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Friday, May 13, 2005

Michigan: Where You Can Suffer From Wind Chill and Sunburn On the Same Day.

After months and months of scheduling misfires, the Price and Frey families finally were able to go the Detroit Zoo yesterday. We've been meaning to for some time, but with seven kids and divergent careers and schedules between us, the logistics of the thing have been daunting. Until yesterday, that is.

It was brutally cold in the morning (we met around 11am), but judicious use of the indoor exhibits (the penguinarium and the butterfly house) bought us the time needed for things to warm up outside. The penguins were comparatively listless--apparently they were following the "no swimming an hour after you eat" rule. The butterflies and birds in the tropical set up were better, with the repeated refrain of "they're coming right at us!" punctuated by the delighted cries of my son, who was the focus of brief, but intense interest by one of the butterflies.

The delightful Freys' children were perfectly well behaved, with their Rachel (thanks for letting the naming right go back into the public domain, btw) quickly befriending Madeleine. Ours were fine, too, until right near the end, when the two oldest experienced a chain reaction of fatigue-induced meltdowns. Barking Dad started to make an appearance, but it's difficult to be angry with tired toddlers. Difficult, but not impossible.

What did I learn at the Zoo?

(1) It's big. I re-learn this every visit. With toddlers, it turns into an exercise in cat-herding.

(2) Madeleine likes giraffes most of all. Giraffes are waaaaaaaaay toward the back of the zoo. See Toddlers, Tired, supra.

(3) Dale likes peacocks. He'd very much like to catch one. Peacocks do not enjoy being chased by toddlers.

(4) Rachel has formed no firm opinion as to a favorite animal as of yet.

(5) If jacuzzi jets existed in the wild, seals would never move. True story--we saw a seal in the Arctic Ring of Life exhibit (it's very cool--you walk under water and can see the critters through plexiglass) swimming with its head two feet in front of the water circulator. Watching its face blubber flap in the current was one of the highlights of the day.

(6) Gorillas are cooler than chimps. The latter had stagefright and/or narcolepsy. The silverbacks were ready for primetime. One of them strode up to the viewing window, extended its massive arms to either side of the glass frame, and looked straight in at us. It then purposefully gamboled off, as if to say, "That'll give 'em a thrill."

(7) I'm getting older. I was in bed by 9:30.

Still, a good time had by all.

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