Monday, August 21, 2017

Atlanta Vacation Day 4

Today we spent most of our day at Zoo Atlanta. We met Caitlin and the girls in the parking lot a few minutes before it opened and were one of the first people in line. We had the zoo pretty much to ourselves for the first hour and a half.

We began with the stinky flamingoes. Stella was not a big fan of their smell and wanted to move on rather quickly. We then saw the elephants up close. They were out eating bamboo and other greens and got quite close to us.

We caught a glimpse of some meerkats roaming around their enclosure, as we headed to see the zebra and giraffes. A great thing about visiting the zoo first thing in the morning is that the animals are actually active. Both types of animals were walking around quite a bit. It was hard to get a good picture of them with the kids, because the animals were  all over the place.

The lions, on the other hand, were just lounging on top of a rock. They were already tired and hot – just like the rest of us!

We were glad to enter the reptile building and enjoy a reprieve from the heat. The snakes were not very appealing, but it was fun to watch the turtle swim in the pond. They had several tiny cute colored frogs on display. I learned quickly, the cuter the more poisonous they are.

The gorilla area was another fun stop. They had several juveniles and at least a baby gorilla on display. The baby would climb on his mom’s back and ride around with her.

Just like the lions, the adult orangutan were laying in the sun not doing much for quite a while.  We were waiting for Caitlin to feed Iris, so we weren’t in a great hurry to go anywhere. During our wait, one of the orangutans decided to climb up a rock wall and hang from a rope. It is amazing to see their agility and how far they can reach between their hand and toe grasp.

Around the corner we spotted a baby orangutan sitting up front playing by itself and were able to get a few more pictures. By that point, the kids were all starving so we decided to stop for lunch. The food court was cooled by some giant misting fans. The kids were more excited to see the fans, than to admire the animals.

After eating we resumed our walk and viewed the pandas in their indoor play areas. There was a mom with twin one year old baby pandas. It was fun to watch the young ones wrestle and play with one another.

Today is also a memorable day because of the total solar eclipse visible across many states in the US. We thought we would miss it, but came to find out that Atlanta was going to have 97% coverage, compared to the 93% coverage experienced in Salt Lake City.

We didn’t make time to purchase solar glasses while in Atlanta, so we had to improvise. Todd made a solar viewing tool by poking a really small whole in a cardboard box. He would project the box on a flat surface and the kids would observe how much of the hole was shaded. As the afternoon progressed, we would stop and admire how the sun spot projected through the little hole got more and more shaded.

Caitlin had to leave to take care of Iris, so we walked with her towards the front of the zoo. On our way, we made a quick stop in the tiger exhibit. We had passed the opposite side of it a little earlier and could not spot the tiger.

The second time was the charm. The tiger was playing with a ball in the pond against the glass. Carson was mesmerized by the animal. He left one crowded corner of the exhibit, and walked towards an area with hardly anyone there.  As he stood close to watch the animal just across the glass, the tiger decided to relieve itself and soiled the entire glass. Thank goodness for the glass, or Carson would have gotten completely soiled. Guess what was Carson’s favorite part of the day? Seeing the tiger!

The front of the zoo is where the train, splashpad and playground are. We got everyone a wristband and we rode the train several times, before getting tired of hearing the same recording over and over again. How does the conductor stand it?

The three youngest ones loved playing in the water. They got soaking wet running through the spraying water geysers.  Emilia, Carson and Todd were more interested in the solar eclipse. They were able to borrow glasses from other people standing near them, and look at the sun. They also continued to monitor progress through the cardboard box and camera.

Our surroundings got darker, but not completely black, as I thought was going to happen. The temperature dropped for a few minutes because being out in the sun didn’t feel as hot. Eventually, it reached its peak – but I can’t say it was as impressive as I expected it to be.

During our wait, Carson lost a tooth. He had been wiggling it for the past week and was really close to losing it on Friday but then he lost interest and it just hung in his mouth by a thread. Todd had only to pull on it lightly and it came right off. Now, the big question: will the tooth fairy find him in Georgia? I guess we’ll know for sure tomorrow morning.

The last exhibit we decided to visit was the Kangaroo area. It wasn’t too exiting, they were all laying down in the shade and we were being eaten alive by mosquitoes so we didn’t spend much time there.

We had planned to meet up with Dario and Caitlin at Uncle Julio’s for dinner at 6pm so we decided to kill some time by treating the kids to ice cream at Chick-fil-A.  Andrew was so tired, he fell asleep in the car before we drove a mile and didn’t stir when we got him out of the car seat and moved him to a booth at the restaurant.

He was out cold for a good 30 minutes before waking up and filling up on ice cream. Stella, who was still damp from the splash pad got even more cold from eating ice cream so we left Chick-fil-A and headed to Piedmont Park for the last hour.

The park is beautiful but very large and not very kid friendly. At least not the area we visited. I roamed around for approximately 15 minutes before deciding to head back to the car.

Uncle Julio’s was a great place to eat. My salad was average, but Todd really liked his combo platter. We chose to share a chocolate piñata dessert among the group. The waiter brought up a large tray with a chocolate ball dangling from a metal rod.

Emilia used a rolling pin to tap the chocolate piñata on several sides, as instructed, until it cracked releasing churros, berries, pineapple and other goodies from its center. The contents were delicious and the experience memorable.

It was the perfect ending to a really busy and fun filled day.

At home, we reached another milestone. We finished reading the book of Helaman.  The kids were excited to read about Samuel the Lamanite preaching from a tall wall but not getting hurt by the Nephite’s arrows and stones.