Two weekends ago, Ryan and I went on a little road trip down south to Morioka. This city is about half way between where we live and Sendai. The drive was super easy. The highway was well maintained, as it should be given the tolls. Yeah, the only downside was the tolls, but definitely worth it...all nearly $70 round trip! But the drive was easy and we had a great time, so I really can't complain.
The main attraction here is probably the zoo. Actually, the zoo and the amusement park across from the zoo. But we only visited the zoo.
I heard from other people that the zoo looked like a sorry excuse or a zoo and that the animals looked sickly. Honestly, Ryan and I did not get that impression at all. Maybe it was because we went at the start of the season and it hadn't gotten too hot yet. Heck, it was windy and practically still snowing, but that didn't stop us. Like I said, we had a lot of fun. Sure, it's not the biggest, best zoo in the whole world, but at only a 2.5 hour drive from home and the closest zoo to us...I'll take it!
In the front is a cute little monkey exhibit.
So cute that I decided to become one too!
There were some bunnies.
Here is a fox hiding out.
Can you spot the fox?
Ryan swore up and down he would see a bear this day and he is correct! Of course we all know he was really hoping to see one on the side of the road (yes, we saw signs for bears in the area), but he was happy spotting one here.
There were three of them, but only this one was moving around. The rest were sunbathing.
These were really pretty birds. They had gold heads. And by gold, I mean super gold colored, really metallic looking. I have never seen a bird with feathers that color.
Some sort of deer.
This was at the African animal display.
The elephants were hilarious! They were kicking the dirt and rolling in it. The best part was when one of them moonwalked. I wish I had gotten this on video.
Had to take a short rest on this cute little bench.
No idea what this bird was.
Looks like he has two heads! Actually, they were busy trying to push each other off this stump.
Pony rides for kids.
Strange animals that I have never seen or heard of before.
Last up is a puma.
Like I said, we had a lot of fun and enjoyed walking around for a few hours.
After we finished at the zoo we headed out to explore and found the downtown area.
We found a great place to park and then walked to see the old castle grounds which are now part of a park.
This would be the old moat.
This is a view of the mountains from inside the park. I have noticed when I visit castles that they always face where the best view would be. Usually it is of the mountains.
The sun was setting so we were able to get some nice pictures as it went down below the mountain line.
There used to be a statue here. Luckily a nice woman who was here the same time as us spoke English and explained to us that in World War II it was taken down and the metal was used to make guns.
We walked around a little more. Here I am on the bridge. I love these bridges because of the bright red color. I see them a lot but I am not entirely sure of the meaning and why they are always red. I definitely need to look into this.
More statures and things we saw when walking around.
Here was a temple we passed on the way back to the mall by the car.
Very tranquil setting.
This covered mall was what originally caught our attention and so we stopped here to park, which was really convenient for walking around the park.
Obviously the bakery on the corner called out to us, so we stopped here to eat.
I hadn't had lunch yet, so before trying out a baked good (if you haven't had a Japanese baked good, you are missing out- not overly sweet and smaller in size than American baked goods). I went with this egg sandwich on a fresh baked roll. Yeah, the strange stuff at the top would be mayo. They are obsessed with it here. I am not kidding, mayo is on just about everything. It was way too much for me, so I removed most. After that the sandwich was perfect.
My baked good choice was tough because they all looked so good, but I went with a little chocolate chip scone. It was still warm and the chips were melty. It was so good!
My final purchase was this piece of raisin bread, which I took home and enjoyed later. It was probably the best raisin bread I have ever had.
After we ate, we headed to the department store to tour their food selections. The bottom level of department stores are usually huge food markets with a variety of options and places to buy food and eat there. There was even a grocery store down there and a local product marketplace. Here are some pictures of the local goods.
This yogurt was awesome!
Last is a picture of the cheese section in the grocery store. I don't know why I always like to take pictures of the cheese section, but I seem to gravitate there. I do like cheese, but I think it more has to do with not thinking of Japan as a big cheese place so I am interested to see what they import or what they actually do make. Most is French cheese. I just always find it interesting.
After we finished in the department store we headed home since the drive would be just about 2.5 hours and we had to get back to walk the dog. It was definitely a fun day and I hope to go back to Morioka again soon. It was a nice "little" city with a fun vibe (a college town feel because there are some universities there).
Speaking of road trips, there is more travel in the works for us, so stayed tuned!
QUESTIONS: When was the last time you went on a road trip and where was it to? When was the last time you went to the zoo?