Around here, when you ask folks about their vacation plans, they are either heading to the beach or the mountains. A few are doing Disney or California. In the weeks leading up to our trip, I answered this question a lot because Michael rarely takes a Sunday off, and our church friends were curious. Each time someone asked, I'd mumble "Pittsburgh" and then rush on to say that my cousin was getting married and we'd be visiting my family in Ohio.
Because, really, who goes to Pittsburgh on vacation?
Well.... we spent two days there. And we're going back again. Next time loud and proud!
We loved the Pittsburgh Zoo! It's one of six in the country to also feature an aquarium. We were amazed by the exhibits and the activity of the animals. So much to see ... we spent seven hours there! Our friends Steve and Kileina (Steve is also my second or third cousin) met up with us for the day. Here are some highlights:
This lion made some frightening sounds! We had already moved on, but came back to watch him roar.
This is the man who was sitting in the middle of the elephant/giraffe/zebra exhibit. Something about him just sitting up there on that rock struck me as comical.
These are a few of my favorite gorilla pictures. The first "little guy" was sitting about 3 feet from the glass with his back to us. It was like an intentional shunning. The one in the picture below made us laugh over and over with his antics. He really looked liked a bored office worker - like he belonged on one of those 'need a new job' commercials.
After the gorilla exhibit it started to rain off and on. I didn't take as many pictures because we were protecting the camera. The aquarium was really nice, but our pictures from inside didn't turn out well. The penguins were amazingly active - diving and swimming and waddling around. I think it was the sea otters that cracked Daniel up the most. They swam on their backs right up to the glass then, dove downward. He would jump, squeal and laugh every time.
At one point we got stuck inside the glass tunnel where large fish were swimming overhead, just as a heavy band of rain came through. Because the tank was open above, we could see the drops hitting - it was like being underwater during a storm. Amazing.
At the very end of the day, I took Daniel back up to the safari exhibit. My hips were hurting something terrible and I knew my feet were likely swollen, but I pushed through. Circling the exhibit was a river filled with orange fish Brenna called Coy. (I don't know if that's what they were or not, but she was certain.) While everyone else watched the giraffes and zebras, Daniel was fascinated by these fish. There must've been fifty or more congregated in one little area just below the fence line. They would swarm and leap over each other, aiming toward something we could never figure out. He could've watched for hours. If the bench had been dry I might have let him too. He just laughed and pointed and laughed some more. All my pain was so worth it to see his delight.
So after seven hours we called it quits and went back to the hotel...where housekeeping had left us a flask of alcohol under the cushion of the pull -out couch the kids were sleeping on. How thoughtful. The very friendly and apologetic manager retrieved it and promised to investigate.
We ordered pizza that night and begged the sun to go down faster. We were so tired, but knew it would be hard to get the kids to go to sleep with light streaming in the windows. Thankfully, the night comes in Pittsburgh too, and day one of vacation came to an exhausted close.