Monday, October 3, 2016

A is for Animal Treasure Hunt

For our current round of alphabet dating, Jeannene got to go first. I had no clue what we were going to do, just that I needed to wear comfortable shoes. I'd guessed a few things, including "animals," but she said none of them were right. On the morning of our A date, she told me I'd need to choose a crayon to take with me and that I might also want a back-up crayon, in case I broke one. That really got me puzzling! I was trying to think of ways either grave rubbings or bark rubbings could be an A date. One of my friends suggested that perhaps it was "ancestors." That would certainly fit with grave rubbings. Not, perhaps, our particular ancestors, who are mostly buried in the Midwest. Someone's ancestors, though.

Before we headed out, Jeannene said, "Would you like to know what you're going to do?" I said, "If you want to tell me. Otherwise, I'll find out when we get there." She said she'd go ahead and tell me, producing a clipboard and handing it to me. On the clipboard, were pictures of animals whose names started with the letter A. By each one, I was to check it off when I'd found it, then write what I liked about it. If I found all the animals, I'd get a prize! I was really impressed that she'd taken the time to research what animals were at the Denver Zoo and create my treasure hunt. Since it was a treasure hunt, "animals" alone was, technically, not the date, too, so she was free to tell me I had guessed wrong on that!

We'd been to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo with friends shortly after we arrived in Colorado, but not yet to the Denver Zoo. So, we tucked Elijah, our 10-month-old, into his car seat and struck out for the zoo! We had a wonderful time visiting all the animals. We couldn't find the Arctic Fox or the Asian Small-Clawed Otters. Jeannene was anxious that we not run out of time, as she wanted me to be able to complete my treasure hunt and get my prize, which was sweet. I was less concerned, though, about the prize than about seeing everything we could see. We had purchased a zoo membership when we arrived, so I knew we could come back, but it was fun to make the whole circuit of the zoo.

My favorite things were, as always, the big cats.
 I think Jeannene and Elijah were probably most impressed with the gorillas.
I can't wait to take my mom to the zoo when she comes to visit! Over lunch (a hot dog on a bench near the place where Elijah got to touch a tortoise), we did some research and discovered that the Arctic Fox was no longer resident in the zoo. So, I got to cross that one off my list without losing any points. I didn't think we'd be able actually to see the Asian Black Bear, as it was resting in its cave when we got to the area. However, when we doubled back, there it was! Yay!

We didn't think we'd find the otters at all, either, but discovered that they live in a building in the elephant area. So, we returned to that section of the zoo.
Jeannene was pretty sure we wouldn't be able to find them, as neither of us remembered any kind of display we hadn't seen or a building we hadn't entered. However, sure enough, there was a building we'd thought, for some reason, was only for staff. Inside were the otters, as well as a Fishing Cat, which was such fun to see in person! I'd seen a PBS special on them and found them delightful.

Jeannene informed me that, since I had succeeded in finding all the animals (except the missing fox), my prize was getting to choose anything in the gift shop I wanted. We discovered, though, that the gift shop at the Denver Zoo is primarily geared toward kids. Much of the merchandise is more souvenir-y than anything. So, Jeannene said, "If there's nothing you really want, you can take a rain check." So, that's what I did. Elijah almost got a really cute fox onesie, but it was quite pricey, so we left it behind, taking with us only terrific memories, loads of pictures, and bottles of water for the ride home.

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