Knowing our plans for the Saturday, my mom called ahead of time and arranged to have a parking place held for us at the National Zoo. So I made sure I packed everything but the essentials Friday night. We set out on time and arrived at the zoo on schedule. My mom really didn’t want to drive in DC, but I am sure she was bolstered after having to drive in NYC only six days previous. Hehehe, I still get such a kick out of that!!
Anyway, back on target! We enter the zoo at what is called the Panda Plaza. I am psyched and ticked all at the same time. Those who know me are aware that I don’t like two things (that are of relevance here :)) – crowds and children. And what do you get at a zoo on a Saturday? Yup, in spades. But I try to not be a misery and after a preemptive potty break, we set out down Olmstead Walk. And it wasn’t too long before my brain kindly pointed out that I have let my body get way too out of shape. After all, there are actual hills here. Anything over 100 feet above sea level is considered a hill around my neck of the woods.
Anyway, we get to the cheetah exhibits and guess what? No babies! The babies can be viewed on exhibit between 10 AM – 11 AM and 1 PM – 2 PM. Oh, well. I guess we can swing by on the way out, as it wasn’t too terribly far from our parking place. So we continue on our way. We curve around and enter the Asia Trail. The first exhibit we encounter is home to the Sloth Bears. Now here is something that chaps my ass. The viewing windows were etched with leaves and only left small clear viewing holes. Now what moron came up with this idea? The etching served no purpose. It offered no extra privacy to the bears and only inhibited patrons – which I am sure has increased their heathen need to tap on the glass.
But just past the bears was our first glimpse of babies! We had found the fishing cats. And the babies were having a blast. They were pouncing on each other and rolling around while mama stood by and groomed herself. We continue on and while at the otter exhibit something happened. I, in my infinite wisdom, had decided to bring my whole camera case with me. It was secured around my waist. However, after taking my photos of the otters, and mom had already started to walk away, I went to move away and nothing happened. A wave of panic rolls over me as I realize that one of the zippers on my case now contains part of the otter chain link. Mom comes to untangle me, but I get caught again later as the zipper had been bent just enough to make it easy for the fences to slip in. However, this also made them easy for me to detangle.
We finish the Asia Trail and sit down for a strategy meeting. Mom pulls out the map and we assess that our exhaustion is far disproportionate to our distance traveled. I think I said, “That’s it? Dear God, we didn’t even make
it that far?” Since we are rounding around to our starting position, we decide to have another potty break, ditch the camera case in the car and have a spot of lunch where we were joined by some feathery friends, including this little guy. I also “accidentally” dropped two french fries and enjoyed yelling at some miniature heathens to stop chasing the birds.
After lunch, we decide to cut to the bone and go for our goal. Since we both love the big cats, we opt to head straight there – clear across the zoo from our location and if we had the strength or energy after that we can look at other exhibits. So by the time we get close I have been puffing like a steam engine for the last 20 minutes and my body lost part of its ability to produce sweat somewhere near the invertebrates.
We get to see four adult female lions, one adult and one teenage male lion, and the tip of an ear of a tiger. However, on the way back to see if the cheetah cubs were out, we saw an amazing thing. The zoo has Orangutan crossings. There are tall towers that have ropes attached. Then the orangutans can use the ropes to walk to different areas of the zoo. We happened to see this huge male crossing. It was wonderful to watch!!
Once we get back to the Panda Plaza, we knew the cheetahs were right around the corner. Or so we thought. We get part way there and we are both like, “Good Lord, I didn’t remember it being this far!” When we finally find the exhibit the babies were in – they were playing in the plants and it was difficult to get a good look at them. These cubs looked to be about six months old while the fishing cat cubs were around four months.
Anyway, the visit was a success! We got to see both sets of babies and we probably improved our lung capacity by a good 10 percent. We pour ourselves into the car and head for the airport. By this time, my poor mom was doing her Popeye impression, as one of her contacts was giving her problems. We sit around the airport for a while with nothing much to do when a monsoon struck. We sat and watched the rain pelt every possible surface. Once the rain had slowed I told my mom to head home. I was concerned about her driving with the contact bothering her so much. And before you ask, she couldn’t just take it out. She has one for close up and one for distance.
I must admit I was a little nervous going through security this time. You see, I had picked up Beau a homemade catnip toy from my mom’s vet office. And I figured ground catnip probably looks a lot like good ol’ Mary Jane. To my surprise I had no trouble. Probably because I declared it – meaning I pulled it out of my bag for visual inspection. I then make my way airside and am struck dumb by a huge display of duty-free alcohol. And it hit me. You are allowed to take a small lighter on board. And what does almost every passenger have in their suitcase? Socks (or undies). Can anyone say Molotov? Yet they won’t let you take tweezers on board. Go figure. Way to go Homeland, you are doing a bang up job from what I can see.
Anyway, I find a seat at the gate and begin my journey of waiting. It would not have been too bad had it not been for this one heathen. No, heathen is too mild a word, hell spawn is more appropriate. He was running amok and one time he ran past me, he leaned in and made a move to hit me. I moved slightly and that was that. Or so I thought. Then later the little bastard hit home. He hit me! I couldn’t believe it. His mother said something to him in their language but that was all. I knew I should have clothes-lined him when I had the chance.
To make matters worse, our pilot and co-pilot were already on board but we were delayed because our “crew” had not arrived. At this point, I was like “Fuck the crew. All we need is the pilot.” But we wait. And we wait. Finally a group of cabin crew sauntered over to the desk and volunteered themselves for the flight, as apparently our crew was redirected to Richmond. Finally we board and I am crammed in a row with three people, although I am on the aisle now. Then this nice lady leans over and says there were some empty rows behind us and she hated to think of me crammed in that row. Thank you lady!!!
To make an (already) long story short, I get home, take the Shuttle – this time with three stops – and collapse at my door about 10 PM. My roomies had waited up to greet me and Mac1949 kept my dinner warm (so nice of him). Beau, I am happy to say, was glad to see me and did not feel the need to show his displeasure at my absence with feline aloofness. However, after a few days of tripping over him I began to wonder how much a proctologist would charge me to remove my cat. Alas, I have resigned myself to the fact that for many years to come I will never be able to go to the bathroom with the door shut. Beau has become obsessed with having visual confirmation of my whereabouts at all times. Even if I answer his “knock” (he rattles the door handle) it is insufficient and only serves to make him try the handle with more vigor. But I love the little bugger and wouldn’t change a thing.
Until next time, kissy, kissy, snog, snog
PS – Beau loved his catnip toy!