Monday, March 22, 2010

v2, d20: A Rainy Day at the Zoo

***Back-blogged from 3/20/2010***

Today we took a family trip to the zoo.

It’s funny that every time I told a person at work today that I was at the zoo this morning, every single one of them thought it had been work-related, despite the fact that there had never been a single announcement made about a work-related zoo event that needed staffing. I’d just say something along the lines of, “I spent all morning at the zoo,” and people would say, “And then you had to come to rehearsal? I’m so sorry!”

No, it turns out I actually like the zoo. Robbie likes it quite a bit, too, and he’s now finally at an age where he can really enjoy a zoo the way a kid enjoys a zoo. He loved the animals. His face would light up when he’d discover something new or when he saw something that he recognized from pictures/books/videos. He also running around all the paths and climbing through the tunnels they put in several of the exhibit for the kids (and the tweens, who scare the kids away with their incessant tween-ness…get off my lawn!). And it didn’t seem to damper his spirits at all that we were being dumped upon by the thick rainclouds overhead.

I hit the ZooBoo spot and fought off the sudden urge to do the Thriller dance. Of course, I don’t really know the Thriller dance. But I did get a chance to reminisce and remember how bizarre the bronze statues in that particular fountain are. Weird, weird statues.

At one point, we were walking by the orangutan pen when a pre-recorded advertisement played over a speaker hidden behind a plant or a fake rock or something. It started with a pretty noisy roar, followed by the friendly Welcome-To-The-Zoo announcer voice saying (rather ominously) “They’re coming…this summer, at your Houston Zoo, it’s dinosaurs! Don’t miss the excitement! Dinosaurs at the zoo in the summer of 2010!” Robbie suddenly looked quite concerned, grabbed Kim’s hand, and said, “I don’t want to see dinosaurs.”

Kim laughed. “I don’t want to see dinosaurs either,” she said. “They’re too noisy.”

I told Robbie that the dinosaurs weren’t actually here yet, that they’d be here later, and that we were going to leave before they came, so there was nothing to worry about. Then, Kim asked Robbie if he wanted to see the giraffes. He said, “Yeah, they’re quiet.”

The rest of the day, “quiet” became the word he used to describe any animal that he liked seeing.

While we were watching the elephants get their baths and eat their carrots, a sudden downpour of rain hit the zoo. We stayed under the cover of the elephant alcove for awhile, then I hugged Robbie tight and ran with him to the nearby reptile house while Kim and Julie followed with the umbrella. There’s a decent workout for you. I don’t think I’ve ever entered a herpetarium short on breath before in my life. (Now there was one time I was breathing a bit hard upon exiting a herpetarium, but that was because my friends and I were trying to distance ourselves quickly from our friend Herbie, who had grabbed a zookeeper by the wrist and shouted “Hey guys, I caught one!” after seeing several signs throughout the zoo that encouraged you to “Catch a Keeper” if you had any questions)

One of Robbie's favorites was the fruit bat display inside the kids' zoo. They had it set up in a little cave that had some fake stars on the ceiling and some tunnels for smaller children to crawl through. Robbie loved the bats because they were feasting on some bananas that were hanging from the ceiling. Bananas are one of Robbie's favorite foods, so I guess he thought he could relate. He started saying that he was a bat, and running around the cave looking for bananas.

Also noteworthy: the aquarium was playing the song “Rock Lobster” the whole time we were in it. I thought that had to have some sort of lasting psychological effect on the zoo workers stationed outside the front door, where the music was the loudest. Robbie recognizes clownfish as Nemos, despite the fact I think he’s only seen that movie one time at school and never at home. He has no clue what a Dorie is, and I think that made Julie a trifle disappointed.

Afterward, Kim said she was glad we didn’t check the weather before we left, because if we had then we probably wouldn’t have gone. I think she’s right. We had a really fun morning at the zoo. I mean, we got really wet (it stopped pouring, but it never stopped raining completely for the rest of our visit), and it was a little chilly by the time we left, but we really had fun. And we probably would have missed out on it if we’d have known it was going to rain. That’s a bit of a shame. After all, it’s just a little water. And with the way my schedule at work is about to explode, I’ll take every family outing that I can fit in on my Saturday mornings. Rain or shine.