Today we were joined by my sister and her husband. They are also known as Denise and Andrew Gutierrez. They are also known as Kiana, Marissa, and Sabrina's parents.
They live in New Mexico and their contribution to our big summer extravaganza was to foot the bill and transportation to the Rio Grande Zoo and Botanic Garden in Albuquerque. It was pretty hot that day and the animals were slow moving. Patrick found a friend here in a lazy Gorilla.
It seems Anissum and Marissa found some friends too. These exotic birds found pleasant resting spots on their shoulders and head while being fed.
It was hot there in sunny New Mexico that day and the water spritzer area was a hit. As a group we split off into natural groups here and there. But there were a couple of moments when our entire party of thirteen were together. Here at the water area, when we sat down for lunch, and when we traveled by train to the aquarium.
The aquarium was a hit. There were interesting play areas where a garden was built to look as if we had been shrunk down to one inch tall. And there was a great butterfly habitat too. But there's something about the containment... the silence... of an aquarium that just gets me every time. I understand though that aquraiums aren't magical for everyone.
For example, Anissum seemed to really like the grace of a yellow eel while my mom was disgusted. The jellyfish, as always, were fascinatingly beautiful. There was a sea lion show at the main zoo so it made sense that there was now display of seals here in the aquarium.
There was however, a large tank with sharks, rays, and other large sea life. It was set in a darkened room with some cushiony bleacher-type seating. I settled upon one of the steps there for a good amount of time watching others in our group come in and out of that room before asking Nick, Issa, and Nicole to stand against the backdrop of the tank. Don't sweat this picture on the right too much... no jr. high students were harmed in the shot. :) The zoo closed strangely at 5:00 so we took one of the last trains back to our car together. Knowing this would be one of the last days that my nieces would be visiting with my students they really seemed to enjoy having a whole cable-car to themselves. It felt a little like the last day of camp.
Luckily we snapped a ton of pictures to remember all of this time together. Looking back on all of the events we had shared up to this point, there really was a great deal of beauty. Not to be outdone at the zoo, a peacock was kind enough to give us one last beautiful memory to see.
After the zoo we killed some time at Denise and Andy's place for a while and enjoyed the down time with video games and pizza. We then headed over to Denise's coworker's home. She keeps goats and horses. And while the warm rains had made for unfavorable conditions to ride the horses we enjoyed getting to meet the goats and experience first hand some of that farm-community that previously the Oscarville students had only read about.
They even had a pygmy goat baby there to show off. He's only about 2 1/2 weeks old and still drinking from a bottle. We took turns petting and holding the goat but as I have come to see first hand, Anissum really does seem to have a comforting way with animals.
While checking out the rest of the goats I pulled Patrick aside. It seems one horse in particular, had had her hooves cleaned and was read to be ridden. Patrick was definitely the one who wanted to ride the most as he had brought up his desires to me on nearly a daily basis. We couldn't take them far... just around a little yard in fact... but it was enough. Patrick was elated.
This photograph here above is quite possibly my favorite from the entire trip. Patrick's ride was definitely my most favorite memory. When the owner was able to lead the horse up to a gallop Patrick squealed with unabashed delight.
Hearing the glee, the rest of the Oscarville students took turns on the horse. We didn't have a while lot of time but it was enough for a few circles for each of them. Some had a real feel for it. Anissum and Nick seemed to understand the rhythm necessary to feel comfortable with the trot.
Issa and Nicole looked only slightly less comfortable than the others. But they enjoyed it all the same. As I stated in the title of this post... after a full day at the zoo the most talked about animal was... the horse.
It was hard to leave the horse but we did have a movie to see. We missed the previews and had to seat in separate seats all over the theater but we got to see Batman: The Dark Knight on opening weekend. WE were a part of those record setting numbers. The consensus was that it was the best movie yet. A must have on DVD for every single one of us.
I'll get back to the posts about the summer again, I promise.
After sending in a request for an absentee ballot, and then not getting mail in Oscarville for over a month, I was finally able to vote. Last Friday... five days before the general election, I was able to snowgo up to Bethel to drop off my ballot at the Post Office. I am officially one of those 40,000 absentee voters in Alaska.
Here's the headlining news this morning...
Some of that makes me very happy. Some of that makes me want to drop kick half of the general voting public in Alaska and California over to our sneaky neighbors in Russia.