Friday, July 29, 2011

Family Trip 2011 - Day Two

After getting a much needed night's rest, we got up bright and bloody early this morning to get to the zoo before the gods of heat and humidity started showing their displeasure with the American Mid-west.   We made it four hours before we pretty much wilted and headed back to the hotel for a dip in the pool.

The Columbus Zoo is great.  A lot of thought was obviously put into making sure that there was adequate shade in most parts of the zoo.  Most of the areas we walked through had tall trees growing up on both sides of the sidewalk, which was very nice on a hot day like today.  We started out wandering through the North America exhibit, which included animals I haven't seen in a zoo since I was a kid.  The buffalo exhibit includes pronghorn antelope, which I have never seen in a zoo before.  I'm surprised they've been able to keep the speedgoats from jumping the fence and running amok in the suburbs.  The new Arctic exhibit is quite large, but is well laid out.  The highlight, of course, was the polar bear exhibit, which includes a curved underwater window, which allows visitors to stand underneath the water and look at the polar bear as it swims.  On a side note, I'm not sure if the trout in that pool were for decoration, nutrition, or entertainment for the bear.  Next to the polar bear exhibit were the Alaskan brown bears.  Those big bruins were taking a nap when we got there, but their size alone was enough to keep Boo's attention for several minutes.  The zoo has decorated the grounds around this exhibit with statues made out of the mangled metal implements and hardware that the bears have destroyed.

After stopping to partake in a cold, bubbly beverage and get Boo to drink enough water and juice to get his pink cheeks to be rosy and not hot to the touch, I noticed something else about this zoo that I like.  It has a license to sell beer.  While I did not partake myself, I can definitely imagine the need to have a cold beer on a hot day when you're stressed out from trying to keep your kid from climbing the fence into the tiger exhibit.

Our next stop was the aquarium and manatee exhibit.  The aquarium includes a coral reef exhibit with some beautiful tropical fish, a hands-on exhibit with crabs, starfish, and such for the children to touch, and a 20 to 25 meter long aquarium with many varieties of fish, including small sharks.  That alone took almost half an hour to get through as we showed Boo all of the different fish.

The manatee exhibit is top notch.  The zoo apparently acts as a rescue facility for injured or sick wild manatees, and they currently have four.  These are housed in a large tank that somewhat approximates a mangrove swamp, complete with fish, ducks, and rays.  Boo was tickled to watch a manatee eat the lettuce floating on the surface of the water.  Cries of "He's eating his salad!" rang out quite often.

When we left the relative cool of the manatee exhibit, the outside temperature was in the 90's and it was very muggy. We decided to grab some lunch and go back to the hotel for a swim.   We got our lunch, relaxed for a while in the air conditioning, and then headed to the pool.  I haven't been swimming in a long time, and it felt wonderful.

After everyone got dressed again, we had to figure out what we were going to do for the rest of the afternoon.  A quick search found a movie theater across the way from our hotel, so we thought we'd go to the movies.  Irish Woman and I decided to take Boo to see Winnie the Pooh, but the older kids decided they'd rather stay at the hotel and watch a movie there.  The new Winnie the Pooh movie is pretty good.  It's definitely aimed at kids 5 and under, but it's survivable for parents.

This evening, we've been relaxing at the hotel.  We got groceries and made a pot of spaghetti, and we've thrown a movie in the DVD player.  Tomorrow we're going to back to the Zoo in the morning to see the two sections we didn't get to today, and we're considering going into Columbus to go to the local science museum in the afternoon to revel in its air conditioned spaces.

So today went much smoother than yesterday, and I'm very grateful for that.  I'm pretty sure that Irish Woman was ready to drug me and leave me semi-conscious in a corn field last night.

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