Okay, it's been exactly a month today since I have blogged. Blame it on summer:vacation, visiting family, visiting Timm on his business trip, and now preparing to send Bella to school next week! Ack! But every one of those is a post in itself, so in an attempt to catch up I am just starting where I am. Little by little, I'll catch up. With everything.
On Friday night we drove up to Durham to get Timm at Duke where he was teaching a training course for 2 weeks. We are down to one car (another post) so we had to drop him off and pick him up. We decided to go a day early, stay the night at the hotel and take some detours on the way home. We stopped at a fabric store for me, the Woodworker's Supply for Timm, and the zoo for the kids. I had seen signs for the 'North Carolina Zoological Park' before and wondered what that was. Maybe I'm just slow, but it didn't occur to me that it was just a zoo.
But to be fair, does this look like the typical setting of a zoo? I think not. After seeing this I realized why they call it a 'zoological park' rather than just a 'zoo'. In total, it is 5 miles of trails, which they recommend setting aside about 5 hours to peruse. You walk along paved trails through the woods and boardwalks over marshlands, making it feel very much like a park with animal habitats interspersed between.
I loved these elephant statues that greet you as you enter the park.
Okay, seriously? A record length of 19 feet?! That scares me and fascinates me at the same time. Can you even fathom meeting up with a 19 foot long alligator?
Thanks for the view, Bella.
Seals and Sea Lions, those perennial entertainers did not let us down. You could watch them for hours!
This sea lion had a great gimmick down pat. He loved to soar around a corner where he was invisible to onlookers, and would pop into view, surprising you every time. He would appear inches from Fiona's face and every time she would shriek and exclaim with joy and surprise. That made the trip worth it. The memory of her face and squeals would be necessary to sustain us shortly afterward...
Both girls were delighted with their turn on the carousel and Fiona threw one of her charming crowd- attracting, stare-inducing tantrums when I literally had to pry her off and carry her away kicking and screaming. That's my girl.
Not too long afterward however, she was placated to ride on Timm's shoulders, acting out various arm motions such as the airplane motion shown above.
Fiona was delighted by the elephants, demonstrated by her trumpeting as we approached the enclosure.
Things had started to unravel by this point, so it is nothing short of miraculous to have captured this shot. Fights about who got to sit in the front, accompanied by tantrums over being pried from the statue...Did I mention it was 5 miles of trails? And I have a (very wimpy) 5-year old and a not-yet 2 year old? Are you aware that I live in North Carolina, which during the summer can approximate jungle-like conditions? Right.
About halfway through we were plotting our most efficient course, which exhibits we could bypass, how we could distract Bella from the heat, her foot forming a blister, the miles of trails, our lack of ice cream or Icee stein that everyone else seemed to be enjoying...
We got to the end Tram stop which would mercifully take us back to the beginning, through all 5 miles, where we could exit the albeit beautiful, but tiresome park. We got in line, and waited among the throngs of people for almost an hour. It was a long hour, punctuated by the complaints of everyone around us, wondering about the location of the trams and their efficiency. I tried to stay positive by listing all of the ways it could be worse, but Timm was not amused. Among them, I was glad I wasn't pregnant (that makes everything worse and is often a present fear in the forefront of my mind), that I didn't have a prosthetic leg, that I wasn't on crutches because your armpits would really hurt, that I wasn't morbidly obese, that I didn't have more children to manage, or that I was not the Mexican mother who let her child wander into the road, causing a park employee to hold said child up in the air to be claimed for over a minute before the mother came ambling forward from the back of the line, apparently unconcerned and unaware of the location of her toddler.
While we were in line Timm speculated that this would be a great activity when our kids were at least 10, and that perhaps we were trying to do too much too soon with our kids. I replied that other parents did this all the time, and that I saw a mother carrying a newborn with a bottle. His reply was a genuinely mystified, 'But, why??' I don't know. I tried to determine whether Bella would think on the experience as tiresome and torturesome, or fun on the whole.
So, like I said, it was fun.And awful.