Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Winter Storm Field Trip

What should you do with a day graced by a winter storm warning and soon-to-arrive wind chill warning?? Go to the zoo!! Sometimes you just have to do what doesn't make a lick of sense.

The day started out with a hurried trip to the bank because I'm a dingdong and forgot the gas company, on it's every-other-month estimate, always-ALWAYS- way OVERestimates the bill in winter months. That bill is payed by auto debit, and I paid other bills a few days prior allotting $200 for the gas bill to be taken out with some extra of course. We had to put in a new furnace when we bought this house, it's high-efficiency, so the bills are not too bad compared others around us. The first of the month is the tight pay period for us because the heftiest bills are due. I checked the bank site to see how close I was yesterday morning and I was overdraft--WHAT?? The $60 bucks in fees certainly did not help that red number. Our old credit union would transfer money from savings to checking to cover if you accidentally went over, though I haven't had to to use that feature often, I'm guilty of retaining that mindset. No longer having that cushion cost me $60 extra bucks... crap. Thinking "Oh Lord, where did I screw up" followed by "Mr. FixIt's gonna crap" I started digging into the account --AhHA! The gas company billed/charged us $330 bucks for last month!! WHOA!! I did a minuscule victory dance in that it wasn't my fault, but I still had to pay $60 and run down to transfer $$$$ to fix this mess. Ugh! At least it wasn't as bad as last February when Dominion billed us $460 bucks (estimate) for a $220 bill! Which made the actual reading the next month almost nothing as we'd basically paid two months of gas usage in one month, I didn't need a double bill taken out at once! After that episode I found a place to enter meter readings on the gas company web site so they won't do an estimate...YES! Awesome! Over the the summer with gas bills ranging 20-25 bucks Mark and I both slacked off on entering our actual readings and WHAMMO- that slack hit me in the checkbook yesterday. Damn.

So seriously bummed and ticked off, kids still jet-lagged from the prior day of travel, I thought, "Let's go to the zoo!" Kids responded with resounding "YEAH! ZOO!" Yes it was snowing and bad weather to come, but the roads were decent, the temps were above freezing and supposed stay that way until afternoon. It's only 20 minutes away. Besides we have many back road ways to get home if the weather suddenly turns to crap and the highway conditions deteriorate. Full tank of gas, 4-wheel drive and the three of us dressed in layers...why not??

We had a blast! We weren't even that cold with all those layers. Some animals are off exhibit this time of year, but to see the penguins play, the lions, tiger and red panda out of hiding was definitely worth it.

The snow leopard we've rarely seen in all our previous trips because she's usually trying to catch a breeze in a very cool spot way up high on top of her enclosure rocks. She was giving herself a bath and paused for a minute as if she knew I was taking her picture. Look at the long heavy tail extending all the way up to her head.

Lion kept roaring at us, but he wouldn't come out. He yanwed about 10 times in as many minutes. Hard life being a lion I guess. The Sumatran tiger was gorgeous. He was sleeping when we walked up the first time and as we started to leave he came to the window, pacing in front of us, rubbing the glass with his head where we were standing and he'd purr.

Like he wanted some love...or maybe my kids for snack, I don't know, but you just wanted to scratch behind his ears. :-D As we left him, he kind of sadly roared. We went back on our way out and he sprang right back to the glass...poor baby.

You can see here just how big the tiger was by him passing Monster Man on one of his rounds.
He is in an enclosure, but both are standing on the same level.

Isn't he just beautiful?!

The Akron Zoo now has a Jellyfish exhibit with several different species and information about each one. The jellyfish section is a dimly lit, deep blue painted area with some low spotlights throughout so you get the feeling of being under moving water which was great to be IN, but taking pictures of it was a nightmare. You can see the fuzzy results below and using a flash (left) was way too bright.

So we had a relaxing day of learning at the zoo, visiting every open exhibit without necessity to peer between or around other people. Yay! We finished our day with a trip to the library for new books and a couple of DVDs. Both my kids are book junkies but Tyler has turned into a careless addict. It doesn't matter what the book is or which section, he randomly pulls books from here and there with a, "This looks good. That is awesome. Dad will like this. I'll get this one for you Mom!" and on and on he goes filling his book bag. I'm excited he loves books, but I do have to give him a limits so we can throw in a few books with some lesson purpose and not end up checking out half the library! Britt is usually stuck in either the Goosebumps, horse series fiction or the nonfiction mammals section. I have had a hard time selling her on anything Beverly Cleary, but late spring and early summer she dove into and devoured all but one of the entire "Little House" series -8 books! Needless to say I don't have problem getting either one of them to read, I just have to open doors and push them into new topics once in a while.

We arrived home just as the temps started to drop and more snow started to fall. Score!

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