Vacation Endnotes – Part 2

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.

Click to enlarge

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.

I was shooting through a mesh fence and trying to blur it out. That is why there is some color distortion and faint lines.

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

One of our lunch companions.

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!

Vacation Endnotes – Part 1

Well, my vacation is over and I am finally recovered, so why not write up a finale (in two parts) to this segment?

I spent the week doing homework and waiting for my mom to get home from work.  On Tuesday, we were able to have dinner with some of her previous colleagues, which was fun.  It was great to see them again.  I get such a kick out of their company and I am so glad they were able to accept my mom’s invitation on my behalf.

Now, at my home, we don’t have TV.  I mean, we have a TV but all we get is a blue screen.  This is the way it has been for years now.  People seem aghast when they learn we don’t even have basic cable.  Nope, not even the three local channels.  But I like it this way.  It is too easy to get wrapped up in it and waste away before it.  I no longer schedule my week around being home in time to watch “my shows”.  I do miss some things like the History Channel.  But that is beside the point.  So when mom and I would get home, all full and happy, from dinner at first I was slightly annoyed that my mom turned on the TV.  No biggie, I just tuned it out.  However, something kept snagging my attention.  It was a TV show called The Big Bang Theory.

It is no surprise that I had not seen, or even heard, of this show until this particular week.  With its band of quirky, misfit characters and offbeat humor it intrigued me.  So the next night when we got home, I worked on my computer until I heard it announced to be coming up next, at which point I shut my computer down and paid attention.  I immediately liked it.  By the end of the week, I was not bothering to turn my computer on at all and sat on the couch – AKA the “dog’s spot” – to await this bizarre spectacle.  My mom does not know this yet but she created a monster.  Upon returning home I went out and bought all five seasons at my local used DVD joint.  Ever since I got them, Mac1949 and I have watched at least two almost every night.  We are currently amidst season three and I think we will both be disappointed when we complete what is available to us.

On a side note, Mac1949 thought that I should sing the “Soft Kitty” song to Beau.  After he mentioned it several times I thought “What the heck” and paid attention the next time they sang it in an episode.  Now I sing it to Beau when he cuddles with me at night and sure enough, he loves it.  I probably could be singing about anything but since it has the word “kitty” in it, and he knows that word, it probably helps.  Anyway, he will usually start purring louder.  Very cute and it is a great bonding thing for us.  Here is an artful photo of Beau that I took last year.

Anyway, back to the vaca.  My last week was pleasant.  We didn’t do any running around to speak of, so it was just calm.  I was flying out on Saturday evening and we knew our only chance to get to go to the National Zoo was to do so Saturday morning.  We knew this was going to be very wearing but I was excited because the zoo had babies!!  Not one set, but two – cheetah cubs and fishing cat cubs!!!  I love animals but I have a special fondness for wild cats as I had a rare opportunity to help hand raise a Texas Cougar/Florida Panther mix in 1995 – 1996.

Part two coming soon.  I cover the zoo and the trip home.  Until then . . .

Kissy, kissy, snog, snog

Good Golly, What a (3 Day) Weekend!!

Wow!  I will try not to run on too long but it has been an amazing weekend!!  Saturday morning we headed south for the Virginia Scottish Games.  This is held on a huge field area where you can tell they train horses.  But there were tents for animal groups, clans, merchandise and of course food!!  Some traditional, some not so traditional.  There was also areas set aside for Highland games and dancing.  It had rained just enough to make it muggy, where sweat just rolled down you – yuck!!

After the festival, we left Virginia for New York.  Our route takes us Virginia – Maryland – Pennsylvania – New Jersey – New York.  We have our Google Maps printed out and our Sat Nav, we should be good to go.  And we were.  We had no problems getting to Nanuet, New York where we had found a pet friendly motel.  We get in at about 5 or 5:30 and order in food, since we are not allowed to leave Sammy in the room by himself.  We eat, watch Hop on HBO and hit the sack a little before 10, knowing we were heading out again early.

Now here is where it starts to get interesting.  We had planned on hitting Sleepy Hollow on our way up to the Catskills to see the ceramic cats they have displayed.  However, the Sat Nav from hell decided to rear its ugly head.  Instead of having us take 87 across the Tappan Zee, it sent us on 9W up and around and way out of our way!  So instead of getting to Sleepy Hollow in about 20 minutes, as expected, we found ourselves already close to the Catskills!!  So we decide to swap our plans around and see the cats first.

“FLY FISHING CAT” by Amy Radley

“XLC IRONCAT” by Stephen Flach

The cats were amazing!! I wish I could post all the photos I took.  The “litter” had 43, we saw 40 and one was M.I.A.  But it was great to see the whole street lined with ceramic cats every so many feet.  I really hope to see them in future years!!

Ok, cats were seen, now we start the journey back south again and finally hit Sleep Hollow, which we missed on the way up.  OMG!!!  What a stunningly beautiful area.  I would love to be able to live here.  Sadly, tourist wise, we didn’t have the best of luck.  We didn’t make it into town until about 3 PM, and everything closes at 4:30!

So we hit the gift shop at the Philipsburg Manor, got some information on the cemetery, and headed in that direction.  Sleepy Hollow has the graves of Washington Irving, William and John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and Walter Chrysler.

After we finished, it was time to head back for home.  We reprogram the Sat Nav so it would include toll roads (the reason it screwed us on the way to Sleepy Hollow!!).  Next thing I know . . . I WAS IN NYC!!!!  Yeah, baby!!  For about 20 minutes anyway.  It was hysterical, I was like a little kid, excited trying to crane my head to look at everything.  My mom, on the other hand, said in a resigned voice, “I hate you, Sat Nav.”

But we made it – there and back – all in one piece.  It was a blast!  We didn’t get back to the house in Virginia until 10 PM.  We pretty much collapsed into bed.  Monday morning came around and we were both still pooped, so we decided to stay close to the house and rest.  We had breakfast and then stopped at a few of the Manassas Battlefield sites.  We even got a nap!!  God, I miss nap time.

Before dinner we go back into Manassas, so I can pick up something at Best Buy and hit my favorite store up here – World Market.  I love this store and I have to stop by every time I get up here.  On our way home from dinner, we pass the Manassas campus of NVCC and what do we see?  Deer – lots of deer!  And Canada geese – lots of them too!  So we pull over and try to get some pictures.  However, I have bad luck.  Being dusk, it was getting difficult to get a good photo.  Also, for some reason, I could not stabilize the camera – so just about every photo came out blurry.

It was stunning though.  Even a couple young deer were playing together.  Then dad comes along to help keep an eye on the kids.  And everywhere we looked there were more deer!  We must have seen close to 2 dozen by the time we made it home.  How lovely to see them in the wild – and healthy – unlike the one we saw at the beginning of my trip.  It is nice to see they have found some salvation near the historic battlefields.

In closing, I would like to apologize if this post has been a bit incoherent, but I am tired and am having difficulty concentrating.  So, until next time – kissy, kissy, snog, snog!!!

Lazy days of vacation

The first full day of vacation wasn’t too bad if I do say so myself.  Nice, relaxed and lazy!  Just as vacation should be, right?

Yup, and I am going to enjoy it and nothing will give me a problem!!  Did you just hear screeching brakes?  You should have because that was Mother Nature and with a flash of light and an evil Muwhahahahaha, I was saddled with Nature’s Curse.  I am a bit miffed about this as it always seems to happen to me when I am least prepared.  I am just thankful that Mac1949 reminded me to pack essentials in the event this should happen.  But why now?  Why couldn’t you wait until after Monday and we get back from the Catskills?  *Pout*

My mom and I had a very pleasant evening.  She was able to get out of work a little early and spent some time talking before we left for supper.  I learned a ton about shelties.  My mom loves shelties and is very active with NVSR – the Northern Virginia Sheltie Rescue.  They are having a picnic at the end of September and my mom organizes the bake sale.  So if you are in Northern Virginia next month, check it out and pick up some yummy stuff for you and your dog!!  Anyway, she just


adopted Sammy at the beginning of the year after she had lost her previous one, Jasmine, to old age.  I have no idea what Sammy’s previous owners did to him but he is a bowl of quivering jelly!  Even after 8 full months of living with my mom who pampers the heck out of him, he is still timid with almost everyone.  No worries though, I am slowly wearing him down!!

While we were driving to Manassas for supper – with my seatbelt stuck on “decapitate” – we saw a deer along the way!  (I mentally kicked myself because I had planned on bringing my camera and didn’t.)  It was both a good and a bad thing.  It was amazing to see a wild deer very close but it was obvious that she was struggling and probably sick.  She was amazingly thin and you could see her ribs.

When my mom moved to Aldie, her development was pretty much the only fish in town – or at least it seemed that way to me.  The area was not developed and was surrounded by tree groves and tiny winding roads.  Now it is being ripped up for more development, which is a shame.  The area was beautiful and it was wonderful to go through.  And I imagine all this encroaching construction has compounded that poor deer’s problems – as well as other herds.

I am not likely to post until we return from the Catskills.  So keep an eye out next week for more adventures while being out of Florida!!

kissy, kissy, snog, snog