Monday, September 5, 2022

Denver 2022 day 2: May 5- The Ugly Monkey’s First Safari

 After arising at Stupid o’clock and travelling the day before, waking this morning was a slow and difficult task. We weren’t jet lagged…because none of us had any idea what time it was. This lasted throughout the entire vacation. It was a whole distorted perception well beyond jet lag.
Our first full day in Colorado was also our first day at the Denver Zoo. We’d restored our membership before leaving home, knowing our “Western Zoo Home” would require multiple visits.
There were massive (looking) crowds congealing outside the gate, as the Ugly Monkey pulled in, reminding us of a Peruvian Zoo trip. Once we entered- though there were class trips all over- it seemed very few of the outside mob were going in.  What was more likely, is the crowds were drastically less than what the New York area considers crowds, but since our area is used to them, they’re better at processing them and making them seem smaller at entry points.
Due to Avian Flu (Plague Part II- Electric Bird-A-Loo) all bird exhibits were closed. Therefore we started by passing the cool looking, but empty, new Penguin exhibit going toward the left side of the zoo. 
This was a reversal from our past usual zoo path. Sloth relocation is to blame.
The Zebras were the first residents encountered at our Western Home Zoo. There were Somali Wild Ass in with them, allowing me to be immature right at the start of the day. Woo! 
We wouldn’t learn why until later in the trip. 
Yes, I'm still pretending to be a good writer by using foreshadowing right after I laughed at "Somali Wild Ass," what of it?

Next up, the Giraffes were all outside. We tried to guess which one was Dobby, the large eared baby we saw on the last visit. We had some hunches, but guessing age of these towering creatures after a couple of years starts to become an exercise in futility.
Anabelle’s variable scale of animal preference shifted once again, and she was a proclaimed "Bear Enthusiast." On the way though the staged campground, I had one of the many delights of zoo and museum attendance.
I met myself.
When we reached the first viewing window for Tundra the Grizzly Bear, a small, blonde haired boy came directly toward us. He gave us a detailed explanation that the Bear could be seen at a certain angle from where we were, but would be much easier if we went over to the other window and looked in a different direction. He followed this up with much detailed information about Tundra and Bears in general.
After fulfilling enough of Anabelle’s Bear Enthusiasm, we did a quick pass of the Sea Lion pool and entered Tropical Paradise.
(Known that way to Firesign Theater fans that is. Everyone else in the zoo including my relatives, and the people who run it, calls it Tropical Discovery.)
We saw the usual jungle regions. It’s always fun to see the Capybaras, who always look like they've become settled and at peace following deep emotional trauma. Anabelle did her normal sprint through the Bat exhibit.
The Sloths were in their new home, high in a tree directly above the pathway in one of the larger display rooms. Anabelle stared up at them for a while, and then slid over to another nearby relatively immobile favorite, the Upside Down Jellyfish.
The Komodo Dragons were as impressive as they are anywhere, because…
Giant Freakin’ Lizards!
However, before reaching them, a miracle occurred.
The reason Anabelle was not happy with the Sloth’s relocation when the old Bird House closed was that large Aquarium tanks always gave her a major case of the Heebie Jeebies. A section of Tropical Paradise is filled with aquatic tanks, some running floor to ceiling.
When we reached that section, she proclaimed it, “Not so bad.” She had a very good time viewing the various fish and other sea life, as my heart filled with joy.
We exited, and I fooled with my sunglasses. I always had a slight tint on the tops of my regular glasses, and never needed sunglasses. After having a laser beam fired into my eyeball, I don’t need glasses anymore. The down side is figuring out sunglasses.
For a normal, non-buffoon this should be easy, however…
I’d often forget about them and wonder why it was so dark inside, or when it was cloudy.
Deciding where to put them in relation to my hat was another issue.
Clearly I do not handle change well.
We stopped outside Tropical Paradise for snacks, sunscreen, and to change our schedule about. Anabelle decided to embark on Operation “Exposure Therapy so I can See the Dolphins in Disney World.”  We moved Zoo Trip #2 from after the museum to the next morning and made reservations for dinner and attendance to the Downtown Aquarium that day instead.
(I like fish, leave me alone.)
We reached the Tiger exhibit just in time for a demonstration with Nikita the female they’ve had for a while. Over in the other cage was Yuri, who came from the Bronx Zoo. We’d known him since he was in our home zoo and spent some time with him, his new friend (and hopefully eventual girlfriend) and talking to the keepers about him.
Tigers are so gorgeous.
Sorry, no gag here, I just like them- 
regal looking, powerful, and nice colors!
Over on Ungulate Way, the Wild Horse that wasn’t in quarantine that day was taking a rest. Camels were cameling about.
Across the way we had a very confusing three way conversation that mostly consisted of:
“Is that an Okapi?”
“That is an Okapi.”
“That isn’t an Okapi.”
The issue was two of us were looking at two different animals in the enclosure, and two of us were reading two different signs. (Yes there was overlap.)
We noticed the Elephant statue outside their “Encounter” for what was the first time. Anabelle’s explanation was she probably saw it on every other trip to this Zoo but only registered it as “something white.” 
That’s my girl.
Continuing on Hoofed Mammal Road was another Somali Wild Ass.
(Thank you Denver Zoo for supplying me so much immature laughter.)
There were various other Antelope, including one that made me get excited because I love the way Oryx look, and the Bronx Zoo lost theirs years ago. (As anyone who visits there with me will find out. [“Yes…we know.”- Anabelle])
However, this was an Addax which is different from an Oryx in…
The spelling I guess?
(I said I thought they were pretty, not that I knew anything about them.)
At the “upper right corner” of the zoo we stopped for Anabelle’s usual Pachyderm Excitement Moments.  First up the Tapir!  Not very active this day, but still a Tapir. 

Right across the way, A HIPPO!  
Exciting because there isn’t one in our home zoo, and also…

Then it was back to the Tapir again. Honestly, if we weren’t targeting a demonstration of other animals she loved, we would have kept going back and forth all day.
Across the top side (north side? backside?) of the Pachyderm house were the Llamas. Jorge and the one I thought was Hernando.
It’s not…
It’s Fernando.
Fernando Llama. 
I am such a fool.
Coming fully around the Pachyderm house, Rosa and I were focused on taking pictures of a rock that looked like a Gorilla in the Rhino exhibit.
This was while we completely failed to notice the presence of the HUGE African Black Rhino next to the rock.

We had a quick stop at the new Mountain Goats before going in closer to the Rhino.  A couple of women had this exchange:
“A Rhinoceros?”
They were appreciative that we were the only ones there cracking up at the Wizard of Oz reference.
Coming by the “Front Right” animals, we stopped for our traditional singing of the “Water Buffalo” song before going to the Pahali Ya Simba.
(Translation “Lion and Hyena house, with a ginormous Lizard in it too.” 
I’m guessing.)
We were there for a demo. At the angle we walked in, a reflection made it look like a small child was in the side of the exhibit with the Lions. We wondered, “Is that the Demo?!?!?!”
The demo was keepers on the roof tossing hunks of meat to the Hyenas while they loped all around their area in a frenzy of excitement.  It was a hoot. 

Extra hootness was added by some fellow guests deciding one was clearly “Ed” my favorite from the Lion King. I helped them remember Shenzi’s name and we exchanged entertaining Disney references.
A great loss of hoots occurred shortly after returning home as our curse continued and we learned one of the Hyenas had cancer and died.
By design, the main cafeteria near the entrance was also nearby. (That would be by our day planning design.  I don't think the actual designers of the zoo gave a darn about when and where we were.)
They had about a third of the offerings from previous visits but the selections were quite tasty. Once the order was placed they gave us a beeper. Bonus points for going old school. 

At noon, there was no line in the main eatery of the place.
Occasionally, there are good things about not being in New York,
Another was the overall scale of the place as we had a great deal of energy as we started our second lap around to the left.
This time we stopped in the Sting Ray petting pool. The tiny Sharks refused to move, but we all had a great time petting the Rays. Anabelle stuck with the “Flappy Rays” not the “Ugly Rays.”
(Ugly Rays are the large, round Stingrays that wobble over the bottom instead of looking like they are flying. Their actual name is “Wubba Wubba Fish.”
I am very educational to have around.)
Rosa planned to come in only to take pictures, but by the end all three of us were elbow deep in the pool having a grand old time petting the Flappy Rays. (And the occasional Wubba Wubba Fish for Rosa and I.)
We crossed Ungulate Way again to enter the Elephant Encounter section this time.  We caught the end of the demonstration while Anabelle sampled the one Soft Serve location in the park.
I sampled the spinning drums in the exhibit in order to emulate The Golden Child.
“Can I have the kniiiiiiiiiiiife? 

Because it was protected inside a building, the Hornbill was on display.
(Anabelle likes Hornbills.)
We saw the male and female Gibbon together, and learned they weren’t a breeding pair. Rather they were in their thirties, and both their partners had died.  They were basically good friends at the old folks’ home together.
We spent a bit of time with the Elephants and Asian Rhino before the final zoo section- Primates! 

In the Monkey house, a bunch of kids were making Monkey noises, and one adult.

OK, a couple of kids made some noises and the adult made most of them.
Yes, the adult was me.
The Gorillas were all sulking.
(Because they are a male only group.)
And the Orangutans were not out that day.
(Meaning there was another large primate sulking.
Yes, that was me too.)
Then Anabelle joined in the sulk because the Red River Hogs were not in their area.
However, things perked up when we found them over by the Mandrills.  We found the Mandrills too! Like on our last visit there was a new baby.
Coming back around the bottom end of the zoo, we paused for a brief Goose moment.
We spent a longer time with the Mountain Goats, which replaced the Dall Sheep for reasons we don’t understand. The left over Bighorn Sheep (without the male) remained next door.
Rosa asked me to get her a good picture of the Rhino when I went over to look at it again. There’s just something about Rhinos, they’re so huge and ridiculous looking, kind of prehistoric, and kind of “A Buick that’s alive, but with a giant head.”
As soon as I got there and was ready to take a good picture, the Rhino took a whiz.
The good picture was slightly delayed. 

Anabelle and I had been saying Pachyderm as much as possible because it is fun. Rosa asked what it was. Before I could explain that it was an artificial construct from before genetic evidence was understood, Anabelle simply pointed to me.
Ha Ha.
A pretzel vendor was thrilled by my Herculoids shirt, sparking conversation from me, and embarrassment from my offspring. Sadly, he had no salt free pretzels and we continued on…
Stopping only for another rousing chorus of the “Water Buffalooooooooo” song. 

The Gift Shop stop was a bust, since we’ve bought everything we’d want there on myriad other trips. It was a sleepy ride home for the passengers of the Ugly Monkey, meaning it was probably for the best that Anabelle forgot Pigeon on this first trip to his birth place.
We stopped at Walmart on the way home for our near continuous need for supplies. It would eventually reach a point where Anabelle said, “People are going to ask, ‘What did you see in Colorado?’ and I’m going to tell them, ‘Walmart.’”
That night was our first walk around the nearby lake. Sadly the “Spooky Tree” we used as a bench mark for the start of the trail had fallen down. (Note the excellent picture of no spooky tree.) Anabelle took the jump rope we picked up on the supply stop and skipped her way around, because nonstop walking all day just isn’t enough for some people.

We finished up, washed up and looked for a dinner location.
The really good Mexican place across the street changed names. While we were researching what that meant, Anabelle and I discovered the menu of the place next to it, “The Flying Pig.” 
Their pulled pork tacos sounded fantastic…and they were!
The plan was to take Abuelita to a Brazilian Barbecue for Mother’s Day.  This would have been a fantastic plan, if anyone made reservations once we made this plan.
The only openings Sunday were after the bedtime of the entire state of Colorado, therefore we made one for lunch on Saturday.
Rosa made some high speed Dinosaur appointment time changes, and the weekend was set. Since it was Mother’s Day that the three of us would be hitting El Rancho I checked online and made a reservation for lunch instead of just showing up.
(Ha Ha! The bitter irony.)
The women of the group picked Ella Enchanted to watch. True to form, Rosa forgot the plot of the movie…and the fact that we own it.
It was much better than I remembered. Once it gets going it is a great Fairy Tale Mash Up (with insane out of place musical numbers), which I’m a huge fan of. Plus the cast is fantastic. The beginning must have turned me off so much I didn’t pay attention last time we watched it.
I have that problem with many versions of Cinderella. They go out of their way to make the step family overly cruel and evil (in usually illegal ways) and they almost never get any comeuppance.
After the way they behave, unless they are set on fire in a public place, the ending never feels satisfying.
The movie finished, we put the rug under the air mattress to stop my night shivering, and I delved further into Tolkien’s Legendarium before passing out.


Dina Roberts said...

I didn't know (or forgot) that Annabelle had a fear of large aquarium tanks. Although now it's kind of feeling familar. But anyway....that's fascinating.

There's something so exciting about hippos. Maybe it's the mixture of adorable, super dangerous, and water. I wonder if we'd love dolphins even more if they were deadly.

It's very sweet about reuniting with the tiger. I wonder if he remembers you guys. Do tigers have good memories?

I love imagining you and Rosa taking a photo of a rock. It's stuff like this that makes me feel you guys are memorable enough that if tigers have good memories, he will have remembered you guys.

LOL about the child-demo.

I'm curious if the soft serve was good. I'm really picky about soft serve.

That's sweet about the gibbons. Unless they secretly hate each other.

It's been way too long since I've watched The Golden Child. All I remember is "There's a ground."

And the oatmeal!! I don't know why. But it was oatmeal with blood? Or something that looked like blood? Or...maybe it wasn't oatmeal.

The photo of the no-tree is excellent.

Jeff McGinley said...

Thank you. It came up less often as we tended to avoid those kind of tanks.

Hippos are amazing, and dangerous, and cute, and really well adapted to water. Its a weird combination. Dolphins have been known to kill sharks by butting them hard enough to throw them out of the water, so there's that.

Tigers to form bonds with keepers but since we only saw him from a distance through glass, I'm guessing he doesn't remember us, or our general antics. But thanx for the memorable compliment.

Anabelle is also very picky about soft serve and gave it high marks.

The Gibbons usually stay close together and groom eachother, so unless they're quietly insulting one another in Gibbonese, I think they're friends.

The Golden Child is one of many of those weird little 80's films that has embedded itself in my family's psyche. the blood in the oatmeal was to get the chosen one to defile himself. It did not work.

Wait till you see the pictures of the other things that weren't there on this trip!