Our Day at the Zoo

I tried to tell you about it on Sunday, but blo**er bullied me out of it. I tried to tell you last night and blo**er crashed when I clicked “post.” I am going to try to tell you about it today and if blo**er won’t let me put pictures up or tries to mess with me in any way, I will leave you with a forwarding address. I realize I am only a newby to blogging and by no means a professional, but my time in the blogosphere is precious. I have kids to raise and chocolate to eat (THANK YOU, Gram and Grampa Jim!)and showers to take. My blog was supposed to be a fun reprieve each day, not an ordeal of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. So consider yourself warned, blo**er.

This is actually a post about taking the Metro and my very smart sons, but the zoo is mentioned, and I like the 4th-grade-essay-type title, so we’ll leave it at that.

Since we got a late start to the zoo on Saturday and parking is very hard to find and very expensive when you don’t get there at opening time, I opted to try the Metro. Free parking at the station on Saturdays, and less than 1/3 the cost to ride the train than to park at the zoo. There’s a tip for you, should you ever want to visit the National Zoo on a Saturday in the summer.

Riding the train into the city had the added advantage of allowing Cal a look at the underworld of the Metro. While our public transport system is probably one of the safest and cleanest in the nation, Cal will tell you that what he found under the bench was “Yicky.” He also went on an eloquent little tirade about how God probably doesn’t like for us to put trash and sticky stuff all over the world that He made for us. I bet it made the man next to us think twice about where he was going to put his gum when it no longer tasted like spearmint. Yep, me and Cal, changing the world, one loud lecture at a time.

We disembarked (never been on a cruise, but I like that word, so that’s what we did) from the Metro at Cleveland Park. It’s actually one stop past the “Zoo” stop, but it’s a LEVEL three block walk across across a bridge instead of one STEEP UPHILL block from the real zoo stop. That’s important to know in case you are pushing too lead-bottomed boys in a double wide jogging stroller. And Cal is crazy about bridges. This one went over a “Ciduous Forest” – the new term he learned from Auntie S a couple weeks ago.

The added bonus of taking the Metro was the Cleveland Park neighborhood. Never been there on foot, and it was a treat. If I were a DINK (well, if David and I were DINKs together), I would want to live in Cleveland Park. There is this really cool 1916 firehouse right across from the station, some fabulous art-deco style apartment buildings, tree-lined streets of historic homes, and this great array of shops along Connecticut Avenue. I loved the little grocery markets (not the suburban “super” type) and the drycleaner with the huge drop box in the window right off the sidewalk – people were walking down the street carrying their groceries and dry cleaning, doing errands like it was 1955 on Main Street America or something. And a great mix of chic sushi bars, antique shops, salons and coffee shops (not a Starbucks in sight).

It’s the kind of neighborhood that feels as if people really live there, as opposed to thinking about living there sometime if it could just be planned out properly. (Suburban DC is the land of planned communities, and being from the west, I miss the “sprouted up as it was needed” kind of town. Although I also miss the nice North-South, East-West grid pattern of cities like Salt Lake – here the paved cow paths cross each other so many times, sometimes under aliases, that even Mapquest doesn’t know what to tell you.)

At the zoo, I learned about three new animals. I was proud, because I thought there wasn’t much more to the animal kingdom after Diego educated me on pygmy marmosets and spectacled bears. But there is the caracal (kinda creepy, really), the capybara (is it me or should Brazil and Australia win the “Weirdest Animal” award, hands down?), and the Przewalski’s horse. Guess how you pronounce that horse’s name? Zhe-val-ski. Cool, huh? They are the Siberian equivalent to our wild horses, named by some guy from one of those countries where a P doesn’t sound like P.

Incidentally – did you know that the National Zoo is actually a part of the Smithsonian Institute? That means it is free (except the parking), has tons of factoid placards and educational pit stops (Morning Glory, your husband would love it), a few politically placed publicity stunts (we’ll see if that will get my traveling husband to froth in the comment section about the pandas…), and it’s a very busy place, especially in the summer time.

We didn’t get to see the pandas because of the crowd. I made a woman gasp in horror (well, maybe not horror, but she was visibly chagrined) when I told Calvin that the pandas were lazy and boring. It’s just that he was about to have a meltdown because not one person with their ginormous telescoping lensed cameras and tripods could pull themselves away from watching a SLEEPING panda almost fully obscured by a stand of bamboo just to let my little boy squeeze between them for five seconds to get a glimpse. (Husband, let’s hear it about the pandas!) I don’t dislike the pandas as much as all that, I just don’t understand the “buzz”, and I think there are more interesting things at the zoo.

Like golden lion tamarins. (Imagine a photo of Calvin standing by a "Caution: GLT Crossing" sign here.) They aren’t enclosed in a fake habitat and are fun to look for, scampering through the trees, not much bigger than a squirrel, but bright orange. We didn’t see them either, but I did get the idea to start referring to my boys as my GLTs. We all know that it stands for little orange monkeys, but it sounds like a sports car and it could have some fun meaning when applied to little boys. Groovy Little Tykes? Help me out, here. The winner of the “Nickname Code Yellow’s Kids Using the Letters G-L-T” gets…a link in her next post?

(Imagine a picture of Henry fast asleep in the stroller here.)Anyway, the highlight of the zoo portion of our trip was probably the chocolate-vanilla twist ice cream cone near the end. Oh, and Henry telling me that a monkey says, “Oo, Oo, Ah, Ah” and taking a nap. (I’m telling you, one o’clock comes and that is it, he’s out for the count…That's brilliant for you. Wish I were that smart.)

On our way out Cal piped up and said, “Hey, Mom. THIS is a police station.” This picture is really all there is to it – it’s in the middle of the zoo, there was no one in uniform in sight, and he knew what building it was. Can he read?!? If so, I am going to have to be more careful what I right in my blog. Wouldn’t want him to get a big head, knowing that I’m telling everyone he’s brilliant all the time.

But he is. When we were at the station waiting for the Metro to go home, he said, “This is where we get on our FIRST train, then we change to the next train and THAT ONE will take us back to our car.” I had never explained how many trains we had ridden or how long it would be until we got back to our car. He just does not miss a trick. It frightens me.

It also boosts my confidence in mothering, even though I can hardly take credit for his brilliance. If my sons weren’t amazing, I might feel totally deflated after giving Henry a Reese's PB cup and hearing one of the co-eds sitting on the Metro near us start talking to her friend very loudly (and pointedly, I might add) about her niece who just lives for blueberries after her dinner, because she doesn’t eat sweets all day long. Henry was asleep for the twist ice cream cone at the zoo, and I didn’t have berries in the stroller basket, OK? And besides that, if she would have seen him eating fresh peas out of the pod like they were candy the other day, she would have just stopped with her passive-aggressive little treatise on healthy food for toddlers. My other son has made a list of “foods that are good for our body,” which didn’t include chocolate. (Nevermind that if I had made that list, it would have.) And I hate to tell her, but blueberry nieces are the kids that gorge themselves sick at birthday parties and spend their fiedltrip pocket change entirely on AirHeads and Slurpees because they don't ever get a real, honest to goodness, fructose treat every once in a while. So there.

And that was our day at the zoo.


Gabriela said...

We loved going to the zoo when we lived there. I loved all the free stuff to do. My favorites: the National Gallery of Art, the Library of Congress and the Natural History Museam.

You are very brave to take your two kids on the Metro by yourself! I'm impressed.

the lizness said...

I visited DC my jr year of high school for a band competition, and we did the zoo, it is by far my favorite zoo to visit. Glad you all had a good time and should I wish you congratulations on an early reading child or not? :)

Millie said...

I am totally bugged at Blogger for not letting me leave a comment until I clicked it for the 19th time, gave up, and right-clicked it open. Graahahhaah!!

I loved the Smithsonian. I was 15 and didn't appreciate it enough. I do remember the homeless guy, sitting on one of the benches, inspecting the bottom of one of his feet. It left a vivid memory.

Super Happy Girl said...

I loved the picture of Henry fast asleep in the stroller, he looks soooo cute :) (blog**r has been so bad lately, last night it called me an Idiot, and still won’t let me post pictures, BAD!)
A couple of words on the blueberry niece: Violet Beauregarde, so there.

The capybara is cute, I wonder what kind of teeth is has, it looks like a cute rat, without the rat part, or the horrid tale.

Next year we are planning to go to your side of the country, I hope to see all the cool things over there…except the homeless man outside the Smithsonian.

One more thing, this comment only took 13 clicks, thank you very much.

Code Yellow Mom said...

Violet Beauregarde is hilarious! Thanks, No Cool Story - I wish I would have thought of her, instead of my defensive little rampage. But I guess we all need a DLR every now and then.

And thanks for persisting in commenting...I have to admit I have given up commenting on blogs this morning, but now that you both made ME feel read and appreciated, I need to go back and "pay it forward."

someone else said...

What a great trip to the zoo! I felt like I was right there next to you and you're right, my husband would love additional label reading!

Katherine@Raising Five said...

I've been fighting with Blogger all day, too. What IS THE DEAL. I thought it was my internet connection but apparently not. Glad you got through and that I get to tell you that my kids are all turning out JUST FINE, and they had their first candy in the hospital ("Let's give the baby a lick of my sucker, Mommy!"). You are a great mom to take your kids to the zoo.

Anonymous said...

She knows not to get me started on pandas. The last time I expressed my opinion of panda's I was deafened by the gasps of horror from the soft hearted people around me. I can't even bring myself to refer to them as bears. What does a panda have in common with Ursa Horribilis?

They are lazy. I have never seen them do a blessed thing. They lay around all day and night (between you and me I think maybe the zoo's just paint old bear skins black and white and toss them over a rock every morning to rake in the gift shop sales.) They are so lazy that they can't even breed on their own!?!? To quote Calvin "What the whatness?! Lions sleep a lot, but they know when sleepy time is over and...well it is family blog so I will leave it at that. Anyway I want to start a petition for the zoos to use the tens of millions of dollars they lavash on pandas to buy some animals that wake up and move every now and then. I could go on for pages.

Unknown said...

Yes, I agree with you about the capybara!!! I think we saw it at the Houston zoo and had a hard time believing that it was a real animal.

My inlaws live in Herndon, near Dulles aiport, so we have been able to enjoy the National Zoo as well. I think it's time for another visit.

I haven't had problems posting pics on my blog. I use photobucket.com for hosting. Let me know if you need more info!

Angela said...

Mmmm, airheads and slurpees----YUM!

I'm not sure I know enough about Pandas to say anything, but I sure loved you and D's opinions.

someone else said...

Oh, I love it that your husband posts comments while he's gone!

Nettie said...

What a great mom to take your kids into the zoo! And thanks for sharing all about it. That is one of the places I really need to take my kids to go see.

(I don't know what is up with blogger. I've started copying my entire posts before publishing or saving, just so blogger won't eat them into oblivion. I never hear typepad people complain. Wish I'd known this before I started!)

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

We took a family vacation to DC last year and our then-6-year-old absolutely loved the metro and decided that he would be a metro driver when he grew up. We also went to the Zoo, and made the three-block walk, but it seemed very long that day since it was 90 degrees and humid! Ugh. We rewarded ourselves by going to the Cheesecake Factory afterward. :)

And don't you just love when our kids surprise us with how much they pick up? It's awesome!

T.S. Eliot said...

I love it! We just moved from DC to Arkansas... it was fun to read about your love/hate relationship with our Nation's Capitol. Keep up the good work--- I'm sure I'll be back soon!

mamashine said...

This is my first visit to your blog, and I am laughing so much at the panda opinions.

And yes, the caracal is rather creepy. It almost looks like it has horns? Or are they just pointy ears? Weird...