Best. Christmas. Song. Ever!
It was pretty awesome when Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell sang it in Elf. The awesomeness was aided by Will Ferrell running blindly into a set of lockers at the end too. But last night, while scouring YouTube, I somehow stumbled onto a version that might rival the awesomeness of the Elf version – the Glee version. It’s a little awkward with two guys singing it. But there’s really no way to mess that song up.
Also, I want to thank everyone who’s reading. You guys are killing my stats for the month of December. I’m averaging 106 hits a day. I’ve had two days over 170 and the lowest day so far has been 50. Those are crazy numbers to me! But I’ll take it!
Back to my trip…
Sunday was my last day in the DC area, so I packed up my stuff and headed to the National Zoo. Like there was ever any question about whether or not I’d go to the zoo before leaving 🙂
It was absolutely freezing outside. But I manned up and toughed it out. I don’t know if it’s been the best zoo I’ve been to on my trip, but there were some pretty amazing things about this one. As I mentioned to my dad, if I were simply going to the zoo for the animals, I would be bored to tears at this point. If there’s an animal at a zoo, chances are I’ve seen it somewhere before. This brings the total to five zoos I believe – Naples, Memphis, Utah, St. Louis, and now the National Zoo. Not to mention how many times I’ve been to Riverbanks in Columbia, SC.
The zoo is part of the Smithsonian Museum system. One thing that means is that it’s free of charge to get into (always a plus!). Another thing that means is that their mission is more geared towards research and preservation (I believe) than most zoos. They’re one of the top research zoos in the country. Also cool about the zoo is their website. They have webcams set up all over the place – on 22 of the exhibits to be exact.
A zoo post isn’t very interesting without pictures. So since I don’t have too many stories to tell about my visit, let’s call it even by overwhelming you with pictures!
They had a huge exhibit for two red pandas (You could have easily been mauled, Kayla)
They were training the elephants (for you, Kim!). It was pretty funny because they were beyond stubborn. One of them quit following instructions and ran off to pick up a huge tree limb and play with it. And this picture is awesome because it looks like it’s about to eat a trainer.
And birds for my momma. The bird house wasn’t bad. I don’t know what it is about birds, but I just can’t seem to get into them. To be honest, I really don’t remember the names of them, but these pictures are fun! The birds in the first picture totally had mohawks. The second one is a tiny hawk! It wasn’t much bigger than a finch. Kind of cool. It was tearing up some kind of dead animal food too.
Pandas (for me!) were next. The only other place I’ve seen pandas was the Memphis Zoo and I left completely disappointed. Luckily, these two more than made up for it! Mei Xiang (“Beautiful Fragrance”) and Tian Tian (“More and More”) were all over the place. Apparently Mei Xiang had a baby boy in 2005 (Tai Shan – “Peaceful Mountain”) that was just sent back to China in February 2010. The first two pictures are Mei Xiang. The second two are Tian Tian.
Another crazy Panda fact I learned here was that these two pandas are on loan to the US from China (as are all of the other US-housed pandas). But in exchange for these two being on loan for 10 years here, the National Zoo must give China $1 million each year to support giant panda preservation efforts in China. That’s some serious money swapping hands for two animals.
I want one of these as a pet. They’re Prevost’s squirrels. Someone on the Internet, make it happen! Christmas is coming up.
Their gorillas weren’t as impressive as some of the other zoos I’ve been to. But they have seven of them, which is the most, by far, of any place I’ve seen. This one’s kicked back, living a hard life.
They also had six orangutans, which is a bunch too. They were more lively than the gorillas. The first picture is a female that is 32 years old. The second picture is one sneaking peeks at me.
Big cats were next. I’m a Clemson graduate so I’m obligated to love tigers. But also, they’re just amazing animals. I could watch a tiger for hours.
Lions are pretty amazing too. The two females were practically inseparable.
And the male was just kicked back, munching away.
So that covers lions, tigers… now bears? These are Andean bears. It was a momma and two cubs.
On the way back to my truck, I had to walk through the farm section. It’s pretty much a petting zoo for little kids with cows, alpacas, goats, rabbits, etc. Only this zoo had something I don’t know if I’ve seen before. In Chapin, there are two miniature horse farms near the house. And I even know someone whose family owns a miniature horse.
But have you ever seen a miniature donkey?!
Or an even better question – if you bred a miniature horse and a miniature donkey, would you get a miniature mule? Because that would be awesome!
And last, but not least, the cheetah exhibit. These are some pretty sleek looking animals. Three of the four are all brothers, which is pretty cool. Is the cheetah in the second picture eyeing a zebra dinner in the next exhibit over?
And with that, I all but sprinted back to my truck to thaw myself out. It was a good day (when isn’t it when animals are involved?). I spent the night outside of Richmond, so nothing fancy there.
Yesterday, I left around noon with intentions of getting to West Virginia again to see the New River Gorge Bridge and the National River. But about halfway there, I just stopped myself and thought “I don’t really care about that.” Not something I usually do. I think it’s because I’m getting close to home. And honestly, I really have no idea how to feel about it, so my emotions are floundering around a little bit at the moment.
But I pointed a little further south and just ended up driving all day. I made it to Wytheville, VA for the night. It was 18 degrees and snowing when I got here! Last night, the weather channel said it “felt like” 2 degrees. Crazy, but I’m loving it! Today, I’ll set my sights on Asheville, NC. I really want to do the Biltmore Estate. I haven’t been since a field trip in middle school. And I also didn’t realize that bad boy cost $59 to get into. It will definitely be the most expensive single place I’ve done (not including souvenirs & gifts… the Louisville day easily tops that, in terms of money spent), but I’ll suck it up and go see it. And maybe it’ll snow a tiny bit? Then I could get some awesome pictures!
Wish me luck!