I had a long day. Really long day. I wound up walking 11,836 steps today. Yes, I remembered to take my pedometer with me today.
I hate saying this about Zoo Atlanta, but it's small. Too small. It's probably for the best, but I was expecting something along the lines of the Bronx Zoo, or the San Diego Zoo. Instead, me and my mother had a quaint experience. In retrospect, we could have done something else today, rather than plan two days at the zoo, since we're going for "encounters" tomorrow. On the other hand, the cool weather (which started out a little rainy) might have made some of the animals a little shy, so we can see them perk up tomorrow.
The panda bears were the highlight, as I'd expect. There are four enclosures -- two indoors, two outdoors -- with five pandas, and you can get close to them. And thanks to the cool temperature, they were up and about. I figure that when the weather gets hotter, they tend to zone out and sleep. Today, I saw and heard a lot of munching of bamboo from the outdoors pandas. Indoors, you had Lun Lun and her twin girls, Mei Lun and Mei Huan. The girls were on a branch, and they didn't move from it. The other indoors panda was Po, another one of Lun Lun's daughters. She was active as well. It was the cubs that were living up to my stereotype about how pandas were lazy. I guess I was expecting something from my mother's stories watching the webcam, up to and including Lun Lun abusing her offspring. It's cuter than it sounds . . . sometimes, a panda momma will roughhouse with her kids, and it's sweet because the average panda is 95 percent fluff.
We must have spent upward of two hours near the panda exhibit. People came and went and took pictures. It was fun to watch them watch pandas as well as watching the pandas themselves. At one point, Lun Lun paced around and stood up against a wall. Eventually, she got inside through a panel in a wall. Shortly afterward, a few zookeepers came in to refresh the bamboo, clean up the poop, and generally spruce up the place. Lun Lun came back and started munching on the bamboo, but she didn't play with her kids. Well, there's always tomorrow, right? Meanwhile, the other pandas rested and walked, and one of them did an impromptu dance, scratching itself on a branch. It's more fun to see in person than on a webcam.
The rest of the visit is a blur. We saw Blaze & Pongo, a mother/son orangutan couple that was cute. We saw gorillas, though they weren't that close. We watched as someone tried to feed giraffes, but one of the bigger guys blocked the way. I would recommend a trip to Zoo Atlanta, but I think it would only take up 75 percent of a day. It's not something that eats merely half the day, but you don't need to stay there all day.
The rest of the day was uneventful. We wound up going to The Varsity for dinner. From what friends told me, it's a must-see institution in Atlanta. It was nice, though it felt like a local version of McDonald's, if that makes sense. On the bright side, I liked the double burger, orange drink and fried apple pie, which -- gotta make the comparison -- resembled a hot apple pie from McDonald's. I'll give my mother credit for making the trip, especially since the walk to the Varsity was in the rain. Her body probably thinks her mind has gone crazy. My feet and one of my calves are sore as I type this. Oh, and this morning, I had grits for the first time. I think "Corn Oatmeal" is a better name for it. It was okay, but I didn't eat the entire bowl.
Tomorrow is our last day of sightseeing. Even if we don't do anything outside of the "encounters," I'd say we had a full vacation.