Family Day Out at The Henry Ford Museum

On Monday, Billy surprised Wyatt and I by taking a vacation day! We considered going to Greenfield Village but it was cold and then started to rain so we switched plans and went to the museum instead. Greenfield Village and The Henry Ford Museum are two parts of the same museum and we haven’t been to the actual museum in quite a long time. It was definitely time to go back. And they have a special exhibit right now, the Heroes and Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume exhibit!

We loved it. These costumes designers are so talented, with billowing dresses, perfectly tailored suits, and all the various whimsical fairy tale touches.

Billy and I couldn’t believe how tiny these actors and actresses must be to fit these wee little outfits!

We all had favorites:

Ok so I had two favorites. The costume that Julie Andrews wore as Mary Poppins, and Keira Knightley’s Sugar Plum Fairy gown. Wyatt loved the Captain Jack Sparrow costume, and Billy loved Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent dress.

After goggling over the costumes we moved on to the rest of the museum.

One of my favorite permanent exhibits is the Your Place in Time exhibit. It takes you through the different generations and highlights the different technologies and pop culture of the day. The 80s bedroom was so me. I even listened to Depeche Mode and had a moody James Dean poster. Wyatt is such a music kid – he enjoyed listening to the music of the 50s and 60s, especially The Beatles. And while I might be a Gen Xer, I think it would be really cool to live in the hippie geodesic dome. (not to be confused with the Buckminister Fuller Dymaxion House that is there which is also super cool)

I always have to go visit the William Hopson sign too. His story is so crazy, and romantic to me. Lol. He was also a bit of a looker. He has a page on the Smithsonian site as well – he was a well known and beloved pilot in his day.

Billy and Wyatt were more excited about the trains and cars – and there are so so many. Seriously. I did take this photo of the stagecoach trailer that belonged to the Lindberghs. Anne wrote her novel The Steep Ascent in it!

And in case you have wondered where certain items from history end up, check museums. They are probably there. The Henry Ford has a sort of macabre collection of items within its walls – including the car Kennedy was in that fateful day in Dallas, and also the car Reagan was in the day he was shot as well. It is strange and eerie and sad to view the Kennedy car; I wasn’t alive at the time but I have seen the footage numerous times and can picture Jackie trying to climb out the back very clearly, and it brings that day to life for me, as learning about history should, even the sad and tragic moments. The Henry Ford also has the chair Lincoln was assassinated in, and Edison’s last breath. We didn’t do the whole museum this time but we will go back. We use our membership pretty heavily, and my favorite thing about a membership is that you don’t feel you need to get everything done in one day.

And on that note, we were ready to head home, one of us with a little souvenir.

Field Trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts

Circumstances have aligned that are going to make going places and doing things much more accessible for us. First, the wheelchair! Wyatt is working on walking but just doesn’t have the stamina or endurance to go very far, so we need the wheelchair until he gets there. And we have one now and life is easier! Second, the pandemic has reached a point where I feel comfortable taking Wyatt into places like museums again. We still wear masks but things are better for us around here. So I was super excited to take Wyatt to the museum!

We rolled up early in the morning., bright and early at 9 when they open. We are get up and go people, we are up early anyway (thanks to early bird boy) and I also like how empty a place is that early so, there we were. The only other people there seemed to be the people going to the Van Gogh exhibit (which I need to get to before it leaves) so we sort of had the rest of the museum to ourselves for quite a while. My mom went with us, as did Billy since he had the day off to go camping. (he headed out after our field trip). We had a great time.

First up were the Diego Rivera murals, the whole point to our trip. Wyatt has been learning about Diego River in art and I was really excited to be able to show him some actual, in person, works of Rivera. He could not believe how huge they were. They are pretty awe inspiring.

After we spent some time here, we moved on to the ofrendas, a special exhibit right now. I wanted all of us to see it, as this month Wyatt and I are focusing on all Hispanic artists this month and I also have some lessons about Dia de los Muertos as well coming up. My mom, Billy, and I were very moved by these personal and emotional creations. They were very elaborate and thoughtful. I was not comfortable taking photos of them for obvious reasons, but there were some parts I did feel it was ok to do so. These ofrendas were intended for public viewing to educate but also still were personal to the artist’s family, so it was tricky.

After soaking in the ofrendas, we wandered around the rest of of that floor. Wyatt was more excited about using his wheelchair than he was about the art and we had to keep him in check – I was slightly anxious my exuberant child was going to knock over a Roman bust or something.

Just a few more, I promise.

We didn’t explore the whole museum this time – I figured that this was enough for this visit and we can back and see the rest later. I also wanted to visit the gift shop before we left to look for Frida, Rivera, or Day of the Dead stuff. I could have poked around in there all day but my guys were getting restless.

The DIA offers a free educator pass to homeschool families which is pretty cool! I applied in September and received mine a few days later. I am looking forward to seeing what they offer!

Our first wheelchair field trip adventure was a success and I am looking forward to our future adventures!

Franken Fest

My husband is more of a social animal than I am, and for the duration of COVID, has been locked down pretty tight due to our son’s different needs. I know he has been missing the liveliness of being somewhere that has high energy, people, things to see… so Saturday left the house early, masked up, and went to Franken Fest.

Franken Fest has apparently been around, but this is the first time it was in the Detroit area. We are huge Halloween fans and love monsters and cryptids and spooky stuff so we thought this event would be pretty neat to check out! Bonus – it was on the site of Fort Wayne in Detroit, which has been around as a fort since the War of 1812, and was used by the military until as “recently” as Vietnam. My dad actually shipped out from Fort Wayne. Now however, it is a series of crumbling buildings that historic preservationists are trying to save. We are going to go again one weekend when it is not a festival, the grounds deserve their own post..

Back to Franken Fest. I learned about it through the reptile rescue group Saving Scales Reptile Rescue. I want to adopt a rescue tortoise sometime this winter and was doing some research – in particular, I wanted to see a Russian Tortoise in person to get an idea of their size. Saving Scales was doing on the spot adoptions (I did not give in to temptation and adopt a tortoise…this weekend at least) so we headed there first. I enjoyed talking all things reptile with the volunteers and meeting their adoptable animals – leopard geckos, snakes, tortoises…all so cute! They also do educational outreach to schools and parties so I met their educational assistant, a blue tongued skink named Emma. I have never seen one in person like that and I was surprised at how big it was! I

After checking out the animals, we walked around the festival, perusing the art and creations. Since we were there at the time it opened, 11 am, we were really the only ones walking around, which was nice. Everything was scary, horror themed which was different from what we usually do. It was a fun change! I found a few really cool booths and creators! I did not buy anything, only stickers from an artist whose store is called Monsterologist. He had stickers and patches and posters based on legends like the Loch Ness Monster, Mothman, Sasquatch – it was fun! Wyatt picked out a mothman sticker, I chose a Loch Ness Monster sticker, and we bought a mothman sticker for my brother’s family, since this summer they vacationed in the area that legend derives from. (Not intentionally) There were also a few things I have never heard of – what is the story behind that frog, I wonder?

We also really liked this booth. Artist Jess Sheeran creates these adorable little critters! We are thinking of maybe gifting some at Christmas time, they are so cute! There was one with a mushroom themed headband that was cute, and also the little “nuggets” are so squishable!

Artist Stephanie Ellis really captured my attention though, with her more nature based art. She had prints and t-shirts, and I loved that she will reuse vintage t-shirts or t-shirts that are thrifted to screenprint on. Can you see why she caught my attention?

Finally, the art at the Gnarled Barnacle was definitely worth stopping in for a chat. They make “electric art” which I had not heard of but Billy had. They somehow use electricity to burn the wood, like a lightning strike in my mind but I am sure it is not that dramatic. Billy just told me they are passing an electrical current through the wood so I don’t think I was that far off. And how perfect was their booth for an event called Franken Fest!

After about an hour of wandering around, it started filling up so we decided it was time for us to go. We had seen everything anyway so we were ready. It was nice to do something different though and now I feel like I am really ready for fall!

The Weekend Vibe

I felt like we lived in this car most of the weekend! We kept busy for most of the weekend, whether it was time spent outdoors, with family, and sometimes just taking a ride around. I apologize, this will probably be a long post with lots of photos!

Friday morning we loaded up the car with our new little red wagon, a cooler of water, my backpack of snacks, and headed off to the zoo! We were meeting my brother Devin, his wife Chrissy, and my niece Dino Girl. Thank goodness it was a cooler day, it has been so hot and humid in Michigan it’s like a swamp out there. But Friday was practically perfect.

Whenever we go out we have to make choices on how Wyatt will get around. A backpack carrier? And with me or with Billy? A stroller? I hate that these options limit his independence to practically nothing, but he outgrew his wheelchair over the past year and the way insurance works, if we were to get another one we would practically insure that he would never get another walker again. So, we are trying to work around that since he is working on walking and can use a walker, just not well enough for a trip to the zoo. And not to be negative on here since I hate doing that, but my husband took him for a stroll around the neighborhood the other day in the stroller and was stopped by someone asking what Wyatt’s “issue” was. They also let Billy know that Wyatt was eligible for therapy services, like he hasn’t been in them since he was six months old. So frustrating. I get that the person had good intentions but frankly it wasn’t her business. And now I feel super self-conscious taking Wyatt out that way, I don’t like people staring at him. It will more than likely happen his whole life but I want to be able to make things as easy as I can for him when I can. I’m his mom. I can’t help it. Anyway, Thursday night it clicked that we could use a wagon. So, Billy headed out at 8pm to find one. And delivered like the awesome dad that he is. I felt like the wagon would first, blend in, and second, I was positive my niece would crawl in there at some point too, giving him company and making him feel less isolated. And it was so much easier to take him in and out, he could move around a bit, and it folds down into a bench seat as well. Win-win. There were a million wagons at the zoo too, just like ours so I feel like if he looked around, he wouldn’t feel as different.

Anyway. Once that was out of the way, we were golden for the whole day. Zebras, lions, giraffes, rhinos, camels, tigers – they were all out and about and looking cute. Zebras are Wyatt’s favorite (and mine) and I was excited to see them so close this time!

However, we all seemed to love the Amphibian House the very best. I guess our family does love its little creatures!

I also got super excited about this turtle in the marsh system outside. And this bee!

Saturday we stuck closer to home. We loaded up our little wagon again, this time with picnic supplies, and had a little picnic in the park. Later on that night we had drinks with my brother and fam, plus my dad and stepmom too.

It was so hot and sultry out this weekend, and I think we were all remembering our many trips to New Orleans – which inspired Billy to make a cocktail. Which he never does. And I rarely drink at all, if ever. But it was good, y’all. Also, my new favorite summer wine made an appearance. The drink Billy made is called a Gin Basil Smash, and it is so light and refreshing and citrusy. And actually so is the wine. (Loveblock, Sauvignon Blanc)

Sunday morning, and we just kept on rolling. We took a drive around Detroit, specifically Belle Isle and the farmer’s market area of Eastern Market. Eastern Market was closed so I was able to grab photos of the beautiful street art.

From here we headed to Belle Isle for a total change of scenery…

And someone got a little sleepy.

It was a busy, full weekend, full of people and sights and things that I love.

I hope you all did something or talked to someone that made you smile over the weekend!

A Trip to the Farm

Last Saturday we took a ride out to the country. I had placed an order with Trillium Wood Farms in efforts to better support small Michigan farmers. This is better for the animals, for us, the environment – it’s really a win-win all over.

I would say local farmers but for us, a trip to the farm really is a road trip, at an hour and half drive one way. It’s a pretty drive though and this time I enjoyed seeing the suburbs, then the city, slowly turn into fields of green, dotted with animals along the highway.

We started early, picking up coffee for us and hash browns for the kiddo before hitting the road. Wyatt decided he preferred Goldfish crackers to his hash browns though. This kid and Goldfish crackers…lol.

I rarely talk about the fact that we live a mile from the Detroit River – it has been a fixture in my life for so long that I just don’t think about it. But Saturday we drove along the river for a bit, watching as the sun hit the water just so, making it glitter.

It wasn’t long before we were on the highway, heading west. It was not a bad way to start the morning, hot coffee, hash browns, the radio playing country music as we all sang along. There wasn’t much traffic since it was Saturday morning, and we just enjoyed the time together.

I had to take a photo of the Fowlerville sign. When I was attending Central Michigan, my friend and I would say “Fowlerville, already??” every time we passed through on our way back to school. It was the halfway mark, and I am not sure why we said it but I find myself thinking it when we pass it now, still. Here the landscape really begins to change from city to rural, and I kept my eyes glued to the fields around us, looking for horses and cows and hawks.

While we were en route one of the farmers emailed me that they had to change part of our order (which was ok) and to not be alarmed if we saw pigs running around when arrived, since a tree had fallen on the fenceline and they had escaped. I have to admit, it did make me a little nervous. I have a little bit of a fear of pigs, they can bite through metal and I feel like they just want to take a chunk out of me. I know this is irrational but..there you go.

We did not see any pigs on the loose however when we arrived. Wyatt was disappointed but I was quietly relieved. We were the only ones there and it works on the honor system for no contact pick up, we just grab our order from the freezer. So we took a minute to stretch our legs. We didn’t stray away from the lot so as not to trespass on the farm itself, although I did want to get closer to the cow and the turkeys I could see. We did see pigs in a pen so they must have gotten rounded up and the fence fixed. They were a little distance away though across a small field and through some trees.

We did make friends with these cuties! Farm dogs and farm cats.. I love how that tabby is guarding the deliveries like she is the postmaster or something.

I am reading a book called Sheepish right now, and the author, Catherine Friend, talks about how small farms are really the only link for people to be able to get up close and personal with farm animals these days, and how if you do not grow up near them farms are places people can go to experience that wonder. I know in talking through emails with the sisters that run this farm that they do offer little tours of the farm to interested people. I think we might take them up on that when it is safer to do so.

As we were leaving one of the farmers was coming back up the drive and we stopped to chat a few minutes about the dogs. There is something to be said about knowing where your food actually comes from, the people raising it and caring about the entire process. The sisters at Trillium take the raising of their animals very seriously and treat them with compassion, all the way until the end with a humane quick finish. After our chat, it was sadly time to turn around and head home. We watched the drive in reverse, from fields to concrete and traffic and felt like we had had quite an adventure for not quite noon. One of us even needed a nap.

The car covered in black and white swirls is a sure sign we are near home again. These are the new models of cars that haven’t been released yet and we see them all the time around here. Since they are still secret they are covered in this to disguise them although we can usually guess what they are. It’s a common sight to see around here with all the auto industry.

So, it was an interesting morning for us and one we plan on doing again soon! We didn’t order much this time but hope to do small orders once a month or so. If nothing else, we get to take a nice ride together and see some new sights!

An “Otterly” Fun Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day began with pancakes. Heart shaped pancakes with whipped cream and M&Ms, to be exact. It was a cold cold morning, and these pancakes warmed up Wyatt’s little belly while Billy and I drank tons of coffee, which was needed to keep up with our sugared up kiddo. Billy and I decided to be a little silly this year and do a theme for gifts. We don’t even usually do gifts, but this year we are celebrating everything we can. I am going to share what we got each other at the end of this post, but let me tell you our theme…

Our theme? Otters. A little unusual, but perfect for our nature loving family. And otters, while actually sort of vicious little creatures, also do something so sweet and cute – hold hands while they sleep so they don’t drift apart. And I love that so much. So, because we were all about the otters this Valentine’s Day, we had to go to the zoo and see them!

It was very cold – like 20 degrees- but sunny with blue skies, and we bundled up in many layers before hitting the road. I was still a little nervous but I wanted to go. Our plan was that if it was too cold, then we would just head home. We have a membership, since we go so often, and I love it. We feel so much more freedom with a membership, and feel we can enjoy the zoo without feeling pressured to get it all done in one day. We can just take our time and wander around, see what we want to see.

Anyway, the day was gorgeous and once we were in the sunshine, it didn’t feel that cold. I won’t share too many photos of our zoo trip, as most did not turn out, but the day was amazing. We were only there about an hour but it was perfect. We pretty much had the zoo to ourselves, most of the animals were out sunning themselves, and we had so much fun. Our first stop was the otters – who was laying in the sun enjoying himself. (or herself, I don’t really know) We ended up seeing the red pandas, the tigers, the camels, and the arctic foxes before packing it in for the morning, but it was just enough time. We had wanted to see the wolves but they are all the way in the back and we decided we would come back and see them soon.

We stopped for chicken nuggets and fries on the way home since we are fancy, and ate them in the car on the way to my mom’s. I had a few things for her, including Wyatt’s homemade Valentine.

After chatting with my mom a bit we headed home and just chilled out. Later we ordered pizza for dinner and Billy and I got a chance to use our Valentine’s gifts to each other – matching otter glasses – a whiskey glass for him (although he had cider in his that night), a wine glass for me. They are adorable! We had read Wyatt his book before we went, but we read it again – Together by Emma Dodd. Also adorable.

It was such a great day with my guys!

Mini-Post: Feeling Squirrely for Chestnuts

Last Sunday was a gorgeous autumn day. The light was perfect, the trees were on fire, it was warm but not too warm, it had just enough crisp in the air to make you know that fall has arrived. In short, perfect. My favorite kind of day. I was happy too, because we had planned a small new-to-us adventure – chestnut foraging! I am calling it foraging although it was more like collecting at a chestnut farm, which I didn’t even realize was a thing. But foraging sounds better to me, so I am going with it.

When we arrived, I was surprised to see the place was hopping! Getting chestnuts is serious business – people were leaving with pounds and pounds of them. These are the type of chestnuts you can eat – the type that grow in our neighborhoods, the Horse Chestnut are toxic and inedible. These are the sweet English variety, the kind you hear about in old Victorian stories, or even stories from your own father who grew up in the sixties and has memories of buying roasted chestnuts from a cart and enjoying them. We had sort of anticipated just grabbing a pound or two and then figuring something out after, we were going for the experience and to enjoy the day out together doing something new and outdoors. This figures importantly later, you will see why.

Despite it being busy, I was so happy to see everyone had a mask on, and was distanced. The only place that was crowded was the roasting area, where Farmer Mike was showing people how to roast their own chestnuts, and it seemed like the people crowded around it were usually family groups. We skipped that part anyway, but for the most part, everyone had masks on and was staying well over six feet apart. We sanitized a bucket and headed out to the stand of chestnut trees, and got to work.

We were scrambling around on the ground like squirrels, gathering nuts, going from tree to tree, to pile to pile, exclaiming over the shiny conkers. Lots of getting up and kneeling back down, crawling about, throwing the chestnuts into the bucket as we went. It was a workout for my thighs as well, which were a bit sore the next day… and Billy even had Wyatt strapped to his back in the backpack carrier, so he had a bit more of a workout even. They were a good team though.

Once we filled our bucket up halfway, we decided we had enough, considering we had no idea what we were going to do with them anyway. Roast them for sure. But then maybe cake, like Rowan’s on the Bake Off? Soup? We tossed ideas back and forth as we walked back to the front to pay. I decided to stand in line (which was outside so bonus) while Billy and Wyatt went back to the car.

I waited patiently and then overheard the cashier tell the person in front of me some alarming news – they only took cash or check, and the nearest ATM was miles away. Guess who didn’t have any cash or checks on them? Yep me. I sadly had to dump my bucket out under the trees, consoling myself as I went that some people were going to find the piles and be excited over the jackpots they were finding. I walked back to the car, slightly disappointed, and informed Billy and Wyatt that the good memories of our adventure were to be the only things going home with us.. good thing at least that was the objective. Although, some chestnuts would have been nice too. We decided to consider this a scouting mission, and that we would return next year having learned two things: the first, bring cash. Second, bring work gloves, those sea urchin like protective seed casings are prickly!!

So, we went home empty-handed but at least it had been a good time. And Michigan was at its best, all lit up for fall.

A Slow and Cozy Fall Day

Saturday we hit the city; Sunday, we were back tromping in the woods. It was the most perfect fall day. Not too cold, not too warm. The leaves were a blanket over the ground, crunching under our feet, paving a yellow golden road for us. We didn’t hear many birds, just some geese flying overhead occasionally, and sometimes catching a glimpse of a woodpecker or two, with their distinctive red heads. Mostly we walked and talked and listened to the woods, keeping our eyes open for an owl tree, where an owl may by roosting. A few signs would be a tree that has been “whitewashed” and owl pellets at the base. Despite our best efforts though, we didn’t spot one. Billy and I are going on an owl prowl in a few weeks though, so hopefully we spot an owl that night!

I found the teeniest little baby acorn!! We may not have spotted any owl trees but we did spot lots of mushrooms, and stopped to make some nature art near the trail out of acorns and oak leaves. Billy also made a “clock” to signify the time we took to hike together that morning near the trail as well.

When we got home, we dug in and kept cozy, listening to music, having impromptu dance parties, and baking. Well, Billy and I at least. I made an apple pie while Billy tried his hand at a hand raised hot crust pork pie, inspired by the Great British Bake Off. We have a pie project for this month, and this was our first attempt. I have never made a completely from scratch pie, nor has he, and we didn’t do too bad for the first round. My dough was a little tough, which I guess can be too much water or over handling. Billy needed a little more flavor in his filling and he had made his crust a little too thick. So, we will see how we do next time! My recipe came from the Art of Pie, and the filling was delicious! I ended up using Granny Smith and Gala apples and it was very tasty together. And I apologize, I am the worst at food photography!! I thought Billy’s little dough piggy looked cute though.

I am so glad that we had such a fabulous fall day together, because the next morning we woke up to a whole new landscape…

We got 6.5 inches of snow!! Our little gnomes in our gnome garden are totally snowed in! And it is still here, sticking around.

But hey at least we had pie!

A Sunday of Foraging and Gathering

After a week of not feeling well, by the time Sunday rolled around I was feeling well enough to get out. And I wanted to. Needed to really. Cooped up for so long at home we all needed to stretch our legs and breathe in some fresh clean air. Greenfield Village is closing for the season in two weeks, and we wanted to get a last trip in before they close. We have had so many fun day trips there this year that we wanted to take a last walk around. And I knew it was decorated for their Halloween event so it was bound to look pretty cool too!

The air was brisk and cool, the day was a bit overcast, but it all added to the moodiness of the moment, with the jack o’lanterns lining the streets as far the eye could see, the hay bales, the spooky scarecrows – we felt like we had entered some sort of creepy children of the corn type town this trip.

We meandered our way over to the gardens, which in the summer time is bursting with blooms and busy bees, little birds darting here and there, and elegant butterflies floating from flower to flower. A garden in fall can be just as beautiful, but I think they are in spite of the lack of life. The beauty is a stark one, a lone candle in the window, if you will. The colors shine so much brighter, mimicking the colors on the trees around. There is glory in the brightness of fall, the last flare before winter.

Billy is naturally an outgoing person, and he and Wyatt strolled around that red house while I poked about in the garden. He ran into a friendly gardener who gave him two seed heads, from a sedum and a blackberry iris. She told him that if saw anything in the garden that we liked that was either off the plant and on the ground, or had gone to seed, we could gather and save for our garden next year! I usually have my seed envelopes with me because I am a nerd so we spent some happy time gathering seeds from flowers that we will plant in the spring. Wyatt enjoyed playing among the rows like a little bunny, some of the flowers taller than him. He is such a sweet kid, smelling the flowers and enjoying time in a garden.

Needless to say we found some things. We harvested seed pods and black walnuts, just a few and left the rest for the squirrels, and nicked a few blooms that had been already been bent practically off by overzealous wildlife, or perhaps other people, or their purses and bags or strollers. We felt so lucky leaving with our bounty!

It was nearing lunchtime so we picked one last spot in the village to visit before heading home – Daggett Farmhouse, my favorite. It makes me think of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and it was so perfect to visit so close to Halloween.

If I could move into the village, this is the house I would pick. I love it so much. The colors, the simplicity, the squareness, the big garden, and the windmill next door. Lol. So very New England. It was built before America was America, this house, can you believe it? We poked around outside and headed inside where the reenactors were sitting down to a lunch of pies and cabbage. It looked delicious honestly. Wyatt really enjoyed the mention of pie – I am pretty sure he is going to dig our month or so of pie making. Or at least the eating of them.

We headed home to our lunch soon after, bowls of warm chicken lemon rice soup, which I think did much magic for our colds. It was a good day!

World Giraffe Day

Friday was World Giraffe Day and also summer solstice, celebrating the longest necked animal on the longest day (or night depending on your hemisphere) of the year.

Wyatt loves giraffes. They are his favorite (coincidentally, his favorite colors are also orange and yellow..) We were already planning on celebrating solstice in our own small way, by eating summery fruits like strawberries and getting together with some friends, but when I read about Giraffe day, I decided to make a whole day of it. Billy even took the day off from work so that he could celebrate with us all day as well!

We headed out early, basically waking up and packing up our “adventure backpack” as we call it and hitting the road, zoo bound. The giraffe festivities at the zoo were starting at 10, but I like to get to the zoo, or anywhere, right when they open as I have found places are less crowded earlier. We found the parking lot empty and the zoo almost to ourselves when we got there, and since we had time before the giraffe day things we visited some of the new exhibits, like the red panda’s new enclosure, with its rope swinging bridge, which puts zoogoers closer to the treetops where the red panda’s hang out, and the arctic exhibit which is usually jam packed. We had both exhibits to ourselves, which was kind of neat, especially the arctic exhibit. I finally got a chance to view the artwork that is inside! We were able to get very close to the glass as well with our kiddo, so close that a passing seal startled him a little! Most of the seals at the Detroit Zoo have cataracts and would not be able to survive in the wild and it is amazing how they still can perform their water acrobatics and swim and dive with limited vision. Nature is so cool.

After checking out the most popular attractions, we went to our other favorites, the wolves and the bears, who were all out and up front and center that early in the morning. I have actually never seen either the wolves or bears so close to visitor areas, we were able to get great views of them. By the time we were done, it was time to head over to the giraffes, our whole reason for going!

The zoo had volunteers standing by to answer questions, as well as information tables and signs laid out everywhere. We saw the skull of a giraffe, and signed the card for Kuvali, the mom giraffe at the zoo. We have a family of giraffes, Kuvali, Jabari (dad), and Mpenzi, their son at our zoo, and they were showing off in the yard, playing and posing for photos.

Wyatt and I had been doing some reading in preparation for World Giraffe Day, to expand our (my) knowledge of giraffes, and I learned quite a few crazy things! We learned that the collective noun for giraffes is a tower, which makes sense, and that giraffes actually have the same number of vertebrae in its neck as a human. Giraffes also have blue-black tongues to protect the tongue from sunburns, and fight by swinging their necks around, which I never want to see.

Sadly, these gentle, quiet, beautiful creatures have become endangered. According to bornfree.uk, giraffe numbers plummeted by a staggering 40% in the last three decades, and less than 100,000 remain today. I hate hearing about all of our animals slowly disappearing; it is hard to imagine a world where these magnificent beasts no longer roam. To read more about their plight and what you can do, visit the Giraffe Conservation Foundation here. I have already signed up to make a monthly donation and “adopted” a giraffe, but there are other ways to help, which can be as easy as just making people aware that these amazing animals are in danger.

How about you? What is your favorite animal?