Thursday, August 25, 2011

When the Zoo became an Aquarium with an Aquarium

We started late. We stopped for medicine. We sat in a tiny bit of traffic and then we arrived. Paid our $54, eyed the clouds and headed in. It was 3:15. "Ok," we thought. "2 hours and 45 min is feasible."

Tigers. 4 romping tigers. Beautiful, mischievous and effing big. We'll come back to that. Again, iPhone shots, so not very good.

Komodo dragon. The keeper came up with a plastic bag and banged on the glass to call him to the windowed mess hall. I thought he would be feasting on vegetarian fare, purple cabbage and some other tasty ruffage. I have never been so wrong in all my life. Dinner was sopping wet, dead rats. He scarfed them down in a gulp each as we onlooking kids and adults grimaced with fascination.

Then, the rain came. So, we returned to the tigers where roofing shielded us. Big Mama lay around and her boys came over for licks and snuggles and the occasional rough house. Such fun. But the clock was ticking and we wanted to dash over to see the lions.

Enroute the rain quickened and the lions were gone from their savannah spot when we arrived. We decided to wait it out under the nice roof provided. Thunder, lightening, wind, alarms, sirens, offers of evacuation all made their way to our vicinity. We laughed and kept saying it was par for this strangely unpredictable trip's course of expectations deferred.

Lex needed constant hugs and reassurance. Baby bear doesn't like a good storm. Bri and I smiled. He was howling and hooting like Lieutenant Dan in Forest Gump and I was laughing. Zee was just hanging but enjoyed some hugs, too.

Did I mention no lions? Well, wait, there was a moment where a female lion darted out, then had one of those, "Oh shit, what was I thinking" moments just before turning around and high tailing it back from whence she came.

And who could forget the silhouette of a giraffe making it's way to shelter in the adjacent area? Yeah! We saw a giraffe, too! Kind of.

Inventory had us at 4ish animals and 2 hours left. Schei├če. OK, time to make another run for it with a stop at le toilet. Power outages really should not come when one is using a public toilet. Moving on to the Mammoth's non-extinct friends, the Ellies.

The toilets actually smelled better than this place, but were not nearly as fascinating as watching how elephants use their trunks! I could spend a day just observing the elephant trunk and still think I had only scratched the surface of what those things are capable of. It made me rethink how cool our arms are. Imagine your nose doing all that your arms do and then some. Wicked cool.

The rain seemed to be letting up (and my nose was burning), so we made a dash for the Tropical Kingdom. We saw a Silverback!!! Too dark to get him on film, but his regal demeanor gained my respect. His underlings were like college students wearing boxers down campus walk. They didn't give a crap. I think one may have scratched his privates just to make a point while gnawing on a carrot. Silver boy, on the other hand, made me afraid of the cabbage in his hand. Commanding.

Lady Lemur and Gentleman Gibbon were also on hand. I felt for all of them being in cages and cursed myself a little for paying to support their caging. Rationalized I was paying for their nice treatment. Oh what the mind is capable of.

We met a zoo worker who threatened to cut our visit short. 1 hour and $50+ didn't make us happy. We said so. She was stressed and made a mistake. Bri, being Bri, inquired if all the animals were OK and cherried that top off with, "How are you holding up?" She was putty in our hands and waved us on to have a great last hour. Domou. Domou.

We were wet and kind of dirty...

but look at those faces.

And these totally whacky creatures that, I think, handed God his nomination for "Most Creative".

And it got trippy.

Undersea life if one psychedelic place, man. And yet, it can also be, well, I have to admit that a few times I actually thought, "Mmm, that looks delicious." Japanese much?

I learned that sea horses anchor themselves with their tails...

And penguins pose for pictures...

This is the part where children learn that nothing in life is free or easy. Popular Polar Bear spent five minutes trying to fish his blue toy out of the water without actually getting wet.

A few close calls as he teetered on the shore, but he finally got his blue bobble and headed to where his friend was lazing.

And then there was this persistent otter who spent several minutes upside down in the water, smashing an unopened shell on the wall of his enclosure. He was up. He was down. He laid back and flipped around. The crowd cheered as he fought to make that clam his dinner spot.


Screaming sea lions. No really. The Mom was all, "Stay in the shelteeer!" and the kids were like, "Catch us if you can!" And then some Naa-nanny-boo-boo's were heard as Mom rolled her eyes and cursed her husband for what "his" children were doing.

The lovely people I get to call family. Brother Bri, niece Lex and nephew Zee. I wish K had been there with us, but maybe she was OK back home with her James Patterson books :-D

A frequently spotted creature, the Grizzly...

Oh, wait, no. That's Uncle Butt teaching Zee that it is not a good idea to mess with bears.

And this phenomenal creature known as the driving teenager.

She is also known to look like this...

But is most lovely when like this and with her adorably cute brother Zee.

Love you PA crew! Next time, leave me home and the 4 of you head to Pittsburgh together, alright? Well, if Bri has managed to recover from the Brittany Spears traffic and missed turn from a creature sometimes known as Poor Navigatinus (aka, me).

Monday, August 22, 2011


Utah. Here it is in 20 pictures. Quality is pish, all taken from my iPhone 3GS. I didn't bring my good camera. Blasted!

Yet, I think you will see the varied landscapes, textures and colors of this supremely stereotyped state of Mormons. I met a few and everyone was nice. All I care about though is that I want to go back and take more pictures with a better camera. So. much. more. to. see.


Sniff. Sniff.

Near Dad's place.

Also at Fish Lake, A NATURAL RIVER! Never seen one of those in Japan (not totally true, but I can count on one hand how many I have seen in concrete Japan).

Landscape of Capitol Reef National Park, reflected in the window of an old Mormon school from the 1800s.

Petroglyphs. Look in the V above the rocks on the lower half of the picture.

Driving through the park.

Daddy in the driver's seat on our way home from Capitol Reef Park near his home in Teasdale.

Next day, heading to Bryce Canyon we stopped many times to look around. Here are lizard prints. They were everywhere.

This part of UT is a lot less rich in color. It is like the Goth side of the state. The black streaks at the top of the ridges are coal. Cool.

Siblings. What a nice bonding time this trip was for us. Just the three of us and our Dad. It was good to see G as he has matured. We saw some of our side of the family in him and that was really exciting. I really felt like his big sis!


Evidence of rain, wind and snowmelt. Sweet.

Having a wee. Bare with.. bare with...


Ride home from Bryce.

Back to Capitol Reef for a hike. Nay, G and I got caught in a shit rain storm and rivers were cropping up here and there. We lost the trail a few times, but we pulled through, if not covered in red mud. G was very happy he didn't cry. I was proud of all of us.

Nay and G competing to see who could get the most points hitting different spots on the rock: 5, 10, 15 points. Nay won.

We did several of these rock throwing competitions, as well as some games of pickle ball and a whole lot of reading of the Michael Phelps book, since G is a potential Olympic-eyed swimmer.

I am so glad I finally went to see where my Daddy lives. I missed it when I left. Dad knows wonderful people and the surroundings are unmistakable. Utah is a statement piece. Go West!

The visit gets a 9 out of 10 for me. The loss of one point is because so much of life in America involves riding in cars. I suck at cars. Maybe that is why I live in Japan?

Check back in a few for the Pittsburgh Zoo with Bri and kids! What an adventure that was!