over six hours. HUGE thumbs up from our family.

The treasures from the Nature Exchange

We were starving by the time we left. We found a delicious pizza at Via Tribunali that satisfied our appetites.

Real wood oven...yum!
We drove around a little bit, even went for one more short walk before getting in the car for our ride home to Vancouver. 

An amazing trip, with three of my very favourite traveling companions. How lucky am I?

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Boy

What makes a plain old Monday great? A surprise trip to a Canucks game with your grandad. Priceless.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Another day, another masterpiece.