There was actually a point when I believed summer hadn’t been quite as full of adventure as I had originally intended. It’s true we didn’t actually leave town except for one week at the beach, but after a quick review of my photos it was clear to me we’d been very busy with many small adventures.
I simply moved from one spot to the next so quickly I hadn’t fully absorbed how many different day-long activities we’d enjoyed.
And many of our little field trips included adventurous companions.
I recently found a very challenging and thought-provoking quote attributed to Mark Twain.
“We are always too busy for our children; we never give them the time or interest they deserve. We lavish gifts upon them; but the most precious gift, our personal association, which means so much to them, we give grudgingly.”
Well, I would be miserable if I thought this quote true of us–the very best outings include time with our two favorite little girls. And sometimes those adventure require a little extra energy!
Papa is a good sport. He really, really, really doesn’t like snakes. But he has granddaughters who do. So off we went to the Fountain Valley location of Prehistoric Pets, The Reptile Zoo, home to more than 100 exotic species of reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids collected from around the world.
We met Twinkie, the World’s Largest Snake–according to the zoo literature. Twinkie weighs in at 350 pounds and is over 20 feet long. I don’t think Jay spent a lot of time admiring her beautiful markings.
Then there was Thelma and Louise.
Unfortunately for this photographer, Thelma, or maybe it was Louise, was camera shy. Two heads and two brains–one stomach. I did my best to wait for both heads to look at the camera…maybe next time!
Sophia and Karina don’t remember when Darwin was a little guy. They were really curious about the baby African Spurred Tortoises. Five years ago Darwin looked just like these little cuties.
This is a remarkable place for anyone who enjoys reptiles…or adults willing to conquer their personal phobias to share a special experience with their little ones.
The terrarium habitats are floor to ceiling, and there was one moment when even Sophia became a bit overwhelmed. I think claustrophobia set in…as well as her hyper-sensitive imagination.
After she reached out to stroke one of the snakes carted about the room by one of the young attendants, I noticed a change in Sophia’s demeanor. I asked her if she was doing alright.
“Nan. I think I felt that snake’s fangs touch the back of my head. Was it venomous?”
“No Sophia. All the venomous snakes are in their cages. They can’t take them out and let us touch them. And I was watching you the whole time. I know it didn’t touch you—you touched it.”
“Are you sure? Did you ever take your eyes off me?”
I finally reassured my imaginative granddaughter–the one who spends time watching documentaries on prehistoric animals and trying to understand what happened to animals during the Ice Age– that under our care we had not permitted her to suffer a venomous snake bite.
But there was a definite decline in her enjoyment. She and Papa retired to another part of the zoo to watch the giant two-hundred pound “Darwins” and waited for me to conclude my photo shoot. Karina kept me
running company, making sure I noticed every detail on each and every snake, tortoise or alligator. She has an artist’s eye for detail and made sure I could compare and contrast coloring, spots and stripes on every caged creature.
It’s amazing what I learn from these two girls!
So tell me…
How would you have fared? Do you like reptiles? How about hundreds of them in close quarters?
We’ll never have a snake in our home. Of course, Jay would be miserable. But in addition to his phobia, I can’t handle rodents! I have been known to be quite hysterical if a mouse is loose anywhere near me. And you know what snakes eat…EEEK!
But I loved these beautiful reptiles!
I’ll tell you what I don’t love, however! I drove home tonight in the dark…and it was all of 7:30. So I’m going to keep talking summer until I’m mentally prepared to make the fall transition.
So next stop on the summer retrospective? Hint: there’s music!