Monday, February 12, 2007

San Diego Safari

A week ago Friday Kim & I decided to make good use of the San Diego Zoo passes that Grandma Suzie renewed for us (thanks Mom!) and that Jaxon’s grandparents got for him this year. The drive is always long, but the SD Zoo is really nice and the weather turned out to be perfect.

We started our day by taking the bus tour, which I haven’t done in well over 10 years. I remembered why: it’s a nice overview of the zoo, but you really can’t see a lot. We did learn that the best seats on the double decker bus are on the bottom, because that’s actually eye height for most of the animals. I was also really pleasantly surprised at how well Ten & Jaxon did on the 45 minute tour- I had visions of Tenley trying to climb out the window- but no, they sat there like perfect little angles and pointed and oooh & ahhhed over the animals. After each one Tenley would look at me hopefully and say “George?” since I had told her before the tour began that we would go right by the giraffes. True to my word (and the handy zoo map) it did, and our bus pulled over right next to the enclosure where my little girls eyes never left the tall animals that look like her beloved stuffed friend. Did you know a giraffe’s heart is 2 feet wide??

After the bus tour we were starving, so we grabbed some lunch…ok, Kim & I grabbed lunch, our kids were only interested in the potato chips that came with theirs…at least Jaxon ate his raisins. Then we trotted off to the children’s zoo. Tenley found ducks, and Jaxon found the mice; we pet goats, watched naked mole rats, saw rainbow macaws, and met a nice kestrel. Tenley was also very excited by the very busy meerkats which look like Jaxon’s stuffed buddy Bob.

Both of the kids were really wanting to get on the skyway, but they were denied, since we didn’t want to go as far as the polar bears. Instead we hiked off through the aviary in the direction of the pandas. It was while running down the hill toword the panda sanctuary that the Tenster took a header. There was a lot of drama over this little spill, although there didn’t seem to be any damage. Her palms were red, and I knew she must have that nasty sting you get in when your hands skid on asphalt- it didn’t help that she was tired- and that the whole thing probably scared her. She whimpered & snuffled and refused to be put down all the way through the pandas, and it was quite the trick to hold on to her and push the Graco through the crowded switchbacks.

I finally deposited her back in the stroller after the exhibit as we were about to start a long upward hike. The map indicated that there was a cutoff that we could take that would miss the “Horn & Hoof Mesa” (read: antelope things) swing us by the giraffes and allow us to avoid one of the many incredibly steep hills the zoo is built on. Note: the cutoff is a thin sidewalk with no mention of giraffes or elephants at its top….in other words, we missed it. So we got a great thigh & butt workout and still had to make our way past the antelope things.

It was as we left the giraffes that I noticed something horrifying: Tenley did not have her lovey. She had the white washcloth at the pandas, but somewhere between there & the giraffes it had been misplaced. I tore the stroller & my bag apart, but no- it was gone. I informed Kim of my plight and with the patience of a saint she helped me backtrack through the Horn & Hoof Mesa as we searched for Tenley’s object of comfort. Alas, we reached the koalas with no sign of it, and that meant only one thing- she had to have lost it on the hill from hell. There was no help for it: if I didn’t want to have drama later, I was going to have to do the hill again. I sent Kim ahead to the elephants and tackled it alone as penance for not keeping a better eye on Ten’s possessions. We found it, only a third of the way down, laying in the middle of the road where it had clearly been run over by at least 2 tour busses. Ten didn’t care- she was just happy to have it back.

By the time we caught up with Kim, Jaxon was dead asleep in his stroller, on his face with his butt in the air. We decided to call it a day. With a quick spin through the gift shops, we fed the last of our kids potato chips to the seagulls and joined the caravan of tail lights back to civilization.

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