Saturday, July 16, 2011

The County Fair and the Zoo

The kids and I have been having a blast the last couple of days with a visit to the county fair (in the next county over- our county fair isn't until the end of the month) on Thursday and a visit to the Louisville Zoo yesterday.

I have been making plans to take the kids to this fair for quite a while (we didn't get to go to the fair last year cause the kids were all on restriction/punishment for misbehavior).  Originally, I planned to take them on Tuesday to coincide with a doctor's appointment I had in town that day, but it turns out the Monday and Tuesday of this week the temperature (factoring in the heat index) was 120 degrees.

120 DEGREES!!!!!!

That is some Saudi Arabian kind of weather!!

There is no way I would ever attempt to do anything in that kind of heat.  So, I postponed and I am really glad I did, because Thursday evening it was in the mid-80s with a slight breeze.

In the past, the fairs around here sold tickets for the rides.  The last time we went it was 80 cents a ticket and each ride took 3 or 4 tickets per person to ride.  It is easy to see how this could get expensive fast and  I could only ever afford for the kids to ride a couple rides.

This year, they have switched to a system where you pay a flat fee of $9 per person and you get to ride for free.  Well....we were not going to waste that opportunity!  My kids went on rides for 5 hours.  When it got busier as the night went on and the lines for the 'big' rides got long, my kids just switched to some of the 'kiddie' rides and were happy to do it.

We all had the best time, especially me- getting to watch their faces as they laughed and yelled on the rides.

The pictures I have aren't the best quality, because I still don't have a camera so these are from a cell phone:

Then, yesterday, I decided to head to the Louisville Zoo.  It is my favorite local attraction.  I used to go several times a month with my family pass, but without a vehicle and the cost of gas being ridiculously high, I have to settle for an annual visit.

The problem with going someplace like the zoo just once a year is that you try to pack as much into one day as possible.  Add the fact that it was again scorching hot and you have a recipe for fat, sweaty, coronary disaster.

Don't get me wrong, I had a blast most of the day and for the first several hours my misery was managed fairly well with the conveniently placed mister sprinklers they have positioned throughout the zoo to provide relief from the heat.

A  highlight of the day is when we went to visit the gorilla exhibit. They were inside eating and there was a huge crowd of people in front of the glass (grr...people) and we couldn't see much.  Then, a big silverback sees my Lilli and comes over to look at her.  Watching her, he climbs onto a wooden box so his head is level with hers and stares at her while he munches his lunch.

I can't describe how enthralling it is to look into those wise, intelligent eyes that are so human and to know they are interested in and observing you back.  We stayed for about 20 minutes and he stayed right in front of Lilli, watching her the whole time.

Finally, the crowds of people with their ill-mannered off-spring in the confined space became more than I could handle without a valium  and we moved on.

However, walking the fairgrounds for 5 hours one night and then the zoo for hours the next day made my feet hurt so bad I was ready to fall on a knife to end the suffering.

Because we have to follow a very strict budget in order to have all this fun, I packed a cooler with our lunch.  Halfway through the zoo, everyone (including/especially) me was starving, so we decided to trek back to the car, taking a short cut that bisects the zoo.  The only problem- the zoo is built on a hill and the front half sits much higher than the back half, so we had to climb this steep the blazing sun...while hungry...and in my case hugely out of shape.

I made it up the hill, near weeping, mumbling cuss words and blowing like an  old swaybacked  nag.  I never wanted to see that hill again.

We picnicked under a shade tree on ham and cheese sandwiches and orange soda.  Refreshed and my feet throbbing less, we returned to conquer the second half of the zoo.

The kids were especially excited because there is a small water park area and they were going to get to play there after we finished looking at the exhibits.  

We walk and gawk for about another hour when, my feet feet screaming in agony and my brain broiling from the heat, I decide to skip the remaining exhibits and head to the water park for the kids and a shady bench for me.

As much as I would have loved to flop under a sprinkler, jeans and all, I had to watch the phones, money and shoes.  So, I martyred myself at a picnic table while the kids played.

Finally, it was time to head home and I couldn't stand the thought of circuiting half the zoo again to get to the gate.  I (deliriously) decided to take the short cut back, again... .  It was ever so much worse this time.  Halfway up when I was hallucinating dead relatives and weeping brokenly, my oldest daughter starts to follow a yellow painted path-in-a-completely-no-where-near-the-exit-direction.  

I croak, "What the hell are you doing?"

In an obnoxiously cheerful and energetic voice, she says, "I'm going to follow the yellow brick road!"

I snap, "F**k the yellow brick road!  I am about to die!"

For those of you gasping with shock at the mental trauma I just caused my poor children, untwist your knickers, because my monstrous children found it hilarious and have repeated 'F the yellow brick road' a dozen times since.  My parental sins are legion and while this is probably one of them, it isn't because my meanness upset anyone.  

Finally, we reach the top of the mountain  slope.  I have to lean against a fence and ask everyone to stop while I ponder aloud the likely-hood that I am about to have a big, fat lady heart attack.  Another red-faced, big, fat lady chuckled in sympathy.  I only have to walk about 20 yards to one of  the misters, which I stand under for several minutes, ignoring stares as I become soaked and even more bedraggled.

On the way to the car, I solicit promises from the kids to remind me to NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER go to the zoo again in July or August. 

In spite of the misery of the last hour at the zoo, it was a great day and we did enjoy ourselves.

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