Aaaah.. I'm back home and actually doing this from the Monkey Bar at the local airport. It was so tragic to miss this on the way out.
On Saturday I bailed on the conference and set out on a walking expedition of the park, which began with the zoo.
The zoo was clearly marked with a Stonhengian “ZOO” sculpture so even I couldn’t miss the entrance. It was a nice zoo, but it was also a Saturday so the place was full of kids. All having important formative moments, no doubt, but running around like the mad-chilluns they are. It reminded me of why I prefer the zoo during the week.
The zoo is free – a very nice touch - so you can wander in and out of it as you see fit. There is plenty else to explore in the park, my hotel guy said it is bigger than Central Park in New York. Having never been there I just nodded my head as though I knew what that meant.
I believe he thought I was a man with intercontinental experience.
That's the only way I can explain the fact he followed me to the men's room every time I .. er.. 'went.'
Anyway, I had “breakfast” at the zoo, a tasty hot-dog, a truly awful hot-pretzel (most of which ended up in the garbage) and a Bud Light of epic proportions. Because the Zoo is a semi-educational venue I should note that I learned something I never would have suspected. Turns out there is a “season” for cotton candy. And when the cotton candy fields lay stripped of their crops, a few forlorn cardboard stalks poking uselessly in the air? When the seasonal Cotton Candy pickers have packed up their jalopies, tattered belongings, and sad families to move farther south to pick the Kettlecorn and Corndog crops? The Zoo has to stop serving cotton candy.
I also spotted this water-fountain with a dedication that seemed strangely apropos. The water fountain was donated by the Sippy family, who do good the only way they know.
Also, they had been hard at work on the Blue-Monkey Extermination Project as dozens of the savage brutes were hung like bunches of fruit at each concession stand.
Then it was a continued walk down the hill. This was kind of interesting because I walked past probably a mile of unused street parking as people headed up to the $10/$20 parking lots. Oddly, when I finally walked back, I walked on the inside of the park, which was pretty jungular. Here, people parked at least a mile away from the zoo and happily walked to it. I guess it's the difference between walking alongside a freeway and walking in some lovely green stuff.
On the way down I passed a big old metal sculpture that would look tacky at the Tiki-Room in Disneyland and looked even weirder on the side of the road. I suppose it represents the brass balls, steel will, and iron determination....
...aah.. I really have no idea..
Another mile or so down the road is the Science Center which is on both sides of the freeway (the freeway is spanned by an enclosed bridge which contains several amusing displays including radar guns so you can actually put a number to the lawless driving of the unconcerned Mid-Westerners out here). This is a really cool place and you could spend at least a whole day there. They had a Gemini capsule and although I knew from high school textbooks that they had been small, standing in front of the thing was amazing. It looked like something from a carnival ride. Which, I suppose, is about right.
There were dinosaur exhibits, a massive Rube Goldberg device and probably hundreds of hands-on things for kids to do, which kept the ankle-biting down. A bunch of cool things cost money and were scheduled (they have one of those plastinated people exhibits) such that I’d have to wait around.
It also included the "ice cream of the future" which is (as I noted before) the inspiration for the add campaign of a competing college.
It was completely cool, but with a blister developing on my little toe (yeah, I'm a wimp) I decided it was time to start the hike back to the lovely half-price bar. It had been three or four hours of tromping, and I was ready for a chilly one.
Just a final note about that bar. I did all my eating and drinking there from Thursday night to Sunday morning (when, alas, it was actually closed!) and this totaled $64.00. The bartender says the owner is re-thinking the half-off policy and I can figure why. But I was lucky enough to be around while it was still ending.
The life I freaking lead!