Sunday, January 18, 2009

An Afternoon at the Hutchinson Zoo

On the spur of the moment today Greg and I decided to visit the zoo.

We had been to lunch at Roy's, then out to pick up another prescription of pain pills for me. I didn't really want to go home yet, but wanted to enjoy the sunshine. We both independently arrived at the idea of driving through the park.

Then we saw the Prairie Thunder Rail Road was running at the zoo. It's similar to the train at the State Fair. Of course, we couldn't resist and went for a ride.

Greg and I are both like children, sometimes. Of course, we're both happy a large part of the time, too. Like children. Find joy in simple things.

The engineer is Bob Kirby, who I know from events like Food for Thought and the Dillon Lecture Series. Greg took these great photos of him.

Bob is apparently a fan of rail roads.

Of course, Greg was taking photos along the way during our ride, too.

Greg took some video of the train, too. I didn't know he was doing it when I was clapping excitedly at the end.

We met Steve Russell, another railroad fan, and enjoyed a lively conversation with him. One of the things I love about living in a smaller city is that people will strike up a conversation pretty easily.

One of the things I learned when I was a journalist is that almost everyone has an interesting story to tell. Mr. Russell is a prime example of that. He was once a railroad engineer in Durango, and is now a rancher who splits his time between three locations, including one here. He breeds Jacob Sheep, an ancient breed that probably originated in Syria about 3000 years ago. The breed has been successfully preserved thanks to careful handling of the genetic pool.

We meandered on, stopping along the way to visit with some other animals. Greg took this great photo of a Bald Eagle.

We discovered that we had arrived just at feeding time for the pelicans.

Marcy, who's a new zookeeper at the Hutchinson Zoo, was feeding them fish. They're a good catch. She tossed each of them a fish in rapid succession so they didn't fight over them.

We chatted with Marcy for quite awhile. She's a wonderful addition to the zoo staff. She comes here from Illinois and has worked at the St. Louis Zoo and volunteered at the Denver Zoo.

Greg took this video of her feeding the pelicans.

Marcy said she's enjoying living in Hutchinson and that she really loves that the zoo is geared toward native animals. She mentioned something I didn't know, that some of these animals we think are plentiful are actually endangered species. We invited her to get together for dinner sometime and visit more. Very interesting young lady.

We visited the otters and then went to the petting zoo where we saw a baby  llama. Is that not the cutest face?

We wrapped up our visit with a stop in the reptile house. This is the best way for me to see snakes - with glass separating us.

It was a fun afternoon. The zoo is really exceptional and they have plans to expand - including laying more track for the train.

I also loved getting to meet a couple of new folks. Greg continually teases me that I know a lot of people. I'm not sure why that is, exactly. I think I know an average amount of people.

We wrapped up the day with dinner at Marcella's, which we really enjoy - good Italian food downtown. All in all it was a fun day. And we both needed a fun day.
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