Lions, Tigers, and a Bear of a Trip

lion como park jun09

Back from the one-senator state. Huh. The trees and grass look as green, and the zoo animals appear well-fed. Life goes on.

Have you ever had one of those little trips where everything is just on the edge of being totally wrong? There were probably a dozen little mishaps over the two days–nothing huge, but collectively, really annoying. Like gnats or something.

My wife really dislikes driving in the Twin Cities metro area, and I think after the past two days, I’m joining the club. Most of I-35W heading into Minneapolis is torn up and much of it is single lane, going both ways. There was even a stretch of I-35 south of the city that was detoured yesterday down a frontage road, through a mall parking lot (!), twisting and turning and finally back to the interstate. Anita said at least we weren’t going 12mph like Wednesday night after the game.

I missed about three exits in driving around town. Including the one for the Mall of America. “I was going to say something,” my wife said, “But I figured you knew what you were doing and were going to take the next exit.”

I confess I didn’t even see the sign for the mall. Before we knew it, all the exits were for the airport and we were on our way to Saint Paul. Went to the cathedral, there. It was a little weird and off-putting. Some priest was practicing a commencement talk about Harry Potter at the lectern. About three or four people–staff I think–were wandering around the sanctuary while the speaker was talking. The young miss and I were discussing the Latin inscriptions, and we poked to the organ console behind the altar. First the staff member gave me the “it’s okay” sign. Then about five seconds later, they decided “tourists” didn’t belong looking at the organ behind the high altar after all.

The Twins lost 10-1. That was bad. It was one of those three-hour MLB affairs, but we finished up around 10PM. Oh, and we got lost finding our car after the game. Would you believe it took us just under two hours to get back to the hotel 16 miles away? I usually look behind me and check landmarks when I’m in an unfamiliar place. What should have been a ten-minute walk turned into a late-night 45-minute exploration of downtown. Once I had the right parking garage, it was no problem finding the car. It was the only one left on the whole level.

Let’s see, what else about the trip … I don’t think I had a good meal the whole two days. Except maybe at the mall last night. We stopped at a nice bar & grill place for lunch yesterday. Note to self: don’t order a faux-ethnic dish from an upscale American-style restaurant. I ordered a pasta dish with vegetables, crab, and a tangy thai sauce, just a little kicked up. If they gave me one ounce of crab meat, I didn’t see it. The waiter mentioned angel hair, but they must have run out of it and substituted a thicker pasta. I don’t mind the occasional splurge on a $15 restaurant special, but sweet-and-sour spaghetti (emphasis on sweet) isn’t my idea of gourmet eating. The young miss ordered one of the pizza specials, then trimmed off all the outer crust, artichoke hearts, and black olives. My wife said her salad and sandwich were excellent. Good. Because a better option for the other two of us would have been Pizza Hut.

fish at minn zoo jun09The hotel pool was fun. We got two nice swims in. And some play. We had fun at the zoo. I sunblocked my arms, but got a little burn on the back of my neck–I always neglect that spot. Considering we may be up in the area again for another day trip or two, Anita and I splurged at the zoo and went in for a family membership. Given that we get to Omaha and KC now and then, the reciprocal membership discount thing may come in handy.

fish 2 at minn zoo jun09

I snapped many images of fish, but only two came out decent. My wife took some video on her cell phone and she got these creatures swimming around. Nice. I tried to pan the phone to follow the moving fish. Not too successful. I was a little jealous of my wife’s phone, but I think a nice toy would be a real digital camera.

B on roller coaster jun09We also went to the Como Park Zoo. We didn’t have time to do much but the animals, and then hit the amusement park. The young miss loved the smallish roller coaster. Drat if I didn’t check the image size before I took that one on the left. I went on it, but those rattly older models that shake you side-to-side really bother me. I gave my daughter the extra ride tickets. If I had known that she would have liked these rides and I wouldn’t, I would have bought her a ride pass for the same as what I paid for a fistful of tickets to share. No time to see the plants at the conservatory–another trip, I guess.

leftover at the zooWe did have lots of laughs on the trip. When in the big cat section, we looked over the opposite edge from the lion area and saw this little girl’s shoe down on the fencing. “Look, Brit,” I said. “Leftover from the lions’ lunch.”at MoA 4jun09 I had her laughing when I suggested they get corporate sponsorship for live prey for the big cats. Paint a red Target bullseye on a goat, I suggested, and let it loose in the tiger area. Maybe print “WalMart” on a pig and then watch the lions eviscerate it.

“Dad, that’s gross!”

My wife said she would never see the Target bullseye again without thinking of some poor goat getting eaten by a tiger.

What else went wrong? I went to the men’s room, and the females did one of those photo booth things without me. : ( “You usually take a long time in the bathroom, and we didn’t think you wanted to do this.” So we took one of her and me on the cell:

Man, do I look tired.

My wife wanted one, too:

at MoA 4jun09It wasn’t my idea to match red shirts. It’s just what I packed. Though I suspect she peeked in my overnight bag before she got ready.

I was pretty exhausted from it all. We got in a bit past midnight yesterday, and we all have been imitating big cats being dormant all day.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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