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After months  of wet, cold, dreary, and frozen winter weather – Spring had sprung! 

No one knew  how long it would last – but the opportunity of a Saturday in April, in the 80’s, was not to be wasted on laundry and other humdrum household chores, when the previous Saturday was in the 50’s. 

A day at the zoo  was in the offing.  A few calls, a couple of cars, tickets purchased on-line for a discount, and a picnic basket for the parking lot – everything you need for a family outing.

It’s a shame  every other family in the four boarding states had the same idea.

Kids and grandkids  met at our house and as soon as we stopped playing musical cars, we were off.

Now, the zoo  is less than 4 miles from my house; a straight shot, traveling west, on the same street.  Do you want to guess how long it took us to get there?  Go ahead – but you’ll be wrong. 

Ordinarily,  it would be about 15 minutes – you can double it – triple it – even quadruple it – and you’d still be wrong.  If I hadn’t already bought the tickets …

An hour and fifteen  minutes later, my son’s car, after jockeying for a better position in the crawling procession of cars, made it through the entrance.  He could park but I had the ticket confirmation.  

By the time  I got there, just 5 minutes later, they had closed that entrance and we were redirected to an off-site, off-road, six block away parking lot.  Unbelievably, I was turned away at the gate after a 90-minute bumper-to-bumper, snail’s pace trek.

I’m nothing  if not persistent; I had the ticket receipt in my purse, along with two pre-teen boys, who by now, having passed through the stages of excitement and annoyance, were inching their way to sullen.  And – they were hungry. 

I drove around  until I could get back into the parade of vehicles making their way to the entrance, determined not to be detoured.  I had my confirmation at the ready, and I was ready to beg.   

Another 20 minutes  or so, and for some inexplicable reason, (isn’t that always the way), the barrier was gone and we were waved through.  An additional few minutes of searching and soon, we were all enjoying a wonderful lunch, some of us almost finished, all of us unwinding under shade trees, and most of us already exhausted.

Ultimately,  it was Kaye, the 4-year-old, who reminded us of her list – giraffes, elephants, and polar bears – and cheerfully shared it with all in hearing range.  The two teenage girls started walking first, followed by the boys, rapidly widening the gap between the three remaining adults and the little lady with the list.

To make a long story short,  I’ll only mention, not elaborate on: the scorching  90+ degree heat, the record-breaking attendance, the endless lines for everything and anything, that everything was more expensive than anyone remembered, that the ATM’s we tried were empty, that every bench and even flat surfaced rocks were occupied, and that Joey’s new phone told us we had walked almost 4 miles in 4 hours. 

Here’s one for  “kid’s say the darndest things” ~ Kaye usually walks, but there was such a crush, we took turns carrying her on and off during this outing.  Once, while walking, she bumped into someone and I commented very sweetly, “You have to watch where you’re going, honey.”  Hands akimbo and punctuated by a foot stomp, came the very quick and indignant response, “I wouldn’t have to if SOMEONE was still carrying me!” 

All in all,  it was a wonderful day.  It took me two days to recover and I have to say, I was pleased of myself.  I showed a lot of self-discipline there and here – I count at least 6 times here, where I didn’t say “eff’in.”   I lost count of how many times I didn’t say it there.

 Yours ‘til God laughs, Kate