Sunday, June 17, 2012

Zoo Montana. Literally.

If you ever decide to visit Montana, you can drive around and see these animals in their natural habitats, or you can hit Zoo Montana for a one-stop-shopping for all your animal-viewing needs.

I've known people to have problems with zoo's, I am not one of them. I believe they serve an important purpose. And as long as the animals are relocated for species survival, they might as well be viewable by people who might never get to see and learn about such animals otherwise. Like I said, though, Zoo Montana doesn't really fall into the exotic-animal-zoo category.

The first time I hit up Zoo Montana was with my mom during my first summer in Montana. It took us about half an hour, then we hip up The Montana Brewing Company for some booze.

I've wanted to go since Zoey was a newbie but then it didn't make much sense. It was difficult to find people to go with me, and then I eventually forgot because Zoey grew out of being a newborn and my life got way busier.

Now, with the weather so nice and Zoey's insatiable appetite for running here, there, and everywhere, my last week of part-time mom status was as good a time as any to hit up the state of Montana within a 5 mile radius. So we gathered the essentials - i.e. everything under the sun - and were off in search of animals.

 For her part, Zoey could hardly wait to get out of the car. She just about climbs in and out by herself, and tries to buckle herself in.

 Us girls in our shades.

What you don't see is that 5 seconds after this picture was taken, I - Mom of the Century - pulled one of these:

I tripped on a crack in the sidewalk and almost made us fall flat on our faces. Somehow I managed to recover so neither of us hit the ground but, I swear, it was the scariest 10 seconds ever. What made it even more special was that a delivery man happened to witness the entire thing.

 Showing me the leaf she found, already this trip to the zoo was off to an exciting start.

 I make fun, but it's all in good fun. In fact, Zoo Montana's size and relative un-busy-ness is what I most appreciate about it, especially since I'm now one of those mothers who can't control their toddler. Unlike Denver or San Diego, the zoo isn't packed with millions of people and their five double-sided strollers, so Zoey could have a little freedom to run and explore. I won't lie, though, it was a lot of work for 'ole Mom.

 On our walk with the animals.

 Just pretend my face is in the other hole. I'd photoshop but I'm not that slick. Plus, why should I do the work for you?

 Like every other zoo I've been to, this one was crawling with peacocks. This fine gentleman took a shine to us and followed us all around the compound.

 Love this picture.

 She was desperate to climb up it.

I tried to get her to walk away and said, "'Cmon, let's go see the animals," and she thought these were it.

 The bald eagle exhibit.

 This is where the grizzly bear lives.

 We just learned the grizzly bear is against the side wall sleeping and if we walk to the left a little, we'll get an up-close view. Sorry, there is no picture. It was a battle between me and the end of the memory stick all day.

 Notice Mr. Peacock back there.....

 What's up, Mr. Mountain Goat?

Zoey checkin' out Mr. Mountain Goat.

 I'm pretty sure this was the river otter exhibit. On the other hand, I could be completely wrong.

 Either way, he was pretty entertaining. Zoey loved watching him run back and forth along the fence, Lord - and science - only knows what he was doing (I don't know much about either).

 Found some more leaves.

 The White Wolf exhibit. Most of the animals weren't sleeping, just lounging; it was late morning.

 Afterwards, we decided to rest on the grassy knoll with a fruit pouch.

 For some reason, she crouched down and yelled, "Cool baby!"

 Writing about her various adventures on her own blog.

(In reality, clicking a lot of things that needed to be un-clicked)

The zoo was fun, offered a different from the norm, and was extremely exhausting. Next time, don't be a hero, Breanne. When they offer you a stroller, TAKE IT! It may not be as big as Denver or San Diego, but running around with a toddler can sure feel like it.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

'Trippin' Through Wyoming

Which, less face it: as much as I love the west, the only way traveling through Wyoming is in any way interesting is if you're trippin'. Ok, the Tetons are pretty cool.

But when we drove into Wyoming last weekend, it wasn't the most interesting, but it was still kind of cool.

 Belfry, MT is bigger than most towns; it's one of the few with a sharp curve in the road.

 About 20 miles from the Wyoming/Montana border is a lot of wide open, grassy, sage-brush-y areas. This is around the entrance to the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway where we were the previous weekend.

 Something I took for granted until I moved to the East Coast; being able to see the road far ahead of you.

I forget which little Wyoming town this was.

 Entering bustling Meeteetse, Wyoming, one of the more populated and busy towns of Wyoming.

 The "main" street where most of the tourist-y restaurants and shops are. Well, there's about five establishments in all. Like I said, one of the more busy Wyoming towns.

 There are two lakes - or reclamation ponds, I haven't determined which - in Meeteetse and driving passed them always sort-of gives me the creeps; like the sky is always grey over these two "bodies" of water.

 Our doggies being doggies on the way to Thermopolis.

 From what I understand - Pre-Louis - Durbin was a relatively tame dog; more human than dog. He eats daintily and expresses so many human emotions it's not too far-fetched to take the idea of him being reincarnated as a human-being seriously (The Art of Racing in the Rain reference). With Louis thrust upon him, Durbin has begun to see the light in how fun it is to be a dog. And how "fun" it is getting nabbed by the dog-catcher, or nearly being kicked to death by calves, both of which Durbin lived vicariously through Louis. But he's picked up on the good stuff, sticking his nose out the car window, and digging through the trash can.

 Nearing Thermopolis, Wyoming

 Thermopolis is also more of a bustling town than you'll find in a lot of Wyoming; and even Montana, for that matter.

That giant red-rock mound has something along the lines of NATURAL HOT SPRINGS THIS WAY and a giant arrow printed in white rocks. Natural hot springs included, the town is pretty cool; it's seriously lacking in restaurants, bars, and liquor licenses, though. Definitely could use more of those.

It was our second-annual taking-of-the-dogs-to-my-parents'-house-in-Wyoming. Also known as Puppy Summer Camp. They came halfway from Pinedale, and we came halfway from Billings, and they'll bring them back when they fly out of Billings to visit my brother in Boston.

 The car was pretty empty (and quiet; we definitely did not miss the incessant crying every time we drove passed a cow) on the way home.

Or when we took the semi-long way and checked out Cooney Damn.

You're probably thinking to yourself, ok, where is their *real* child? We had asked Jacob's parents if they wanted to have Zoey for a weekend in order to celebrate our anniversary, but we couldn't find a good weekend until this one. So Jacob and I took the opportunity to have an adult weekend, drinking, eating crappy food, and sleeping until 9am. It was amazing, and a great way to end one chapter of our lives, and start another.

The Thursday before our Thermopolis weekend was my last day at the law firm. It was a good, ordinary day, that went by at it's usual pace. My coworkers did have cookies and ice cream in the conference room in my honor which was very sweet. And they gave me a really cute card.

Jacob and I really enjoyed our weekend out of town. The hot springs was amazingly relaxing even though you're only allowed to sit in there for 20 minutes. The night we arrived I had about 3 strawberry margaritas, then decided to run our dogs around the hotel property so they could have some exercise (dogs are very much welcome all over the town). Maybe it's because I'm knocking on 30 (or that I was stumble-running in my ballet flats) but the next morning I felt like I had broken my hip and it felt nearly impossible to climb the stairs. We drank, got drunk way too early in the day, ate what we wanted and didn't have to share, slept until mid-morning, told inappropriate stories with my parents, and sat in an adult-only natural hot-tub. It was great! I couldn't imagine a better way to kick off my new gig.

We do miss the dogs. Well, not so much anymore, now that we've discovered they chewed through one of the seat belts in the car. And sometimes I find myself forgetting that they exist. But I have to admit that I'm worried about them. Well, I'm worried about Louis. Every year he's been to Wyoming he's gotten into altercations with cows. So my mom is under strict instructions not to call me unless something happens, because if I see her name come up on my phone, I'll instantly start panicking. I had a long talk with Louis and informed him that he's 8-years old now, he's not as quick as he once was. I know, just what every guy wants to hear.

I know they're having fun, and being spoiled beyond an inch of their lives; just as it should be since a dog's life is entirely too short. The one thing to be said for Louis is that he definitely has lived his to the fullest; and those two cats he killed must have given him 18 of them.

Miss you, fur-babies!! There's food on the floor that needs to be cleaned up!