Sunday, September 24, 2017

Well, Butt

I had hoped to do another substantial post about the California trip today, but it is not to be (I have just enough of a headache to slow me down considerably, energy-wise). However, as a follow-up to Friday's post about going to the Oakland Zoo, here is a little themed photography.

Elephant butt!
Zebra butt!
Meerkat butt!
Tiger butt!
Emu butt!
And, finally, cat decoration butt!
This was in the cat cafe we went to on Thursday, Cat Town in Oakland. For a small fee, you can spend an hour playing with as many cats as want to play, and admiring from a polite distance those who are tuckered out by their adoring public. And as this photo indicates, the decor is very cute, too.
This house was modeled after the Tribune Tower, an iconic part of the Oakland skyline (CR said it's often used as a reference point, so that one might see it in the distance and say, "Oh, is that where I am?").
There was one cat mostly willing to play:
And another who wasn't sure it was worth getting up for.
But watched.
And got the occasional paw in.
Then there were a number of cuties who were less interested.
These naps don't take themselves, you know.

This lady was about the floofiest thing ever.
She let me rub her head, and when I did, she melted, with the loudest purr.
In short, if you see this sign, follow it!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Meanwhile, Back in California, It's a Zoo

Rather than dwell on the cold and rain today, the sudden resurgence of soreness in my ankle this afternoon, or even the heartfelt but predictable feelings of TGIF, it's time to look back at more of the California trip! So far, all I have covered is the spots of color I saw everywhere (murals, decorated switch boxes and trash cans, and so on), which leaves, well, a lot.

A Lot.

  • cats (my brother's own, the ferals in his yard, and the ones we saw at a cat cafe)
  • my brother's home! so adorable!
  • yarn stores (just two of them, but good!)
  • a play, not-quite-Shakespeare-in-the-park
  • the architecture, which had me constantly looking up, and stopping for pictures
  • and a very-thoroughly-photographed day at the Oakland Zoo. Let's start there!
This was on Tuesday (9/5), when we had awakened to concerned messages for my mother from people wanting to be sure she was aware of, and safe from, the incoming Hurricane Irma (I'm awake, I'm awake!). Before heading out, we had a late breakfast at (ironically) Awaken Cafe, where I followed a bagel and juice with this lovely thing:
It was So Good. Master chocolatier Michael Recchiuti knows his stuff, if you ever get the chance.

My brother (and from here on, he's just CR, I'm already sick of typing "my brother" all the time and we're just getting started) had told us that he had heard the zoo in Oakland was a decent one, and that they had just opened a gondola that was supposed to give nice views of the area. Happily enough, it was accessible by BART, so we found the right bus and rode it to the end.

Let me just start out by sharing what is sure to become a new family joke that will pop out of us at the least likely moments. CR was looking at the map of the zoo when he suddenly laughed, and pointed to a spot: "I thought it said 'goddamn bats'!"
If you look closely, you can see that most of the areas are just the name of the animals, but in this one case, unexpectedly, there is a proper name before it. See there in the center? Yeah, so if I suddenly say "goddamn bats!" and start giggling like a loon, that's why. Just so you know.

On to the animals! First, chimps. And when you notice that a pane of glass is all crazed, don't worry.
I wasn't worried! We were there at feeding time, and they were much less interested in us than they were in the direction the food was coming from.

Then there were these guys, a couple of gibbons, just hanging around, chilling.

And swinging, which made focused photos a challenge.
So I took a video. Of course, he was immediately swinging less, I swear, but still I think it's a little cool. (I hope it shows up; I'm not video-savvy.)(It's not playing for me; does it for you?)
I'm not sorry that I stopped before he relieved himself, though. I didn't need that on film.

Some flamingos.
I admire the one toward the upper right, with his head rubbing onto his back. The flex!
Next up: giraffes:
Head shot.
Oops, got an itch!
And, technically, there were giraffes and eland. Including this one, wondering why we were out in the hot sun instead of sensibly in the shade.
This lion, meanwhile, was doing a bit of both, and seemed to find it very relaxing.
This one was moving slowly around, picking up every little bit of anything and checking in case it was food.
Off to keep checking.
Meanwhile, she was having a bath.
With her built-in snorkel.
I swear, she was still there.
Also questing along, in search of the edible.

In the other direction, it seemed to be time for a zebra check-up.
Bribery works!

"Hey, you got any more treats?"
No? Moving on, then.
In the aviary:

Tic tac toe, three giraffes in a row.
Meerkats! Stripey, busy, often blurry. Cute.

Up the gondola! I will say that it was a rather hazy day; on a clear day, it would be stunning, but the views were still impressive.

Starting out, you can see this:
 Close up? Curious camels. "What are they doing?"
We're going up!
View of ... some city nearby.
And distantly, in the mist, San Francisco. This is why you should go on a clear day if you can.
There is a restaurant at the top, and as CR said, "How's the food? The view is incredible." The food was okay. And very expensive. But props to them for not charging more to ride the gondola. You don't have to eat up there. And next summer, they're opening more animal areas up there, too.

The tigers are near where you get on to ride the gondola up, and when we first went by, there wasn't a stripe in sight. But after lunch, we lucked out, and all four sisters were around. Striding, splashing, being stripey.

Time for a dip?

Having a think.
"Look, just because there are wet paw prints on the ball doesn't mean I was playing with it."
"I tell you, I was not playing."
"What are you doing?"
Backing into the pool.
"Ah, delightful!"
For our final act at the zoo, we hopped on the little train ride to Wild Australia, where they have wallaroos and emus. (Oddly enough, no extra charge for the fancy new gondola, but if you want to ride the little old train, that costs extra. Not a lot, but still. Odd.) The entrance is off to the side of the main zoo entrance, in Adventure Landing, with a bunch of other little-kid rides.
We had to wait a bit for the driver, and were a little unsure whether it was going to be worth it.
Oh! Hello, emu. (It was worth it.)

They did not respect the train's right of way on the tracks.
"What do you mean, your tracks?"
He had to blow the whistle to encourage them to move along.
And yes, we saw a few wallaroos, too. They were just a little more shy.

But the emus were not shy at all.
This one was in front of the gate out of the area, a little too close for comfort.
I don't know if they ever try to jailbreak, but the driver wasn't taking any chances. Muttering to himself about how it's always the last ride of the day, he parked the train and got out.
Gave the emu a stern lecture, with directions.
And made himself big, so the emu would listen.
"I was just leaving anyway."
"See? I wanted to be over here."
It was really cool.

However, note that "last ride of the day" part? We came out to find that the gates back into the zoo were closed up. Which would have been fine, except the bus left us off at the lower entrance, not the main one, so we had to get back there. Pro tip: walking around is possible, but it's a lot longer that way.

On the plus side, I found this in the parking lot. I believe this is an emu feather.
Hand for scale.
So that's kind of a cool thing to have.

And I'm not sure I've ever been so glad to get on a city bus. (It was a good day, a lot of fun, and worth it, but my ankle was Not Impressed with the walking.)

We had dinner that night at the Tribune Tavern, which was really good! When I saw that they brew their own root beer (called Many Roots Beer), I had to try it, and so interesting! Which is not meant as a slam, honestly. Not my new favorite ever, but I'm so glad I tried it. The food was delicious, too.

So, there, that's one day of the trip told!