Saturday, June 29, 2013

You belong in the zoo...

...the San Diego Zoo.

Before I continue I want to mention that Legoland exceeded my expectations. Large, varied, interesting to parents as well as young children (though I expect among teens only the most Lego-geeky would enjoy themselves). The food was good. For some reason, lines were at their worst first thing in the morning, and the loading procedures would give any theme park fan a heart attack, but it was all very forgivable after seeing Theo's glee at everything we did. They have an awesome splash zone that merits a full swimsuit, and that's what I'll bring for him next time. End review.

The one really big thing we forgot to bring with us was a stroller. It seems crazy, but I don't have it in the car all the time anymore, and it just didn't make it onto the packing list.

At Legoland we rented a stroller and it worked just fine, except that Theo's cousin was a wee bit jealous. We decided to rent a double stroller for our second day out, this time at the San Diego Zoo.

Turned out this was a genius decision. The kids loved riding together. When one wanted out, the other wanted out too, translating into more participation from Theo. There were tons of ramps and hilly parts allowing for speedy downhill runs to make the kids squeal. We covered a ton of ground and shared the duty among four adults. WIN.

We saw endless animals, too many to list, and it was endlessly fascinating, at least for us adults. Theo likes animals the same way nearly all kids do. He's not overly into them, but he enjoyed many of them, especially when you take into account the sheer number of times we said "Look, Theo! Get out of the stroller so I can pick you up! See, in the corner? See his head?" There's a point where you stop trying to get him to see the obscured or sleepy animals, and realize later that he's so full up that no, he doesn't want care about the amazing full view lions you're seeing, and that's that.

I remember as a kid having only a small appreciation for zoos. My memories involve being annoyed that animals were always hidden or asleep. I didn't care at all to look at a sleeping animal. I'm also sure that I had no appreciation for the rarity or the power of the species. You can see that same "so what, I've got all these guys in a book at home" look on Theo's face. As it is, the enclosures are so well constructed these days, you get maximum viewing, all the time, and it's pretty overwhelming.

All that said, he got a kick out of many of the exhibits. Pandas, elephants, apes and monkeys, various birds, big cats, all kinds of things caught his eye and interest for a least a little bit.

Every bit as exciting was our commitment to the penny press. We started Theo on a squished penny diet back at Disneyland and now it came to full fruition. The machines are everywhere at these parks, and in SD they're more fun, because they're operated by a manual crank. We ended up allowing two pennies per park and Theo adored every penny-squishing second, as well as the clanking keepsakes he's now got in an old Altoids tin.

We planned our day at the zoo well, and ended up at the back of the park for the Skyfari, which we called the Skyway after the long-gone Disneyland ride. The Skyfari takes you back to the entrance. Throughout the day we could see the ride above us and Theo was always mentioning it, always asking about it, and always seeming brave enough to take it on. Just like Legoland, I was surprised and optimistic, but as I said last time, it can seem like you're flipping a coin, and you never know what you'll deal with at the very last minute.

Once again he stepped up to the situation perfectly and had no qualms about getting onto the loudly banging buckets and swinging up into the sky. He loved the view, he loved being up high, he loved all of it.

Win, win, win. Baby Upgrade.

More to come.

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