Word on the internet street is that yesterday was the first day of fall. I don't know why I'm so reluctant to let go of summer this year--last year, our first Virginia fall in years and years, was welcomed with the openest of long-sleeved arms and premature sweater shopping. There's something about living by the beach (hi! we're living by the beach now! Please see Extended Blog Absence for more information.) and the way this summer sped by in a blur of husband's thesis, polar vortices, hand-foot-and-mouth disease, and moving trucks that made it feel way too short. And yes, for my avid fans, I did just self-plaigiarize an Instagram caption I wrote a few days ago. Fire me. It's good to be back in the Tidewater, where we haven't lived since college. Well, according to that highly legitimate Wikipedia page, Alexandria may be in the Tidewater too, but let's not pretend that northern Virginia isn't its own state.
We're doing kindergarten at home for Eva, for obvious gypsy reasons--we've just arrived here, and we'll be leaving by the end of November. And our every spare warm moment has been spent on the beach so far, but the sand is getting a little cold on the toes and the wind is picking up, and yesterday the cool air was gently seeping in our open windows and making us all antsy and in need of adventuring, so we inadvertently honored the first day of fall with our inaugural trip to the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk--properly known as the Virginia Zoological Park, because it's historical 'n' stuff!
You can find all the information you need at that link, but from our perspective it's half an hour away and we immediately bought a military family membership. There's nothing like a membership to take the pressure off of you all to see all the things and do a forced march through this "fun outing". This way we were free to eat our lunch corndogs and Teddy Grahams over the course forty-five minutes. Oh yes we were.
Clockwise, from upper left: orangutan face, a bathroom?, otter face, and very large flowers.
The grounds are beautifully landscaped, with some classic old-fashionedy zoo displays. My friend who went before me caught some of the history and told me about it, but apparently it went in one ear and out the other. The paths are toddler-friendly and routes are fun and interesting, without excessive walking between animals. It is much, much flatter than the Smithsonian National Zoo in D.C. (our previous membership--it's not you, it's me, honey...I just can't do the long-distance thing) and has a slightly more family-friendly feel. Or maybe it was just the lack of crowds and perfectly cool, overcast weather. There are a lot of these pedestrian overpasses through the animal enclosures.
Clockwise from upper left: I love a zoo that is intimate enough to have to have signs like that; that elephant was putting on a show with that tire; Eva's favorite bird is the vicious but impressive African crowned crane; baby bongos!
You are not supposed to bring food, and you are most especially not supposed to pic-nic. And yet there is ample space for it, and word on the zoo path (once again thanks to my adventurous friend! I generally don't speak to strangers.) is that it is not frowned upon in actuality. We bought food there and it was slow but cheap enough. Think fair food.
There are ample benches and open areas for kids to run. There are also extras like a petting zoo, outdoor butterfly garden that had lots of wild birds, and a for-real train on tracks. And of course, because I'm sure you're wondering, they do in fact have lions and tigers and several types of bears. We can't wait to go back.