So yesterday was our laid-back “let’s stay around Lansing” and make time for hanging out and swimming at the hotel day. And Lansing, well, let’s just say it’s been explored and we’re not making reservations for a return trip. It just seems to be one of those towns that hasn’t fared all that well against the decline of the auto industry and recession.
Still, we managed to engage Alli at the small but only mildly depressing local zoo. One of the advantages of low crowds, few animals and small enclosures is taking it slow and getting some serious one-on-one creature face time.
Oh, and I hesitated to include this one, but I can’t resist. It reminded me so fondly of our encounter with the Indiana Highway Patrol on Tuesday:
In desperate need for an inexpensive respite, we decided to Say Yes to Michigan for the latter part of Alli’s spring break. After a mildly crappy start on Tuesday where we fell victim to Indiana’s Move Over Month Initiative (will surely write more about this later), we had an uplifting day yesterday in Grand Rapids visiting the Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Far exceeded our expectations, and highly recommend the visit. Also got to take my macro lens out for another practice round…
Early during last week o’ storms, our condo building was hit by lightning. In addition to some minor (but costly) building damage, we suffered a surge in our power and/or cable lines that knocked out our cable modem, our wireless router, the network card in our main computer, possibly a printer, and potentially Andrew’s baby, his Slingbox. After much troubleshooting and a few hundred dollars in replacement parts, we got internet back up and stumbling, only to be hit by a day (and night)-long power outage due to another set of storms with high winds.
Much is left to be restored (including our main computer — thanks be for laptops), and including my mood and sanity (a much longer story I’ll leave for a later time). In the meanwhile, we managed to escape for a last-minute family outing to the Garfield Park Conservatory this weekend on a much-welcomed fair-weather day. It was our first visit there, and probably not our last — it was really stunning, with a nice section for kids. At the height of summer blooms on the grounds, it really felt like standing amidst a Monet. Currently a series of large sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle were placed throughout the conservatory and grounds, many of which were “kid climbing around on”-friendly. Alli enjoyed the blooms and the climbing, and brought her little camera, so she and I were both quite photo-occupied — pics from both of us below. It’s cool to see the quality of her work improve so much, even on a pretty junky digital camera. Pics of fingers and feet are a thing of the past.
Some of my pics:
[pictobrowser 61913041@N00 72157601752272600]
and, for the first time, introducing Alli’s pics:
[pictobrowser 61913041@N00 72157601752282550]
Upon waking to one of the first reasonably-temperate days in awhile and feeling mega-guilty about a week spent nursing the dumps, I decided rather last-minute on a day trip to the Brookfield Zoo.
Apparently 6 million other people had the same idea.
After the 1.5 hour (NOT an exaggeration) commute through Chicago traffic there, the 3.6 miles (ok, maybe a teeny bit less) jaunt from the place we had to park in the grass in the boonies because all parking lots were full, and navigating the 5 million acres (at least!) the zoo covers amidst the 6 million people who decided to do the same… well, we survived.
Alli actually had a decent time, despite the fact that special exhibits, crowds, lines, and the sheer size of the grounds prevented us from visiting at least half of the animals during our 7-hour stay. I was very quickly reminded of the value of the 2-parent tag team (for instance, when standing in a loud, claustrophobic crowd to order 2 sandwiches for lunch, then migrating through another loud, claustrophobic crowd to pick up the order, followed by a third of the same to get drinks, then a fourth to find a place to sit — carrying the entire load while hanging onto a child who is fighting back tears while covering her ears).
I… well, for maybe 10 minutes at a time on 2 occasions, I felt almost Zen-like. And maybe my legs and back will still function tomorrow.
The lack of tag-teaming, combined with the massive crowds at most places, also had an effect on my ability to take pics, with the single exception of the more tame, seated crowd at the dolphin show. I did manage a shot of one of Alli’s favorite adventures — following a wild chipmunk on the grounds right down into his hole. I only got a quick chipmunk shot, but you can imagine the rest. I did not get any great shots at the hit “Stingray Bay” exhibit, where children had to balance on their stomachs on an 8-inch-wide wall and lean into a large pool of water in order to even have a chance to touch a ray. I also did not get a chance to photo-document my child throwing a fit because I wanted to hold onto a small piece of her body or clothing during the precarious balance, upon which an empathetic fellow mother laughingly advised me to just let her fall in and feel the consequences.
Btw, when Alli posed for the picture riding the lion statue, she instructed me to make sure to print it in black and white, “so people wouldn’t know what color the lion was and would think she was riding a real lion.”
A few photos taken in Ohio. With the few Alli exceptions, most are flower/macro stuff from either my Mother’s backyard (some of which had long ago been transplanted from my grandmother’s garden) plus a few of the flowers we kept from my grandmother’s service.
Thanks to the generosity of some family & friends, I was able to make my first photography purchase in a long time, and have acquired my first macro lens (Canon, 60mm f/2.8 macro, for anyone interested). I snuck out to a park this morning during Alli’s camp time and took my first shots. Getting used to the depth of field and the heavier impact of movement and wind will take some time, but I’m happy with my first effort. More shots can be found here.