A Day At The Zoo And A Toddler’s First Hike

What a great Sunday. We are not church people, but the concept of church is the fellowship of like-minded individuals; our church consists of my wife, my daughter, myself, and occasionally my wife’s family and we are of a like mind that family should come before all else.

Earlier in the week we bought a season pass to the local zoo and planned to go this weekend. Saturday was spent visiting my grandparents who are slowly declining in health (they will be 84 this year). They had a huge hand in raising me and I feel bad that we do not get to see them more often than we do. I also had drama with my family to deal with later on that day (see Jerry Springer Or Just Another Phone Call From My Family)

I am doing my best to keep personal information off of here, not only because my wife has asked me to, but because I have been burned in the past by opening up my life to strangers. That being said, I really want to post a picture here. We went to the zoo Sunday morning and I got some wonderful pictures of my wife and daughter with the various animals and my wife got a rare picture of me with the toddler. Well just use your imagination to make your mind see my family smiling and enjoying a day at the zoo.

My daughter is obsessed with monkeys. She has several stuffed ones and can not be parted from a tan one that is about half her size. She chewed on the nose when she first got him and eventually chewed his nose right off. My wife performed emergency surgery on the stuffed animal that my daughter could already not live without. Now Monkey is almost always at her side except when we go someplace that we don’t want her to bring him (restaurants, the park, the zoo, etc.). Then Monkey ‘takes a nap’ in the car. She was not alright with this arraignment at first, but when she realized we were not going to cave she accepted it and moved on; I wish everything would be that easy (we don’t want her to lose it or forget it or, in the case of the restaurants, we don’t want Monkey to ‘fed’ from the toddler’s plate).

So we went to the zoo, sans Monkey, fully expecting to have to run to the monkey exhibit and be forced to go back to it over and over again, being corralled by the screams of a two-year old. Instead she was most excited about seeing the elephants. The enclosure with the pachyderms is, luckily, right inside the gate. As we approached the fence and could see the hairy back of the great gray animal, the insistent toddler decided that it was time to be scared of everything. My wife picked her up and comforted her, showing her that the elephants were not able to get close to her; our little one was still apprehensive. The trip to the zoo looked like it was going to be a short one in order to avoid any trauma.

Other than Mickey Mouse, my daughter is a big fan of Pooh and one of the Pooh movies we own is the one with the Heffalumps in it so the wife told the kid that the elephants (lots of ‘the’s) were just like Lumpy (the name of the Heffalump in the movie). She didn’t want to leave her spot at the fence beside the enclosure after that.

When we coaxed the princess away from Lumpy and his friends we made our way around the rest of the zoo, stopping at every chance to see more animals now that she was interested once again.

We let her walk at every chance she can, when it is feasible and she wants to anyway, and she walked all over that zoo. She rode the carousel and we left the zoo, after seeing Lumpy again, with a smiling, tired two-year old.

The zoo is about thirty minutes from home and we were hoping the little one would fall asleep in the car so we could have a bit of a reprieve; we could carry her in and put her in her bed when we got home – she wouldn’t wake up. Instead she serenaded us during the entire drive. At least she was in a good mood. She demanded Mickey before we were even in the building. I didn’t want Mickey, at least not yet, so I suggested we get the dog (A black mini poodle) and head to the park and hit a trail. The toddler had never been on a trail before and the dog had never even been on a long walk, not really (we live in an apartment and th neighborhood is not exactly prime for walking).

Mommy was tired, but after some convincing, and screaming on the toddler’s part, she gave in. We all piled in the car and headed out.

Another fifteen minutes and we were getting ready to park the car near the easiest trail when the dog decided that he wanted to go nuts because he is not very social (he spends his days with two other dogs – at my in-law’s – and they fight literally all day long, trying to rip each other’s throats out – my wife sears they are playing). I passed the parking area and made our way to the much less populated trail that just happened to be the most difficult trail in the park. Did I mention that the kids, furry and not-furry alike, have not been on long walks let alone on a trail before? This was a recipe for disaster especially with an anti-social dog and a tired princess.

We coated the kid in sunscreen, attached the dog to his lead, hid our valuables, locked the doors, and crossed the street to the head of the trail. I looked a the information sign as it had been awhile since I had been on the trail and I wanted to know the difficulty level and the distance.

Difficulty: 4. Distance: 3/4 mile.

Not very long, for my wife and I who take decent strides, but a little more difficult than the out of shape parents were really wanting to walk on their own. With more insistence from the toddler and a lack of desire to get back in the car and drive somewhere else, we hit the trail.

Not even on the dirt yet and the dog had urinated four times and pooped once. The toddler was running and screaming sounds of utter elation and mommy was chasing her while trying to make sure I had the dog who didn’t like me.

After gently (or not so) tugging on the lead the dog began to behave; it didn’t hurt that there were maybe two other groups on the trail and, even though they had dogs, they were no where near us. The dog sniffed everything. Our mini outdoors-woman was behind the dog and I insisting on traversing the new territory that was covered with rouge roots, random rocks, steep inclines and declines, and much more. It was an adventure to say the least.

When we got back to the trail head beautiful had only fallen six or seven times with minimal injuries and virtually no crying. I asked her if she wanted to go home and watch Mickey or go on another hike and she slipped out of my wife’s hand and ran towards the woods where there was an unmarked trail screaming that she wanted to go ‘ikin s’more’. My wife and I were surprised but happy. We are both completely out of shape as we have not done any rigorous activities in more than two years (before my wife got pregnant), but we just couldn’t drag the toddler away from the outdoors.

A tenth of a mile into the next trail and we were done. Princess was dragging her feet and no longer squealing with joy. I thought the newness had worn off, but I caught her close her eyes and almost fall over only to shake it of and got running through the mud again. The wife and I decided that we were determined to make camping and lots of hiking happen this spring/summer. We turned around and walked back to the car where our daughter had her muddy shoes removed and got strapped into the seat. We were sure she was going to take a nap at that point.

We got home with a cranky, awake two-year old. Mickey graced the TV and the zombie came to life (or death). The rest of the day consisted of lots of relaxing and no naps. The crank-ass went down in under ten minutes. Now to see if she stays down all night (doubtful).

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One thought on “A Day At The Zoo And A Toddler’s First Hike

  1. Pingback: Kaitlin and Jumbo the Elephant | Opinionated Duck

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