Thursday, August 12, 2010

The St. Louis Zoo

One of the hottest spots for kids in St. Louis is the Zoo.  Even though it's been a while since we got back from out trip, it was such a neat place that I just have to tell you about it.

The Zoo is in Forest Park, a large urban park with lots of opens spaces but also the Art Museum, History Museum, a beautiful greenhouse attraction called the Jewel Box, an outdoor theater, the Science Center and other attractions.  Many, including the Zoo, have free admission.  It's really quite a wonderful collection of places, all in a beautiful park. 
The Zoo itself was great fun.  We went as early as we could manage to get there (what with feeding the kids and checking out of the hotel and so on) with the intention to explore until naptime and then get in the car and drive to central Indiana (here's the problem we often have with that plan: my idea and James' idea of what time "naptime" means are never really match up).

We went straight to the penguin's area, knowing we had probably missed the feeding but thinking we'd just check and see.  We arrived just as the feeding started and it was so entertaining.  The zookeeper knew all the birds by name and told us who was related to whom and little details about their individual personalities.  Some were big eaters, some had to be coaxed to eat, some wanted in her lap, some shied away... we could even start to see how she could tell them apart. It was one of the highlights of the visit.

We enjoyed the other animals and the plantings were really beautiful too.  In fact, we enjoyed the flowers in the the whole city - many of the business streets in the smaller areas had beautiful annuals planted along the roads and sidewalks.

As the kids were getting more tired and the heat was wearing them down, we realized we still hadn't ridden the train, one of the highlights of the Zoo.  What we should have done, we saw in retrospect, was use the train as a little transport to each different area.  They have the train ride structured so that you get four portions of your ticket and can use them in a row or get off and back on at each station for a full round trip.  If you go, we definitely recommend that: get your train tickets, then get on and off to see each of the main spaces. 

When we got on the train we were so relieved to be under the shade and out of the blistering sun.  It had gotten hot enough that the humidity had begun to feel oppressive.  We were wilting and the train was a nice break.  We saw the areas we had visited from a different view and got a little taste of the spaces we had run out of time to see.  As we were finishing our ride, the sky started getting dark.  The wind picked up and the temperature was suddenly bearable.  Light sprinkles were falling and we were again glad to be under cover.  It quickly became clear that it was not going to continue at "light sprinkle" status.  The sky got darker and darker.  We jumped off, realizing that for once, we weren't going to have to have a "discussion" between James and I about whether we should go straight to the car or keep stopping to look at exhibits along the way.  There was no question!  We were practically jogging as we quickly rushed up the stroller ramps and to the exit.  By the time we hit the parking lot those light sprinkles were light rain that was hitting us sideways.  We tossed the boys into their carseats, threw our stroller on top of the rest of our belongings and leaped into the car.  The sky opened up and POURED.  We rolled out of Forest Park in a driving rain.  We couldn't get on the highway because we just couldn't see anything.  We wanted to get some food but maneuvering in an unfamiliar area in that downpour was almost impossible.  We were very glad to be in the car anyway, and headed ourselves across the river and out of town!  I'd say we made the most of every second of our Zoo time... and maybe a few seconds more. 

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