A great thrifty adventure–our zoo

7 Oct

Great touches of color in the zoo plantings

The Bon Vivant spent an enjoyable day at the Cleveland Zoo today, and urges you to visit this coming Monday. Why? Partially because the beautiful weather is predicted to continue, but also because on Monday the zoo is FREE to residents of Cuyahoga County and Hinckley (what did Hinckley do to get this privilege)–you’re expected to prove your residency.  How can you beat that? The zoo is normally $11 for adults, $8 for kids 2-11 (though from Nov. 1 through March 31st, it’s $8 and $5 respectively), and is open from 10-5. On FREE MONDAYS, the only charge is for the Rainforest, but it’s only $5, with kids 2-11 at $3. Oh, you can’t beat free–parking is free, too, as is the shuttle that takes you up the long and winding hill to primates, cats and fishies.

This is a gorgeous time at the zoo. In the summer, the heat may prove exhausting. Though it was warm today (with plenty of glare–bring sunglasses), the shade was blissful. They have fabulous landscapers, and the just-turning foliage is contrasted with gorgeous flowers and the oddly intriguing sight of trifoliate oranges. There are youthful (if no longer babies)

Some did not feel like Bon Vivants

rhino, giraffe and other offspring–irresistible. The elephants have returned in a new, freer environment, and you can be about a foot away (admittedly behind glass) from them, noting their need for moisturizer. Today babies in strollers were out in full force, as were busloads of schoolkids (some of whom needed their own cages); a pleasure to note their big eyes (we shall not mention their whining and furious temper tantrums). A pleasure too to see solicitous daughters with aged mothers, exchanging smiles and observations, and those in scooters zipping up the hills.

Interestingly enough, there were no enquiries heard regarding elephantine proportions

Now, sad to say, the Thrifty Bon Vivant was not so thrifty–not just because she didn’t go on the free day, but because she took a cab. In the summer, a bus goes right to the entrance. And–far worse shame–she was not prepared with a Bon Vivant lunch. By all rights, a picnic lunch would have been just the ticket, and the zoo allows coolers and picnic baskets, and has plenty of seating. Not wanting to be weighed down not only limited dining options (I could have had a jerk chicken sandwich, dried peaches, dill pickle flavored potato chips!), but racked up the dollars. Aramark is the food service company that works the zoo–while there may be a Pizza Hut, a McDonald’s etc., things are under the Aramark umbrella. A small iced tea? $2.25–a far cry from my usual delicious and hefty serving that costs 2 cents. A personal cheese pizza at Pizza Hut Express was $4.50, a very small popcorn $3. Milk and water both were over $2 each–imagine a family of four. And that walking and the deliciously fresh air do build an appetite! So I recommend taking your drinks and snacks–if you have to buy, let it be something you can’t make at home, like cotton candy or a snow cone (and drat–I saw neither today! I’m guessing because we are post-season).

One of a number of frolicking lemurs from Madagascar

Drawing and photographing with only the iPad was great, and a conversation starter as well. Aside from the thrift, your Bon Vivant found the experience totally relaxing–many a bench to watch the world go by, the pleasure of nature from faraway brought near, even contemplation of our own place within our world raising a little philosophical musing. And it fit with the current self-challenge and master plan–I did a good four hours walking (albeit at a tortoise pace), got some vitamin D, and had a fine time as a part of the human race–as well as a bipedal mammal with opposable thumbs. You go on a free Monday–this upcoming one–pack a delicious lunch or snack, and revel in your thrifty and rewarding outing!

If you’re feeling in the mood for a mammalian/fish fix, a small album is on my Facebook page

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