Thursday, May 27, 2010

Seasoned Traveler

On Monday, Thumper and I gave Aerie a couple of nights to herself and flew to Dallas to visit my parents. It was his first airplane trip, and an experiment on my part to see if it would be easier than the three-and-a-half hour drive. When you factor in the airport experience four times, I wouldn't say it was easier, and it certainly wasn't cheaper. But it was an adventure.

He was a little nervous at the Austin airport as we checked our baggage and went through the security line. A TSA employee chatted with us while we waited, though, and Thumper began to relax a bit. He told the guy that we were going to visit Grandma and Grandpa and the Dallas Zoo, and that his favorite animal is the gorilla, who says, "RAHHRRRRRR!!!" He has been given this impression of the gorilla by the very cranky Kerchak in No Nap for Tarzan. As we discussed the impending trip over the past few weeks, he had periodically expressed some trepidation about meeting such cranky animals face to face, but I repeatedly reassured him that zoo gorillas mostly just sit and stare off into space.

Once we got through security ("Why you taking my shoes off?"), Thumper squatted by the window while we waited to board, watching them load luggage into our plane. ("Is that's our plane? Why?") Once we were aboard, he repeatedly asked, "Now are we flying? Now are we flying?" as we taxied around and waited our turn to take off. When the engines began roaring in earnest, he yelled, "What's wrong with the plane?" So if you have a fear of flying, and you were on that flight with us, I apologize. There was not, as I loudly reassured him, anything wrong with the plane.

He was excited by the takeoff, later reporting to Grandma and Grandpa that the plane went really fast, but after that he quickly reverted to boredom, though the apple juice he was served mid-flight cheered him mightily. He was also confused about where exactly Grandma and Grandpa were going to be, thinking they were at the Austin airport, then that they would be on the plane. And since they had outdated info about which terminal we'd arrive at, they weren't there while we waited for our luggage, either. But when he saw them pull up to pick us up curbside, he literally jumped for joy.

We had a lot of fun with Grandma and Grandpa, playing at their house and visiting the zoo. Grandpa cleverly left a Hoppity Ball deflated and lying casually discarded in their living room; Thumper instantly wanted to know what it was, what it was for, and what it did, so he and Grandpa went to the garage to blow it up. Here he is enjoying it while having a conversation with Grandma shortly after she suggested that maybe he not hammer on her wind chime quite so persistently:

The only reason he didn't cover his face as I took that video was that I used my iPod, which he has not yet realized is also a camera.

By the time we visited the zoo, Thumper had missed a couple of naps and had a late night in the hotel, so he was fairly subdued. Luckily, Grandma had the idea of renting a stroller, which saved the day. Thumper rode from exhibit to exhibit, then leaped out of the moving vehicle without warning Grandma, who was driving, to get a look at each animal. There were a couple of school groups there, so sometimes he had to fight for a spot at the glass:

Since he still has an aversion to having his picture taken, all of my zoo shots are of the back of his head. I could get a shot of his face if I got him while his hands were busy:

But then he'd quickly revert to his extremely strict no pictures policy:

And of course, no trip to the zoo would be complete without an in-depth conversation concerning the universal need of all animals to poop and pee:

When we got home, he reported to Aerie that he saw gorillas, but that they did not, surprisingly, "RAHHRRRRRR!!!" at him. So, there. Now he's a seasoned traveler who has experienced a real zoo. I think, though, that some of his favorite moments were the afternoons we spent at the motel, resting and recuperating if not actually napping:

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