Thursday, August 22, 2013

The family visit - John Ball Zoo

The second day of my family's visit, I took them to see the zoo. I've taken my dad and stepmom once before but again, a first for Mel. Plus, the zoo had added some new features since the last time we were there. A zip line, a funicular, various "animal training" shows, a stingray lagoon, and a pen full of pygmy goats to interact with. Of course some of these cost extra beyond the price of admission, after all it is an attraction. After we paid for our tickets, we were greeted by this sign:

We were just in time to see the lion training if we hurried. So hurry we did and made our way into the pavilion where a small crowd had formed. Amongst these were three zoo employees... The trainers? Indeed. Apparently we'd hurried over for nothing because the lions weren't cooperating. According to the workers, the lions knew there was meat to be had but were refusing to come down from their ledge where they were hiding behind some bushes. That's cats for ya! Oh well, at least my boys got to play with the African drums.

We figured we'd move on and come back to the African exhibit later. Outside, there was a little pen that people could go in to pet the pygmy goats. These are very cute goats. Almost enough to make me like goats... A naughtier farm animal I have never met. Obviously these aren't the farm kind of goat, but the little white one tried to nibble the pocket on my pants. I told him (her?) to cut that out. It just looked at me, the naughty little thing. That's goats for ya!
Moving on from there we saw signs advertising a camel to ride. The camel ride has been there awhile and the last time I had my family at the zoo, which was seven years ago, my dad and I rode it together. I was all set to take my oldest son when he said he wanted to go with just Grandpa Harry. Okay, I understand... Mom's around all the time, he only gets Grandpa Harry for a week... Motherhood, so rewarding and yet so thankless all at the same time. Am I right? I'm joking, I'm happy when he's happy and that all there is to it. Me, my stepmom and half-sister took pictures from the fence while we stayed with the baby. I'm pretty sure that camel was trying to Bogart the picture. Near the camel ride was the entrance to a foot path. That's new since the last time we were there, so we followed it...uphill. Now, double strollers are great and all because they can hold a lot (thanks Kay for the loan!). But that benefit can also be a huge downside when you're pushing your five year old and one year old and two purses and a baby's bag...uphill. There was one point where the slope of the trail was a little too much for me and the stroller and it was a close brush with the brush. My stepmom grabbed the font and pulled it back away from the edge and my dad offered to take over from there. By all means Dad, I'm sure not going to argue! The last thing I want is my kids careening down the hillside on a double stroller I don't even own.

We made it to the top of the path and it turns out there is a small banquet hall up there as well as the the funicular station. There was also a staircase down to the zip line. At the top of this staircase was a sign that said "Not stroller friendly". Well darn... So my youngest and I waited at the top of the stairs while everyone else went on down there. My understanding is that you have to be 7+ years to ride so only my dad zipped while my son walked down with his Grandma Natty and Aunt Mel to meet at the bottom. All the while, I'm waiting at the top, hoping they come back for me because according to the map, if I go back down the trail, I'm way far away from the end of the zip line and if I take the funicular down, I'm only slightly less far away from the end of the zip line. So after some time goes by, I decide to call my dad's cell which immediately starts ringing in my stepmom's purse which is on the stroller. Well darn... Waiting a little longer, I finally get a call from Bry to tell me that my family is waiting for me at the food stand. Apparently he'd gotten a call from my stepmom who had borrowed a cell from someone because all three of their cells were on the stroller with me. So I decide the funicular would be the fastest way down and I go over to pay the $3. Oh wait, no... I have to give them $6 because even though the baby is free for everything in the zoo (2 and under), the stroller "counts as a person" because it "takes up a spot". Uh huh... The funicular has three cars that can each hold 10 people. Excuse me while I turn on my sarcasm...okay, here we go: and there was such a large crowd too, what with me and my baby and that one other mom with her three kids. Now, I'm -not- saying that the funicular is a ripoff, I'm saying you can decide for yourself whether or not to take it next time you're at the zoo (assuming you're in the area). If I hadn't been in a hurry to meet my family, I would have taken the trail.

We met up at the food stand and we all got some lunch. I was very pleased to see that I could get my older son an entire kid's meal without worry. He's allergic to eggs and dairy and we're a vegan family anyway, so eating out on the fly can be tricky sometimes; I just got fries and ate the energy bar in my purse. After lunch, we walked around to see all the things we hadn't seen already. On the boardwalk over the reptile house, we heard some loud noises and realized it was the lions roaring. So we hurried ourselves back over to the pavilion only to discover that they were making themselves heard but not seen. Cats... After that, we quickly toured the rest of the African exhibit and then decided it was time to leave since it was getting late in the afternoon. Besides, we had some plans for the evening...

The previous day, as we were leaving Meijer Gardens, I found out my family had to leave Monday morning, not Tuesday morning. My Zumba class this summer has been every Monday night. They were under the impression that it was Saturday morning so there wasn't a problem. No... Saturday mornings were last summer. I'm not sure how that miscommunication happened, but there it was. So what to do? Thankfully Rae teaches more than one class a week so I asked if I could bring my family Thursday instead. She asked on my behalf and the gym where she teaches Zumba was willing to accept my two guest passes if I paid for myself. Done and done! Thanks again Rae! So we drove out to this gym, which is about 25 minutes from my house but well worth the drive. Class was great and my stepmom and half-sister had a rockin' time. Hopefully they'll have luck finding something just as great in their area. Here's where I would put a photo of the three of us if I had one. We were in such a hurry to leave for class that I forgot, and then we left for home before I could think to ask Rae to take a picture. I'm grumpy about it and part of me wants to blame my orange Rhythm Rocker shirt. This is the third time I've tried to get a picture of myself in it and I forget every time. What's up with that?

Best advice: Don't over-weigh your (borrowed) double stroller.
Second best advice: Beware of cursed shirts.

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