Sunday, October 5, 2014

Grumpy Bulldog Does America Day 32: The Life Aquatic

Today the highlight of the day was going to Salt Lake City's aquarium.  First was a very good breakfast at the Little America cafe in the hotel of the same name.  I probably couldn't afford to stay in the hotel, but I could at least afford to eat there.  It was Michael Offutt, a couple of his friends, and the daughter of one of his friends.  I got Belgian waffles, which no I did not need long to decide that; it just felt like a waffle kind of day.  The waffle was really good, a lot better than the kind you can make in motels with their griddles.  I tried a piece of sausage that was good too.  Other people were more adventurous with Eggs Benedict and some kind of western omelet thing.  It all looked really good.  Of course it wasn't as cheap as say going to Carl's Jr but it didn't break the bank either.

We hung around the hotel for a few minutes on a comfy couch in the bar.  They have a gift shop too if you felt like buying souvenirs and stuff.  Michael Offutt and I went to his bank so I could cash a check to have a little folding money, which is always a good thing.

Eventually we picked up his friend Meg, who was with us at breakfast with her daughter.  We went to the aquarium, which was probably a good 15 miles away.  Meg had a membership card so we could get in free.  And we didn't need a tour guide because she knew pretty much more than anyone who worked there.  She was particularly interested in cuttlefish, which I'd never heard of before.  They have these tentacles on the front and change their color scheme and texture to blend in with the environment.

I got to touch a stingray (that didn't have a stinger).  They're smooth and slippery, as you might expect.  I also got to touch a shark (not a Great White or anything), which was much rougher than the stingray.

They had a South American exhibit with fish, birds, reptiles, and Briane Pagel's favorite:  spiders!  Actually they had some more spiders in the Utah exhibit too, so he should probably stay away from there entirely.  The otters would have been better except they were sleeping.  Lazy otters.  Don't they know they're supposed to be on?

There were penguins too, which penguins are always cute.  Like the otters they weren't really doing a whole lot, mostly just standing around.  Lazy penguins.

Lastly, we watched a 4D movie about Great White Sharks.  4D means they rattle your chair and periodically shoot water or air at you.  You don't get too wet, just enough to keep you on your toes.  Like any 3D movie they make sure there are plenty of shots where sharks are swimming at you or jumping out of the water at you and so forth.  The gist of it was that sharks aren't evil, just misunderstood, which is not going to keep me from being terrified if I ever see one in the water with me.

Michael Offutt took the scenic route, so I could get to see more of the city, including a lot of million-dollar (and more) houses.  We had to stop at a supermarket to get some ingredients for dinner, which Meg cooked.  It was sloppy joes on toasted buns so they weren't nearly as sloppy, green beans, potatoes (which I didn't eat), and cantaloupe.  I don't eat a lot of melon, so I could say it's the best melon I ever ate.

After dinner Michael Offutt, Meg, and I played Bananagrams, which is like Scrabble, only without the board and some other different rules.  We played 4-5 games and Meg one every single one.  She pretty much kicked our asses.  One time I only had one letter left to use (which is how you win) but otherwise I sucked.  So, maybe writers aren't always great with words.

On the way to the hotel, Michael Offutt gave me a night tour of downtown Salt Lake City.  Not a lot of the pictures probably turned out, but I think a few did.  We went by the Mormon temple at the city center and a bunch of other Mormon-related stuff.

Some interesting facts I learned today:
  • The streets are all numbered XX00, like 100 to I saw 12000-something.  The numbers are all determined by their proximity to the Mormon temple, so 100 is 1 block away and 12000 is 120 blocks away and so on. 
  • There's an ordinance where no building is supposed to be taller than the Mormon's main office building, which is why there are no 100-story buildings in Salt Lake.  I think Philly used to have an ordinance like that where no building could be taller than city hall, though they might have repealed it since then.
  • And they have a fancy mall with a retractable roof for some reason.  Why not just build it with a roof to start with?  Seems needlessly expensive.

Anyway, all this makes me think my visits and entries might be more interesting if I'd had a guide at every city I visited.  It'd be more like shows on the Travel Channel then.


  1. There is a website called Trip Advisor where people leave reviews of places. Maybe it would be of some use in finding things to see. It sounds like a great time with Michael Offutt. I have always wanted to meet some of my writer friends. Maybe one day.

  2. I'm glad you're telling us all about SLC, because it's not high on my list of places to visit.



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