It’s All Happening at the Zoo

It’s probably been three years since I’ve visited the Denver Zoo. COVID was a large reason for my absence. But the truth is, my grands are all getting to the age that they aren’t quite as interested in the zoo.

Still, I love me a zoo, which is why I continue to buy a membership in both the Denver and the Phoenix Zoos. Both of these zoos, by the way, are continually named in the top 10 zoos in the United States. Yay, us.

Yesterday morning, when Bec came downstairs, I said, “Hey! Let’s go to the zoo. I hear it’s all happening at the zoo!:

Well, I didn’t say that last part, but don’t deny it. All Baby Boomers are thinking about Simon and Garfunkle right now.

So despite it being one of the hottest days of the summer, we hopped in the car and went to the Denver Zoo. Man, has it ever changed since I last visited. I suspect that they spent all of 2020 working on projects they couldn’t get around to in the past because of all of the visitors. It is really nice, and getting nicer all they time.

Though it was hot, we were lucky enough to be able to see quite a few animals.

We saw the mountain sheep and goats, we saw the rino and the hippo, we saw the flamingos…..

We saw beautiful flowers…..

And we saw the King of Beasts, posing like he owned the zoo…..

We saw many others as well. And we heard the best zoo story I believe I have ever heard before from a docent who worked in the primate area. We saw that there were four orangutans, one of which was quite small. At one point, the small one ran to the largest one, the one I figured was mommy orangutan, and received a kiss on the lips from her parent. According to the docent, the three smaller were all female siblings. Mother Orangutan had died suddenly. The zoo folks weren’t sure what would happen to the kiddies, because orangutans children stay with their mommy for up to eight years.

“But,” the docent said with a sparkle in his eye, “the papa stepped up and has taken the place of the mama perfectly well.” I looked over at the daddy cuddling the small animal and agreed wholeheartedly.

It was a wonderful day at the zoo.

Thursday Thoughts

Ding Dong
Yesterday afternoon, our doorbell rang. Who should be standing there but Maggie Faith? Wait, what? I thought you were driving around the west coast in an RV. Actually, I knew they were coming home for a family reunion on Jll’s side, but I didn’t actually think I would see them much — if at all — with their busy plans. It so happened that Kaiya, Mylee, and Cole were visiting, and had their hands up to their elbows in — what else? — slime. It was a very fun reunion of our own, and it was a joy to hear about the McLains on the Road from Maggie’s perspective.

I asked Maggie what her sibs were doing. All going different directions, eager to catch up in the short time they have. How about Dagny, I asked Mags. Busy caring for her bees, Maggie responded. Of course. This is year number two for the bees, and they are apparently finally becoming productive. Dave posted this photo on Facebook…..

I hope to see honey in my future!

It’s All Happenin’ at the Zoo
Court’s out of town, and I figured Alyx could use a break. So I took the three Zierks to the zoo with me yesterday. I’m not sure we made it last year, and I was determined to have a go at it this year. There were lots of new babies — a little orangutan, a baby gorilla, a tiny (relatively speaking) giraffe — all so cute. There was purportedly a baby sloth, but the sloths live in the elephant exhibit, and there was a show going on. We weren’t up for fighting crowds. And it was, after all, just a sloth…..

Creamy Goodness
We had dropped off our rental wagon and were heading towards the exit for the zoo when Kaiya spotted a sign: Dole Whips. The Zierks love them some Dole Whips, and I had never tried them. Why not, I thought. Well, needless to say, they were just darnright delicious. Kaiya claimed they were just as good as the ones in Disneyland. And we don’t have to go so far to get it, she said…..


Saturday Smile: Light It Up!

For years, I have wanted to visit Zoo Lights. There are Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo (where I am a member) and Zoo Lights at the Phoenix Zoo (where I am also a member). But I never could quite get it to work.

And then, sometime in mid- to late-December, I got an email from the Phoenix Zoo with an offer I couldn’t refuse: renew my membership early, and get two free Zoo Lights tickets.


Thursday night, Bill and I put on jeans and sweaters, called an Uber so that we didn’t have to worry about driving, and rode to the Phoenix Zoo to enjoy Zoo Lights. What a super treat. The temperature was in the low 50s, so it was pleasant to walk around and see the pretty lights. Here are some of what we saw…..

Christmas lights make me smile.

Have a great weekend.

Day at the Zoo

As I write this post, it’s 9 o’clock at night, and I’ve been up since 5. Nothing is wrong; that’s just how I roll. But I’m telling you this because the truth of the matter is that I’m tired. Plain and simple. Why? Because I spent a day in the sun with the lions and zebras and gorillas and elephants at the Denver Zoo.

So instead of writing a lengthy blog where I spell out the pros and cons of zoos, I will just tell you that the day featured awesome weather, and a trip to the zoo with my sister Bec, and Kaiya, Mylee, and Cole was nearly perfect.

Thinking we would only be there for a couple of hours, the reality was that we were there until late in the afternoon. We meandered our way through the sizable zoo, stopping for a lunch of sandwiches that I’d brought from home. We took a carousel ride…..

We watched a large cape buffalo gleefully roll around in a mud puddle that he kept making even larger using his large horns. We observed the zookeepers feeding a 47-year-old male elephant named Groucho a snack of oranges, corn on the cob, and lettuce, tossing it in the water so that he got some aquatic exercise along with his snack. We (at least three of us) ate Dippin’ Dots, a frozen confection that I have yet to quite understand the draw….

Mylee made a game of finding the hidden animals around the zoo….

After our zoo experience, we had dinner and playtime at Dave and Jll’s with the cousins — at least the ones who aren’t camping with Aunt Julie (Alastair) or on a mission trip with her church youth group (Addie)…..

Following a dinner of steak, salad, veggies, and a couple of desserts, the kids went home with Court, and Bec, Bill, and I fell into our respective beds like a trio of old folks.

Fun day.

Thursday Thoughts

Controlled Chaos
We literally came home from our sisters’ weekend in Estes Park to a house full of children. Don’t worry; I knew them all. Court and his wife had asked if we would watch their three kids for a couple of days while they had a relaxing getaway in celebration of his birthday. I agreed. The only caveat was that when they got dropped off Monday morning, I wouldn’t be there. Instead, Papa Bill would be the babysitter. I called in reserves, asking Addie if she would come help her Papa with the kids. When Bec and I walked in the door Monday just before noon, the house was in relatively controlled chaotic shape, and Bill had a bit of a deer-in-the-headlights look on his face. But the kids were happy and having a great time. I got there just in time to make lunch. After that, Addie once again took over. I will tell you that after Mom picked up the kids Wednesday morning, I turned on mindless television and proceeded to fall asleep.

The other thing that took place Wednesday morning was that Bec, who has been visiting for a few weeks to escape the Arizona heat, left to head home. After the kids were gone and Bec was on the road, the house was like a morgue. Once I get a bit of my wind back, I will start housecleaning and doing laundry. In the meantime, however, I got a pedicure. Ah, pedicures….

Hot Time
A couple of days ago, in the midst of the madness from unpacking from our Estes trip and being hit, oops, I mean blessed, with the grandchildren, a Murphy’s law situation happened. Suddenly late in the afternoon, I realized that I was perspiring so much that I looked like Albert Brooks in the movie Broadcast News. I went over to the thermostat, and noticed that not only was the temperature not going down, it was in fact going up, up, and up. I went over to the vent and felt tepid air coming out. Though we placed a call early next morning to the air conditioning company, they only made it to our house yesterday afternoon. As I write this blog post, I am comfortably cool. Sorry to everyone who had to endure our heat wave, especially at night.

At the Zoo
On Tuesday, Bec and I took some of the grands to the Denver Zoo, including Addie to provide moral and physical support. It was quite hot, and we were all worn out by time we made it all around the zoo. I had packed a lunch for everyone, and we enjoyed it in the shade. But just before we left, I treated all the kids to Dippin’ Dots. They were all very happy, and I was once again puzzled as to why anyone likes Dippin’ Dots. Here are some of the precious faces….

Cole on carousel

There was a great deal of discussion about who would ride on which animal. I’m not sure Cole had much input. He just needed to be on an animal near his sisters and cousins so that Addie could keep a watchful eye. The dolphin it was…


Mylee Maggie Faith

Mylee and Maggie Faith find a shady hidey-hole.


kaiya cole

And so do Kaiya and Cole.

kaiya maggie funny faces



It Was a Zoo Out There

Last time Jen was here visiting, she and Maggie took Austin and Lilly to the zoo. From that day on, Jen has been telling me that I absolutely MUST go to the zoo with Lilliana Marie Eve. She takes after our side of the family. She loves her some zoo.

Bill and I are members of two zoos – the Denver Zoo and the Phoenix Zoo. Both of my memberships are well used. I’ve been taking Kaiya and Mylee to the zoo since they were both very little. I haven’t had the chance to take Cole yet, because, well, Volkswagen Bug. No room for three in the back seat. Somehow I’m determined to make it happen this summer when we are back in Denver. The last time I Face Timed with Kaiya, she told me she is learning about animals at school. At that point she had learned about pandas and tigers.

“Tell me something about tigers,” I said.

“Hmmm,” she said. “Well, their paws are very padded so that they can sneak up on the animals they eat,” she finally declared.

Well, there you go. It will be fun to take her to the zoo and have her tell me about the animals. I assure you, I will learn a lot.

Yesterday, Jen’s final day for this visit, we went to the zoo. Bec joined us, and we had a grand time. Austin scored big as he got permission to play hooky from school. Well, preschool. I don’t think he will have to face a truant officer.

Jen is right about Lilly. She can hardly stand still as she sees the animals. As for Austin, he considered it more of a rolling snack cart as Maggie pulled him in the wagon and he ate pretzels and fruit snacks and goldfish crackers and drank red Gatorade until his lips turned red. He could be persuaded to get out of the cart for particularly interesting animals like orangutans, but it wasn’t until the carousel that he really perked up.

Lilly wanted to ride a giraffe on the carousel and Austin wanted to ride a shark. As it turned out, Lilly rode a leopard and Austin rode an alligator, but it was all good. And like a good daughter, Lilly waved at her mommy every single time her leopard passed by. I’m pretty sure she’s going to be a beauty pageant contestant. Or the pope.

It was a splendid day that ended with homemade pancakes for lunch. What could be better?

Here are some photos of our day….

Lilly and Austin can't take their eyes off one of the animals.

Lilly and Austin can’t take their eyes off one of the animals.

And here's what caught their eye -- a vulcher is standing as still as a statue with its wings spread wide...

And here’s what caught their eye — a vulcher is standing as still as a statue with its wings spread wide…

Lilly and Aunt Bec check out the African savannah.

Lilly and Aunt Bec check out the African savannah.

We had us some carousel!

We had us some carousel!

At the Zoo

Something tells me it’s all happening at the zoo.

I do believe it, I do believe it’s true.

The monkeys stand for honesty.

Giraffes are insincere.

The elephants are kindly but they’re dumb.

Orangutans are skeptical of changes in their cages

And the zookeeper is very fond of rum.

Zebras are reactionaries,

Antelopes are missionaries.

Pigeons plot in secrecy

And hamsters turn on frequently.

What gas you got to come and see

At the zoo. – Paul Simon

Visiting the zoo L-R, Maggie's friend Allison, the child she babysits Cole, Maggie, and Lilly

Visiting the zoo L-R, Maggie’s friend Allison, the child she babysits Cole, Maggie, and Lilly

The town in which I grew up had no zoo. Arguably when things got crazy at the bakery it seemed like a zoo, but for all intents and purposes, no zoo in Columbus, Nebraska.

Omaha, on the other hand, had a zoo. It still does. In fact, I think Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo is quite respected by people who know things about zoos. For my part, I can’t tell you a thing about it because, despite the fact that I was born in Nebraska, in a town only about 65 miles or so from the Henry Doorly Zoo, I never once went to that zoo.

Why? Because 65 miles might as well have been 500 miles. It was as likely that we would jump in the car and go to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha as it was that we would drive to Chicago to the Lincoln Park Zoo. For various reasons, in those days, 65 miles was a commitment. And one we didn’t often make.

We went to Omaha twice a year – to go back-to-school shopping in the days before we wore school uniforms and at Christmas to see the decorations at the shopping mall.

Nowadays, it isn’t unusual for me to drive 100 miles or more in a single day. Particularly here in the Phoenix metro area which is spread out and things are far away from each other. But even back in Colorado, if I make a trip to the Denver Zoo, by time I pick up my grandkids, drive to the zoo, spend a few hours, drive them back home, and drive myself home, it is an easy 70 or 75 miles. And I do it often. Without blinking an eye.

Here’s the thing. Mom loved zoos. Or at least she loved the Denver Zoo after they moved to Colorado. We spent many a weekend afternoon at the Denver Zoo. Mom would pack up one of her famous picnics and Jen and her kids and Court and I would meet them at the zoo. If Bec and/or Dave and their families were in town, that was even better. We loved a day at the zoo.

Years ago when Bill and I were first married, we had memberships at the Museum of Natural History, the Art Museum, the Botanical Gardens, and Colorado Historical Museum, and of course the Denver Zoo. Eventually as the kids grew up and moved away, we dropped our memberships. Except

Austin is getting ready to take the plunge into the water

Austin is getting ready to take the plunge into the water

for the zoo.

Because like Mom, I love the zoo. Which is why I have a membership at both the Denver Zoo and the Phoenix Zoo. And I get my money’s worth out of both.

Yesterday Maggie and her kids invited me to join them and a friend of hers for an early-morning visit to the Phoenix Zoo. We were there by 9 o’clock, and walked around when it was still fairly quiet and cool. The

Phoenix Zoo has a little water park – one of those venues where water squirts up out of the ground. Quite frankly, that’s where we spent a lot of our time, because Austin has never met a stranger, so he played and played with the new friends he met at the water park.

“What is your friend’s name?” I asked him afterwards. He, of course, had no clue. They didn’t exchange names because it was unnecessary. They couldn’t have had more fun if they had known each other’s names. That’s the way of the world when you’re 4.

Soaking wet and self-proclaimed FREEZING COLD despite the fact that it was in the 80s!

Soaking wet and self-proclaimed FREEZING COLD despite the fact that it was in the 80s!

So, like Paul Simon, I think it’s all happening at the zoo; I do believe it, I do believe it’s true.