Zoo trip!


Ben, Lisa, Jake and I went to the zoo today. Well, Max, too, but he wasn't really aware of the adventure as much. We left fairly early (for me anyway), to catch the ferry over to Seattle. Even with a two year old (maybe even because of the two year old), ferry crossings are wonderful events.

Although the day was pleasant (with SUN!), I can't say it wasn't cold. Very much what I expected, actually, temperature-wise. Very much surprised water-falling-from-the-sky-wise, actually. So, into the zoo we went, with Ben handing me the map, and leading the way. The family has a season pass, so my $6 ticket was the only additional expense on the trip.

We saw hippos ...

... who have pretty big feet.

We saw the giraffes, but they managed to take too long to actually come out of their shed, so we of a two-year-old's attention span didn't see much of them.

We saw elephants ...

... no really, I was there ...

... and komodos ...

... and owls ...

.. and gorillas ...

... and a lot of really ugly children. What is it with small children that there are just so many ugly ones?

I ask you.


The creatures who live in the zoo and stay at night. So, there was this one monkey, simian biped HOWLing near the gorillas. We had heard one of the women talking about the gorillas in a way that clearly indicated she knew what the heck was going on with the gorilla, so we asked her about the howling when she walked by us.

Turns out, this particular monkey was born and raised in captivity. When he was old enough, a female was introduced to him, and put in his area. The female was mature enough to reproduce and, according to the zoo woman we had stopped, making all the right moves to start the courtship. The howling monkey, however, DIDN'T KNOW how to DO IT, so managed to miss completely.

In an effort to continue this particular line, the female was moved to a different zoo with a male who knows what to do, and another female, who is past her prime and had her mate die recently, was moved in. The female and the howling male were howling to each other, presumably to start the mating ritual.

Not that the boy monkey would know what to do.

We continued our zoo journey after learning about the monkeys, and saw a big cat...

And somewhere around here, my bladder started calling out to me. I had to dash off to the nearest building with a toilet.

Now, I recall getting lost as a child, maybe 8 years old, at the Marriott's Great America (probably a Six Flags now). The experience was traumatic enough to remember a couple decades later. When I stepped out of the building with the restroom, and couldn't find Ben and Lisa and Jake, the desperation feelings of an eight year old me washed over me.

Fortunately, the adult me was fine. I went off on my own to visit the pink flamingos ...

... before finding the family again.

They had wandered fully into the big cat exhibit, not just the one cat we saw earlier. Ben managed some amazing pictures of the cats.

We together next wandered into a kids playland, a building where adults are allowed in only if accompanied by a child. I'm not sure about the three to one for Jake, but no one seemed to mind.

Lisa pointed out that the building was fairly empty at this point, but that when it was raining, the place was PACKED with kids playing and parents standing around bored. How about that for a switch?

Jake enjoyed the slide.

About this time, Jake was getting tired. The attention span of a two year old? Yeah, not so long. So, we started our journey out of the zoo, but not before seeing one a Southern Pudu, which is a full grown deer smaller than Bella.

I wanted to take one home with me.

Not that Bella wouldn't have tried to eat if I had.

All in all, a good trip.

Visiting Carboat Beach


Ben, Jake and I went to Carboat Beach this morning. Ben gave Jake a choice of going to the beach for a walk or going to school. He chose the beach, so off we went.

Walking along a beach with a small person is a significantly different than walking along a beach with an adult. In particular, we move slowly. As in slowly enough to take lots of pictures. YAY!

I can say that I like walking at the small person pace.

After dropping Jake off at work, Ben and I went back to the house to work. During the work, we updated Ben and Lisa's site. We were FAR more productive sitting next to each other working on his site for two hours than we would have been working on it remotely for two months. A very satisfying afternoon.

Journey north to Seattle


The project I'm working on with Doyle's company was supposed to launch yesterday. When I was told this a month ago, I made arrangements to head up to Seattle to visit Ben and Lisa. That trip happened today, even though the project I'm working on didn't actually launch yesterday. Ben commented that he had some work to do tomorrow, so, even though he took tomorrow off from work to spend the day with me, he'd let me work. A little.

My flight was at an inconvenient time, so Kris dropped me off early at the airport and left. I was glad for the slow, casual pace in getting to the gate, as well as the extra time at the gate to work. In particular, I set up my system for working on the above mentioned project on the plane. Good thing, too, as I managed to complete a number of tasks.

When I arrived in Seattle, I had hoped that the shuttles would be inexpensive when compared to a taxi, to get me downtown. The cost of a taxi was estimated to be $35. The shuttle? $32.75. Yeah, taxi time.

As always, the ferry was an enjoyable experience. Boarding with the commuters, I stood out as I took pictures of the skyline, then of myself standing in front of the skyline. The ferry trip is fun, a fact that I fear most of the people on the ferry have forgotten. The ferry has no magic left for them.

Which is sad, really. I still have the magical feeling when I train up or down the Peninsula. It's a fun adventure, away from the need to concentrate on driving, away from the worry of injuring someone with a ton of metal, away from the stress of other people's annoying driving habits. Yeah, the train is fun. The ferry is fun. Too bad most people forget that.

When I arrived on the island, I called Lisa. I had forgotten to take down her work number, so called her cell phone. Unfortunately for me, but not really, she wasn't answering. I decided, eh, I think I know where I'm going, but not really, so I started walking in the direction I thought downtown was, not really knowing how far away Lisa's work was.

Less than half a mile, I'd say. With a much needed bank on the way.

When I arrived at Lisa's work and asked for Lisa, a coworker walked me to the back where Lisa was. "I have a surprise for you!" she sang to Lisa, who was standing in an office, looking puzzled. "Surprise!" I called out, and the three of us laughed. I was very happy I had walked over. Not only did I manage to exercise, if only a little bit, but the surprise on Lisa's face was wonderful.

Lisa wasn't quite done for the day, so I decided to satisfy a hot chocolate craving I'd been having since the early morning when I walked past the airport Starbucks. The Starbucks Premium Hot Chocolate is amazing, and I was craving that.

Instead, the local coffee shop mixed me an unsweetened, mild hot chocolate that didn't have the overwhelming chocolate flavor I had been seeking.

And yet, the drink was still fabulously delicious, with its unsweetened whipped cream on top.

Until the bottom of the cup. Where all the sugar was.

Two swirls near the end of the cup and it went from pleasantly unsweetened to unbearably sweetened and undrinkable.

Teach me to stir my chocolate.

I worked for a half hour or so during the chocolate drinking, then wandered back to Lisa's work. We went to pick up Jake (who had put his shoes on opposite, and was wary of me in a Stranger-Danger sort of way) from school, and went back to meet up with Ben, who had just finished his workout at the gym.

The four of us then proceeded slowly, which is to say, at Jake's pace, to a local eatery where Lisa brilliantly sat us down at the corner, low table with comfy couch seats and HEY look! a box of children's books! YAY! Jake read all about the bus and the ocean during dinner.

I asked to work for the rest of the evening after dinner, sorta tuning out from the family so that I could finish up the work I was doing on the project for Doyle's work. My chest is still incredibly sore from yesterday's workout, which is great (unless you're Kris). Hopefully tomorrow will be less work focused and more play time. We'll see.

BLJ in town!


Megan organized communal dinner as Ben and Lisa came into town for a near-week visit. Ben and Lisa are planning on staying with us for most of their trip, and we are waaaaay excited about their stay.

Lisa once made a comment when we visited them a while ago, about how, even after the long absense, we were able to just slide back into the comfort zone of our friendships when we were together again.

Lisa said it far more eloquently and succinctly than I just did.

This evening, I was totally overwhelmed with the same feeling Lisa expressed as we arranged for dinner with Megan and Lisa. Lisa and I talked about topics that are so personal for me, ones that I hold so close to my chest. Yet, talking to her about them made them less worrisome, less shameful in some cases, more bearable in others.

I miss greatly having someone I could talk to this way, knowing there isn't any judgement, only a desire to listen and help.