Monday, May 19, 2008

Nature's Wonders Unfurled in All Their Splendor

This last weekend was The Singles' annual day-trip to OKC to eat at Ted's Cafe Escondido and then take in some local sights; if you'll recall, last year's trip was when I wound up injuring myself in an embarrassing way. One thing I neglected to mention about last year's trip -- distracted as I was by my bruised tailbone -- was that our ride home was made more interesting by the fact that one of the back inside tires on the church bus blew out 30-40 minutes north of Denton and we had to limp on home. So when I, who was riding up with Li'l Random* instead of riding the bus, got a call from Cap'n Cluck saying that they had had a blowout about 20-30 minutes from Ted's my first instinct was that the folks on the bus were trying to pull a fast one on those of us in the Night Roller. But no, Cluckity was telling the truth; once again the Ted's trip was punctuated by an inside rear tire blowout . . . the same tire, even. Since they weren't too far from the restaurant, Trouble dropped everybody off to get a table and then headed over to a tire place where she asked that they examine all of the tires. The tech recommended replacing all four back tires immediately, saying that the front tires would get us home, but should be replaced ASAP as well. Needless to say, on the eventual ride home every strange road noise and stretch of unusually bumpy highway triggered my bus wreck paranoia.

Li'l Random and I picked Trouble up from the tire place and headed back over to Ted's. Our lunch was fairly uneventful, outside of our waitress tormenting Li'l Random for his refusal to even attempt to say "pollo" correctly, and the fact that when someone at another table got crowned with a sombrero and serenaded by the staff for his birthday, it sparked the realization at our table that "hey, Todd's birthday is just a little over a week away, isn't it . . ."

By the time we got done eating the bus was ready, so Li'l Random ferried Trouble over to pick it up, and we all headed off to our selected tourist attraction this year: the OKC zoo.

I don't think I'd been to the OKC zoo since my Freshman year of college when Flunky, Poohbear, Coronela and I were witness to what we dubbed "Mating Day at the Zoo," wherein the first several animals we saw that day were busy perpetuating the circle of life. Some highlights of this trip include:

  • There were signs up periodically with instructions for viewing the animals; Li'l Random insisted we stop to read one. It referenced the fact that thanks to natural camouflage, sometimes the animals wouldn't be visible, but that even if you couldn't see them they were "watching you." After that, every time we got to an enclosure with no visible inhabitant, I would have to proclaim in my most charmingly creepy voice "They're watching you!" On a related note, I had Hall & Oates "Private Eyes" stuck in my head most of the day.

  • When we first entered the in-door portion of the pachyderm exhibit, there was a sign for Asian elephants but no animals in sight, causing Li'l Random to declare "Wow, Asian elephants are invisible." We then moved on to the next pen, which was also marked Asian elephant, but whose inhabitant looked suspiciously like a rhinoceros, causing me to declare "Wow, Asian elephants are also shape-shifters!"

  • We came to a cage which was supposed to house a "tawny frogmouth," which I maintain is an awesome name for a band. The frogmouth was pretty well camouflaged and totally motionless, leading Li'l Random onto a rant about how the bird was obviously stuffed, and how he couldn't believe that they'd have a stuffed bird at the zoo, what kind of trickery was that, etc. etc. The rant lasted until the frogmouth had gotten enough of his lip and decided to move, opening up its beak in a manner that reminded me of those old flip-top head commercials

  • When we got to the Big Cats section we saw a tiger roaming around some trees, sniffing at them. Someone asked "is he going to chew on it or claw at it?" I posited the theory that it was probably going to mark its territory. . .

  • It was a relatively hot and humid day, so lots of the animals were lounging around being worthless. This snow leopard, for example

    was holed up in a little shady nook, batting its front paws at the air as it dreamed of clawing at all of the noisy folks with cameras disturbing its sleep. Meanwhile, this jaguar

    was up just long enough for this picture to get snapped before it settled down for a nap behind that little rock formation, leaving only its ears visible.

  • After the cats we headed to The Great EscApe where we got to watch a couple of young gorillas showing off their best MMA moves on each other

    a demonstration presumably put one for the amusement of their patriarch who was lounging nearby taking it all in

    Next up was the orangutans, who seemed very interested in the crowd gathered next to the glass to view him, as he moved slowly closer and closer, staring them all down . . . and then urinating right onto the glass.

  • As we were preparing to leave, the very last thing to catch my eye was a couple of African deer getting very "friendly" with each other. I was tempted to call Poohbear and let her know that I had once again experienced Mating Day at the Zoo, but then I remembered it was her and Zinger's wedding anniversary . . . then I was really tempted to call.
So, after seeing all of nature's wonder unfurled in their utmost splendor (I mean, spraying, peeing, and humping, who could ask for anything more?) we headed on back to Denton, with nary a blowout all the way home.

*Li'l Random headed straight from OKC to Atkins for a family reunion, as well as the annual Pickle Fest; yes, he was returning to his Li'l Dill roots.