Back to the Zoo

Dear Liza,

On Monday, Grandpa Nelson and I drove over to Auntie Katie’s house. School hasn’t started here in Portland yet, so we still have time for summer!!

First, there was some important business to take care of. Kestrel had lost one of her magic fairy keys (from a Birthday a few years ago at Fernie Brae here in town). It was, she said, tossed on the grass at the Ladd’s Addition Circle Park while she was making a magic spell, and lost in the grass. In the bright light of day, we figured we could find it.

Hands and knees for 30 minutes, asking at Palio Coffee and Pastries, and even enlisting friendly passing strangers, all to no avail. Whether the fairies decided they wanted the key back or we just looked in the wrong places, the key continues to be elsewhere.

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Jasper on the bronze goat

Then the next order of business, getting ready for the Zoo! Breakfast, shoes, and hats were found and dealt with, then we were on our way. Grandpa Nelson opted for the car so the trip home would be quicker when we were near the end. He’s a smart Grandpa!

It was a pleasant day…not hot, but sunny. Lots of people, but not crowded. We visited the Pacific Northwest Canyon (my favorite part of the zoo, because it is foresty and has lots of creeks and waterfalls) and acted out being coyotes and rabbits. We talked to the bears and saw river otters napping in their dens.

We had a sit down to refuel our good natures, with cookies, water, peanuts and a reading of Million of Cats by Wanda Ga’g.

At the petting zoo we visited with goats and saw a new “Catio” installation, with information about why keeping cats safe and happy is important for birds and other animals, as well as our sweet kitten friends. The kids also enjoyed the ice cream and merry-go-round. Because grandparents.

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Charge!!!

Then, off to see the elephants. They were coming out into the public area just as we got there, and Lily, the youngest, was positively prancing! She really seemed happy to be out with the people. Everyone was waving as she ran up and down, smiling a baby elephant smile.

The Free Flying Bird show was on, and we sat and watched eagles, parrots and even a North American Kestrel (the bird, not the cousin) fly from one perch to another. Oshi, the toucan, decided to re-write the script and flew from one perch, under the bushes, hung out for a while, to the top of the stage, and finally down to accept a bunch of blueberries. It was wonderful to hear the ladies ad lib the show during Oshi’s fly-cation, telling us about how they train the birds with positive reinforcement.

Lunch was next! Africafe fed us hot dogs and gave us a cool place to sit down. We watched people and drank so much water I thought we would pop, but zooing is thirsty work.

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Being Bears

On the way out of the zoo, we saw a sculpture group called “Lunch Break” by local artist Jim Gion, who died just a few weeks ago. We got to meet him this spring as he was sculpting outside his studio. He was a talented artist and a very nice man.

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Lunch Break, by Jim Gion

We had originally planned to also see the Children’s Museum, but we were done. We will come back Thursday for that. I was pleased to see how responsible the children were, wanting to see the museum but realizing it would be more fun another day. A quiet ride home, pizza for dinner, and a tired but happy Grandma delivered home.

More tomorrow!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Zoo Lights

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Happy Mouse

Dear Liza,

It is still very sunny here. Mouse enjoys sitting in the south facing glass and screen door, feeling the sun and watching the bird and dog action. Fortunately, the door keeps the cold out. The low has been 32 degrees, (freezing, actually freezing) and the high temperature only 44.

 

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Cousin Kestrel reading

Last night Grandpa Nelson and I picked up the Cousins at their school. Then we walked over to Auntie Katie’s shop, Books with Pictures, and we all took the bus and train up to the Oregon Zoo for Zoolights. The train and elevator were packed with families. This is something a lot of zoos do, but it was my first time.

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Waiting for the train downtown

At the zoo, since most of the animals are asleep or in dark corners away from the fences, the trees and lights become the attraction. All sorts of animals are outlined in lights.The trees become a fantastic forest of lights with the people just moving shadows underneath. It is eerie and wonderful.

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Glowing Ostriches
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Bremen Town Musicians in lights!

It was also cold! After about an hour, we were feeling chilly and empty. We stepped into the Africafe for corn dogs, hot cocoa and some warm conversation,  and soon were feeling cheerful again. More walking, including racing a lighted cheetah, and then we were done.

Auntie Katie and her dear friend Chelsea drove the tired cousins home, and Grandpa Nelson and I took the train and bus back. The newly painted train station was quiet and almost empty.

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Beautiful train station under Washington Park
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Sparkling Forest

We will take you next year, if you come up during winter. Bring your mittens!

Love,

Grandma Judy

The Oregon Zoo

Dear Liza,

Today Grandpa Nelson and I went to the zoo with Cousins Jasper and Kestrel. We took the #4 bus from their house to Pioneer Square downtown, then the Blue Line Max train to Washington Park, where the zoo is. The zoo is on top of a hill, but the train doesn’t go up the hill…it goes through a tunnel underneath the hill, and when we got off the train, we took an elevator straight up to the top. The train station is 260 feet below the surface where the zoo is, so the elevator is as tall as a 28 story building! That is almost 5 times as tall as the tallest building in Salinas. The elevator went really fast and we were at the top in about 10 seconds.

We got became members of the zoo, like we did for the Art Museum, so we can go whenever we want. It is also a way of supporting the zoo, because wild animals are expensive to take care of.

The first animal we had to see was Lily the elephant. She was born at the zoo when your cousins were babies, and they have sort of grown up together. When we got to Lily’s enclosure, which is in the area of the zoo called Elephant Lands, she was far away and hard to see, but the kids shouted hello to her, anyway. We walked down a hill and found a big grassy field called the Amphitheater.

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Kestrel watching the flying birds

The people in the show, both young ladies named Bree, had wild birds fly from different parts of the field, right over our heads! There was Eagle Owl, which is the largest kind of owl. They live in Africa and hunt African Hedgehogs at night. Bree and Bree also showed us a Red-Tailed Hawk, which is an Oregon wild bird that has learned how to live here in the city. They nest in large trees on the hillsides and hunt rats and pigeons, so they actually help keep the city clean.

We learned that different animals have different names for their groups. Just like there are herds of cows and flocks of birds, there are dazzles of zebras and crushes of rhinos. I don’t know who makes up the names, but they sure are interesting.

We visited bears and penguins and got sprayed by a fountain, and then we found the  The Discovery Zone. There was a building with all sorts of activities and critters inside, like a place for kids to make up their own puppet shows, baby turtles being raised in big tubs, and games to learn about how animals live.

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Jasper making a puppet show

 

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Kestrel and Grandpa Nelson…Jasper in the background

There was also the insect zoo,  a room where there were glass boxes with really interesting bugs. There were two kinds of tarantulas, stick insects a foot long, and even a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, as big and your daddy’s thumb, which I got to pet! Cousin Kestrel watched, but didn’t pet it. It felt smooth, like it was made of glass. There were more games and young people telling all about the insects.

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Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

By this time, we were hungry for lunch we walked to the Sankuru Trader, way out by the giraffes, and had hot dogs and pretzels, with a blue raspberry icee for dessert. We felt so much better after the rest and food!

We walked all the way to the other corner of the zoo to visit the Great Northwest area. It felt just like hiking in the forest! There were beautiful trees and waterfalls, with windows that let you watch the ducks paddling on top of the water and diving underneath, too. There was a model of an eagle’s nest, and Jasper, Kestrel and I pretended we were a Momma eagle and her babies learning to fly. It was so much fun.

There was even art at the zoo. There was a wooden carving showing bears and silly cats, and a mosaic showing the stages of a salmon’s life, and a statue of mountain goats that we got to climb on.

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Kestrel, Salmon mosaic, and Jasper
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Silly Cat Carving
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Grandma Judy, Kestrel and Jasper on the goat statue

When we had seen all we could see, we took the elevator back down to the Blue Line Max train, changed to the #4 bus, and took the cousins back to their house. It had been a fun, but exhausting day. We all took naps that afternoon before dinner.

Love,

Grandma Judy