Ad-aqua-dequacity

This hotel offers a free newspaper, and on Tuesday night, I was able to find The Seattle Times. The previous two mornings, it was only USA Today, an adequate paper, but not what I prefer when traveling, as the local paper will have a comic section and a television schedule.

Who is to say what is “breakfast food”? Marketers? Denny’s? Society seems to label certain foods as breakfast-only, and tends to frown upon their consumption at other times of the day. However, society isn’t as tough on other foods eaten for breakfast. Why?

On our way to the Seattle Aquarium, we stop again at the Westlake Center food court for the day’s first meal. I visit Salena Mexicana for a burrito. Will it compare to the quality at home? First of all, this is in a food court, so it is at a disadvantage already. Second, being in a food court, the food may not be as fresh as a taqueria. The chicken burrito is short on the rice and beans, the chicken is not well-drained, and the condiments overwhelm, particularly the sour cream. The tortilla is dry yet pliable, but feels thick when you bite in, as opposed to a lighter, chewier texture. A cup of prepared ice water comes along for the ride on the tray.

While taking my usual food photo, I remember that my largest capacity memory card is still in my computer, after offloading my morning pictures of local construction and the outside of the hotel to free up every bit of storage space for the Aquarium. Back we go to get the memory card, locked up in my computer bag and stored in the closet to discourage pilfering by the maintenance staff. Of course, if they really wanted what was inside, they would just take the bag or cut it open. It’s a four block round-trip, not at all unreasonable.

The Pike Place Market stands between the hotel and the waterfront, and I finally see the Farmer’s Market. You may recall my disappointment at seeing the tourist shops on Tuesday night, but perhaps the market was closed at the time. A cheese shop across the street gets my attention, as does the Seattle Mariners moose mascot (but very briefly). The cheese shop makes cheese behind a window, so passers-by can watch, then go in to buy expensive cheese. The Farmer’s Market is what you would expect: produce, crafts, small food booths, hundreds of tourists, and so forth. We make our way to the lower levels, where the lackluster shops live, to get to the lower street level and to the waterfront.

Using Susan’s free admission ticket, I get asked who gave it to me (first and last name, which I didn’t have), and zip code. No ticket stub, just the cashier telling me to tell the gate lady that I used a free ticket. Sounds dodgy, but I do it and she says “ok.” I get a stamp on my hand as I have no receipt. There are lots of plywood boards and chain link fences due to construction, which not only looks bad, but makes me wonder if there are closed exhibits that I won’t get to see.

First thing you come to is the river otters exhibit and a description of how the local watershed works. I blow nearly 20 photos on these guys in 6 minutes. I delete most of them, as they are blurry because the otters are quick and the lighting conditions are dim. I figure I get a few good ones and move on to read how humans have the power to protect the environment and preserve these local species.

Sea otters and harbor seals are next, then into the impressive array of fish exhibits. Next are the bird exhibits, but I can’t say much for them. There’s a pretty nifty salmon ladder outside, presumably the salmon return to the aquarium to spawn, fighting their way up the fake river. Your requisite reef displays for bright colors and touch tanks for the kiddies fill the last building, and the jellyfish ring is quite neat.

When I asked the ticket lady how long the aquarium takes if you want to read everything, I was told about an hour and a half. I spent about a little over 2 hours in there, though I would have preferred to have to stay longer. If I visit a place like that, I’d rather it take at least a half a day. Hence today’s title, a play on the moment in NBC’s excellent “Newsradio” where Bill McNeal gets his performance review and is called “adequate.” He takes that word and makes up plenty of modified variables to describe himself, for example: adequate-equacity, adequatulence, and adequacivity. I took the former and got the “aqua” from “aquarium” in there. The Seattle Aquarium is adequate. Honestly, it’s a little better than adequate. I like otters, which are the stars of this aquarium, and a couple of the fish displays are pretty creative (like the concrete geodesic dome).

Maybe it’s unfair that I’m comparing it to other aquariums I’ve visited. The Monterey Bay, Vancouver, and Sydney Aquariums are tough competition. Even the old Steinhart Aquarium’s room-sized Fish Roundabout beats the pants off Seattle’s four-foot diameter roundabout (no photo, unfortunately).

As per usual, I show my support by spending a little money in the gift shop. If you know me, you know I like items that are not necessarily unique, but harder to come by. So this means a glass from the clearance shelf and a keychain, but both have the Seattle Aquarium logo on it. Yes, you can find a glass or keychains anywhere, but not those with this particular imprint.

Time for lunch, and I recall the time I went to Six Flags Marine World in Vallejo, California. I could have spent 6 minutes in line for a hot dog, but elected to stand in a 20-minute line for fish and chips. I find that amusing – visiting a marine park or aquarium and eating fish.

Two days ago, we saw many restaurants along the waterfront, and one caught my eye, a fish and chip shop. It’s called Ivar’s Seafood Bar and I order the Clams and Chips, with a medium Pibb Xtra (free refills) to wash it down. See, I can get fish and chips at home, but I’ve never seen clams and chips. It may exist somewhere, but I haven’t seen it yet. Good stuff, much better than last night’s crab cakes. As we leave, I get my free refill. You can never be too hydrated (this is actually not true).

On the way back, we look for the Rock Bottom Brewery, it of the mushy crab cakes. It takes a few blocks of searching, as it was dark last night and I had no camera, so the camera phone was the only option, which is incredibly inadequate when it comes to low-light photography. It doesn’t take great photographs during the day either.

Back in the hotel, I find the Yahoo football draft is done. I really dislike auto-drafts, as most people will simply get who the computer ranks as the next best player. I like when personal judgment comes into play. I made my own rank list, which was used, but it is best when everyone does this, so that if someone misses a good prospect, others have a chance to capitalize.

I’m back in the room now. After playing a bit of DS Lite and looking out the window, Scott finishes writing his blog, and I take over. The opening game of the NFL season is on, but I’m not paying attention. I play many fantasy sports games and only care for the box scores and statistics for football and baseball (my team is going to have a bad week). I would have liked to have watched yesterday’s US Open match between Maria Sharapova and Tatiana Golovin. Sharapova played the day before, so I figured she would get a day off, as is the usual practice. Unfortunately, it did not happen. Though I don’t even know if the match was televised, it’s a good bet that is was.

Dinner tonight may be at the hotel’s own Dragonfish, which features Asian fusion style cuisine. After I finish writing this and resizing all the necessary photos, I’ll take the laptop down to upload it and check my usual stuff, though severely cut back on the websites I regularly visit at home. I’d like to order and take the food back to the room, but it isn’t entirely up to me.

Now that we’ve seen everything we had to see, tomorrow can be a more leisure day, and we still have most of Saturday, as we have a late flight back to San Francisco, unless we get so bored that we try to take an earlier flight again.

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