Sunday, May 23, 2010

Kansas Day 2: Zoo and Museum and Rain (Oh my!)

Sunday morning came WAY too early since Lil was having such a tough time sleeping in the hotel. The Hyatt had a pretty good free breakfast, and since she very rarely gets to watch cartoons she was fascinated by the huge TV and for some reason wanted to sit in her stroller and watch some 'toons while we got ready for breakfast.
The weather was still awful. It was POURING down rain but according to the weather radar it looked like it would slack off shortly and then the afternoon would be worse, so we decided to head to the zoo. It was definitely not crowded.Like all of the other crazies there, our first stop was the gift shop to get panchos for all of us. Lilli had no clue why we were all wearing plastic bags, but she did think it was pretty funny to see literally everyone with one on - and the bonus was that they had animals on them so she had lots of things to point and look at!
The rain didn't bother most of the animals any, either. The seals and river otters were splashing around and having a great time and we got be up close and personal with everything! Kansas City has a great zoo and this summer they'll be opening their Polar Bear exhibit.
They have a really nice "Tropics" (indoor!) house with a ton of monkeys. One thing we loved about this zoo was how close everything seemed, you could really see the animals. The monkey house was a huge hit with Lilli!
And then it was back out in the rain.....there was just no great way to stay 100% dry. This $20, hideously ugly umbrella I bought that day will come back to haunt us on Day 5 during our return trip home!
From the monkey area we walked over to their Africa section. It was HUGE and had so many animals in it. Most of the time we were completely alone and couldn't see or hear anyone else, so the close proximity to all the animals in their very natural habitats could be a little freaky at times!
We gave Lilli her snacks for her mid-morning snack and she really wanted to share with this little guy! She did end up getting a Goldfish through the chicken wire to the chimpanzees.
They had a ton of really pretty, exotic birds.
This lion was so majestic! I probably would have wet my pants if he had "roar"ed. Lilli LOVED all the animals and could see and find them all.
A little rain doesn't spoil my day!!! By this point it was finally slacking off and down to just a little drizzle.
She wanted to wave and say "hey" to a lot of the animals, particularly monkeys, meerkats and the "furrier" animals. If she really liked something she would also blow it kisses.
They had two large hippos, and we were passing through as their keeper came to feed them. They have HUGE (and nasty) teeth.
On our walk back out of Africa and into Australia Lilli fell asleep and missed the coolest part of the zoo. Most of the animals in the Australia exhibit are completely cageless. The kangaroos were literally just hopping around and it was both cool and totally scary to see this guy just hopping down the street towards us. It was pretty surreal! She really didn't pay any attention to us, she was just on a mission to get somewhere, and she had a little baby in her pack, too!
When she woke up we took her over to the area where you can pet the llamas and deer and she thought it was so funny when the deer was trying to eat my sweater.
And then the carousel caught her attention. Animals + music = Perfection! She and I went over for her first carousel ride...
At first she was kind of scared and wanted me to just hold her, but I finally convinced her she was just fine, and a couple of laps in and she warmed up and would smile and pageant wave every time we passed Brent!
And clearly she enjoyed it enough that she did not agree with the decision to only ride one time. I'm pretty sure we're knee deep in the Terrible Twos, 8 months early.
We had a lovely, overpriced hot dog lunch at the Zoo before leaving. This is literally the only family shot we got the whole trip, how awful is that???
From there we headed a few miles away to the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. When we visit cities of a decent size we always visit their art museum, and we've seen some great things over the years in New York, Chicago, Boston and Seattle (to name a few!). Contemporary Art is one of our favorites, so I was excited to see they had a whole museum devoted to it and even better it was FREE! Lilli had fallen asleep on the short drive over, so we woke her up for it. And we saw the whole thing in about 10 minutes. Two rooms of art and that was IT! Super disappointing and it was pretty dull stuff, too. Had we known we would have let her keep on napping in the car and taken turns going in!
She was clearly unimpressed, as were we!

They have another large art museum around the corner - the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art that I had also read about. It's also free and it's enormous!!! It covers all kinds of various artifacts as well as art over many, many time periods and tons of exhibits of floors of art. We checked out their Modern Art and Photography, then went outside to the Sculpture Garden to let Little Miss Restless burn off some energy and splash in some puddles.
It had quit raining but was much chillier than we expected. The overall weather forecast for the day was wrong - the morning was much wetter than the afternoon, so we should've done our museum-ing first and zoo-ing second!
We went back in and checked out the American art and then called it a day. Lilli was needing a nap and we were pretty tired of being on our feet as well. I think one of the highlights of her day was when I surprised her with some animals I got at the Zoo gift shop! She loves little animals like this, but I've never been able to find her any! She loves the ones in Sunday School and also Daycare, and ordinarily if they have a toy she likes I don't bother to buy it since she already gets to play with it, but animals are a major exception because she is seriously so infatuated with animals. She got SO excited when I pulled them out and literally kissed each one. We had to watch her the rest of the trip because she'd place them around hotel rooms and one night she had put her elephant in one drawer and a giraffe in another!
They had several other types of animals in the zoo gift shop, but I'm hoping I can find this same brand online cheaper than zoo prices! They had all kinds of other water and domestic animals I know she'd love. She's still having such a blast with all of these at home.

That night we asked the front desk for a BBQ recommendation and they sent us to a PACKED local chain, so we got take-out from there and ate it at the hotel. It was pretty good, but it really reminded me a lot of local places like Jim n Nicks and Famous Daves chains. I'm not sure that we got a good sampling of true Kansas City BBQ.

Lilli went to sleep MUCH better that night, and I don't think she really woke up any during the night. Me on the other hand - had a dream (maybe!??!!) that a mouse was going through my suitcase around 2 am, and ended up waking everyone up. Of course we didn't find anything but I guess I still win the award for disturbing the family that night.

Stay tuned for Day 3 - Cider, Oil, and Sweden!

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