After posting yesterday’s blog, and the first NFL game finished, we went dinner hunting. Most places close at 10pm, so the nearest places were Cheesecake Factory (close at 11pm) and the hotel’s Dragonfish (close at 1am). There is a Cheesecake Factory (CF) near home, so Dragonfish it is. I’ve seen them bring food into the hotel elevator, but we don’t want room service because they may expect a tip (and they know where you live). Takeout should be feasible, but they are in happy hour mode, so there is a select menu of items at half price and half portion, a decent option meaning you can try more than one thing. I get the coconut shrimp sushi rolls (4 for $2) and vegetable spring rolls (3 for $3). Since dinner was so cheap and Cheesecake Factory is closed by the time we finish, I have the Chocolate Heaven for dessert – small chocolate cake with warm truffle center, vanilla ice cream on top and raspberry coulee spread around the plate. There was a passionfruit cheesecake on the menu, but Scott would rather go to the CF tomorrow.
I did say that food becomes a lower priority when traveling, but I often look for places to dine in at a later date, or think of food that I want to try in another location (for example, burritos and pizza). I had considered Chicago as a destination, so deep dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs are easy choices. I don’t know of a signature Seattle food. Coffee? Not really meal-food and I don’t like coffee.
I had the burrito yesterday, and I’d like to go back to Café Darclée for a half Panini and French hot chocolate. I typically don’t drink hot liquids, but I’m traveling, so I’ll take the chance. Scott wants to try a doughnut and I’d like to find some pizza. He says to go to Sbarro’s (in the Westlake Center), which means he will be ridiculed for the next hour. We both would like to have clam chowder in a bread bowl back at Ivar’s. That means we have three “must-have” meals, two snacks, and six meals left. Neither the doughnut nor the CF cheesecake counts as a meal and we’re looking for breakfast before heading to the Pacific Science Center back at the Seattle Center, so we plan to stop at Café Darclée in Fisher Plaza again if we don’t find anything better before we get there.
We take 5th Avenue to the Seattle Center (follow the monorail track) as the most direct route. Inside the Westin Hotel is the 5th Avenue Corner Café. In we go and each orders a Chicken Quesadilla. It ends up being larger than we expect, so lunch may be later in the day, throwing off our meal plan.
The Pacific Science Center (PSC) is cheap at $10 each, so I suspect a lower quality attraction. It starts off slow, with a small room with really tall ceilings (as if they could drop in any kind of exhibits in a rotation) and animatronic dinosaurs. Add in some models and fossils casts and information you read back in grade one, and you hope this place gets better fast. There will be a combustion demonstration in about an hour, and I’m guessing they will be detonating balloons filled with hydrogen, nitrogen, and helium.
The next room is a large multi-discipline room, though more dedicated to the science I pictured – some astronomy stuff (a recently updated bulletin board about Pluto’s demotion) and a planetarium. There is a show in a couple of hours, but the room is so small I can’t imagine it is a good show. It likely has nothing new to tell or show me. There is more in this room, but it is so large that we divert to the room on the left to see what is over there first.
It is apparently insect world. A large scale chessboard and checkerboard is set up, along with a couple of table games to “test your mental strength” with a friend. Scott has trouble setting up the checker board cones correctly. Then I beat him soundly in the “wolf and hound” table game six times in a row until he gets one in the V column.
Dozens of herbariums hold dozens of species of exotic insects, along with the usual camouflage/mimicry insects and “spectacular feats” insects. A large display of various butterfly genera leads to the Tropical Butterfly House, an open air enclosure set to 80-85°F (26-28°C), and apparently 100% humidity, with dozens of live butterfly species flitting around. This alone is worth the $10 and I am in danger of running out of memory card space. You walk around a short loop filled with plants and trees and have to watch out to not step on any, and you get checked for stowaways (they sometimes land on people, but you can’t try to catch or invite them) before going back into the main building. Since the butterflies are moving (some are parked on the ground, plants, and food), the room is very bright, and misters keep up the humidity, quality photography is difficult with my camera. A DLSR would really come in handy now. I’d like to stick around in here, but there is much more to see in the PSC.
Back in the large room are cubicle-like setups of various displays: what addiction does to your body, 3-D/stereoscopic and holographic exhibits, optical properties and tricks, snakes and other reptiles, naked mole rats, a scale model of Puget Sound and the waterways (not nearly as impressive as the San Francisco Bay Model), a tide pool touch tank and “Water Play” (that is what the area was called) for kids, and computer/internet room (I check to find no baseball games have started yet). Scott has fun with a blue screen soccer goaltender simulation game and a green screen local meteorology news program simulation.
The next room dealt with the abilities of the human body: check your heart rate, test your reflexes (0.17 seconds) and hand strength (mine went off the scale), see what healthy and diseased liver and lungs look like, test balance and endurance, beat a robot in Tic-Tac-Toe (of course I did), and the gift shop (I’ll come back to that later). We miss the planetarium show and I was right about the combustion demonstration, so we didn’t stay around for it.
Downstairs is an alternate entrance and a room of the leftovers, but it looks like it is meant to show the mechanics of the simple machines. You know, stuff like the lever, the inclined plane, the gear, the pulley, etc. I suppose a climbing wall and a waffle ball pitching radar exercise count as physiological mechanics (see a video of me here, first left-handed, then righty).
The gift shop is the usual educational stuff among the playful stuff. You know my policy about souvenirs (unique or hard to find only please), so I get a gift for mom and a candy box shaped like a mini Game Boy Advance, filled with Nintendo character-shaped gummies – Mario, Link, Diddy Kong, Donkey Kong, and Yoshi. Stay tuned for pictures and a food review.
Outside is a large fountain and pool setup, with hoses for playing. It all looks like a big waste of water, but I guess the water gets recirculated anyway (even though an exhibit talked about evaporation and how all the water on the planet now is all we w, ill ever have). Oh well, at least the Archimedes Screw is cool. Maybe I can get that built for the lab’s seawall sampling regime.
Scott wants to, in his words, “Find crap,” for his family, referring to gifts. We’re hungry from all the walking, so we go to Zeek’s Pizza (Belltown location). I saw it on the way to the PSC, and we can use it to check off an item on the meal plan. I bought two slices of pizza, but wasn’t told that it will cost the same as a combo deal that gets me a fountain drink as well. A slice of cheese and a slice of pepperoni, sausage, and jalapeno to top off the digestive system, and it’s off to Pike’s Place Market for crap.
We walk the long way, seeing more of the city in the process. It’s not exactly downtown, but it is just as urban – smaller businesses and condos. We end up below PPM, so we have to make our way back uphill, reaching Beecher’s cheese shop where I buy a miniature cheese grater as a desk toy. I saw it two days ago, but didn’t buy it as I figured we would be coming back to this area. This time, we are told that the price went up from a couple of days ago, by about 80 cents. The lesson here: buy it when you see it.
Scott has trouble finding gift items, but finds something for his sister and mom. We’ll go back tomorrow when we look for the clam chowder in a bowl. We aren’t hungry, so cheesecake from the CF will be “dinner” tonight. It’s more like a dessert anyway, as the pizza was technically the dinner meal.
Back in the room, I start organizing all the new purchases for transport home, leaving ESPN on most of the time. It seems like the same two shows are repeating since last night, with the only new updates being today’s baseball scores. However, that quickly gets tired as you don’t need to hear eight times that Ryan Howard hit two home runs today.
I take a break from blog writing to find an ATM and cheesecake. A nice piece of Chocolate Coconut Cream Cheesecake for me, one giant slice of Chris’ Outrageous Chocolate Cake for Scott, who can’t finish it due to its richness. Granted, he also recently ate the gummy candies from his Game Boy Advance candy box, and we debate over how valuable such a candy item might be online for game fans. I say it can’t be that much, if it was sold for 97 cents at a tourist attraction gift shop.
When we start eating, I tell Scott to change the channel to 13, where The Simpsons is just beginning. He says “nice call,” and I seem to have the superpower of knowing when The Simpsons are on. Granted, all you have to do is look at a television schedule, so it’s not that special of a talent.
Video of me pitching a wiffle ball lefty and righty: