Saturday, September 21, 2013

Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens

Marcus and Ben flew up to Seattle on Thursday for the long weekend to join their Bertschi friends - boys, girls and Dads - for a YMCA Camp Orkila retreat. Third grade autumn is the last one they can do so they decided not to miss out on it. Ben is therefore gleefully connecting with his best buds and Marcus is enjoying the time with other Dads, too. That leaves Max, Samey and I ALONE in Santa Barbara. On.The. Boat. It just feels so odd to be here without Marcus. And without Ben here, my homeschooling duties have been put aside and, suddenly, I have oodles of time every day. Well, there is the toddler but you see my point? I spoke briefly with Lesli Franklin on Friday morning about connecting her son Seth with Marcus and Ben for the retreat. I was lying in bed reading while Max and Sam slept and I could hear in the background and in her voice the 8:45, pre-school, launching the day panic loud and clear. On the one hand, I felt pretty lucky to have stepped out of the stress but on the other hand, I feel pretty far removed from the rest of the planet in not such a nice way. I decided to take Samey to the zoo. Max wanted to stay behind so Sam and I headed out. We finally figured out the trolley system so getting to the zoo (despite the LONG wait for the trolley to come) was SUPER easy. "Door-to-door", as they say. And let me tell you that zoo is glorious. There is a reason that they call it a "zoological garden". The plants and landscaping, the layout and grooming are just as fabulous as the zoo itself. Lots of open exhibits so that you feel really close to the animals and the experience is very cozy. Fabulous exhibits. Amazing animals. I read online that they have two baby giraffes there so we went to that exhibit first as the feeding coincided with our arrival. Sam wanted to feed "Lu-Lu" but she got scared so I had to do it. Did you know that giraffes don't make noises? But if a baby does it's sounds is almost indistinguishable from a lion?
The lion exhibit is right next door. Max, Samey and I had watched the old movie "Born Free" (thanks, Mom!!) the night before so she was super prepped for the whole lioness thing but seemed not too thrilled when they started rough-housing right next to her on the other side of the glass!
Right before she came over to us!
I loved watching her watching the gorilla. I amazes me that kids are so blase about being less that a few inches from such creatures and seem not to realize the significance. I guess that is the curse of the zoo format in general. This photo capture the only moment when she seemed to realize that she might be able to "connect".

There is a fabulous play garden in the middle where Sam and I spent a great deal of time (we were in no hurry...!? rushing to get where?). Right in the middle is this mound/hill that kids can climb on and slide down. SO EASY and the kids were LOVING it!! There were pieces of cardboard there that they could sit on and use to slide down the hill on. Sam had fun with this but she was getting tired, too. She did, however, LOVE this statue of a fox and hugged it continuously and played her sing-song games around it for quite awhile while I sat and people-watched.
I was feeling a little lonely for my friends as I watched a group of moms chatting there while their kids ran around and played. I just had to take the following photo as I was struck by the fact that Santa Barbara mommy culture is so similar to Seattle! They wear Tom's! They have Bob strollers! They used Camelback water bottles! They bring healthy snacks! In earth-friendly containers! In a Trader Joe's insulated bag!
We really had a wonderful day there at that zoo. I highly recommend it to anyone who has the chance.
We made the trek on the trolley back to the marina to rejoin Max and, after dinner, we dragged Max down to the beach for a romp in the sand at dusk with us. Sam just loves the sand. I love having time for her to just explore it. And Max was so cute with her. Playing chase and carrying her on his back. I love watching the two of them play together. Such a gift.
It was a fine day, indeed. Odd - for sure - without Marcus and Ben but a good day nonetheless.

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