I agreed to cover my usual Friday/Saturday days off for a coworker so he could go to a wedding this upcoming weekend. However, the way our pay periods work, we couldn't just trade weekends. I had to take two Mondays off instead of his usual Monday/Tuesday "weekend." Actually, I chose Mondays hoping Meghan would be able to go to a zoo or birdwatching one of those days. Yesterday we went to Brookfield Zoo and had enough fun that I'm hoping the memory will carry me through the next 6 straight days of work followed by one day off.
It was a rainy Monday morning and I picked up Meghan on the way to drop the kids off at day camp. We figured Brookfield has plenty of indoor exhibits and the threat of rain would keep the masses away. We were right. It turned out to be a beautiful day (lower or mid-70s) with some occasional very light rain and small crowds. The majority of the animals were outside, or if they were inside, they were visible in their indoor exhibit. The only animals I remember not seeing that I wanted to see were the red river hogs. And really, that's not much of a disappointment when I work with 10 of them every day!
One of the most exciting parts of the day was on the drive. We were almost to the zoo and stopped at a very long light when each of us noticed a hawk on a light pole. We quickly realized we were looking at different birds of the same type. They had a very distinctive pattern on their heads and Meghan said "I think they're peregrines!" I didn't think peregrines were that large and made her look them up in my bird book. Sure enough, a pair of peregrine falcons! My first! I think Meghan's first, too, but regardless, we were very excited.
Back to the zoo... We toured around and saw a baby wombat, an active aardvark, the beautiful new bear and bison exhibit, baby roadrunners, a very playful baby sea lion, lots of active big and small cats, dolphins and even two kinds of walkingsticks. It seemed that everything was active on this cool, cloudy day. Our last stop was The Fragile Desert building. We will soon be getting rock hyrax at our zoo and wanted to check them out. Our goal was to check out hyrax "output" and check the rest of the exhibit for hiding areas, food, bedding, etc. We had just walked up to them when a keeper happened by. We introduced ourselves as keepers who would soon be getting hyrax and asked how they are to work with? "Oh, they're AWFUL!" She then gave us an extensive behind the scenes tour and we met several other keepers who gave pained looks and offered condolences at our "misfortune." I wrote down tons of stuff and got invaluable information. Most of their major problems seemed to be with breeding animals of opposite sexes. We're getting a bachelor group that's been together their whole lives so hopefully we'll get lucky and hyrax will be fun and wonderful and shoot love and rainbows from all their orifices.
In other weekend news, we celebrated Kaylin's birthday at my parents' house Saturday evening. It was sort of a last second idea, thrown together because Ben and Sarah and the kids would be home. It worked out nicely. The kids were thrilled to play with their cousins and even Grandpa and Grandma Kaiser were able to come. Kaylin made and decorated the 4 layer cake. I was in charge of getting the cakes out of the pans and I stink at it. Advice would be welcome! Kaylin got all kinds of cake decorating stuff for presents so I imagine many more cakes in the near future.
My dad got Kaylin a tent and Gene helped set it up on Sunday. The kids were determined to sleep in it Sunday night, but by midnight it had started raining. I woke at 2am to strong thunderstorms, but the kids (and all their stuff) were already inside in their beds. Apparently Kaylin was too short to put the cover on the tent so it was rained on all night and part of Monday. I didn't get home early enough to deal with the wet tent last night. Hopefully tonight I'll be able to towel out the standing water and it can sun dry and not mildew. It's a great tent and both kids love it.