Thursday, July 27, 2006

Escape To the Zoo

Like everyone else in SoCal, the heat is killing us. It’s been 112 here, and our vintage apartment only has an in-wall AC unit, so our bedroom has been averaging 83 or so. Not the end of the world for me, but it is hell on Jeff who lives in his own personal summer anyway. Add to this the sudden influx of high humidity, and we feel like we’re back in China. Ugh. At least we have been fortunate enough to continue to have power.

Saturday, however, was truly miserable. It was inching towards 115 and the dark clouds were rolling in. We’d already spent a couple hours in the pool, and while the Monkey Princess was due for a nap, we knew we’d all be sick of sitting in the living room coloring by 5pm. What to do?? Thanks to the wonder of the internet, I discovered that it was only 85 in San Diego, and only 45% humidity- compared to home that sounded downright pleasant! Hey the SD Zoo is open until 9pm in the summer- and look at that- we have annual passes! Quick everyone- to the car!
The drive down was easy, Ten fell asleep around Temecula, and we could actually feel the windows getting cooler as we got further south. We got good parking, and the 85ish temperature felt really nice…it was warm, but not oppressive like it was at home. We discovered that the zoo has a full line up of things to keep you entertained after dark, beginning with a giraffe feeding at 5pm.

Tenley fed a giraffe at the Living Desert last September, but she was just a year old, and I was the only one with her so there was no one to get pictures. This seemed like a good opportunity to see if she was still as fascinated with them, and maybe get a picture. We trekked over to the giraffe enclosure and Jeff & Tenley got in line for the feeding. It’s a nice, polite, well organized feeding: everyone gets their own turn and you can take pictures, and a zoo photographer takes pictures as well. Tenley started getting rather antsy in line until she saw the long necks and heads through the trees and then the excited pointing and bouncing began. When it was their turn, Jeff paid $5 for 3 giraffe cookies, and they went up to the gates to see the big guys. Tenley’s whole face lit up, and she happily took a cookie and held it out to the nearest of the 3 giraffes, who stuck out a long, agile, gray tongue and took the biscuit from her. This was followed by giggling and the immediate offer of a second biscuit to giraffe #2. She happily teased the poor animal (allowing me time to get a picture) who finally wrapped his tongue around it and yanked it out of her hand. Cue excited giggling. Jeff steered her to giraffe #3 and Tenley held out the cookie, but the much larger and older giraffe #2 was too quick and got that one too. Tenley waved and said bye-bye to the giraffes, and as far as I was concerned the whole trip was worth it for the ear splitting grin on her face as her dad carried her out of the enclosure.

We then traipsed back across the park to the Children’s Zoo before it closed so Ten could pet the goats, sheep and miniature horses. She was very excited about Elmo the mini horse, and baaa’d loudly at all the sheep. The most exciting thing though was getting to was her hands in the Tenley sized sink when we were done. The kid loves to wash her hands- what can I say??

Next we decided it was time to go see the polar bears which are, of course, on the complete opposite side of the park. So Jeff felt we should make the most of our Passes and use the Skyfari for free. Now, I am afraid of heights, but skyways don’t usually bother me. So here we have the Irrational Mommy Moment of the Day: I wasn’t afraid for me, but I was deathly afraid that Tenley was going to manage to take a header out of the cab and fall to her death in the Gorilla Tropics. Ok, the cab had 2 bars above the top rim of the bucket, but I made Jeff wrap his arms around her waist anyway. It was all I could do to keep from lunging across the cab and grabbing the waist of her pants and the scruff of her neck. Totally irrational, I know. But my heart was pounding the whole time and I was really only happy when she was sitting down. Repeat irrational freak-out on return trip after viewing polar bears who were dead asleep.

At that point I wanted to sit somewhere a little closer to terra firma so we snagged front row center seats for the Wild Connections show. This turned out to be good, and bad. The good part is that the animals are right there up close and personal and up close animals hold Ten’s attention. The bad part was that the first animal was a North American Gray Wolf (they’re endangered)… and as far as Tenley was concerned, that was a big fluffy dog. She just could not understand why we would not let her go pet the doggy! He was only 3 feet away and she already had her hand out stretched for him to smell. It didn’t help that his best buddy who comes to the show with him was a real dog. I didn’t learn too much about the wolf because we were busy wrestling with the irate toddler- a wild animal not to be taken lightly. As fascinating as the wolf was to look at (and much larger than either Jeff or I expected him to be) we were grateful when it was time for he and his Irish Setter mix buddy to go bye-bye. The next animal went much better: a sea lion. Yep, one of those big guys Ten saw snoozing on the docks in San Francisco. He was huge and totally adorable. Tenley stared at him in wide eyed wonder with her mouth hanging open. She seemed a trifle unsure of him, but when he clapped or nodded so did she; and when he ambled off the stage she pointed after him and said “Mooore???”

After the show we went and had a snack over by the Koalas and trotted down to see the Pandas before we called it a day. Tenley sat in the back seat telling us all about her trip the whole way home. Jeff and I sat in the front feeling the windows getting warmer and warmer to the touch and chatting with my Mom on the cell phone about the huge thunderstorm and 2 earthquakes they had while we were gone. It sounded very apocalyptic, and we were glad to say we had missed it because we belonged in the zoo.

The “It’s A Small World After All” moment of the day: We’re standing there looking at these cow like things, and standing next to us is a nice lady who looks Asian, but not Chinese and her daughter who looked to be around Tenley’s age and very Chinese- in fact she looked quite a bit like Ten. We got talking, and finally I asked as to her daughter’s heritage, which was indeed Chinese. I smiled at the mom and said, “… but you’re not…” She smiled and said no, she was Thai and her daughter was adopted. We inquired as to which province her cutie was from. “Guangdong!” she told us. How funny- our daughter is from Guangdong too! Really? Which orphanage she asked? “Yang Xi” we said. She got a slightly confused look. Was it about 4 hours outside of Guangzhou? Was Mrs. Qiu the director? Yes to both! Oh my God, our girls were from the same orphanage. Turns out they were USAA Group 101 who went right ahead of us, so the girls were there at the same time. Oddly enough, the girls seemed to know that too. It’s so bizarre to see them meet their China Sisters and how they instinctively seem to know each other. It was a great moment, and I’m continually amazed at how the red thread continues to connect us.

1 comment:

elizabeth said...

I could have written this exact post, and probably will when we take a trip to SD in the next month or so. Macy will be trying to jump off the sky lift thing and pet the nice "doggie" aka the wolf. How great to run into the other little girl from Tenley's orphanage.