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.”
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View this set (larger) on Flickr
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