Sunday, February 17, 2008
New England in the winter...
New England winters can be tricky to navigate. One day, it might be 20 degrees with a wind chill that throws the temperatures below zero. The next day, it might be 20 and snowing. And still the next day, you might get temperatures in the 50's or even 60's.
Friday was one of those nice days. The girls had the day off as part of their winter break. Instead of a full week off like most schools have this week, they got Friday and Monday off. By 10 am, they had started bickering. The temperature was crawling up into the low 40's. It was then I made my decision. We needed to get out.
So I bundled the girls up and we hit the zoo. Many people don't think about visiting the zoo during the winter, but we love going in the off-season. One of the main draws for us, of course, is the lack of crowds. You can stand in watch the animals as long as you want, without blocking other's views. You can meander as slowly or as quickly through the empty monkey house.
Another benefit is you'll see the animals in a whole different setting. Animals that are usually just laying in a shady spot during the summer months, trying to stay cool, are usually up and moving around. The girls came face to face with a penguin instead of watching them from afar. The cheetah, the snow leopards, moon bear, lemurs, wallaby's and gibbons were all active and visible in their cage.
Even though we have a season pass, this trip to the zoo was different. We hadn't been since last March, when the zoo was working on some of many improvements to the zoo. So there were many new things to see. There were wild dogs, a new bald eagle exhibit, the giant anteater (which we couldn't find) and more giraffe's. Last spring, the zoo welcomed two giraffe calf's.
The downside is, sometimes the weather is too cold, so some animals are taken off exhibit. So in addition to the giant anteaters we didn't see, the tortoises and Australian pig things were not out.
All in all, we had a great time. We even ate lunch at the zoo (something we never do) but I failed to plan ahead in my desperation to get out and get some fresh air. So I grudgingly coughed up $3 per grilled cheese sandwich and we ate in the warmth of the zoo cafeteria. At the same time, I let the girls pick an item from the gift shop, something we also never let them do. We came home with a stuffed hedgehog, a bag of plastic animals and a bag of rocks. Because you know, we don't have any of those.... We even ran into some friends who made the trip to the zoo from our hometown. As we were sitting waiting for our lunch, Meenie was watching out the door and said, "hey mom, look, it's our friends!"
The one complaint I got was "my legs are tired, I want to go home". Luckily, it happened towards the end of the trip and I didn't have to carry any of them. Apparently the zoo is too much when you've spent most of the winter cooped up inside. Sounds like it's time to get moving and build up some strength again. I look forward to more nice days when we can start spending more time outside.
So if you have a chance, visit a local zoo or aquarium in the off season. You'd be surprised at how different it can be.