Second Stop aka Go Early or Stay Home

The morning after my dad’s birthday, I took the kids to Riverbanks Zoo. I was fortunate to be accompanied by my Grandma, or Gigi, as the kids call her.

We arrived at the zoo when it opened at 9 a.m.. This was good for several reasons. One, the weather was blissful. Most of the time I was in South Carolina the high temps were in the 90s, so the mornings were beautiful. Second, I parked right in front and walked in. My National Zoo membership got us all in for free. Lastly, the animals were quite lively in the cooler morning hours. As the temps rose, they started napping.

With the lack of crowds and cool temperatures, we were able to see the whole zoo in two hours. We saw the lions, tigers, giraffes, birds, reptiles, monkeys, koalas, penguins, fish, elephants, farm animals, hyenas, etc. Unfortunately, neither Gigi nor I had any cash on us, so the kids didn’t get to feed the giraffes, goats, or macaws. This didn’t stop Megan from picking giraffe leaves and goat pellets off the ground and feeding them for free. Such resourcefulness.

By the time we left at 11 a.m., the crowds were enormous. Hundreds of people were waiting to buy tickets, and the line of cars entering the zoo stretched painfully to the interstate.

The moral of this story is: go early or stay home.

Christopher and I used this wisdom yesterday when we visited the Atlanta Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park. We managed to sleep in, make pancakes for breakfast, and still leave the house by 9:45. Instead of trying to find a parking spot on the street, we paid our $15 and pulled into the Botanical Garden parking garage, and were in the park just after 10 a.m., when the festivities began. We walked around the whole park, checking out the artists’ booths, the food, the kids village, and the beautiful lake and fields, before getting in line for the Boy Scouts ropes course. Megan was tall enough to do the entire ropes course, and Gavin got to ride the zip line. Afterwards, we played at the playground, and Christopher, Megan, and Gavin watched a dog show, eating frozen lemonade, while Benjamin and I sat in the shade and had some fish tacos and a smoothie. Later, we met up at the kids crafts before heading home to take naps.

Amazingly, we lasted almost four hours, and avoided most of the crowds and all the traffic, which was supposed to be bad. There’s a lot to be said for living in town.

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