Thursday, February 25, 2010

Impromptu Adventure to the Zoo

National Zoo clock

One of the true gifts of an unstructured day is the ability to follow a child's interest, wherever it might lead. Today was a day with no particular plan, no errands that had to be run, no preschool, no ballet class, no mountain of laundry looming (okay, there was that, but we successfully ignored it). Most of the time, I have an outing or activity planned before the day even starts, but today was a truly blank slate -- a rarity.


So as the morning unfolded, we moved from reading books about animals, to asking a lot of questions about classification ("is fur the only difference between mammals and reptiles?"), to hopping in the car and heading to the zoo. Once again, I give thanks for being within a day's outing distance of our nation's capital and its wonderful FREE enrichment opportunities for children. The National Zoo is a treasure. And on a windy, 40-degree February day, it's also deserted. We had the place to ourselves, which was amazing. We spent the majority of the time at the indoor exhibits, since, um, it was 40 degrees and windy. It was so lovely to be able to linger at each window, read the plaque explaining who it was we were meeting, and go back and forth between our favorite animals.

It was tough to pick a favorite. The sleepy armadillo?

Sleepy armadillo

The gracefully swimming turtles?

Turtle in motion

This massive, regal-looking snake?

Big snake

The oh-so-casually-draped boa?


The frog that sleeps stuck to the underside of a leaf?

Frog sleeping under leaf

The Cuban crocodile who kept slowly opening and closing his mouth, like nature's equivalent of a neon sign saying, "DANGER"?

Cuban crocodile

One of the lizards, capable of super-human stillness?


Nah. I think we all agreed. It was the prairie dogs. Dang, those guys are just too cute!

Prairie dogs

Gone on any impromptu adventures lately? I highly recommend it. The best part was, since we brought our own lunch and gave the gift shop a wide berth, the whole experience cost us just a couple of bucks in gas. Now that's my kind of adventure!


  1. No I haven't but this sounds really great! We have had many days with no plan around here and I just can't seem to muster up the kind of energy that you are describing right now. This sounds like an exceptional learning opportunity and what a shot of that boa!

  2. What fun!!!! That was so cool that you guys went! I absolutely LOVE your pictures too (very clear and detailed!!) I hadn't been to that zoo since I was 17 years old (but would love to go again one day.)

  3. I love living vicariously through you. I'm planning to take a few weeks off this summer...let's try to have some impromptu adventures together!

  4. Looking at all your pictures makes we want to take my little ones to zoo.

    I really liked your picture of the frog sleeping underneath the leaf. It almost looks like a toy.

  5. I ADORE a trip to the zoo! One of my favorite ways to spend a day. You got some great shots! (Except I reeeeeeeeeeally don't like armadillos. YUCK. Creepy.)

  6. We haven't, but my kids would LOVE that zoo! How cool!!
    I thought you might enjoy a little sunshine, feel free to pick some up: Hopefully once the weather gets better here we'll head to the zoo, too!

  7. We love the zoo too, and totally agree that it is amazing to live so close the National Zoo. I am hoping to go a lot more as the weather gets warmer. Of course that doesn't really stop us as we've gone several time this winter. You captured some amazing shots.