To celebrate my birthday week, I took the day off yesterday and we went up to Portland to the Oregon Zoo. We also stopped off at the Japanese Gardens on the way up the hill. NTS is at a really great age - He recognizes animals, and when he sees them (it doesn't matter what kind of animal it is) he growls, "Rarrr, rarrr!" He spent quite a lot of time with the lion-dogs at the entrance to the Japanese Gardens:
Then, we did the zoo. The Oregon Zoo has a brand-new exhibit on the animals of the Northwest; there are bobcats and black bears, cougars, river otters, salmon and trout. It is very well done as a walk through the woods with a bridge that is evocative of the bike/pedestrian bridges that are across the Willamette River in just about every town here.
The latest trends in zoo exhibit design are "habitat islands" that let the visitor get the feeling of really walking amongst the animals (they've done a great job with this at the new entrance to the San Francisco Zoo), and big glass windows that allow you to stand right next to the animal and get an up-close look. In several cases, they've made one of the walls of the animal's den out of glass. We got to get up close to the bobcat and the cougar that way. Later on, the kids got to visit the Oregon Zoo's oldest inhabitant, this female Orangutan who has been there since 1961:
Later, we were lucky enough to stumble onto the flight practice for the bird show that will be opening in June. This was the first time they've had the birds out to fly this season. It hadn't occured to me that a bird could get out-of-shape from not flying, but *doh*! Of course! I only hope they fly a little higher when there's a full audience out there:
That's a Red-Tailed Hawk. Here's a brief movie of her flying from the stage to the back perch:
We also got to see the Turkey Vulture fly. She was supposed to fly from the stage to the middle perch, then to the back perch. However, she was very interested in the bits of cut up mouse that were on the stage from feeding the other birds, and so she kept just flying back to the stage:
But why were Wayne and Charlie sitting in the garbage can?
We got stuck in rush-hour traffic leaving Portland, decided not to try to get out to I-5, and took some other highway out of town. Saw the Blues Brothers in Sherwood:
We stopped in Salem to have some dinner and wound up at a very good Indian place. But we had to stop and take a picture of the Capitol Building. They must have hired Mormon architects, because this place just plain looks like it should be the Salem Temple (For examples of what I mean, go here and here). Even has a golden Moroni/logger on the top. He's facing Missouri the long way around.