Zippity Day, it's Zoo Day on Wednesday.
When i woke, no walk on the beach, as there was lightning. It was far enough away that we couldn't hear the thunder, but if you can see it, you can be hit by it.
As i figured it was one of those Florida storms that pop up, cool everything for a bit, then blow away like the foggy mists of last night's dreams.
So the skies were clear and beautiful by the time we left for the drive to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, dubbed by the Discovery Channel as "The Little Zoo That Could" for their ability to bounce back from Hurricane Ivan several years back.
It's a small zoo, very hands on, very family friendly. They are breaking ground for a new facility next year that is more protected from possible future storms on land donated to them. Meanwhile, they have made the most of every inch of space they do have.
There are "Zoo Puffs" feeding places all over. The animals in those enclosures can be fed the Zoo Puffs that you can buy in a souvenir cup. There is a petting zoo, only a dollar per person to go in and pet the goats, try to tickle the tortoises, feel how soft the rabbits are and how prickly the hedgehogs.
There are animal encounter adventures. Go in and spend some time with the lemurs, or snuggle a joey kangaroo in a sling pouch and rock him/her to sleep, and pet the other kangaroos. Those are $10 per person, still affordable.
The big encounter, that we've never sprung for, is the half hour of petting and bottle feeding the tiger cubs. Would have cost our group, which included Bryn and Dre whom i got out of their father's hair for a few hours, $350. Maybe someday, when i hit the lottery i never play.
Everyone got to pick lemurs or kangaroos, just like last year. Only Sweetie opted for the kangaroos, and Bigger Girl, for some reason, opted out of both. She spent most of her time petting and feeding the deer and the one "ugly sheep" as they called it. Someone messed up on its shearing job, and it looks lopsided.
The first thing we did, those who were going in for the lemurs, was to get in line. After a few minutes, the people already in the enclosure came out. We had signed the waivers, taken off our shoes, germ-xed ourselves up to the elbows, and got to go in.
Lemurs are, of course, relatives of monkeys. So they hop and climb and explore with their curious little hands, which are soft for gripping. Once the change of people is complete you sit quietly and wait for them to get used to you. Of course, we all smell like ourselves to the animals, they distinguish us by scent, but at first we all also smell alike -- like germ-x. They settle down very quickly.
The keeper in there with us has two lidded rubbermaid tubs (if you don't have a tight fitting lid, the curious little guys will have everything out in a heartbeat), one with wipes to clean up after the lemurs, who climb to the top of the enclosure to answer the call of nature, which a couple of them did while we are in there. The first warning given is not to stay directly under them when they climb into the rafters. Bryn, having to wipe her leg clean when the mess spattered, learned quickly, and so did the rest of us.
Also in the tubs is a zip top bag of dried fruit snacks for them. These are babies, still bottle fed, but starting to eat bits of banana and mouth the leaves their parents eat, as well as dried cranberries.
We found out the hard way just how much they love the cranberries, or i did, anyway. When i pulled one into smaller pieces to feed two of the four, one 12 week old black and white thought the 18 week old brown was going to get both, and decided to claim her piece by putting my whole fingertip in her mouth to keep it safe. That would have been fine, except that she then chomped down, as babies will do. It's a good thing i'm used to being bitten by kittens, and having blood drawn from a bit doesn't bother me. A wet wipe cleaned my finger, and i used germ-x, later washed up properly in the restroom, and made sure to use antibacterial salve after getting home. It's right on the first joint, so it hurts a bit to bend, but i'm not worried about it, it's all part of the fun.
After we finished our animal encounter, everyone scattered except me and Dre. The rest are old enough to know better, whatever mischief it is they could get into, but at 6, he needs a shadow, and i don't mind a bit.
He petted everything in the petting zoo, deciding he didn't like the way the hedgehogs felt. He went back to the water fountain by the concession stand 7 times. He said he was hungry and politely asked for a snack, so i offered him a bag of chips. He agreed, asking for "subway chips". Turns out when his dad takes them to Subway sandwich shop, he gets plain Lay's Potato Chips in the familiar yellow bag. So, "subway chips" it was.
We talked about the lions and tigers. We gawked at the bear. We visited "Chuckie" the alligator, who was once running amok in a national park and the zoo took him so he wouldn't be destroyed. He is over 1,000lbs. After the hurricane, he got out of his exhibit and was in the swamp area right behind it. He's actually locally famous now.
Dre and i got all the way around the zoo, including through the bird house. He was not interested in the reptile house, and although i am a snake fan, i went along with it, i've seen snakes before.
#2 Son got around the whole place 3 times. Little Girl spent a lot of her time telling everyone about wolves at their exhibit. She was having fun dispelling myths and teaching people to respect but not unreasonably fear the beautiful animals.
We all finally met back up at the souvenir shop/ticket booth, where i figured out why it was a good thing i took Dre and let Bryn wander with the others as she wanted. They got into a small tiff in there, nothing huge, but it reminded me that siblings need time apart, and i'm glad i didn't try to keep Bryn with me, too.
Back home at the condo, everyone had lunch, and to let you know how tired i was i drank a full cup of coffee and went to sleep for over an hour, only waking when my phone went off. Usually more than one cup a day and i'm climbing the walls.
The afternoon was spent by the younger ones running to the pool, back up, to the beach, back up, and out again. Sweetie, Teresa, Bigger Girl and i went to the flea market. That's actually an awful name for this amazing place, very clean, bright, well run, and the vendors sell an amazing assortment of well cared for items. Sweetie found a cast iron trivet that looked almost exactly like one his mother used to have, so now i will have one on my stove like she did. It actually will come in handy.
Bigger Girl found a raccoon for her teacher. Mrs. L loves raccoons, and Bigger Girl finds her some sort of trinket or bauble, or in this case, garden guardian, shaped like a raccoon each year. This one has been out of doors so much it needs some TLC, but she will clean and repaint it and give it to Mrs. L.
Since i didn't get an early morning walk, i went for an evening stroll and watched the sun setting until it was behind too many clouds. #2 Son took Bryn and Little Girl fishing, and they fed the bird, some type of heron, who comes and politely asks with looks and clicks, then bows before eating and wipes his beak on the dock after eating.
They will try again to catch some big enough to fry, but meanwhile, all of us are getting tired and even the kids stayed in instead of running around half the night.
Bachfest Leipzig -- Leipzig, Germany (through the 17th; celebrating the great composer in the city where he composed some of his best-known works)
Birthday of Prince Joachim -- Denmark
Corpus Christi -- Roman Catholic Christian
Daniel Boone Day -- Kentucky, US (date in he first sighted, in 1767, what would become Kentucky)
Flag Day -- Peru
Glenn Miller Birthplace Society Festival -- Clarinda, IA, US (through the 10th)
Great American Brass Band Festival -- Danville, KY, US (through the 10th)
Journalist's Day -- Argentina (marking the first publication of a newspaper in Argentina on this day in 1810)
Judgement Day -- Fairy Calendar (Leaping songs)
National Chocolate Ice Cream Day
Sette Giugno -- Malta
Shelburne County Lobster Festival -- Shelburne County, NS, Canada (through the 10th)
Superman Celebration -- Metropolis, IL, US (only in Metropolis, right? thrugh the 10th)
St. Meriadoc's Day (Patron of the deaf)
Union Dissolution Day -- Norway
VCR Day -- the first Sony Betamax went on sale today in 1975
Vestalia -- Ancient Roman Calendar (festival for Vesta, goddess of the hearth; through the 15th)
Vivien Kellems Memorial Day -- born this date in 1896, she fought the IRS and income tax for her whole life
Winnipeg International Children's Festival -- The Forks, Winnipeg, MB, CA (through the 10th)
Michael Cera, 1988
Anna Kournikova, 1981
Larisa Oleynik, 1981
Allen Iverson, 1975
Karl Urban, 1972
Liam Neeson, 1952
Jenny Jones, 1946
Tom Jones, 1940
Gwendolyn Brooks, 1917
Dean Martin, 1917
Jessica Tandy, 1909
Paul Gauguin, 1848
Today in History:
The first Crusaders begin their Siege of Jerusalem, 1099
Port Royal, Jamaica, is devastated by an earthquake, 1692
David Thompson reaches the mouth of the Saskatchewan River in Manitoba, 1800
Asian cholera reaches Quebec, brought by Irish immigrants, and kills about 6,000 people in Lower Canada, 1832
1,800 Fenian raiders are repelled back to the United States after they loot and plunder around Saint-Armand and Frelighsburg, Quebec, 1866
Tolbert Lanston receives patents for monotype typesetting machines, 1887
Norway's parliament dissolves its union with Sweden, 1905
Sony introduces the Betamax videocassette recorder for sale to the public, 1975
Priscilla Presley opens Graceland to the public, 1982
Mt. Pinatubo erupts, sending an ash cloud 7km/14.3mi high, 1992
The United Nations defines the Blue Line as the border between Israel and Lebanon, 2000