Tuesday, February 10, 2015

RAINFOREST CAFE

If you've never been to Rainforest Cafe, you're missing out. It's one of those restaurants I feel everyone should go at least once for the experience. I know it's especially exciting for kids. Coming here as a kid myself, I remember I couldn't sit still. I would get up, walk around, say hi to all the animals, look around the shop, and I wouldn't sit back down until our food came. After I ate, I would do it all over again until we had to leave. 

Last Saturday, my sisters and step-aunt decided to have lunch at the Rainforest Cafe in the Ontario Mills mall after visiting the Wildlife Learning Center in Sylmar. So it was an animal themed day for us. Before you enter the mall, there's a giraffe that looks like it's coming out of the wall (how creepy does that sound?) that you can take pictures with, and a waterfall right beside it. Ever since we've started coming here when I was little, it has been a tradition to get a picture with this giraffe, so this time was no different. Once you walk in, to the right will be Rainforest Cafe. The entrance takes you through the shop first, and then you wait in a line that wraps around a big aquatic tank full of sting rays and a variety of fish. 

The restaurant itself resembles a rain forest (hence the name), and you actually feel like you're dining with the animals. There's monkeys hanging on the ceiling, gorillas sitting behind you, elephants standing beside you, and cheetahs laying above you. The animals aren't real of course, but it seems like they are. The gorillas move their arms and turn their heads, looking as if they're observing the humans in their cafe. One gorilla cracks me up every time I go. There's this one that sits a little bit above and behind a round table in the corner at the back of the restaurant, and the gorilla just sits there, kind of hovering over whichever family that dines in that spot, and just stares intently with his red eyes. I added this picture towards the end of the post. My sister Brianna says he looks demented. The monkeys hanging from the ceiling swing back and forth every now and again. There's elephants that blink and look around. The cheetah sits up high and whips its tail back and forth swishes its tail that hangs over the side. When I was little, it was a goal of mine to be able to touch the cheetah's tail (#lifegoals), and I was thrilled when I finally could. The animals make little grunts and sounds too. So the animals are designed pretty realistically. The restaurant is in a dim setting and if you stand in the middle of the restaurant and look up, it is designed to look like the night sky. Periodically, here's the part that might scare a newcomer if they're not prepared for it, there will be "thunderstorms" and the animals go crazy. They make a whole bunch of distressed sounds, the elephants flap their ears, there's this one monkey that starts shaking a tree around, there's a loud crash of thunder, the lights dim in and out and everything. It's so interesting you want to stop whatever you're doing and watch the animals go into their little fit. It only lasts about fifteen seconds though and it only happens maybe once every thirty minutes. The cafe is decorated with flowers and greenery as well. The whole experience is to make you feel like you're dining in a rain forest, and that's exactly what it does.

Now, let's talk food. After walking around all day, and after going about six hours without eating, I was in need of lunch. I ordered the Rainforest Natural Burger, which came with a patty made from chickpeas instead of meat, giving it a slightly mushy consistency. Instead of a bun, I asked for mine wrapped in lettuce, and it definitely was. At first I was like, "Where's the patty!" But it was in there, hiding inside a cocoon of lettuce. The patty was topped with a slice of tomato and a dollop of guacamole, which was so amazing I ate some of it by itself. I had to remind myself to save some for the burger! I love avocados. On the side I got mixed vegetables of cucumbers, onions, squash, and broccoli, which was also really delicious, all topped with cheese, which I scrapped off. For dessert, Brianna ordered the ice cream sandwich cake, which looked to die for! It's an ice cream sandwich, topped with ice cream and fudge I believe, another layer of an ice cream sandwich topped with more ice cream, then there's whipped cream on the very top with crumbles of I don't even know what. Cookies maybe? And the whole thing is drizzled with chocolate syrup. As good as any dessert looks, I can't bring myself to eat any. But it doesn't stop me from photographing them though!

On our way out, we looked around the Rainforest shop. Our aunt said if it wasn't too expensive, she would buy us something. So we look around and Kuyuki and I got really emotional over a stuffed hippo. It was one of the cutest things ever! It was $20 though, so I figured for a stuffed animal it would be a no-go. While we were leaving, I accidentally hung onto one of the hippos. I had it under my arm and was carrying it around without even realizing it. I'm glad Kuyuki caught it before I walked out or else it would have looked like I was trying to shoplift! So we left with no hippos, but my sisters and I did get to take pictures in the photo booth. So we ended up leaving with a little souvenir from that day at the cafe after all.






I Am Wearing:
Floral Bodysuit - Forever 21
Shorts - Wallflower
Shoulder bag that I got a couple years ago from the San Diego Safari Park
Light pink cloth sneakers - Similar here
















I realize this post got to be a little bit long, but sometimes there's just so much to say when it comes to a dining-out experience. I hope you have enjoyed this post and the pictures nonetheless. Rainforest Cafe really is "a wild place to shop and eat!" Have you ever been to Rainforest Cafe? 

Love,
Mickey

Monday, February 9, 2015

WILDLIFE LEARNING CENTER



This past Saturday, my step-aunt treated my sisters and I to an outing at the Wildlife Learning Center in Sylmar, which rescues wildlife and educates the public about the environment through onsite and outreach programs by hosting school assemblies, classroom visits, children’s parties, summer and winter camps, and more. It was about a two and a half hour drive and I practically slept the whole way there. I don't know why I was so tired! 

The Wildlife Center didn't open until 11am and we got there about ten minutes early, so to pass the time, we sat in our parked car on the side of the street in front of somebody's house (sorry guys!), and decided on where we were going to have lunch later. Since we were this far out, I really wanted to go to Le Pain Quotidien since it was on our way home, but we ended up settling on Rainforest Cafe just because we haven't been there in a couple of years. Plus it fits the theme of the day.

The Wildlife Learning Center is small and in a really odd place. It's tucked away in an old olive grove, and in a regular neighborhood surrounded by houses. It can easily be missed. We walked along a pathway and through a sliding gate to get inside the center. I was immediately greeted with a "hello!" from a parrot perched on a branch. He never left his branch and greeted everyone as they came in. Keep on going straight and you see the squirrel monkeys. They are literally so adorable! One of them kept observing his feet, just holding and looking at them, as if he just realized that he's had them. Behind the squirrel monkeys is a picnic area with two parrots sitting in a tree. In the two and a half hours that we were there, they never left their spot. I guess once a parrot gets settled, they're fine all day! Going on down the pathway were three fennec foxes which are so cute! Only one of them was awake and he was as lively as can be. He liked to run around in circles. I don't see how he could go around and around like that without getting dizzy. On the other side of the pathway were lynxes, bobcats, arctic foxes, porcupines, tawny owls and bald eagles. 

For an interactive experience, we scheduled a personal visit with one of the tawny owls. We first had to put a glove on our left hand so that we wouldn't get scratched. My sisters and I took turns holding the owl. Of course I have seen an owl before, but I have never gotten to hold one, so it was something truly exciting. I felt like Harry Potter with Hedwig perched on my gloved hand! The owl was so cute I couldn't get over it. He's the most photogenic thing ever! 

After holding the owl, we followed the pathway and saw the alligators, hedgehogs, and land turtles. We actually walked around the whole thing about four times to make sure we got the see all the animals in action. On our way out, there was a "trainer talk" going on where one of the biologists from the center brings out a different animal every hour to talk about. We got to touch and take a picture with Steve the Savannah Monitor. We left the wildlife center around 12:40pm, and off to Rainforest Cafe it was.



I Am Wearing:
Floral Bodysuit - Forever 21
Shorts - Wallflower
Shoulder bag that I got a couple years ago from the San Diego Safari Park
Light pink cloth sneakers - Similar here






















 

Later that day I got a migraine, so it felt good to jump into my Tennessee soffe sweats and Vols tee while laying in bed sipping on green tea. I was going to talk about our time at Rainforest Cafe, but I've just decided that this post was long enough. So I will be posting about that tomorrow. Stay tuned! Have a lovely day as always.

Love,
Mickey