Tabby and I took our own trip this week, down to Virginia to visit my oldest friend, Joanna, and her girls. We had a marvelous time, accomplishing all the things on my “I want to do” list, which included nothing educational, historic, or strenuous. We did our nails, watched tv, hung out, went out to lunch, went shopping, told old jokes and stories, and just enjoyed being together. It was wonderful and super relaxing. Here we are all the girls together:
The day before we left I realized that I should have planned one particular thing and decided to be spontaneous and do it on Friday, since we really didn’t need to be home at a particular time. As you might have noticed, Tabby’s favorite animal is the panda. We have talked about how much she would like to see them, but, as we are not going to China, would need to go to the National Zoo to see a real panda. Duh! We were only 45 minutes from the zoo! On Friday morning, instead of driving straight back home, Tabby and I went to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Oh, she was so excited!! And oh, was it ever worth it.
As soon as we arrived we walked straight over to the pandas. I was getting a bit worried because we didn’t see them and then we saw a crowd with cameras all pointed in the same direction and saw the baby, Bei Bei, way up in a tree. Being adorable. His chubby self draped over branches. Moving around. Oh what a sight!
After that we just poked around. We loved seeing an orangutan using the “O-line”-man-made vines the orangutans can use to get from one area to another, right over your heads out in the open. Tabby loved the reptile house (which I hate, but manage by taking off my glasses so I can’t see anything and standing safely in the middle. Since this outing was a special thing all for her, I was being a saint and letting her do whatever she wanted.) We also really enjoyed an exhibit that was scattered throughout the zoo. The pieces were sculptures of ocean animals made entirely from trash found on the beaches.
So, it’s horrifying to see all the things that have washed ashore, yet as a sculpture it’s awesome to see how they were able to use the trash to make all the color and details just right.
Another treat was the carousel. Now, the #1 carousel we’ve ever seen was in Brussels (before kids) and included strange and creepy creatures. But this one is going to be a close second for my new favorite. It included beautiful renditions of animals they have at the zoo. And not your standard lions, and tigers, and bears. How about–naked mole rat? fennec fox? cuttlefish?
Tabby chose the panda, of course.
I was so startled by this and recognized it so instantly and was overcome by surprise emotions and, well, I cried. This dinosaur used to be on the Mall in front of the museum of Natural History. I can remember climbing around it as a child (we visited D.C. fairly often, it seems) and a family photo that I love is one of my (very young) dad and the three of us, next to this dino. I had no idea they still had it, much less that it was here at the zoo. And to make it even better, I didn’t know that this dino was the model for the dino in the movie version of The Enormous Egg. This is a book that was a favorite of mine and I didn’t even know there was a movie of it.
We returned to the pandas and this time went into the building where all four were hanging out. Oh my God, was Tabby ever excited. Bei Bei was napping in his little room, but the others were all eating bamboo and looking cute. Even tumbling over.
So overall, we had a wonderful special day, just the two of us, at the zoo.
And even though it made our drive home long (traffic is just a nightmare down there, good grief) it was so worth it. And of course our trip to the zoo ended with a special souvenir and Tabby chose a stuffed Bei Bei.
Willow welcomed me home in the most adoring and excited manner I have ever been greeted. Holy cow she missed me and was so happy I came back. And now today Clark will come home and we can’t wait to see him and hear all about his week at camp!